Today Picture

Drone Wars: As China supplies 4 armed drones to Pakistan, India expresses interest in US-made drones

It looks like the India-China face-off isn’t going to end any time soon, with the Xi Jinping-led government in the process of supplying four armed drones to Pakistan, according to Hindustan Times. The same report has also added that India has reached out to the United States about its interest in medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) armed Predator-B drone.

The China-made drones are supposed to protect the China-Pakistan Economic Belt at Gwadar Port, located in Balochistan

Meanwhile, the US-made drones that India has expressed interest in collects intelligence through surveillance and reconnaissance, and also locates and destroys the target with missiles or laser-guided bombs, the report added.

Recently, an article in The New York Post by China watcher Steven W Mosher praised PM Modi for ‘not being intimidated’ by China. Mosher, author of Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is a New Threat to World Order observed that PM Modi has not only banned Chinese apps like TikTok but also moved troops to the Himalayan border.

PM Modi also upped the ante by first visiting Leh to bolster the troops and then sending out messages on Buddha Purnima.

As the world fights extraordinary challenges, their lasting solutions can come from the ideals of Lord Buddha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday.

Addressing the Dhamma Chakra Day event, the prime minister said the eight-fold path of Lord Buddha shows the way towards the well-being of many societies and nations.

It highlights the importance of compassion and kindness, he said adding that the teachings of Lord Buddha celebrate simplicity both in thought and action.

"Today the world fights extraordinary challenges. To these challenges, lasting solutions can come from the ideals of Lord Buddha. They were relevant in the past. They are relevant in the present. And, they will remain relevant in the future," Modi said at the event.

After coronavirus, hantavirus and new strain of swine flu, China now reports cases of bubonic plague; warns of epidemic

A city in northern China on Sunday sounded an alert after a suspected case of bubonic plague was reported, according to official media.

Bayannur, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, announced a level III warning of plague prevention and control, state-run People's Daily Online reported.

The suspected bubonic plague case was reported on Saturday by a hospital in Bayannur. The local health authority announced that the warning period will continue until the end of 2020.

"At present, there is a risk of a human plague epidemic spreading in this city. The public should improve its self-protection awareness and ability, and report abnormal health conditions promptly," the local health authority said.

On July 1, state-run Xinhua news agency said that two suspected cases of bubonic plague reported in Khovd province in western Mongolia have been confirmed by lab test results.

The confirmed cases are a 27-year-old resident and his 17-year-old brother, who are being treated at two separate hospitals in their province, it quoted a health official as saying.

The brothers ate marmot meat, the health official said, warning people not to eat marmot meat.

A total of 146 people who had contact with them have been isolated and treated at local hospitals, according to Narangerel.

Bubonic plague is a bacterial disease that is spread by fleas living on wild rodents such as marmots. It can kill an adult in less than 24 hours if not treated in time, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

A couple died of bubonic plague in the western Mongolian province of Bayan-Ulgii last year after eating raw marmot meat.


’60 percent of civil servants associated with RSS run Samkalp’

New Delhi: The joint secretary of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Krishna Gopal will be holding a meeting on July 17 in New Delhi. He will be addressing more than 600 candidates who have successfully passed civil services exams trained by Sampkalp (training institute).

14 Samkalp across country

RSS has 14 Samkalp across the country, three of them are in New Delhi. Among the candidates who are UPSC toppers are Tina Dabi of Delhi and Athar Aamir of Anantnag.

Prakash, the coordinator at Samkalp says the success rate of their candidates is high. He adds that Dabi and Aamir came to Samkalp after passing Union Public Service Commission’s written exam. They were trained at Samkalp for mock interviews for the final leg of UPSC examination. He further states that interview is the last and the most decisive stage of the examination, and Samkalp has the best staff to guide and train. Reported The Economic Times.

Among Samkalp’s mentors and advisers are former governors, retired IFS officers, IAS officers and retired Generals. There is a list of their well-wishers on their website.

“Now each state and cadre has civil servants who owe their success to Samkalp. In the next 10 years, we hope to have a bureaucracy that will genuinely contribute to nation-building with true Indian values and ethos. This is what we are working towards,” an RSS leader said. He and other RSS leaders did not want to be identified. The Economic Times has reported.

646 out of 1078 got coaching at Samkalp

The Economic Times further added that according Samkalp’s coordinator “60% successful candidates were associated” with the institute. Out of the total of 1,078 candidates who were short listed this year 646 got coaching at Samkalp at some stage of the examination or the other.

The coordinator also claimed that of the top 100 candidates about 76 were associated with Samkalp. He also asserted 5,000 serving bureaucrats had been coached by Samkalp in some form.

Latest coronavirus update: WHO takes a U-turn; says its office, not China first alerted it about COVID-19

The World Health Organization has updated its account of the early stages of the COVID crisis to say it was alerted by its own office in China, and not by China itself, to the first pneumonia cases in Wuhan.

