Today Picture



Mamata asks supporters to maintain peace


Bengal CM stable, suffered ankle fracture; Trinamul blames EC for ‘attack’

The condition of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is stable, though she has a fracture with swelling on her left ankle, according to the health bulletin issued by state-run SSKM Hospital where she is undergoing treatment since last night after sustaining injuries at Nandigram on Wednesday afternoon.

A medical team comprising doctors in orthopaedics, cardiology, general medicine, neuro-surgery, neuromedicine, endocrinology and cardiology is treating her at the Woodburn building inside the hospital premises.

“She is feeling pain on her injured left leg and will undergo several other radiological tests today. Her blood test reports have also revealed a little deficiency in her sodium count,” the bulletin read out by SSKM Hospital director Dr Manimoy Bandyopadhyay said.

In a video message from her bed at Woodburn Building, the chief minister asked Trinamul workers, supporters and the public to maintain calm as election process is on and not to react violently.”Please do not do any thing that will create trouble for the people of the state.”

She said that she would soon resume her election campaign but due to her injuries she will be wheelchair bound for a few days.

She said that yesterday at Nandigram, after visiting a temple, she was about to get into her car and was standing near the bonnet when some men pushed her and she got hurt.

“Last night,I had excruciating pain in chest and head. It’s true that I’m gravely injured but within two or three days I’ll resume my election campaign but due to my leg injury, I’ll be wheelchair bound. So I need all your co-operation for my campaign.”

Trinamul workers today protested across the state, some put up road blocks, others burnt tyres and shouted slogans against the BJP. Last night, when the Governor went to SSKM to pay a visit to the injured Miss Banerjee, aggrieved Trinamul workers shouted slogans against the BJP.

A TMC delegation met the Chief Electoral Officer of the state and insisted the Election Commission cannot absolve itself of culpability, asserting that maintaining law and order was the EC’s responsibility once the election has been announced.

“The EC removed DGP of the state police, and the very next day she was attacked,” TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee said. Claiming that the attack was a “deep-rooted conspiracy to take the life of TMC chief”, the Trinamul leaders said anti-social elements have been mobilised from the neighbouring states by the BJP in Nandigram to unleash violence.




Poll panel rejects TMC charge


The EC, responding to a memorandum submitted by the Trinamul Congress holding it culpable for the alleged attack on Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram yesterday, said the memorandum is full of “insinuations and averments that question the very basis of creation and functioning of election commission.”

The Election Commission of India has termed the attack on West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee as “unfortunate” and said it deserves to be “inquired into with promptitude and dispatch”.

During the day, the Commission also alerted police officers and directed them to be more cautious while handling VVIP security.

The EC, responding to a memorandum submitted by the Trinamul Congress holding it culpable for the alleged attack on Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram yesterday, said the memorandum is full of “insinuations and averments that question the very basis of creation and functioning of election commission.”

Stating that it was incorrect to suggest that the EC has taken over the law and order machinery in the state in the name of conducting polls, the commission said that it does not take over the day to day governance of any state.

On the issue of the removal of DGP and ADG (law and order) without discussing with the state government, it said that the moves were taken following recommendations of the special observers. The commission further said that as polls have been announced it is not legally necessary or mandatory to consult the state government as these are temporarily measures for the election period.

The Election Commission has sought a report from state chief secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay and the commission’s two special observers Vivek Dubey and Ajay Nayak in connection to yesterday’s incident of alleged attack on Miss Banerjee by 5 p.m. tomorrow.

A letter in this regard was issued by ECI secretary Rakesh Kumar.




New Covid cases jump to highest in 2.5 months


The country recorded 22,854 new Covid-19 cases and 126 fatalities, bringing the national infection tally to 1,12,85,961 while the death toll reached 1,58,189, according to the Union health ministry.

