Sero survey finds 24.19 percent Covid positivity in Punjab, 96 percent asymptomatic


Sero survey finds 24.19 percent Covid positivity in Punjab, 96 percent asymptomatic

Meanwhile, amid complaints of mass violations of Covid curbs at weddings and parties, Punjab CM on Friday ordered restriction of 100 on indoor and 250 on outdoor gatherings in the state.

Even as Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday ordered restriction on outdoor gatherings in the state, as many as 24.19 per cent of Punjab’s population has been infected by Covid, as per the second Sero-Survey conducted in 12 districts of the state.

Sharing the findings of the survey, conducted among randomly selected districts and population, health secretary Hussan Lal said 4678 participants were interviewed and their blood samples collected.

Of these, 1201 tested IgG reactive, of which only 4.03 per cent were symptomatic and 95.9 per cent were asymptomatic.

Urban areas showed a positive rate of 30.5 per cent, while rural areas reported 21.0 per cent positivity. Ludhiana, with 54.6 per cent total positivity and 71.7 per cent urban positivity was found to be the worst hit, followed by Ferozepur, Jalandhar and SAS Nagar (Mohali). Female positivity was found to be higher in both urban and rural areas.

Meanwhile, amid complaints of mass violations of Covid curbs at weddings and parties, Punjab CM on Friday ordered restriction of 100 on indoor and 250 on outdoor gatherings in the state.

Taking cognisance of the high case fatality rate in the state, the CM also extended curfew restrictions (10 p.m. to 5 a.m.) till 1 January. The night curfew was earlier imposed from 1 December to 15 December.

Chairing a high-level Covid review meeting, the Chief Minister also ordered an end to home quarantine for those above the age of 70 with co-morbidities, unless adequate medical facilities can be made available at home. Health secretary Hussan Lal pointed out during the virtual meeting that a large number of Covid deaths were also being reported from home isolation cases.
Lal disclosed that so far, close to 35 lakh samples had been tested in th state, of which 1.5 lakhs were found positive.

Though the second wave in Punjab had so far been mild, the health authorities were fully geared to tackle any eventuality, he said. He noted that 87 per cent of the deaths had been over the age of 45, with about 50% of the deaths taking place at private tertiary care centres.




Govt official cites 5 benefits of contract farming law


Govt official cites 5 benefits of contract farming law

According to Ashok Dalwai, the president of the committee constituted to achieve the goal of doubling the farmers’ income, the new law emphasises on the interests of the farmers.

Contract farming has been going on in the country for a long time now, both in formal as well as informal manner, but the Central government has given it a legal basis through a law. A senior government official said that the agreement under the new law will define the quality, grade, price and conditions of services, and therefore will not compromise farmers’ interests.

According to Ashok Dalwai, the president of the committee constituted to achieve the goal of doubling the farmers’ income, the new law emphasises on the interests of the farmers.

In order to make agriculture a profitable avenue, the Centre included the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act as one of the three farm laws. The law will specify the quality, grade, price of crops and conditions of services. Apart from this, the contract will be from one year to five years. The third important feature of the law is that if the price of the crop is more than the price fixed in the agreement, then the market price will be considered as the standard price.

Farmers have been protesting on the borders of Delhi since November 26 demanding withdrawl of the three farm laws. The leaders of the farmers’ organisations feel these laws will benefit the corporates. Dalwai, the CEO of National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA), enumerated five benefits of the farm law to IANS.

1) The farmers are not aware about the prices after harvesting the crops, but in the contract farming agreement, the prices will be fixed in advance so that farmers can be assured of getting a fixed price.

2) Farmers will get extension technology through which they will get to know which crop to produce and what variety to produce considering the demand.

3) The responsibility of the service will be taken up by the sponsor or buyer. For example, the sponsor may take up the responsibility for water management, waste management etc.

4) The contract will not be of the land, but only for the crop.

5) In case of any dispute, it will be settled at the gram panchayat level and if it is still not resolved, the matter will be settled at the SDM level.

Farmers demanding the withdrawl of the new farm laws fear that settlement of dispute at the SDM level will not provide justice to the poor farmers. The government has assured them of adding the provision of going to the civil court in case the dispute is not solved at the level of the SDM.




