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India dropped one spot to 131 in 2020 Human Development Index

Life expectancy of Indians at birth in 2019 was 69.7 years while Bangladesh has a life expectancy of 72.6 years and Pakistan 67.3 years, the 2020 Human Development Report said.

India dropped one spot to 131 among 189 countries in the 2020 human development index, according to a report released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Human Development Index is the measure of a nation’s health, education, and standards of living.

Life expectancy of Indians at birth in 2019 was 69.7 years while Bangladesh has a life expectancy of 72.6 years and Pakistan 67.3 years, the 2020 Human Development Report said.

India, Bhutan (129), Bangladesh (133), Nepal (142), and Pakistan (154) were ranked among countries with medium human development, the report said.

India’s HDI value for 2019 is 0.645 which put it in the medium human development category. India has been positioned at 131 out of 189 countries and territories, according to the report. India had ranked 130 in 2018 in the index.

Norway topped the index, followed by Ireland, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Iceland, the report showed.

Talking to reporters, UNDP Resident Representative Shoko Noda said the drop in India’s ranking doesn’t mean “India didn’t do well but other countries did better”.

Noda said India can help other countries too and lauded its commitment to reduce carbon emissions.

According to the report published by the United Nations Development Programme on Tuesday, India’s gross national income per capita fell to USD 6,681 in 2019 from USD 6,829 in 2018 on purchasing power parity (PPP) basis.

Purchasing power parity or PPP is a measurement of prices in different countries that uses the prices of specific goods to compare the absolute purchasing power of the countries’ currencies.

The report said evidence from Colombia to India indicates that financial security and ownership of land improve women’s security and reduce the risk of gender-based violence, clearly indicating that owning land can empower women.

It further said indigenous children in Cambodia, India and Thailand show more malnutrition-related issues such as stunting and wasting.

“In India different responses in parent behaviour as well as some disinvestment in girls’ health and education have led to higher malnutrition among girls than among boys as a consequence of shocks likely linked to climate change,” the report said.

The report said that under the Paris Agreement, India pledged to reduce the emission intensity of its GDP from the 2005 level by 33-35 percent by 2030 and to obtain 40 percent of electric power capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.

“As part of the plan, the National Solar Mission aims to promote solar energy for power generation and other uses to make solar energy competitive with fossil fuel-based options. Solar capacity in India increased from 2.6 gigawatts in March 2014 to 30 gigawatts in July 2019, achieving its target of 20 gigawatts four years ahead of schedule. In 2019, India ranked fifth for installed solar capacity,” the report said.

‘To bring clean politics’: Aam Aadmi Party to contest 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections

‘If government hospitals in Delhi can improve, people here can get free electricity 24×7, why can’t the same happen in UP?’ Kejriwal said.

Delhi-based Aam Aadmi Party led by Arvind Kejriwal which has performed exceptionally well in last two Assembly elections in the national capital has announced on Tuesday to contest Uttar Pradesh election in 2022.

While declaring the move, Kejriwal promised to bring clean politics in the state which has 403 Assembly seats.

“Some people will ask what we will bring to UP. We will bring clean politics. That is what numerous parties could not give to the state,” he said.

In his virtual address, Kejriwal slammed the BJP-led UP government by saying, “Today, people in UP are forced to come to Delhi for basic facilities like health and education. Can the biggest state in India not become the most developed state too?”

“UP’s dirty politics and corrupt leaders and blocking the state’s development. Locals have given a chance to all the parties. But every government has set new records of corruption,” Kejriwal said.

“If government hospitals in Delhi can improve, people here can get free electricity 24×7, why can’t the same happen in UP? Why don’t the schools in neighbouring state meet the required standards when Delhi’s government schools can set the benchmark? For women’s safety, we’ve installed CCTVs everywhere but crimes against women continue to rise in UP,” he said.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party had on February 11 this year had again created history, sweeping the Delhi Assembly election comprehensively for the second consecutive time.

