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Jammu and Kashmir administration begins advance planning for COVID-19 vaccine roll-out


As per the officials, Deputy commissioners have been asked to prepare district-wise micro-plans for vaccination sites, cold chain storage points and logistics requirements by December 7.

The Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor’s administration has begun advance planning for COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in the union territory, officials said on Friday.

The development comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a series of meetings with Chief Ministers of states followed by an all-party meeting over the distribution plan of the vaccine.

As per the officials, Deputy commissioners have been asked to prepare district-wise micro-plans for vaccination sites, cold chain storage points and logistics requirements by December 7.

Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education, Atul Dulloo, said preparations are in full swing to ensure all measures are put in place.

The preparatory planning is on for the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination for a hassle-free and time-bound delivery of the vaccine across the Union Territory, he said.

In this direction, Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam on Friday chaired a marathon meeting with deputy commissioners of all districts along with their chief medical officers.

In the meeting, it was informed that COVID-19 vaccines candidates are currently in the third phase of clinical trials, an official spokesman said.

It was also conveyed that to effectively deliver the vaccines at the grassroots level, all districts must undertake detailed micro-planning with regard to vaccination sites, cold chain storage points, and logistics requirements, he said.

Officials of the health department said that the database of prioritised groups of beneficiaries was being compiled. Healthcare workers, both in government and private establishments, and frontline workers, including armed forces, home guards, police, volunteers and municipal workers, will be administered the vaccine in its initial stages.

The next group that could be taken up for vaccination would comprise persons above the age of 50 years, followed by those with co-morbidities and then the remaining population, they said.

Further, it was informed that to carry out a dedicated COVID-19 vaccination drive, around 4,500 vaccinators are being identified across the UT with a capacity of administering 100 vaccines per site per day – cumulating to an impressive capacity to deliver 4.5 lakh vaccines a day, the officials said.

Regarding the human resource requirement at each vaccination site, the CS asked the health department and the district administrations to depute two trained vaccinators, a data operator, a record keeper, and three volunteers per site to ensure a well-coordinated and accessible vaccination drive.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that Indian scientists are very confident about Covid-19 vaccine which would be ‘ready in a few weeks’ asserting that India’s vaccination plan would begin as soon as scientists give a go-ahead in the virtual all-party meet on Friday.

PM Modi during the meeting which has been attended by about 12 leaders from various political parties said, “Experts expect that the vaccine will be ready within next few weeks itself. Once scientists approve it, the nation-wide Vaccination drive will be started in India.”

“Our scientists are very confident of succeeding in their endeavour of making COVID-19 vaccine. The world is keeping a watch on the cheapest and safe vaccine.” he further added.

(With inputs from PTI)




Hyderabadis give fractured mandate, TRS single largest party


TRS emerged as the single largest party with 55 seats in the 150-member municipal body while the BJP won 48 seats, signalling its emergence as a dominant political force in the state.

Elections to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) threw up a hung house as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made big inroads to deny the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) a clear majority.

TRS emerged as the single largest party with 55 seats in the 150-member municipal body while the BJP won 48 seats, signalling its emergence as a dominant political force in the state.

Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), which retained 44 seats, has emerged as the kingmaker. TRS and MIM are likely to enter into a power sharing arrangement to rule the municipal body.

The Congress could win just two seats. Owning the responsibility for the party’s disastrous performance, state Congress chief N. Uttam Kumar Reddy announced his resignation from the poston Friday evening.

The results came as a big shock to the TRS, which had won landslide majority in 2016 with 99 seats. With just four seats in the previous elections, the BJP improved its performance manifold.

Result in one division (Neredmet) was withheld as the number of ballots with ‘distinguished mark’ other than ‘swastik’ was more than the majority of TRS. The ruling party was leading by 505 seats but ballots with ‘distinguished mark’ other than ‘swastik’ was 544. The result will be subject to High Court order in the matter.

The counting day saw several twists and turns in the fortunes of the parties. Though TRS appeared set to retain power with lead in 70 divisions at around 4 p.m., the scene changed subsequently with the BJP racing ahead in divisions where it was locked in neck-and-neck battle with the TRS.

The newly elected corporators and 52 ex-officio members will elect the Mayor. Since TRS has majority ex-officio members, it required 65 corporators to have its Mayor. The party may now have to negotiate power sharing agreement with the MIM if the latter doesn’t extend unconditional support. In 2009, when GHMC polls had thrown a similar verdict, the Congress had shared power with the MIM, leaving the post of Mayor to MIM for two years.