Army chief Naravane leaves for UAE, S Arabia to bolster defence ties


Army chief Naravane leaves for UAE, S Arabia to bolster defence ties

The visit is significant in the sense that it is the first time that an Indian Army chief is visiting the Gulf countries, which are critical for India’s maritime security and counter terrorism.

Indian Army chief, Gen M M Naravane today left on a crucial tour of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia to bolster India’s defence cooperation with key West Asian countries.

“General MM Naravane COAS proceeded on a fourday maiden visit to United Arab Emirates (UAE) followed by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The visit aims to further strengthen strategic and defence cooperation between the countries,”the Defence Ministry tweeted.

The visit is significant in the sense that it is the first time that an Indian Army chief is visiting the Gulf countries, which are critical for India’s maritime security and counter terrorism.

Gen Naravane will be in the UAE from 9 to 10 December and then travel to Saudi Arabia.

He is scheduled to meet his counterparts as well as other top military personnel in both the countries to discuss ways to further enhance defence and security cooperation.

In Saudi Arabia, he will visit the headquarters of the Royal Saudi Land Force, Joint Force Command Headquarters and King Abdulaziz Military Academy. He will also address students and faculty at the National Defence University.

Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia are home to a large Indian diaspora. India considers both countries as part of its “extended neighbourhood”.

India’s defence and security cooperation, especially counter-terrorism, has seen a dramatic expansion with both these nations in recent years.

The visit comes against the backdrop of the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan normalising relations with Israel. The upswing in ties between India and the two Gulf countries also comes at a time when their ties with Pakistan have come under strain.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today spoke on telephone with Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar, another key Gulf nation.

The two leaders discussed the robust cooperation between both countries in the fields of investment flows and energy security, and reviewed recent positive developments in this regard.

They decided to create a special task-force to further facilitate investments by Qatar Investment Authority into India, and also resolved to explore Qatari investments in the entire energy value-chain in India.




Shah steps in to placate angry farmers


Shah steps in to placate angry farmers

Home minister meets farmers ahead of 6th round of negotiations, Union Cabinet led by Modi to meet before the final round

A day before the government’s crucial sixth round of talks with representatives of protesting farmers, Home minister Amit Shah on Tuesday met a select group of union leaders in a bid to break the deadlock.

Sources said 13 farmer leaders were called for the meeting, which began after 8 pm. The farmer leaders included eight from Punjab and five from various nationwide organisations.

Sources said the participating leaders included Hannan Mollah of the All India Kisan Sabha and Rakesh Tikait of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU).

Some farmer leaders said they first expected the meeting would take place at Shah’s residence here, but the venue was shifted to National Agricultural Science Complex, Pusa.

The meeting came on a day a ‘Bharat Bandh’ observed by farmers to press their demand affected life in some states. The meeting, however, appeared to have created discord among the organisations spearheading the protests on Delhi’s borders for the past 12 days with the head of the BKU (Ugrahan), which is one of the largest outfits in the bloc, questioning the rationale of the talks a day before the scheduled official consultations.

In a social media post, Joginder Singh Ugrahan, who was not invited to the meeting with Shah, said there was no need for the talks before official consultations and hoped that the leaders attending today’s meet would keep in mind the view of the larger group.

Farmer leaders have been firm on their demand for repeal of three new farm laws enacted in September, which they claim will benefit corporates and end the mandi system and the minimum support price (MSP) regime.

“We will demand just a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ from Home Minister Amit Shah,” farmer leader Rudru Singh Mansa told reporters earlier in the day at the Singhu border where thousands of farmers have been protesting for the last 12 days.

The government has maintained that it is committed to the welfare of farmers and have presented these laws as major reforms for their benefits.

The Union cabinet is expected to meet tomorrow at 10.30 am to firm up the government strategy to placate farmers.

Earlier today shops and commercial establishments were closed, transport affected and traffic disrupted as protesters squatted on roads and train tracks in several parts of the country on Tuesday in response to a Bharat Bandh’ called by farmers demanding a repeal of the new agri laws.

Emergency services were exempted and banks, too, continued operations as the pan-India shutdown, backed by most opposition parties and many trade unions, came into effect with the maximum impact in states such as Punjab, Haryana and Delhi, the epicentre of the snowballing protests.

