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Pan India helpline for cyber crime, frauds launched


The helpline number has been prominently published on the National Consumer Helpline (NCH) portal. A banner link is also provided to directly lodge any complaint on the Cyber Crime Portal,”

The Centre has launched a helpline number – 155260 – for reporting cyber fraud or the consumer can directly lodge a complaint on Cyber Crime Portal regarding the same.

“The helpline number has been prominently published on the National Consumer Helpline (NCH) portal. A banner link is also provided to directly lodge any complaint on the Cyber Crime Portal,” Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, Leena Nandan told media persons here on Tuesday.

The helpline and the prominent display of the link to lodge the complaints related to cyber crime are an endeavour of the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) under Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.

Complaints of cyber fraud were regularly received on the NCH. The Department of Consumer Affairs, therefore, collaborated with the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C), Ministry of Home Affairs, for strengthening redressal of cyber fraud grievances on NCH.

Advocacy resources to raise awareness on cyber fraud have also been published on NCH platform. These include preventive measures for safeguarding against common cyber frauds like financial fraud, job fraud and matrimonial frauds.

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has also provided a ‘Knowledge base on Digital Payments’ providing FAQs for various modes of digital payment like BHIM, Bharat QR, IMPS, Debit cards etc. It has been published on NCH platform. “NPCI has also started an online dispute resolution system for UPI complaints,” Nandan said.

“Our Department is collaboratively working with stakeholders, including, TRAI, NPCI and I4C to protect consumers from cyber frauds and safeguard consumer rights. We have held the first meeting in September. With inputs from stakeholders, our operations will be even smoother,” the Secretary Nandan said.

In addition, a number outreach and publicity activities have been undertaken to make consumers aware about their rights, consumer protection law& become cautious of unfair trade practices.A

Publicizing the National Consumer Helpline and to educate consumers on how to lodge consumer complaints has been the Department’s prime focus. The Department’s JaagoGraahakJaago tag line is widely recognized in the country.




China’s PLA deploys new type of all-terrain vehicle on border with India


The delivery of the vehicle comes at a time when China and India failed to reach an agreement during the 13th round of corps commander-level talks over issues related to the western section of the China-India border

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Xinjiang Military Command has received a new type of all-terrain vehicle, which is expected to ensure logistics support to plateau border defence troops as winter draws close and as China-India border tensions again risk rising after the latest military talks failed to reach an agreement due to “unrealistic Indian demands”, Global Times reported.

The delivery of the vehicle comes at a time when China and India failed to reach an agreement during the 13th round of corps commander-level talks over issues related to the western section of the China-India border, with the PLA Western Theater Command slamming India for its unreasonable and unrealistic demands on October 11, Global Times said.

Several Chinese experts reached by the Global Times warned at the time that China needs to brace for the possibility of further Indian military aggression, as India is risking a new round of conflict.

The unit that commissioned the new vehicle is garrisoned at a high-altitude, snowy border region that is extremely cold, lacks oxygen and has a complex terrain, which causes difficulties in logistics support including the transport of supplies, the PLA Xinjiang Military Command revealed in a release published on its WeChat account.

After several on-the-spot investigations, the vehicle was tailored to suit the needs of the troops, as it uses caterpillar tracks that aren’t made from metal. These tracks are sturdy, do not damage road surfaces, have high mobility and can carry heavy loads, the command said.

The vehicle can traverse freely in complex terrains like shallow river banks, deserts, mountains and snowfields even under bad weather conditions, and provide reliable support to the supply transportation of plateau troops, the release said. It didn’t reveal the designation of the new vehicle.

“There is no need to worry that we will run out of living materials this winter,” the release quoted a soldier as saying, the report added.

According to a report by China Central Television (CCTV), some PLA units started to use this type of vehicle in January.




Covid exposed unequal, unaccountable, divided world: WHO panel


While in the first year, countries “collectively failed” to take serious preparations and act rapidly, in the second they exhibited “profound inequality” as the world leaders failed to interconnect

Covid-19 “has exposed a broken world that is inequitable, unaccountable, and divided”, resulting in its failure to put an end to the pandemic that has so far killed 4.95 million globally, according to a report by a World Health Organisation (WHO) panel on Tuesday.

The report was launched by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), an independent body set up by the WHO and the World Bank in 2018 to prepare for pandemics, in Berlin.

It stated that from the time the pandemic began, almost two years ago, the world continues to “struggle” to mitigate its impact.