The post of Mayor this time has been reserved for woman.

Terming the results not to the expectations of the party, TRS working President K.T. Rama Rao said the party fell short by 20-25 seats. When asked about the possibility of an alliance with the MIM, he said the party would discuss all the issues and then take a decision.

Performing beyond its own expectations and making big inroads in the state capital, the BJP replaced MIM as the second largest party.

The saffron party fought the polls with all the might with top Central leaders and Union ministers campaigning for its candidates.

The party’s state chief Bandi Sanjay said that people have taught a lesson to Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao for his arrogance and corruption. He said despite all the unfair means adopted by the TRS, people gave their mandate to the BJP and they see it as the sole alternative to TRS.

Counting of votes cast in all 150 divisions began at 8 a.m. at 30 places in the city with Telangana State Election Commission deploying over 8,000 personnel.

The police made elaborate security arrangements in the city in view of the counting. Prohibitory orders and traffic restrictions were imposed around the counting centres.

The police in Hyderabad, Cyberabad and Rachakonda have imposed ban on victory rallies for the next 48 hours.

Out of the total 74.67 lakh voters, 46.55 per cent had cast their votes in 149 divisions on Tuesday. There were 1,925 postal ballots.

Polling in one division was stopped due to discrepancy in ballot paper and re-poll was held on Thursday.

A total of 1,122 candidates tested their political fortunes. The bitterly contested elections saw a high-decibel campaign with the participation of several central ministers and top national leaders of the BJP.

Union Ministers Amit Shah, Prakash Javadekar and Smriti Irani, BJP President J.P. Nadda and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath campaigned for the BJP.

The campaign also saw no holds barred attack by political opponents. The promise by BJP leaders to change the name of Hyderabad to Bhagyanagar if the party was voted to power also sparked a row.




PM Modi to lay down foundation stones of two projects in Gujarat’s Kutch district


Talking to reporters here during a function, Rupani said that the hybrid renewable energy park, having both solar panels as well as windmills, will be the “world’s biggest” with power generation capacity of 30,000 megawatts.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay down foundation stones of two projects in Gujarat’s Kutch district on December 15, state Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said.

Talking to reporters here during a function, Rupani said that the hybrid renewable energy park, having both solar panels as well as windmills, will be the “world’s biggest” with power generation capacity of 30,000 megawatts.

“This project is coming up in the desert of Kutch.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Kutch on December 15 to perform the ground-breaking ceremony of this park,” he said.

“On the same day, the PM will also perform the ground-breaking ceremony of a desalination plant at Mandvi, Kutch. This plant will provide fresh water for farming, for industries and for drinking purpose,” Rupani added.




RBI maintains accommodative stance; keeps repo rate unchanged, reverse repo rate at 3.35%


RBI had last revised its policy rate on May 22, in an off-policy cycle to perk up demand by cutting interest rate to a historic low.

The Reserve Bank of India on Friday maintained the status quo on benchmark interest rates for the third time in a row and maintained an accommodative stance. The repo rate was left unchanged at 4 per cent while the reverse repo rate also continued at 3.35 per cent.

The benchmark repurchase (repo) rate has been left unchanged at 4 per cent, Governor Shaktikanta Das said while announcing the decisions taken by the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC). He also said that the Central Bank expects the economy to record positive growth in the second half of the current financial year.

“MPC decided to continue with accommodative stands of monetary policy as long as necessary, at least till current financial year and into next year to revive growth on a durable basis and mitigate the impact of Covid-19 while ensuring that inflation remains within the target,” said the RBI Governor.

The central bank had slashed the repo rate by 115 basis points since late March to support growth.

RBI had last revised its policy rate on May 22, in an off-policy cycle to perk up demand by cutting interest rate to a historic low.

Das also said that the economy contracted by 23.9 per cent in the first quarter and 7.5 per cent in the second quarter on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The second half is expected to show some positive growth,” he said, adding that during the financial year as whole the economy was likely to contract by 7.5 per cent, which is an improvement over its previous projection of 9.5 per cent contraction.

In October, the RBI had projected the contraction in gross domestic product (GDP) at 9.5 per cent.

The Governor said the GDP is expected to turn positive in the third quarter and expand at 0.1 per cent. The last quarter is likely to see an expansion of 0.7 per cent.

Hence, the growth in second half of the fiscal is expected to show a positive growth.

