FRONT PAGE NEWS
23 Nov 2020
NEW WORRY AS STATES WITH FEWER CASES SEE COVID SPURT
Even as states with relatively smaller caseloads have been reporting a spurt
in Covid cases, the Centre has dispatched high-level teams to Uttar Pradesh,
Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to help them tackle the spread of the disease.
While fresh cases of coronavirus infections continue to decline - or remain
stagnant - in the worst-affected states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra
Pradesh, on the other hand, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya
Pradesh and even Himachal Pradesh have been seeing a significant rise in
While Delhi and Kerala continue to report the maximum number of new cases
every day, even these two seem have left their peaks behind, and are now
witnessing a decline in their active cases.
In absolute terms, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and
even Himachal Pradesh are still reporting far lesser number of cases than
Maharashtra, or some other top 10 states, but it is much more than what they
were reporting earlier.
Accordingly, the Health Ministry has dispatched high-level teams to Uttar
Pradesh, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. A few days ago, similar teams were
sent to Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana and Chhattisgarh as well.
Since Oct 4, there were 47 days at a stretch when no. of active cases fell
everyday (i.e. the no. of new cases was less than the person recovered on
each day). But in three of the last 4 days, there's been a rise in active
case. Yesterday, there were 44,394 new cases while recovered persons
numbered 41,405, thereby increasing the total no,. of active cases by 2,479.
There were 510 Covid related deaths yesterday. Currently, the total no. of
active cases is 4,43,033.
AZAD UNDERLINES AGAIN: CONGRESS NEEDS REVAMP
The turmoil in the Congress that resurfaced after the party's poor
performance in the Bihar elections and bypolls is showing no signs of
abating. On Sunday, Ghulam Nabi Azad, one of the 23 senior leaders who wrote
the unprecedented letter to Sonia Gandhi demanding sweeping changes in the
party, said the Congress's organisational "system has collapsed" and its
position will not improve unless reforms are carried out.
Azad, leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, said the situation of the
Congress is "not good" but argued that "making it good is in our hands". He
admitted that "our leaders have lost connection with people on the ground."
The only solution for the party's revival, he said, is organisational
election from booth-level upwards.
"The defeat in Bihar and the by-elections is a matter of great concern for
the party. And for this, I don't blame the national leadership. We will not
improve our position in any state unless we have the block-level,
district-level and PCC-level elections, which has been our demand from Day
1. By demanding this, we are strengthening the hands of the leadership and
the party," he said.
Azad also slammed the 5-star culture in the party. "During elections, the
general tendency these days. which is not just in Congress but in BJP also.
but the BJP has an advantage that they have other grass root outfits which
are so much entrenched in the villages and small cities and towns. so they
can allow this luxury of coming back by helicopter to the capital city and
stay the night. But since we do not have that kind of party structure at the
grass-root level, block-level and district-level like the regional parties
or the BJP. we should, instead of getting tempted to come back to the state
capital by helicopter and stay in a hotel and wasting productive hours..
Congress leaders, whether they are general secretaries, secretaries, PCC
presidents or other star campaigners.should stay at the district and taluka
SWAP WITH INDONESIA: INDIA TO HOST G-20 SUMMIT IN 2023
India is set to host the G-20 summit in 2023, instead of 2022. Indonesia
will assume G-20 presidency in 2022 after a swap with India, Indonesian
foreign minister Retno Marsudi said, adding that the change of plan was
agreed considering that Indonesia would also chair the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2023.
"We look forward to our next meetings in Italy in 2021, Indonesia in 2022,
India in 2023 and Brazil in 2024," the G-20 Riyadh Summit Leaders
The agenda of the second day of the summit focused on building an inclusive,
sustainable and resilient future with a side event on safeguarding the
An official statement by the MEA said that the Prime Minister underscored
the importance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals aimed at
"leaving no one behind". With the changing situation in the wake of the
pandemic, the Prime Minister said the country has adopted the 'Self Reliant
India' initiative, and will become an important and reliable pillar of world
economy and global supply chains based on its competence and dependability.