While in the first year, countries “collectively failed” to take serious preparations and act rapidly, in the second they exhibited “profound inequality” as the world leaders failed to interconnect, making “the world more interdependent than ever”.

The world continues to be “fragmented by growing nationalism, geopolitical tensions, and deep inequalities”, said the report.

“As of October 2021, as many as 17 million people will have died due to Covid-19. More than 1.5 million children around the world have lost a parent or a grandparent… Behind each death, there is a human story, a loss of potential, and an enormous gap left in a community… While this disaster should have brought us together, instead we are divided, fragmented, and living in worlds apart,” said Elhadj As Sy, Co-Chair at GPMB, in the report.

Although the speed of vaccine development is a matter of pride, but “we must feel deep shame over multiple tragedies — vaccine hoarding, the devastating oxygen shortages in low-income countries, the generation of children deprived of education, the shattering of fragile economies and health systems”, he added.

The GPMB report called for a renewed global social contract for health emergencies that works collectively, across countries, sectors, and communities.

It also framed an action plan to help build a world prepared for future pandemics. The plan includes building a strong WHO with greater resources, authority, and accountability; creating an agile health emergency system that can deliver on equity; and establishing a collective financing mechanism for preparedness.

“We must reject pessimism, recognise our common humanity and growing interdependence, and create a global health ecosystem that serves everyone. Together we must move from worlds apart to a world prepared,” As Sy said.




India logs lowest daily Covid cases in 8 months


This is the lowest daily surge in Covid-19 cases since March.

India logged 12,428 new daily Covid-19 cases, 13.1 per cent lower than yesterday, and 356 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Ministry data showed on Tuesday.

This is the lowest daily surge in Covid-19 cases since March.

On October 18, India had logged 13,596 new Covid-19 cases, which was the lowest daily spike in cases that the country saw in 230 days.

With fresh cases, the country’s overall caseload has now mounted to 3,42,02,202, according to the data released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare early on Tuesday.

As many as 356 deaths were reported in the country in the last 24 hours, increasing the total death count to 4,55,068.

India’s recovery rate now stands at 98.19 per cent.

Across the country, states have been witnessing a drop in daily cases.

The top five states which have registered maximum cases are Kerala with 6,664 cases, followed by Tamil Nadu with 1,112 cases, Maharashtra with 889 cases, West Bengal with 805 cases and Mizoram with 790 cases.

With 15,951 patients recovering in the last 24 hours, the total recoveries rose to 3,35,83,318 across the country.

The active caseload meanwhile has come down to 1,63,816. In the last 24 hours as active cases declined by 3,879.

The country’s active caseload (1,63,816) is the lowest in 241 days. India has logged 3,42,02,202 infections since the start of the pandemic.

The weekly positivity rate stood at 1.24 per cent this morning; it has been less than 2 per cent for the last 32 days.

The daily positivity rate stood at 1.1 per cent; it has been less than 2 per cent for the last 22 days. At 98.19 per cent, the recovery rate is the highest since March 2020.

India has administered a total of 64,75,733 doses in the last 24 hours, which brings the total tally of doses administered to 1,02,94,01,119.




India crosses historic vaccination landmark; 100 crore Covid jabs administered


A total of 100 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far to eligible beneficiaries, as per the CoWIN portal at 9:47 am today. India’s Covid-19 vaccination drive was launched on January 16, 2021.

In a landmark achievement, India’s cumulative Covid-19 vaccination coverage crossed 100 crore doses on Thursday.

A total of 100 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far to eligible beneficiaries, as per the CoWIN portal at 9:47 am today. India’s Covid-19 vaccination drive was launched on January 16, 2021. Initially, the vaccination was opened for Health Care Workers (HCWs) only.

In a tweet, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya congratulated the country on achieving the feat and said it was the result of the able leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Congratulations to the people&healthcare workers of India. It’s remarkable to reach the 1 billion dose mark for any nation, an achievement in just over 9 months since the vaccination program started in India, Dr. VK Paul, Member-Health, NITI Aayog stated on India crossing 100 crore vaccination.

As per the health ministry data, an average of about 38.43 lakh jabs have been delivered daily over the past week or so.

From February 2, front-line workers were made eligible for vaccination. These included State and Central Police personnel, Armed Force Personnel, Home Guards, Civil Defence & Disaster Management Volunteers, Municipal workers, Prison Staff, PRI Staff and Revenue workers involved in containment and surveillance, Railway Protection Force and election Staff.