The UN health body has been accused by US President Donald Trump of failing to provide the information needed to stem the pandemic and of being complacent towards Beijing, charges it denies.

On April 9, WHO published an initial timeline of its communications, partly in response to criticism of its early response to the outbreak that has now claimed more than 521,000 lives worldwide.

In that chronology, WHO had said only that the Wuhan municipal health commission in the province of Hubei had on December 31 reported cases of pneumonia. The UN health agency did not however specify who had notified it.

WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference on April 20 the first report had come from China, without specifying whether the report had been sent by Chinese authorities or another source.

But a new chronology, published this week by the Geneva-based institution, offers a more detailed version of events.

It indicates that it was the WHO office in China that on December 31 notified its regional point of contact of a case of "viral pneumonia" after having found a declaration for the media on a Wuhan health commission website on the issue.

The same day, WHO's epidemic information service picked up another news report transmitted by the international epidemiological surveillance network ProMed -- based in the United States -- about the same group of cases of pneumonia from unknown causes in Wuhan.

After which, WHO asked the Chinese authorities on two occasions, on January 1 and January 2, for information about these cases, which they provided on January 3.

WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan told a press conference on Friday that countries have 24-48 hours to officially verify an event and provide the agency with additional information about the nature or cause of an event.

Ryan added that the Chinese authorities immediately contacted WHO's as soon as the agency asked to verify the report.

US President Donald Trump has announced that his country, the main financial contributor to WHO, will cut its bridges with the institution, which he accuses of being too close to China and of having poorly managed the pandemic.

The WHO denies any complacency toward China.

Meanwhile, WHO’s emergencies chief says "we need to put up a fight now" during a peak in the current wave of the coronavirus pandemic - rather than focusing on when a second wave might come.

Dr. Michael Ryan said the world will be much better at fighting a second wave, if people can learn the lessons of fighting the first wave.

WHO officials emphasised mask-wearing, social distancing, and hygiene by individuals, along with contact-tracing and tracking of cases by health authorities as key strategies to fight the virus.

They say governments and individuals should contour their policies and behaviour based on the outbreak's status in their countries.

Ryan said the world was experiencing a "second peak in the first wave" - a situation in which the virus hasn't been suppressed enough to quell transmission to end the first one.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi tests positive for COVID-19

Islamabad: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi confirmed that he has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, but was feeling "strong and energetic".

In a tweet on Friday, Qureshi said that he had a slight fever earlier on Friday and had immediately quarantined himself at home, reports Dawn news.

"I have now tested positive for COVID-19... I feel strong and energetic. I will continue to carry on my duties from home..."

Several politicians, including members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), have been diagnosed with the virus over the past few months as it continues to spread in Pakistan.

Prominent political leaders who have contracted the virus so far include National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, PPP leader Saeed Ghani and Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid, all of whom have recovered.

In June, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif had also tested positive for the virus.

Former Balochistan governor Syed Fazal Agha, PTI Punjab MPA Shaheen Raza, Sindh Minister for Human Settlements Ghulam Murtaza Baloch, MNA Munir Khan Orakzai and PTI's Mian Jamshedud Din Kakakhel are among politicians who passed away after contracting the virus.

Pakistan, one of the worst hit South Asian countries, has so far reported 221,896 COVID-19 cases, with 4,551 deaths.


Will take action if Patanjali misleads people on Coronil, warns Maha Minister Rajendra Shingne

Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration Minister Rajendra Shingne has warned Baba Ramdev's Patanjali of strong action if the ayurvedic company misleads or creates confusion among people about their "medicine" for COVID-19.

"Coronavirus cannot be treated with Patanjali's medicine. Action will be taken if Patanjali creates confusion among people or misleads the people claiming the drug cures coronavirus (COVID-19)," said Shingne.

The FDA Minister said action will be taken with the help of the state's home department under the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954, if any false claims are made by producers of Coronil.

Shingne noted that the Union AYUSH Ministry, too, has clarified that Patanjali can sell Coronil but only as an immunity booster.

On Wednesday, the Union AYUSH Ministry said Patanjali can sell Coronil but only as an immunity booster and not as a cure for the virus. "AYUSH Ministry has only given permission to sell this particular formulation as immunity booster and not as a medicinal cure for COVID-19," Patanjali said in a statement.

Patanjali Ayurved Ltd said there was no disagreement now between it and the Union ministry. The company claimed that the AYUSH Ministry has "categorically agreed" that Patanjali had "appropriately worked on COVID-19 management". "Now there is no difference of opinion between AYUSH Ministry and Patanjali," it added in a statement.

(With input from Agencies)

ISRO's Mangalayan Mission manages to capture detailed image of Mars' largest moon Phobos

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) recently captured of Phobos, one of Mars’s two moons.

The image was taken on July 1, when the MOM was 7,200 kilometres from Marsh and 4,200 kilometres from Phobos, ISRO said in a statement.