India on Thursday reported nearly 23,000 fresh Covid-19 cases in a single day, the highest in the past two and half months, and around 5,000 more than the previous day’s figure, prompting the Centre to ask people not to lower their guard and to embrace vaccines.

The country recorded 22,854 new Covid-19 cases and 126 fatalities, bringing the national infection tally to 1,12,85,961 while the death toll reached 1,58,189, according to the Union health ministry. On Wednesday, India had reported 17,921 Covid-19 cases and 133 deaths. For the last two days, the number of fatalities has seen a spike, which earlier was hovering under 100. According to the Ministry’s data, there are 1,89,226 active cases at present. Besides, 18,100 Covid- 19 patients were discharged in a day. A total of 1,09,38,146 persons have been discharged so far. The rise in the number of Covid cases, which had so far appeared to be confined to Maharashtra and Punjab, is now beginning to show in several other states. States/UTs such as Delhi, Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh have had very similar growth trajectories in recent weeks.

Delhi on Wednesday reported 370 cases, a high not witnessed in over two months. Similarly, in Gujarat, the increasing trend has been noticeable for three weeks now. In the last 24 hours, the state has reported 675 new cases, the highest in this year so far. Expressing concern over the rise in active cases in a few states, NITI Aayog member (Health) V K Paul termed as “worrisome” the situation, especially in Maharashtra, where strict lockdown measures will be enforced in some parts.




Education is the catalyst for change: President Kovind


The President was happy to note that Anna University is one of the largest technological universities in the world, offering undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Engineering, Technology, Architecture and Applied Sciences relevant to the current and projected needs of the society.

Education is the catalyst for change and the youth is the most potent agent of social transformation, said President Ram Nath Kovind while addressing the 41st annual convocation of the Anna University in Chennai today (March 11, 2021).

The President was happy to note that Anna University is one of the largest technological universities in the world, offering undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Engineering, Technology, Architecture and Applied Sciences relevant to the current and projected needs of the society.

He said that this university making an impressive contribution to the field of the education sector. That is why it figures among the top institutions in QS World and NIRF rankings.

The President said that Anna University has created a conducive ambience for encouraging technological pursuits that cultivates the right learning attitude for the young students. The scientific temper that is nurtured in the students is well expressed in the projects and achievements of this university.

He was glad to note that this is the first Indian university to design, develop and operate a satellite in association with ISRO. He said that ANUSAT, the satellite is not just an achievement but also an inspiration for young minds across the globe to open up and reach for the stars.

Speaking about the National Education Policy 2020, the President said that knowledge is the foundation upon which the character of each individual is built. He reiterated that education is the catalyst for change and the youth is the most potent agent of social transformation.

He said that educated youth, given the right direction can bring revolutionary changes in the course of history. That is what the National Education Policy 2020 aims to achieve. The new policy seeks to implement a modern education system based on research, skill and acumen relevant to the evolving needs of the present.

At the same time, it would also include within its domain our rich cultural heritage in consonance with a futuristic outlook. The policy focuses on inculcating moral values and promoting understanding of Indian culture. He expressed confidence that the implementation of this policy would usher in an era of modern learning and education.

It would create a brigade of researchers and professionals who would take our country to the great heights of development, as befitting our national aspirations.




China talks peace, partnership, prosperity with India


At his annual press meet, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday said that the right and wrongs of what happened in the border area last year are clear, so are the stakes involved.

China on Sunday talked peace, partnership and prosperity with India, insisting that it is committed to settling the boundary dispute with New Delhi through dialogue and consultations.

After troops of both countries disengaged along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh last month, New Delhi had warned Beijing over a week ago that it was not in the interest of either side to prolong the remaining boundary issues.

At his annual press meet, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday said that the right and wrongs of what happened in the border area last year are clear, so are the stakes involved. “It again proves initiating confrontation will not solve the problem. Returning to peaceful negotiation is the right way forward,” he said.