In its October monetary policy statement, RBI had said the real GDP growth in 2020-21 is expected to be negative at (-) 9.5 per cent, with risks tilted to the downside (-) 9.8 per cent in Q2 2020-21; (-) 5.6 per cent in Q3; and 0.5 per cent in Q4.

The 26th meeting of the rate-setting MPC with three external members: Ashima Goyal, Jayanth R Varma and Shashanka Bhide, began on December 2. This is the second meeting of these members who are appointed for a term of four years.

The government moved the interest rate setting role from the RBI Governor to the six-member MPC in 2016. Half of the panel, headed by the Governor, is made up of external independent members.

MPC has been given the mandate to maintain annual inflation at 4 per cent until March 31, 2021, with an upper tolerance of 6 per cent and lower tolerance of 2 per cent.




Farmers protest: Centre offers to amend farm laws, farmers say no


The seven hour long meeting between the centre and the farmers representatives failed to end the on going farmers protest. Union Agriculture Minister  Narendra Tomar, led the negotiations, said  that the government ‘has no ego’. The next meeting will be held on Saturday.

The Thursday meeting between the Centre and the farmers has failed to end the deadlock as farmer representatives remain steadfast on the scrapping of the three farm laws.

The seven hour long meeting between the centre and the farmers representatives failed to end the on going farmers protest. Union Agriculture Minister  Narendra Tomar, led the negotiations, said  that the government ‘has no ego’. The next meeting will be held on Saturday.

Jagmohan Singh, the general secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda) said, “We will ask the government tomorrow whether they will scrap the law and if they refuse, we may not attend the December 5 meeting.”

The meeting which was led by Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar along with cabinet colleague Piyush Goyal and junior industry minister Som Parkash tried to assure the farmers of Minimum Support Price (MSP) and to call off the agitation.

At the meeting, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that Minimum Support Price (MSP) will not be touched and no changes will be made to it. Tomar said this in a reply to farmer leaders during the meeting.

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar after the meeting said, “The government will consider giving more legal rights to farmers. MSP will continue, we have assured farmers of MSP. It would be good if the farmers can call off the protest,”

The minister further added, “The government will consider giving more legal rights to farmers. The Minimum Support Price will continue, we have assured the farmers.”

He also said that the government will consider the farmers demand of taking their grievances to court and not the Sub-Divisional Magistrate.

At the Thursday meeting the farmer representatives made a 39 point presentation on the new farm laws, after which the government gave its views. The representatives at the lunch break refused to have food offered by the government and got their own food.

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh on Thursday met with Union Hime Minister Amit Shah and has urged the centre to resolve the issue as it not only affects economy of Punjab but is also affects ‘nation’s security’.

Parkash Singh Badal, Shiromani Akali Dal leader and former Punjab Chief Minister on Thursday returned his Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest civilian award, in protest against the government’s ‘betrayal of farmers.’

Thousand of framers who have braved police barricades, water canon, and tear gas are protesting around Delhi borders since last week against the farm laws.




Sensex, Nifty hit record highs after RBI revises real GDP growth projection


Sensex had opened at 44,665.91 and has touched an intra-day low of 44,665.91 points.

Domestic equity markets hit fresh highs on Friday after the the Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) maintained the accommodative stance for the rest of the fiscal year and revised the growth prospects.

After hitting an all-time high of 45,033.19 points, the S&P BSE Sensex was trading 283.95 points or 0.64 per cent higher at 44,916.60 at 12.15 p.m.

Sensex had opened at 44,665.91 and has touched an intra-day low of 44,665.91 points.

Similarly, the NSE Nifty was trading at 13,212.90 levels, up by 79.00 points or 0.60 per cent. It had earlier touched a fresh all-time high of 13,250.30 points.

In a video statement after the Monetary Policy Committee’s (MPC) meet, Das said that the economic recovery has been faster than anticipated and the real GDP growth for FY21 is projected at (-)7.5 per cent, against the previous estimate of (-)9.5 per cent.

He attributed to the upward revision in GDP growth numbers to the current rate of recovery and vaccine hopes for Covid-19.

The MPC, however, decided to keep the repo rate unchanged at 4 per cent in view of the elevated inflation rate.




Counting begins in bitterly fought Hyderabad civic polls today


In this civic body polls, a total of 1,122 candidates are contesting across 150 divisions that are spread over four districts.

Counting of votes for the high-pitched Hyderabad civic election began from 8 a.m. onwards on Friday.

Despite the bitterly fought and divisive campaigns by political parties, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) polls reported an unimpressive 46.55 per cent turnout on December 1.