The party bagged 62 of the total 70 seats, restricting the principal challenger BJP again to a single-digit figure of mere 8 seats in a bitterly-fought, fiercely-contested electoral battle that took place in the national capital in the midst of continuing protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

No Winter Session of Parliament due to spread of coronavirus; Budget Session likely in January

The Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi has said that all parties favour scrapping the session to avoid any Covid spread and jump straight to the Budget session in January.

Amid the outbreak of coronavirus, the government has decided not to convene the winter session of Parliament.

There will be no winter session of Parliament this time because of the coronavirus outbreak, it said.

The Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi has said that all parties favour scrapping the session to avoid any Covid spread and jump straight to the Budget session in January.

Joshi’s remarks come in a letter responding to Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary’s demand for a session to discuss controversial new farm laws that are at the core of massive farmer protests on highways near Delhi.

The minister replied that he had held discussions with leaders of all parties and the consensus was not to call a session due to COVID-19.

The monsoon session of the Parliament in September was curtailed as early as amidst the rising coronavirus cases in the country.

During the Monsoon Session, as many as 25 MPs tested positive for Covid-19 which included Union ministers Nitin Gadkari and Prahlad Patel.

Members of both the Houses, on a voluntary basis in regular intervals were taken the RT-PCR test.

According to the new protocol to check the spread of Covid-19, reporters and parliament staff were made to undergo the rapid antigen test mandatory on a regular basis.

Parliament had adopted strong measures including the seating arrangement in a staggered way in chambers of both Houses, as well as galleries to maintain physical distancing. Mobile app for registering of their attendance and seats separated with poly-carbon sheets in the House has also been introduced by the Parliament.

At 4.1 degrees Celsius, Delhi witnesses lowest temperature this season so far

For the plains, the IMD declares a cold wave when the minimum temperature is 10 degrees Celsius or below and is 4.5 degrees less than the normal for two consecutive days.

A cold wave gripped Delhi today as icy winds blowing from the snow-covered western Himalayas brought the minimum temperature down to 4.1 degrees Celsius, the lowest in the city this season so far, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

For the plains, the IMD declares a cold wave when the minimum temperature is 10 degrees Celsius or below and is 4.5 degrees less than the normal for two consecutive days.

“However, for small areas such as Delhi, a cold wave can be declared if the criteria is fulfilled even for a day,” Kuldeep Srivastava, the head of the IMD’s regional forecasting centre, said.

At 4.1 degrees Celsius, the minimum temperature at Safdarjung Observatory, which provides representative data for the city, was five degrees below normal this morning.

At Jafarpur, the mercury dipped to 3.6 degrees Celsius.

The Ayanagar and Lodhi Road weather stations recorded a minimum of 4 degrees Celsius and 4.2 degrees Celsius respectively, the IMD said.

On Monday, the maximum temperature in the national capital had dropped to 19.4 degrees Celsius, four degrees below normal and the lowest so far this month, as cold winds swept the city.

The air quality has also improved to the “moderate” category due to the strong winds.

Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) was 190 at 10 am. The 24-hour average AQI was 160 on Monday, 305 on Sunday and 356 on Saturday.

An AQI between zero and 50 is considered “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor”, and 401 and 500 “severe”.

‘Will always inspire to protect unity, integrity and sovereignty’: PM pays tributes to Sardar Patel on his Punya Tithi

Vice President of India Venkaiah Naidu and other leaders also paid tribute to the Iron Man of India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday paid tributes to Sardar Patel on his Punya Tithi by saying that his path will always inspire us to protect the unity, integrity and sovereignty of the country.

In a tweet in Hindi, Prime Minister said, “I pay tribute to Iron Man Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who laid the foundation of a strong and prosperous India, on his death anniversary. His path will always inspire us to protect the unity, integrity and sovereignty of the country.”

Vice President of India Venkaiah Naidu and other leaders also paid tribute to the Iron Man of India.




‘Now it is time to turn the page, to unite, to heal’: Joe Biden as electors confirm victory

As Biden appealed to Americans to “turn the page” on the divisive contest, electors met across all US states to seal his win, with California pushing Biden over the majority of 270 votes.