Speaking of the image, ISRO said it was a composite image generated from 6 MCC frames and had been color corrected. “Phobos is largely believed to be made up of carbonaceous chondrites,” ISRO added.

The mission also known as Mangalyaan was initially meant to last six months, but subsequently ISRO had said it had enough fuel for it to last "many years." The country had on September 24, 2014 successfully placed the Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft in orbit around the red planet, in its very first attempt, thus breaking into an elite club.

ISRO had launched the spacecraft on its nine-month- long odyssey on a homegrown PSLV rocket from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on November 5, 2013. It had escaped the earth's gravitational field on December 1, 2013.

The Rs 450-crore MOM mission aims at studying the Martian surface and mineral composition as well as scan its atmosphere for methane (an indicator of life on Mars).

The Mars Orbiter has five scientific instruments - Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP), Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM), Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser (MENCA), Mars Colour Camera (MCC) and Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer.

Phobos became something of pop-culture thanks to the Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi flick Total Recall, as well as id software’s first-person shooting game in the 1990s, Doom.

With Agency Inputs


India-China face-off: PM Narendra Modi visits Ladakh to assess situation, interact with troops

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Leh on Friday, the first time he visited the region since the June 15 clash between Indian and Chinese troops at Galwan Valley that led to the death of at least 20 Indian soldiers.

PM Modi arrived in the region to review the security situation and interact with the troops.

Earlier, the US has also made several statements that seem to indicate its support for India. US President Donald Trump has made a pitch for expansion of the G7 grouping by including India, Russia, Australia and South Korea. The western country also followed Germany's lead at the UN Security Council to delay a draft statement condemning the terrorist attack at the Karachi Stock Exchange.

“China’s aggressive stance along the India-China border fits with a larger a pattern of Chinese aggression in other parts of the world and these action only confirm the true nature of the Chinese Communist Party”, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany quoted Trump to say.

Latest coronavirus vaccine update: ICMR-Bharat Biotech Covaxin test results to be released on August 15

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) DG Balram Bhargava has written a letter to Bharat Biotech and principal investigators of medical colleges to complete the trial procedure of indigenous COVID-19 vaccine in a fast track method, so that results of a clinical trial can be launched by August 15.

Bharat Biotech had recently received a nod for a clinical trial of its vaccine - Covaxin.

"This is the first indigenous vaccine being developed by India and is one of the top priority projects which is being monitored at the topmost level of the Government. The vaccine is derived from a strain of SARS-CoV-2 isolated by ICMR-National Institute of virology. Pune- ICMR and BBIL are jointly working for the preclinical as well as clinical development of this vaccine," the letter read.

A total of 12 institutes have been asked by the ICMR to fast track clinical trials of the vaccine as it is being considered the topmost priority projects which are being monitored by the government.

"You have been chosen as a clinical trial site of the BBV152 COVID Vaccine. In view of the public health emergency due to COVID-19 pandemic and urgency, to launch the vaccine, you are strictly advised to fast track all approvals related to the initiation of the clinical trial and ensure that the subject enrollment is initiated no later than 7, July 2020," stated Dr Bharagava in a letter.

It is worth noting that earlier a letter from the ICMR DG to Bharat Biotech leaked out claimed that the vaccine would be ready by August 15. However, when asked ICMR clarified that the purpose of the letter was to expedite trials so that results could be available by August 15, the vaccine would need more time for public use.

"Kindly note that non-compliance will be viewed very seriously, therefore you are advised to treat this project on the highest priority and meet the given timelines without any lapse," the letter added.

India's coronavirus tally crossed 6 lakh cases yesterday after 19,148 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours.

Trump brags about 'massive testing' as US reports 54,357 COVID-19 cases in a single day

The United States' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported 54,357 COVID-19 cases in a single day across the country. This is the new single-day record. According to the update of the CDC website, there are 54,357 new cases and 725 new deaths on Thursday.

According to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, more than 2.7 million COVID-19 cases have been reported in the United States with the fatalities surpassing 128,400 as of Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump on Friday said that the rise in the COVID-19 numbers was because of the "massive" testing. He also said that the death rate in the country was down.

Taking to Twitter he wrote, "There is a rise in Coronavirus cases because our testing is so massive and so good, far bigger and better than any other country. This is great news, but even better news is that death, and the death rate, is DOWN. Also, younger people, who get better much easier and faster!"

On Tuesday, Anthony Fauci, the US government's top infectious-diseases expert, had said that the country is "not in total control" of the coronavirus pandemic. He warned that the COVID-19 cases could go up to 100,000 per day if the current trend "does not turn around."

Meanwhile, the pandemic response office at National Security Council which was disbanded by the Trump administration in 2018 will now be reopened at the State Department amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Security Council held an interagency meeting on Thursday to discuss plans for the office, which will fall under the leadership of a new position: coordinator for pandemics, CNN reported quoting a senior administration official.

(With input from Agencies)