The vaccination drive was expanded from March 1 to include persons above 60 years of age and those above 45 years with associated specified 20 comorbidities. It was further expanded to all people above 45 years of age from April 1. From May 1 all persons above 18 years of age were made eligible for Covid-19 vaccination.

India took 85 days to touch the 10-crore vaccination mark, 45 more days to cross the 20-crore mark and 29 more days to reach the 30-crore mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data.

The country took 24 days to reach the 40-crore mark from 30-crore doses and then 20 more days to surpass the 50-crore vaccination mark on August 6. It then took 76 days to go past the 100-crore mark.

The top five states which have administered the highest number of doses are Uttar Pradesh followed by Maharashtra, West Bengal, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh.

India has become the second country after China to reach the 100-crore milestone. But the basic difference between the two nations is accessibility to related data. China claims to have vaccinated over 2.23 billion individuals. It even claimed last month of fully vaccinating over 100 crore people but there is no open-source data accessible to validate it.

On January 3 this year, India gave emergency-use approval to Covishield and Covaxin. Covishield is a two-shot Covid vaccine developed by AstraZeneca-Oxford University.

Pune-based Serum Institute of India is its major producer. On the other hand, Covaxin, also a two-shot vaccine, is completely an indigenous achievement. It is developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech.

On April 12, amid concerns of rapidly scaling up Covid cases and fatalities, India approved the third vaccine made by Russia: Sputnik V.

(With ANI inputs)




46 dead, 11 reported missing in U’khand flash floods, landslides


According to the Uttarakhand Chief Minister’s Office, 28 people have reportedly died due to rain and landslides in the Nainital district alone. Ramgarh’s Talla area has been the worst-affected area in Nainital.

As many as forty-six persons have reportedly died and 11 are reported missing in the heavy rains leading to flash floods and landslides in several parts of Uttarakhand.

Rescue and relief operations are still awaited in many remote areas and villages. Nainital, a major tourist destination, remains the worst-affected area in the state where 28 persons have reportedly died and several others are still missing.

According to the Uttarakhand Chief Minister’s Office, 28 people have reportedly died due to rain and landslides in the Nainital district alone. Ramgarh’s Talla area has been the worst-affected area in Nainital.

Nine persons are reportedly trapped under the debris of a house that collapsed. As many as six persons have reportedly died in Almora while another six persons have died in Pauri, Champawat and Pithoragarh. One person lost his life in Bageshwar. The state government has announced financial compensation of Rs four lakh to the next of kin of the deceased.

A child has been trapped under the rubble after a house collapsed in Bhimtal in Kumaon region. In Almora district, three people were reportedly buried after debris from a hill destroyed a house.

Twelve persons received serious injuries and nine houses were destroyed due to the incessant rain. Tourists are reported to be stranded at several places in Uttarakhand. Instructions have been given to the district authorities to evacuate the tourists safely. On Tuesday evening, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami inspected the affected areas in Nainital district.

Road connectivity to Nainital has been cut-off due to the torrential rain.

The Uttarakhand Chief Minister has taken stock of the situation by conducting an aerial survey of the disaster-hit areas of Garhwal and Kumaon regions and received information from the Rudraprayag District Magistrate about the travel arrangements and facilities being provided to the people staying at different places.

Roads have been damaged due to heavy rain and landslides in Nainital, Haldwani, Kathgodam, Ranikhet, Pauri, Lansdowne, Chamoli. Bridges and railway tracks have also been damaged at several places and road transport has been disrupted. In Kathgodam, the railway track has been damaged.

Kosi river is flowing above the danger mark in Ramnagar. Many resorts in Mohan and Dhikuli areas have been completely inundated. After hours of relief and rescue efforts, the district administration rescued 150 tourists from a resort located in Mohan.

In view of the incessant rain and landslides, all schools and colleges in Uttarakhand have been closed and people have been advised not to travel. The road going towards Almora and Nainital has been blocked. Several major roads connecting Haldwani in the Terai region of Uttarakhand to the hills have been severely damaged.




Kerala floods: 42 dead, six still missing


Vijayan also said that 304 relief camps have been opened in the state where 3,851 families are now staying.

The heavy rains which hit Kerala last week and the consequent floods have left 42 people dead and six people are missing, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Wednesday.

“The IMD prediction is that starting Wednesday till October 24, heavy rains are expected. Extra caution has to be maintained by all and the authorities are also fully geared to face the situation,” he told media persons after a cabinet meeting.

The worst-affected districts on account of the rains and floods are Kottayam, Idukki, and Pathanamthitta.