At a global level, India also took the initiative of establishing
institutions such as the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for
Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. Addressing the side event - 'Safeguarding
the Planet: The Circular Carbon Economy Approach', Modi said India is not
only meeting its Paris Agreement targets, but also exceeding them.
A G-20 declaration said the leaders "are committed to leading the world in
shaping a strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive post-COVID-19 era". On
terrorist financing, the G-20 declaration said, "We support the Anti-Money
Laundering/Counter-Terrorist Financing policy responses detailed in FATF's
paper on COVID-19, and reaffirm our support for the FATF, as the global
standard-setting body for preventing and combating money laundering,
terrorist financing and proliferation financing."
TRUMP SUFFERS ANOTHER LEGAL LOSS, THIS TIME IN PENNSYLVANIA
A federal judge in Pennsylvania delivered a stinging rebuke on Saturday to
US President Donald Trump and his efforts to subvert election results, but
the public humiliation notwithstanding, the defeated candidate and his
campaign lawyers continued to troll the nation with wild conspiracy theories
they have been unable to prove in court.
In an embarrassing smackdown for Trump, Judge Matthew Brann threw his case
out, ruling "This court has been presented with strained legal arguments
without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint
and unsupported by evidence." The judge also said that granting relief would
have meant invalidating the ballots of every person who voted in
Pennsylvania while noting, "Rather than requesting that their votes be
counted, they (Trump lawyers) seek to discredit scores of other votes, but
only for one race. This is simply not how the Constitution works."
The chiding by Judge Brann was so severe that Trump supporters immediately
accused him of being an Obama-appointed judge - except it turns out he is a
deeply conservative Republican and a member of the Federalist society whose
name was proposed by Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania's GOP Senator.
Toomey himself urged Trump to give up his fight, saying "with today's
decision by Judge Brann, a longtime conservative R whom I know to be a fair
and unbiased jurist, to dismiss the Trump campaign's lawsuit, President
Trump has exhausted all plausible legal options to challenge the result of
the presidential race in Pa." But the suggestion only enraged Trump. On
Twitter, Trump hit back at Toomey, calling him "no friend of mine" and said
that he would appeal the decision. By one count the Trump campaign has now
lost more than 30 cases challenging the result of the election.
In a face-saving retreat following Judge Brann's censure, Trump lawyers said
they were happy with what they saw as a quick partisan ruling because it
would allow them to appeal it and bump it up to the Supreme Court.
More Republicans have urged Trump to backdown but the defeated president is
bunkering down with more extreme members of the party seemingly intent on
carrying his fight to the bitter end that could end up dividing the GOP if
not the country.
PAKISTAN, NEPAL SUPPORT WTO PROPOSAL CO-SPONSORED BY INDIA-SOUTH AFRICA
The Indian approach to lowering COVID-19 vaccine prices has found support
from Pakistan, as well as all other neighbours, but China has sought time to
study it further.
A meeting of a WTO panel on Friday witnessed Pakistan, Kenya, Mozambique and
Eswatini joining the India-South Africa proposal for suspending patents and
other intellectual property (IP) restrictions on COVID-19 vaccines, drugs
and diagnostics for the duration of the pandemic, until global herd immunity
China has welcomed the proposal but India's global security partners such as
the US and the EU, as well as their pharmaceutical corporations, have not
shown any willingness to take a different approach during the pandemic to
ensure broad access to needed products.
India is engaged in a consensus-building exercise in the run-up to a
decision towards the middle of next month. Faced with opposition from the
US, the EU and Brazil, the proposal was put off when it was first tabled at
the WTO, with support from the WHO, on October 2.
The Indian and South African leadership to the proposal has led to wide
backing that is approximately close to three-fourths of the WTO membership.
It has also found support from Medicines Sans Frontiers that urged all
governments to "support this lifesaving move by India and South Africa to
make sure human lives are prioritised and countries can tackle this pandemic
by scaling up every COVID-19 medical tool that exists". "Nobody can afford
to let corporations that have been supported by billions in publicly-funded
research money to simply pursue their bottom-line interests without regard
to global COVID needs. This pandemic will not be over until it's over for
everyone,'' it said.