Joe Biden was confirmed as the next US president on Monday as the Electoral College formalized his victory over Donald Trump, all but closing the door on the incumbent’s efforts to overturn the result of the 2020 election.

As Biden appealed to Americans to “turn the page” on the divisive contest, electors met across all US states to seal his win, with California pushing Biden over the majority of 270 votes — and clearing the way for him to take office on January 20.

But with his ability to steal the spotlight still intact, Trump announced moments later that Attorney General Bill Barr, who contradicted the outgoing president’s claims the November 3 election was marred by fraud, would leave his post next week.

“Our relationship has been a very good one,” Trump tweeted, making no mention of their divergence. “Bill will be leaving just before Christmas to spend the holidays with his family.”

While a senior administration official said Barr resigned of his own accord and was not pushed out, the extraordinary convergence of events highlighted the tensions underlying Trump’s “lame duck” final weeks in office.

The 200-plus-year-old Electoral College procedure is merely a formality in confirming the will of the people expressed at the polls, but the process carried added significance given the turbulence of last month’s election and Trump’s refusal to acknowledge his own defeat.

California’s electors burst into applause as the presiding officer read out the tally of 55 in favor of Biden and none opposed — confirming Barack Obama’s former vice president as the nation’s 46th president.

“Democracy prevailed. We the people voted…. The integrity of our elections remains intact,” Biden said in excerpts from a speech he was expected to deliver in his home city of Wilmington, Delaware later Monday.

“Now it is time to turn the page, to unite, to heal,” Biden said. “I will be a president for all Americans.”

This year, the somewhat arcane Electoral College procedure was at the center of an ugly — and many warn dangerous — challenge led by Trump against the credibility of US democracy.

Soundly beaten by Biden on November 3, Trump continues to claim, without evidence, that he was the real winner.

Court after court has turned down the Republican team’s claims of election fraud and last Friday the US Supreme Court dealt a final legal blow when it threw out an appeal lodged by Trump allies from Texas and other Republican-led states.

– Disinformation –

Formal Electoral College confirmation drew a further line under the election, which saw Biden make Trump a rare one-term president after campaigning on a message of vanquishing the Covid-19 pandemic, healing political division and restoring traditional US diplomacy.

Until now, a majority of Republicans in Congress have either backed Trump’s claims or at least turned a blind eye, with many refusing to call Biden the president-elect.

Disinformation spearheaded by the president and spread by popular commentators on Fox News and new conspiracy theory-mongering outlets like Newsmax means many Americans have all but given up faith in their own institutions.

Thousands of Trump supporters, including members of far-right groups, protested in Washington at the weekend, brawling with counter-protesters, while in Georgia footage showed armed activists in camouflage parading at the state Capitol to support Trump’s claims.

Polls show as few as one in four Republican voters accept the election results.

Trump maintained his stream of threats and unsubstantiated claims on Twitter Monday, citing “massive VOTER FRAUD” and declaring that certifying election results would be “a severely punishable crime.”

The legal Electoral College vote, however, has now left the Trump train almost no place left to go.

Ahead of Biden’s inauguration one major formality remains, when Congress, presided over by Vice President Mike Pence, opens up and counts the electoral votes on January 6.

In the latest sign of a shifting tide, the staunchly Trump-supporting editorial board of The Wall Street Journal told Trump that his time is up.

“President Trump’s legal challenges have run their course, and he and the rest of the Republican Party can help the country and themselves by acknowledging the result and moving on,” it said.

Bhupesh Baghel: There isn’t any uniformity in mandis across states, then how can you have one Act for the entire country?

The Chhattisgarh CM says the farmers’ protest is different from the 2011 anti-corruption movement.

The Chhattisgarh CM says the farmers’ protest is different from the 2011 anti-corruption movement, asserts the state’s measures will constrain Naxalism soon, and criticises the 23 party leaders who went public with their concerns regarding the Congress. The session was moderated by Deputy Associate Editor Manoj C G

MANOJ C G: Does the Opposition see the farmers’ protest as the NDA government’s Anna Hazare moment? The anti-corruption movement was the beginning of a change in public perception about the UPA government.