Vijayan also said that 304 relief camps have been opened in the state where 3,851 families are now staying.

“All the things in the camps will be taken care by the state and utmost caution also have to be ensured as Covid is still around. Hence, all in the camps must wear masks. It would be best that outsiders do not enter the camps,” he said.

Vijayan also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called to find out the situation and has pledged all support.

“Dalai Lama also had called to find out and he has promised a sum of Rs 11 lakh. Likewise Karnataka Chief Minister and other people from various walks of life have also called. I also request all the good minds to help and contribute to the suffering on account of the calamity,” he said.

Vijayan also said the authorities have been asked to prepare the final list of damages that has been caused in the state on account of the floods and rains, as the state will compensate all those who have suffered a loss appropriately soon.




India doesn’t need Covid booster dose immediately: Experts


“The need for booster dose in India is probably not immediate, especially when we still have a considerable population unvaccinated and vaccine availability is not far in excess of the immediate requirement,”

As India is set to reach the milestone of vaccinating 100 crore people, the country is currently focused on providing both the doses to all of its adult population and the need for a third or a booster dose does not appear to be an “immediate” one, health experts said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this year announced plans to fully vaccinate India’s adult population by the year-end. While India is about to reach 100 crore Covid vaccine doses target this week, worryingly just one-third of the country is fully vaccinated.

Last week, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said that over 74 per cent of the eligible population in India has received the first dose of the Covid vaccine, while the second shot has been administered to over 30 per cent of the eligible population.

“The need for booster dose in India is probably not immediate, especially when we still have a considerable population unvaccinated and vaccine availability is not far in excess of the immediate requirement,” Dr. Veena P. Menon, Professor, Department of Clinical Virology, Amrita School of Medicine, told IANS.

Menon added that since a significant percentage of the population has some degree of infection acquired natural immunity, “a third dose for the general population is certainly not warranted at present”.

“There is a huge vaccination gap when millions are not able to get even the first vaccine shot. India isn’t lagging, we are just more focused on how this huge vaccination gap can be reduced. If we see the differences between the two doses — people vaccinated with a single dose are not taking the second dose on time and are avoiding being fully vaccinated,” added Dr Sameer Bhati, Public Health Expert, Member Vaccination Awareness Committee, and Director at Star Imaging Path Labs.

The same has also been echoed by scientists at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) who have not approved a booster dose yet. For India, a booster dose is not the central theme at the moment and getting two doses remains the major priority, media reports quoted Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director General Balram Bhargava as saying.

“It is essentially a case of demand and supply. We are still not able to make enough doses to vaccinate all above 18 years. We would need 1,500 mn doses (two jabs) for 75 crore population. We have only reached, perhaps, 25 per cent (two doses). If this population has to be vaccinated by December, we need to make at least 300 mn doses per month,” Bhargava had said.

Eminent scientist and biochemist Prof G. Padmanaban, last week, told IANS that India may require the third dose of Covid vaccine by the middle of next year, as breakthrough cases even after full vaccination have been prevalent, even though mostly mild.

Anjela Taneja, Inequality Campaign Lead, Oxfam India, said: “We need to immunise more people first before starting universal immunisation with a third dose. Having said so, we should also probably explore booster doses for the small minority of those who are truly vulnerable.”

“As the coronavirus cases are down sharply, we may think of giving booster doses for maintaining the antibodies developed after existing vaccination plans,” Bhati added.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation has also recently recommended the third dose to people with immunocompromised systems like organ-transplant recipients, cancer patients or those of advanced age.

Many countries, including the US, the UK, France, and Germany, have rolled out of Covid booster. India is still weighing the need for a third dose also because there is still little data available on boosters in the country, Bhati said.

“Data from India is lacking. Preliminary data from our hospital suggests waning of neutralising antibody levels in older healthcare workers who were vaccinated in the first phase. However, this in itself does not mean there is no protection. Memory responses would still be able to protect from severe illness,” Menon said.

There is a need for more studies in different and special populations which will help us build an evidence base for the need for the next boost, the experts suggested.




Priyanka Gandhi detained on way to Agra


Chaotic visuals from the scene went viral on social media showing Priyanka Gandhi surrounded by a number of people, including policemen, as she tried to make her way past the blockade.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been detained by Lucknow Police at the Lucknow Expressway while she was travelling to Agra to meet the family of a Dalit man who died in police custody.

Her car was stopped at the first toll plaza on the Lucknow-Agra Expressway.