DAYS AFTER FIERCE ENCOUNTER, TUNNEL USED BY TERRORISTS FOUND IN J&K
A 150-metre long underground tunnel suspected to be used by four
Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists for infiltration from Pakistan was
detected by the BSF at the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir's Samba
district on Sunday, state police chief Dilbag Singh said.
Singh said the tunnel was unearthed following investigation into the recent
encounter near Nagrota on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway.
The four Kashmir-bound Pakistani terrorists were killed in a gunfight when
the truck in which they were travelling was stopped for checking at Ban toll
plaza on the highway on Thursday.
A huge cache of arms and ammunition including 11 AK assault rifles, three
pistols, 29 grenades and six UBGL grenades were recovered from the
possession of the terrorists, who had come to execute a "big plan" to
disrupt the upcoming District Development Council (DDC) polls, police said.
"Police shared some vital inputs found from the encounter scene with the BSF
which after hectic efforts, managed to find the tunnel," the DGP told
reporters. He termed the anti-tunnelling operation as a "major success" and
said that a strong protest will be lodged with Pakistan.
" It appears that proper engineering effort has gone into construction of
the tunnel and the hand of the establishment is quite evident," said a
senior counter-terrorism official.
KERALA INTRODUCES ORDINANCE TO PROSECUTE 'DEROGATORY CONTENT'
The CPM, usually quick on the draw to accuse the Narendra Modi government of
crushing free speech, is now finding itself at the receiving end and facing
the music from fellow-travellers and kindred spirits.
The Left government in Kerala, headed by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan,
has promulgated an ordinance that allows prosecution and imprisonment of up
to five years "for making, expressing, publishing or disseminating any
matter which is threatening, abusive, humiliating or defamatory".
The stated reason for the amendment to the Kerala Police Act is an explosion
of online abuse of women by trolls, which recently prompted a group of women
to beat up a YouTuber, and character assassination by some websites that
masquerade as news portals.
But many suspect that the real trigger is the blizzard of negative coverage
and lampooning the CPM-led government has suffered in the wake of the
unearthing of a gold smuggling scandal that has been linked to a woman close
to an IAS officer who ran the chief minister's office. The officer, now in
judicial custody, was removed soon after the controversy broke.
Vijayan said the government has the responsibility to uphold the freedom of
the press as well as that of the citizens.
U.P. TO TEST EVERY TRAVELLER FROM DELHI FOR CORONAVIRUS
The Uttar Pradesh government will test all travellers from Delhi for
coronavirus, an official said on Sunday.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary R K Tiwari said infection cases have increased
in UP districts bordering Delhi.
It seems the second COVID-19 has hit the national capital, he said, pointing
to a spurt in cases there. So, we are testing everyone coming from Delhi, be
it by air, train or bus, he said.
KEJRIWAL CREDITS PEOPLE AS DELHI FEATURES AMONG WORLD'S BEST CITIES
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said the world is noticing the
positive changes happening in Delhi and credited the people for the national
capital featuring at the 62nd position in the list of the world's best
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said Delhi was the only Indian city in
the list and has improved its rank from the previous 81st spot.
"Such a good news for all Dilliwalas. All dilli walas have worked so hard in
the last six years to make it happen. The world is noticing the positive
changes happening in Delhi," Kejriwal said in a tweet.
The global ranking of 100 cities with over a million population was released
recently by Vancouver headquartered Resonance Consultancy Ltd.
CPI(M) DISAGREES WITH PROPOSAL TO GO SOFT ON TMC
Left Front convener Biman Bose on Sunday said the CPI-ML (Liberation) stance
of treating the BJP as enemy number one in West Bengal was not acceptable to
CPI-ML (Liberation) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, following the
party's success in Bihar where it won 12 seats in the recently concluded
assembly elections as a part of the RJD-led grand alliance, has been airing
the view that BJP should be singled out for attack in the assembly elections
slated to take pace in West Bengal in April-May 2021.