Security was stepped up across the country, noisy demonstrations were held in many places and the numbers swelled at Delhi’s border points where thousands of farmers have been camping for the last 11 days. Protesters blocked railway tracks at several places in West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha.

From the Rajasthan capital Jaipur, where mandis’ were closed but shops were open, there were reports of clashes between workers of the state’s ruling Congress and the BJP.

The protesting farmers fear the new laws will pave the way for eliminating the safety of the Minimum Support Price cushion and do away with ‘mandis’, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.

The government maintains the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.

Farmers from Punjab and also Haryana have been the drivers of the movement. In Punjab, shops and commercial establishments were closed as were 3,400 fuel pumps. From morning, farmer leaders appealed to shopkeepers and traders to keep their shutters down.




2 minor girls from PoJK cross LoC, enter India


2 minor girls from PoJK cross LoC, enter India

The incident came in the morning when the Indian troops maintaining restraint did not open fire at the infiltrating girls.

Two minor girls from Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) on Sunday crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and entered India in the Poonch Sector of the Jammu division.

The incident came in the morning when the Indian troops maintaining restraint did not open fire at the infiltrating girls.

Jammu based spokesman of the Army, Lt. Colonel Devender Anand identified the girls as Laiba Zabair aged 17 years and Sana Zabair aged 13 years, residents of village Abbasspur, Tehsil Forward Kahuta.

He said these girls had inadvertently crossed into Indian side in Poonch Sector in the morning hours. “Own troops deployed along the Line of Control having detected the crossing, exercised complete restraint to prevent any harm to the teenagers. Efforts are being made for early repatriation”, Lt. Colonel Anand said.




Army rescues 5 injured in accident on Jammu-Srinagar highway


Army rescues 5 injured in accident on Jammu-Srinagar highway

Army teams from Nachlana immediately swung into action, controlled the traffic and carefully evacuated the five injured from the accident site.

Timely rescue operation by the army saved the lives of five civilians after an overnight road accident on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway.

A statement issued by the Defence PRO here said on Monday that the army rescued civilians on the National Highway 44 in the Ramban area of Jammu when a truck they were travelling in turned turtle.

“The Indian Army came to the rescue of civilians on NH44 near Nachlana district Ramban on 6 December at 1900 hrs, a truck turned turtle on NH44 near Nachlana.”

Army teams from Nachlana immediately swung into action, controlled the traffic and carefully evacuated the five injured from the accident site.

The rescued civilians were being treated in a hospital, said the army.




Policeman, civilian injured in Srinagar terror attack


Policeman, civilian injured in Srinagar terror attack

Police said that terrorists fired indiscriminately upon a police party at Sazgaripora, Hawal, in which one police personnel, Farooq Ahmad Chopan and a civilian, Muneer Ahmad got injured. They were shifted to the hospital.

A policeman and a civilian were injured on Sunday when terrorists opened fire at a police checkpoint in the Srinagar’s downtown.

Police said the attack came in the Sazgaripora area of Hawal in the old city.

Police said that terrorists fired indiscriminately upon a police party at Sazgaripora, Hawal, in which one police personnel, Farooq Ahmad Chopan and a civilian, Muneer Ahmad got injured. They were shifted to the hospital.

The area was immediately cordoned off by security forces. Condition of the injured is stated to be stable in the medical institute.

This is the second terrorist attack during the ongoing local body elections across Jammu and Kashmir. Terrorists had earlier shot and injured a candidate in the Sangam block of the Anantnag district of south Kashmir.

There were reports of miscreants in some areas of Pulwama threatening people who cast their vote in the election. A group of heavily armed terrorists had earlier infiltrated from Pakistan through a cross-border tunnel to disrupt the elections but were killed in an encounter at a toll plaza near Jammu.

Pakistan shells villages in Poonch, Kathua

Pakistani troops opened fire and shelled mortars at forward posts and villages along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch and Kathua districts, officials said on Sunday.