China’s position, he said, is very clear. “We are committed to settling the boundary dispute through dialogue and consultations,” he said, adding that at the same time the Xi Jinping regime has resolved to safeguard its sovereign rights and interest.

The foreign minister said, “China and India are each other’s friends and partners and not threats and rivals. Both need to help each other succeed instead of undercutting each other, we should intensify cooperation instead of harboring suspicion over each other.”

The boundary dispute, an issue left from history, is not the whole story of the China-India relationship, he said. “It is important that the two sides manage the dispute properly and at the same time expand and enhance cooperation to create enabling conditions for settlement of the issue.”

Following the disengagement along the LAC in Pangong Tso area, there has been no progress over other disputes in Gogra-Hot Springs area, Demchok and Depsang plains.

However, on Sunday, Wang said it falls on both sides to solidify existing consensus, strengthen dialogue and communication and improve the various management mechanisms to jointly safeguard peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

In the year ahead, he said, Beijing hoped that India will work with China to truly deliver on important common understanding of the leaders of the two countries that India and China are not threats to each other but opportunities to each other’s development.

Together, the Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi governments can bring greater benefit to the people of China and India, and make greater contribution to efforts for an Asian century, the Chinese Foreign Minister said.

The China-India relationship, he argued, is essentially about how the world’s two largest developing countries get along and pursue development and rejuvenation together, he said that. “As two ancient civilisations next door, and two major emerging economies each with over one billion people, China and India have broad common interests and tremendous potential for cooperation,” Wang pointed out.

Domestically, he said, both countries face historical mission�accelerating growth. And internationally, he said, the world expects both the countries to safeguard the common interests of developing countries and advance multi-polarity in the world. “Our positions are the same or close due to similar national realities,” he said.




Mamata challenges Modi to one-on-one duel


Miss Banerjee addressed the gathering here almost at the same time that Mr Modi criticised her in a Kolkata rally.

Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee today challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a “one on one” fight and claimed that she would hand the saffron brigade a defeat.

As BJP leaders, including former state transport minister Suvendu Adhikari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, branded Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s associates as “tolabaaz” (extortionists) who allegedly ran “syndicates,” Miss Banerjee also hit back at them in Siliguri today and said there was no syndicate in the country other than Narendra Modi and (Home Minister) Amit Shah.

Addressing a crowd here after a march she led in protest against the hike in prices of petroleum products, Miss Banerjee said: “Syndicate! What Syndicate? India knows only one syndicate that is Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. There is no other syndicate.”

Miss Banerjee addressed the gathering here almost at the same time that Mr Modi criticised her in a Kolkata rally.

A visibly excited Miss Banerjee wondered what the the BJP leaders’ earnings were if they sold out public sector units. “You are the great tolabaz. How much amount of ‘tolabazi’ (cut money) will be involved in the Railways, Sail, Air India, Coal India and Ujjwala!,” Miss Banerjee asked, referring to the Centre’s Ujjwala Yojana, which seeks to provide free cooking gas cylinders to the poor.

She also challenged Mr Modi to a “one on one fight” and claimed: “I would beat the BJP …”

As the PM mocked the TMC’s slogan ‘Khela Habe’ in Kolkata and said: “Khela Shesh … Khela Khatam,” Miss Banerjee here said: “Khela Habe… One on one…”

Significantly, Miss Banerjee also said she does not have any problems if Mr Modi came to Bengal for “propaganda,” “but you will have to answer why an LPG cylinder is costing over Rs 900.”

“The state government is providing rice free of cost to the people, but they boil the same rice by buying LPG at high prices,” she said.

Similarly, as the PM mentioned his party’s slogan ‘Sonar Bangla’ and ‘Aasol Parivartan’ (real change) in Bengal, the CM here said: “No change in Bengal. Change will come in Delhi…BJP will face defeat in all five states.”