Bose said CPI-ML (Liberation) was a political party and it was entitled to
have its views. However, Left parties of West Bengal did not agree with this
assessment and would like to direct their attack against both TMC and BJP.
Mamata Banerjee-led TMC was the ruling party in West Bengal, Bose pointed
out and reiterated the charge that TMC and BJP were having an understanding.
GOVT EXPLORING MODALITIES OF EMERGENCY AUTHORISATION OF COVID-19 VACCINE
The government is exploring the modalities of emergency authorisation and
usage of anti-coronavirus vaccines pending completion of phase-three
clinical trial and regular licensure.
The issue of advance purchase commitment for vaccines, including pricing,
was also discussed in a recent meeting attended by NITI Aayog Member
(Health) Vinod Paul, Principal Scientific Adviser to the government K Vijay
Raghavan and Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan.
These developments assume significance against the backdrop of Pfizer
seeking emergency use authorisation of its COVID-19 vaccine from the US
regulators. Another US-based biotechnology giant, Moderna, said it also
intends to apply for an emergency use authorisation (EUA) with the US Food
and Drug Administration (USFDA) in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, four vaccines are under different phases of clinical trials in
India. The Serum Institute of India is conducting the phase-three trial of
the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, while Bharat Biotech and ICMR has
already started the phase-three trial of the indigenously developed COVAXIN
An indigenously developed vaccine by Zydus Cadila has completed phase-two
clinical trial in the country. Dr Reddy's Laboratories will soon start
combined phase two and three trials of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik
V in India.
Bharat Biotech has said that they are expecting the immune shots to be at
least 60 per cent effective in fighting Coronavirus infection and they are
aiming to launch it in Q2 of 2021.
'RETROGRADE': IMA SLAMS MOVE TO ALLOW AYURVEDA PRACTITIONERS TO PERFORM
The Indian Medical Association has come down heavily on the government move
authorising some Ayurveda practitioners to perform surgical procedures,
describing it in a strongly-worded statement as "retrograde", "uncivil" and
The apex medical body urged the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM),
the Ayurveda regulatory body under the AYUSH Ministry, "to develop their own
surgical disciplines from their own ancient texts and not claim the surgical
disciplines of modern medicine as their own".
AYUSH Ministry Secretary Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha said the notification does
not amount to any policy deviation or any new decision. "It streamlines the
existing regulation relating to post graduate education in Ayurveda with
respect to the specified procedures. Further, the notification does not open
up the entire field of surgery to Ayurveda practitioners and specifies a set
of surgical procedures. It outlines that not all post-graduates of Ayurveda
can perform these procedures. Only those specialised in Shalya and Shalakya
are allowed to perform these surgical procedures,"
BCCI'S IPL CARD: REVENUE RS 4,000 CR, TV VIEWERSHIP UP
The Indian cricket board earned "Rs 4,000 crore" in revenue from the IPL in
the UAE, TV viewership was "about 25 per cent more than last year", and over
30,000 RT-PCR Covid tests were conducted for a total of 1,800 individuals
without any of the 60 matches being affected by the pandemic.
This, according to BCCI Treasurer Arun Dhumal, is the report card at the end
of the high-profile T20 league. This year's IPL was also India's first major
sporting tournament since the Covid outbreak started spreading across the
globe in February.
Dhumal said: "The Board managed to cut nearly 35 per cent of the cost as
compared to the last IPL. We earned Rs 4,000 crore during the pandemic time.
Our TV viewership went about 25 per cent higher, we got the highest-ever
opening game (Mumbai Indians versus Chennai Super Kings) viewership. Those
who doubted us came and thanked us for hosting the IPL. Had this IPL not
happened, cricketers would have lost one year."
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
We become what we think about most of the time, and that's the strangest
secret. - Earl Nightingale
Boy: Sir, I want to marry your daughter
Girl's Father: How much do you make in a month
Boy: Rs. 18000, sir.
Girl's Father: You know, my daughter's pocket money is Rs. 15000 a month.
Boy: I know Sir, I've already included that.