The Telangana State Election Commission (SEC) has made extensive arrangements for the counting that will take place at 30 places with the help of over 8,000 personnel. The vote counting process will be recoded with security cameras that are installed at every table.

The Telangana SEC had decided to conduct the polls with ballot papers and postal ballots were allowed. The results are likely to be known only in the evening or in the night.

In this civic body polls, a total of 1,122 candidates are contesting across 150 divisions that are spread over four districts. The fates of the candidates will be decided by over 74 lakh eligible voters who will take part in this intensely fought civic polls between the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which is trying to make inroads in the southern state.

The high voltage election campaign saw issues beyond basic civic infrastructure to whether Hyderabad name could be changed to Bhagyanagar, which UP CM Adityanath said at an election rally.

The BJP which is upbeat with its victory in the recent by-election to the Dubbak assembly constituency, had flew in national leaders like Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP president JP Nadda and UP CM Yogi Adityanath who have campaigned in this polls.

South MP Tejasvi Surya also made divisive remarks while taking on the TRS and the AIMIM. He has been charged for entering the Osmania University without permission in his campaign for the city civic polls.

In the last GHMC elections in February 2016, ruling TRS had won 99 seats, whereas AIMIM had won 44 seats, BJP got four, Congress won two and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) won one seat.

The GHMC was formed by merging 12 municipalities and eight gram panchayats with Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad (MCH) in 2007.




Jitendra Singh snubs Gupkar alliance for raking settled Kashmir issue


While addressing a public meeting just about 3 to 4 kilometers away from the border, Dr. Jitendra Singh said, just as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it possible to take decisions like abrogation of Article 370 and holding of DDC elections which were considered impossible, similarly this task of retrieving PoJK will also be accomplished by the Modi government.

Union Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh said on Thursday that India stands committed to retrieve Pak occupied Jammu & Kashmir (PoJK) and that is the only issue outstanding between India and Pakistan. There is no such issue as Kashmir issue and Jammu & Kashmir is as similar and as much a part of India as any other State or Union Territory, he said.

Addressing a series of public meetings during District Development Council (DDC) election campaign along the International Border (IB) in Khour, Pargwal and other areas in district Jammu, Dr. Jitendra Singh was responding to a suggestion by certain Gupkar leaders that India should initiate talks with Pakistan. He referred to the unanimous resolution of Parliament passed in 1994 wherein it was unanimously accepted by all parties that Pakistan has to vacate the areas of the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir which continue to remain under its illegal occupation even after so many years and that is the only issue between India and Pakistan.

Dr Jitendra Singh said, PDP, National Conference and Congress have been consistently represented in the Indian Parliament and even today they have sitting MPs in the Parliament, which implies that these parties are also part of this unanimous resolution but simply for opportunistic political interests, such demands are being made when the District Development Council election campaign is going on in the Kashmir valley.

While addressing a public meeting just about 3 to 4 kilometers away from the border, Dr. Jitendra Singh said, just as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it possible to take decisions like abrogation of Article 370 and holding of DDC elections which were considered impossible, similarly this task of retrieving PoJK will also be accomplished by the Modi government. He said, people of PoJK have been for a long time deprived of the benefits of democracy and it is our commitment to them that we have to make them a beneficiary of India’s democratic system with grassroot empowerment.




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


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.




Founder of MDH Masala Dharampal Gulati dies due to cardiac arrest at age of 97



Founder of MDH Masala brand and a popular face in the country, Dharampal Gulati, died due to cardiac arrest on Thursday at age of 97.

“Mahashay” Dharmpal Gulati had been in hospital in Delhi for weeks. He died of a cardiac arrest early this morning, said reports.

Last year, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian award.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal poured tributes for the Masala King of India on twitter.

“Dharm Pal ji was very inspiring personality. He dedicated his life for society. God bless his soul,” Kejriwal tweeted.

His deputy Manish Sisodia also posted message on Twitter.

“India’s most inspiring entrepreneur, MDH owner Dharm Pal Mahashay passed away this morning. I have never met such an inspiring and lively soul. May his soul rest in peace,” tweeted Sisodia.

According to his biography on the MDH site, Dharampal Gulati set up a business in 1937 with help from his father and started selling mirrors, soap, hardware and rice.

When the business failed, he returned to work with his father for the company Mahashian Di Hatti.

He further moved to India after the Partition and arrived in Delhi with Rs 1,500 to his name.

He opened his first store in Karol Bagh in Delhi and expanded his business from there.

agency 





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