At current rate, it will take 50 years to achieve gender parity in parliaments globally


Although progress has been steady over the past few years, it is still excruciatingly slow and at the current rate, it will take another 50 years before gender parity is achieved in parliaments worldwide, the report states, adding that as at 1 January 2021, women accounted for 50 per cent or more of members in just three parliaments, include Rwanda, Cuba and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In 2020, the global proportion of women in Parliaments reached a record 25.5 per cent, an increase of 0.6 points compared with 2019, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) latest Women in Parliament report.

Every year, the IPU publishes a report to coincide with International Women’s Day on 8 March. Although progress has been steady over the past few years, it is still excruciatingly slow and at the current rate, it will take another 50 years before gender parity is achieved in parliaments worldwide, the report states, adding that as at 1 January 2021, women accounted for 50 per cent or more of members in just three parliaments, include Rwanda, Cuba and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

President of the IPU Forum of Women Parliamentarians Susan Kihika said: “While we note that a quarter of MPs in the world are women, we see how this still falls far short of representing half the world’s population. Unleashing the full potential of women who make up that 50 per cent should be our number one priority.”

IPU president Duarte Pacheco said: “Achieving gender equality in parliaments is a shared responsibility of men and women, and especially of men and women MPs, who by definition, are elected to lead. Only by working together and taking strong action can we move forward and accelerate the pace of change.”

IPU secretary general Martin Chungong said: “Progress is being made, but parliaments must be more open to women. They should be gender- sensitive and transform their functioning and structures to facilitate work-life balance for women and men, have zero tolerance towards all forms of violence against women in politics, promote legal change for better inclusion of women and be key actors in women’s political empowerment.”

Covid-19 and women’s political representation

The IPU Women in Parliament report shows that the Covid-19 pandemic had a negative impact on elections and campaigning in 2020. According to the report the national parliamentary elections were postponed in nearly 20 countries but went ahead in 57 countries overall in 2020.

The report points out that the economic downturn caused by the pandemic exacerbated existing gendered socio-economic inequalities, and adversely affected women’s ability to campaign for office and access campaign funding, however, the shift to remote, technology-driven parliamentary practices may have a potentially positive long-term impact for women in parliament.

The report further states that virtual voting and sittings have helped promote participation by members for whom travel is difficult, including those with disabilities or with young children. Flexible and remote workplace practices may allow more women and men to combine caring responsibilities with political career aspirations, it states.

Women in the top leadership in Parliaments

Globally, 58 women held speaker positions in 2020, an increase of one from the previous year, representing a global average of 20.9 per cent. Women held speaker positions in all regions of the world in 2020, with regional variations.

The United States made history in 2020 with the election for the first time of a woman as Vice President. Vice President Kamala Harris also constitutionally becomes President of the Senate. With Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House of Representatives, both chambers of the US Congress are now presided over by women.

Progress in all regions of the world in 2020

Despite political upheaval experienced across Latin America, in particular in Chile, Colombia and Ecuador, once again, the Americas outpaced other regions with women making up 32.4 per cent of MPs, the report states, adding in the United States, 2020 marked the highest levels in history of women’s representation in its national legislature, at 26.9 per cent of the two chambers combined.

The report highlights that despite grave security challenges, in sub-Saharan Africa, Mali and Niger made significant gains in women’s representation.

In Europe, of 14 parliamentary renewals in 2020, four countries ~ Ireland, Serbia, North Macedonia and France ~ witnessed women’s representation exceeding 30 per cent in at least one chamber while three countries ~ Azerbaijan, Czech Republic and Romania ~ failed to reach the 20 per cent mark, points out the report.

Within the Middle East and North Africa region, although Egypt reached historic highs for women in parliament thanks to a new quota law for the House of Representatives but as a whole, the proportion of women in parliament in the region is the lowest among all regions at 17.8 per cent, all chambers combined, the report noted.

The report said gains in Asia were driven by women’s representation in the upper houses of Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Of parliamentary renewals in 2020, only Nepal exceeded 30 per cent women, sustaining a strong track record on women in parliament over the past decade, it says.