There was no report of any damage on the Indian side. At about 12:30 p.m. Pakistan initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation by firing with small arms and shelling mortars along the LoC in Balakote sector of Poonch. The Indian Army retaliated befittingly, a defence spokesman said. The officials said there was also a report of ceasefire violation in the Pansar border outpost along the IB in Hiranagar sector of Kathua district.

2 minor girls from PoJK cross LoC, enter India

Two minor girls from Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) on Sunday crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and entered India in the Poonch Sector of the Jammu. The incident came in the morning when the Indian troops while maintaining restraint, did not open fire at the infiltrating girls. Army spokesperson Lt. Colonel Devender Anand identified the girls as Laiba Zabair (17) and Sana Zabair (13).




BJP declares election management teams for 2021 West Bengal polls without ‘outsider’


BJP declares election management teams for 2021 West Bengal polls without ‘outsider’

Recently, BJP came under attack from TMC after they had fielded 10 central leaders in the state to strengthen the organisation ahead of next year’s election.

Ahead of the state’s Assembly Elections early next year, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in West Bengal has formed election management teams.

Separate teams have been given responsibilities to create the party’s manifesto, organise rallies and marches, mobilise Matua votes, maintain contact with Panchayat and booth level workers and manage social media platforms, among others.

The most starking feature of the teams is that there’s zero presence of any “outsider”. Recently, BJP came under attack from TMC after they had fielded 10 central leaders in different regions of the state to strengthen the organisation.

The outsider-insider debate has taken a centrestage in West Bengal ahead of the state’s Assembly Elections next year. Led by Mamata Banerjee, TMC has built their election campaign with narratives to paint BJP as an “anti-Bengali” entity.

The attack on BJP comes after it decided to put central leaders in charge for Assembly Elections in West Bengal next year. The party had put five central leaders in as many organisational zones in the state before fielding another five central leaders in the state.

These developments followed BJP’s decision to appoint the party’s IT-Cell chief Amit Malviya as West Bengal’s co-convener alongside Arvind Menon. They will play deputy to BJP General Secretary Kaliash Vijayvargiya, highlighting the desperation of the party to win the eastern state.

The plot to portray BJP as an “outsider” and “anti-Bengali” party has been made evident by back-to-back press conferences from heavyweight TMC leaders.

BJP state president in West Bengal, Dilip Ghosh, had clarified earlier that the central leaders were deployed as observers and they were merely advising the party in terms of strengthening the organisation.

He also said that it will be BJP’s Bengal workers who will fight the and win the election against Mamata Banerjee’s TMC in 2021.

Meanwhile, Swapan Dasgupta has been announced as the chief of the manifesto committee, which will have Anupam Hazra, Rantideb Sengupta and Subhash Sarkar as members.

The responsibility to manage Matua and refugee votes has been given to BJP’s Bangaon MP Shantanu Thakur, Debjit Sarkar and Jagannath Sarkar.




BJP trying to malign Gupkar alliance: Omar Abdullah


BJP trying to malign Gupkar alliance: Omar Abdullah

Having failed on its previous planks, it is now resorting to propping up the names of PAGD leadership in Roshni Act however the allegations will also stand debunked when subjected to fact-checking.

National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah on Thursday said that Dr. Farooq Abdullah led PAGD is upbeat with the unprecedented support it is receiving from people across Jammu and Kashmir and that there is no question of double speak about supporting the best candidate because the best candidate for J&K and to fight to restore what we have lost are the PAGD candidates.

He made these comments while chairing a meet of central zone functionaries of the NC in Srinagar. The issues concerning the party were discussed in the meeting, besides that predicaments faced by the people on various accounts were also discussed in the meeting. The participants gave their estimation of the prevailing political situation in their respective areas.

While addressing the meet, the vice president said, “We are doing politics in extraordinary times, never in history post 1996, has the government of India been so disinclined towards contesting candidates. Such an outlook is unheard of in an emancipated world and in the post independent India, where anyone who is participating in a democratic exercise is being intimidated and vilified. On the other hand there are people who are working against the interests of Jammu and Kashmir. Considering the imminent threat people of J&k have made it a point to give a befitting reply to such forces which are working in the direction which are not in the interest of the nation in general and J&K in particular. The plaint lot which has surfaced to strengthen BJP, RSS is apparently being facilitated by the administration in the ongoing DDC elections by circumventing all norms. In spite of that people coming in large numbers to ensure that anti Kashmir forces don’t get a chance to play any mischief with the mandate in wake of any thin voting and ubiquitous favouritism of administration towards BJP, its ilk,” he said.