Earlier this month, Priyanka had been detained in Sitapur while she was on her way to Lakhimpur to meet families of farmers killed on October 3.

After she was stopped, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted: “What is the government so afraid of? Arun Valmiki died in police custody. His family is seeking justice. I want to visit that family. What is the Uttar Pradesh government afraid of? Why am I being stopped? Today is Lord Valmiki Jayanti… Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke big on Buddha but this is attacking his message.”

The police spokesman said that the Congress leader was stopped as she did not have the requisite permissions. She is being taken to police lines.

Chaotic visuals from the scene went viral on social media showing Priyanka Gandhi surrounded by a number of people, including policemen, as she tried to make her way past the blockade.

Another visual showed a police official standing in front of her vehicle, with both hands placed firmly on the hood.

In a video of the conversation between the Congress leader and the police, she can be heard asking: “Wherever I go, do I have to ask for permission?” to which the officer says it is a “law and order issue”.

In another visual, Priyanka Gandhi is seen posing for selfies with a few women police officers as party workers can be heard shouting in the background.

Earlier on Wednesday, Arun Valmiki, a ‘safai karamchari’, who had been arrested in connection with the theft of Rs 25 lakh from the police strong room, died after his health deteriorated during interrogation.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Agra Muniraj G said he fell sick on Tuesday night while a raid was being carried out at his house. He was then taken to a hospital but doctors declared him dead, he said.

Arun was accused of stealing the money on Saturday night from a building that served as the police station’s evidence locker, and where he worked as a cleaner.

Arun’s family claimed that he died due to custodial torture.




Sri Lanka won’t be used to inflict threat on India’s security: SL Prez


Gotabaya Rajapaksa also reiterated the need to reintroduce former Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s 1971 proposal to declare the Indian Ocean as a Peace Zone and urged India’s support for this endeavor.

The President of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, assured India on Tuesday that he will not allow Sri Lanka to be used for any activity that could pose a threat to  India’s security,  following a meeting with the Indian Foreign Secretary, Harsh Vardhan Shringla.

The President’s media unit said that Rajapaksa made the assurance on India’s security describing the importance of the geographical positioning of India and Sri Lanka.

Rajapaksa also explained his country’s relationship with China and assured that India should not have any doubt about it. During the meeting, a discussion was also held on enhancing the opportunities for the Sri Lankan military to train in India.

The Sri Lankan President also reiterated the need to reintroduce former Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s 1971 proposal to declare the Indian Ocean as a Peace Zone and urged India’s support for this endeavor.

The President stressed the need to reintroduce the strong ties between the two countries, similar to what it was during the 1960s and 70s.

Rajapaksa also told the Indian Foreign Secretary that his government is taking measures to create an environment for all the Tamil people who left the country to return to the island nation and said that at the recently-concluded United Nations summit, he extended an open invitation to the Tamil diaspora and all Tamil people living around the world.

Rajapaksa has also stated that 90 percent of the lands in the North and East acquired for security reasons during the war has been returned and compensation has been paid to the families of the disappeared.

While inviting Indian investors to Sri Lanka, Rajapaksa said that the subject minister has been vested with the responsibility to resolve the issue relating to the Trincomalee Oil Tanks in the East in a way that would benefit both countries.

Rajapaksa assured that the long-dragging issue relating to fishermen in the two countries could be resolved, providing benefits to the fishing communities in both parties.

Rajapaksa also extended an invitation to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Sri Lanka.

During the meeting with the President, the Indian Foreign Secretary underscored the importance India attaches to expeditiously taking forward mutually beneficial projects, including proposals to enhance air and sea connectivity between India and Sri Lanka.

He reiterated India’s position on the complete implementation of the provisions under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, including devolution of power and the holding of provincial council elections at the earliest.

Shringla later left Sri Lanka after completing his three-day visit. During his first-ever visit, the Foreign Secretary met Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris, Lankan Foreign Secretary Admiral (Retd) Jayanath Colombage, and some Tamil political leaders.

He also visited the historical Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy, the India-run oil tanks in Trincomalee, and the former war-torn Northern city of Jaffna.

During his meeting with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday, Shringla stated that India-Sri Lanka relations are underpinned by vibrant people-to-people ties which would be further strengthened with the signing of the inter-governmental MoU for the $15 million Buddhism grant.

As a mark of goodwill and to bolster cultural links between the two countries, he said India will welcome the inaugural flight from Sri Lanka to Kushinagar, a religiously important place for Buddhists.

(With IANS inputs)





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