In contrast to other regions, women’s representation in parliaments in the Pacific remained consistently low or entirely absent in elections held in 2020 except New Zealand, the report states.

New Zealand’s new parliament made history with more women, people of colour, LGBTQ+ and Maori MPs than at any time in the past.




Meghan tears into royal family in Oprah interview


Markle said she didn’t “fully understand what the job was” when she, as an “American”, waded into “the firm” – her description for the British royal family.

Meghan Markle told Oprah Winfrey that she was utterly unprepared for the “monster machine” of the British royalty when she married Prince Harry.

Markle said she didn’t “fully understand what the job was” when she, as an “American”, waded into “the firm” – her description for the British royal family.

Within the first 15 minutes of the hotly anticipated interview, Meghan revealed to Oprah that all she wants is to “go back to the basics” and that the reality of royalty wasn’t something she was ever ready for.

Around the 40th minute, Markle told Oprah that the royal family was “concerned” that her child would have “dark skin”.

Markle stopped short of saying who within Buckingham Palace was having these conversations with her or Harry. Disclosing that “would be very damaging to them”, she told Oprah.

“That’s what was really tricky over those past few years, is when the perception and the reality are two very different things,” Meghan said.

“And you’re being judged on the perception, but you’re living the reality of it.”

The interview has been filmed in a backyard garden setting, with Meghan in a flowing black dress with a splash of white near the top right shoulder.

Meghan also said that she never “looked up” her husband online and did not think it was necessary to crawl through research on Harry.

Clips released ahead of the on-air interview showed Meghan tearing into the royal family.

In the two hour interview, Winfrey will also ask sMeghan how she feels about Buckingham Palace “hearing you speak your truth today?”

“I don’t know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there was an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” Meghan said, in one of the promo clips that are circulating.

“And if that comes with risk of losing things, I mean, there’s been a lot that’s been lost already.”

Speaking about her first meeting with Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan told Oprah she practised curtsying minutes before and never expected that she would have to endure this level of formality as a “working royal”.

The two-hour pre-recorded interview began airing on CBS in the US on Sunday at 8 p.m.

It will be broadcast in the UK on Monday night on ITV.




Active caseload rises for 5th day


According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the states of Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Tamil Naidu collectively accounted for 85.71 per cent of 18,711 new daily cases reported during the past 24 hours.

With Covid-19 cases surging in six states, the Centre on Sunday sent high-level teams to the states of Maharashtra and Punjab to review the Covid-19 situation in there.

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the states of Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Tamil Naidu collectively accounted for 85.71 per cent of 18,711 new daily cases reported during the past 24 hours.

While Maharashtra continues to report the highest daily new cases at 10,187, it is followed by Kerala with 2,791 and Punjab with 1,159 new cases. Maharashtra reported the maximum casualties (47), followed by Kerala with 16 deaths in the previous 24 hours.

Nineteen states and UTs, on the other hand, have not reported any Covid-19 deaths in the last 24 hours.

The Centre has been continuously engaging with the states and Union Territories which are reporting higher caseload of active cases and also those showing a rise in daily new Covid cases. It has also deputed high-level teams to Maharashtra and Punjab, that are showing steep increase in new cases, said a senior officer of the ministry. Eight states were displaying an upward trajectory in daily new cases, among which the six states required immediate attention.

India’s active caseload continued to increase for a fifth consecutive day, on Sunday standing at 1.84 lakh, With this, the country’s active caseload has touched 1.65% of the total positive cases, the officer said.

Pandemic ending in Delhi, claims Jain: Delhi might be witnessing an uptick in single-day fresh coronavirus infections, but its health minister Satyendar Jain today said that the Covid pandemic was ending and was rather entering an “endemic” phase in the national capital




Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel inaugurates Road Safety Cricket World Series amidst spectacular fireworks


International cricket series being played in Chhattisgarh to increase awareness regarding road safety