He said that the party has given primacy to the interests of the people of J&K over its own interests only to ensure that realization that has dawned upon the political parties in J&K is able to endure the antagonism from BJP, its Team-B. “Ditching all the allegations that it was the power that the party hankered for, our party president took a lead and cobbled an alliance for the restoration of restoration of J&Ks identity. Party president knew that the movement we get splintered, our political adversaries in the shape of BJP, and its team of “pliant stooges” will get a free run to trade off all vital interests of people of J&K for petty political gains. It was in that perspective that the party sought to give primacy to PAGD and willing to give any sacrifice for the same in the future also, because we are not fighting for power. Participating in DDC elections is part of the struggle for the restoration of our rights which were spitefully annexed by the ruling BJP .We are fighting to see our state flag hoisted next to the national flag. Moreover, we aren’t seeking anything outside the ambit of the country’s constitution, we are fighting for the rights which are there in the constitution itself,” he said.

Keeping in view the all out support of people for PAGD, the edgy BJP has increased its tirade against the PAGD leadership orchestrating false allegations against them and by employing various intimidating measures to dissuade the People’s Alliance.

Having failed on its previous planks, it is now resorting to propping up the names of PAGD leadership in Roshni Act however the allegations will also stand debunked when subjected to fact-checking.

“A false perception is being sold about ROSHNI Scheme but how could it possibly be illegal when it was passed by the state legislature and also accorded concurrence by the then governor. In the spree of mounting tirade on PAGD, BJP fails to remember that it was the same governor’s post which was callously, unconstitutionally and undemocratically used to dismember and disenfranchise the state. If we go by BJPs analogy, then all the measures which were carried out by the governor are principally illegal because it didn’t even receive the assent of the state legislature,” he said.

“Why is it that only PAGD is targeted? What about BJP’s own members whose names in fact have propped up in the land grab? The names of one of its members, former speaker and the former deputy chief minister, as a point of fact have surfaced in illicit land grab in Jammu,” he said.




Mamata Banerjee set to be 1st Indian woman leader to speak at coveted Oxford Union Debate


Mamata Banerjee set to be 1st Indian woman leader to speak at coveted Oxford Union Debate

Mamata Banerjee will be the first-ever woman chief minister from India to speak at the iconic Oxford Union Debate, which will be held virtually this time.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will be the first Indian woman leader to speak at the coveted Oxford Union Debate when she participates in the event virtually on Wednesday.

Banerjee will be the first-ever woman chief minister from India to speak at the iconic event organised by the Oxford Union Debating Society. Had it not been for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, she would have travelled to Oxford to take party in the programme.

The 65-year-old had received the invitation for the event in July last year. Reportedly, more than 600 questions have been filed online, mostly by students.

“Banerjee, who became the first Indian woman CM to address the debate, had received the invitation from the Oxford Union in July,” PTI quoted a Nabnna official as saying.

“She will be answering questions from students during the debate, and has already received 600 online queries,” he said.

Banerjee would be speaking about the schemes of the state government like ‘Kanyashree’, ‘Rupasree’, ‘Krishak Bandhu’ and ‘Duare Bangla’. She would be highliting how these schemes had helped in the welfare of citizens.

Founded in 1823, The Oxford Union has featured several world leaders and luminaries as speakers, including US presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Regan, British prime ministers Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, physicist Albert Einstein and spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Ahead of the next year’s West Bengal Assembly Elections, where the state’s governning party TMC is set to face a tough challenge from BJP, Banerjee’s participation in the internationally-famed event is sure to boost her and her party’s image.

Speaking of international recognition, Banerjee’s flagship project for the empowerment of girl child, Kanyashree, had received the United Nations’ highest public service award in 2017.

Beating 552 social sector schemes from 62 countries, Kanyashree was declared the winner for helping more than 40 lakh female students in West Bengal from 2011 to 2016.

Banerjee had visited Haugue in Netherlands to receive the award after she was invited by the UN.




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