Bhupesh Baghel: That was a different kind of movement which was aimed at ending corruption and bringing in the Lokpal Bill. It has been over seven years since the movement, but neither corruption has ended nor do we have a Lokpal. It was organised by the RSS; people were not as connected to it as it was projected.

The present movement is by farmers, and it is against the black laws implemented by the government. They are being referred to as farm laws, but they are just capitalist laws. The farmer will get no benefit from them. The farmers are on the streets because their livelihoods, their families, their future, everything is at stake. As a political party, we have supported their fight.

MANOJ C G: But in its 2019 manifesto the Congress party had also spoken about APMC reforms, creating new markets etc.

Bhupesh Baghel: I have been hearing what the BJP leaders and ministers are saying. Of the 22 points (raised by farmers), they are only talking about two… If you look at the NDA government’s tenure… They implemented demonetisation, 125 people lost their lives. Then the Goods and Services Tax was imposed, and so many people went bankrupt and some took their own lives. This year, during the lockdown, crores of people came out on the streets. So this is the difference between policies of the NDA and the UPA governments. We formulate and implement policies based on experience and after examining things in detail.

As far as the manifesto is concerned, we took it to the public and we were rejected. We did not win the mandate. So whose manifesto should we talk about? The BJP is in power, we should ask them about their manifesto…

This government is doing everything to promote privatisation. You (changed) the Essential Commodities Act. What happened? Onions that were being sold for Rs 10-20 (per kg), their prices went up to Rs 70-80, and even Rs 150 in Tamil Nadu. Today, the farmers are protesting, tomorrow when there is no control over prices of commodities, all consumers will protest…

In the coming days, the situation for farmers is going to be very difficult because of the new mandi laws. They will not get the right price for their produce.

MANOJ C G: What amendments would you bring to the laws? Also, the protests seem to be limited to Punjab and Haryana. Even in Chhattisgarh, we haven’t seen farmers come out to protest.

Bhupesh Baghel: Firstly, our people could not join the protests physically (at the Delhi border) because of the distance. Secondly, the purchase of paddy began in the state on December 1. In (Punjab, Haryana) paddy is harvested in September and October. Wheat has already been sown.

In Chhattisgarh, the farmers have just completed their paddy harvest, and now they are selling it. About 11 lakh tonnes of paddy has been purchased so far. About 94 per cent of the farmers in Chhattisgarh are selling their produce at MSP in the state. That is why I say that the Chhattisgarh model should be implemented across the country.

GARGI VERMA: You mentioned the Chhattisgarh model. Can you tell us how it is different from provisions suggested by the Central government?

Bhupesh Baghel: Under the (Central government’s laws), a private mandi can be opened outside the main mandi. We have proposed a ‘deemed mandi’, which will encompass the entire mandi, and which will also bring the private players under its ambit. We introduced the Bill so that our farmers are not cheated. But the Governor is yet to sign the Bill. (Chhattisgarh passed the Krishi Upaj Mandi Act to counter the Centre’s farm laws in October).

HARIKISHAN SHARMA: The government has suggested a slew of modifications to the new laws. Which of these are farmers and the Opposition willing to accept?

Bhupesh Baghel: What I know is that the farmers want an answer in ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The government must do that. When the farmers have made it clear that they will not accept modifications, then why make them? Agriculture is a state subject, but you didn’t take the opinion of states and brought in these laws. If they (the Centre) had reached out to the states, the current situation could have been avoided.

As far as the mandi Act is concerned, it is not the same in the entire country. It is different in Punjab and Haryana, different in Rajasthan, different in Chhattisgarh, Bihar doesn’t have it… It is based on the situation in each state. Now if you want to implement one Act across the country, why don’t you implement the Punjab model, Haryana model, Chhattisgarh model?… But the fact is that there isn’t any uniformity in mandis across states, then how can you have one Act for the entire country?

LIZ MATHEW: Apart from the mandi issue, experts have also pointed out that reforms are needed to ensure diversification of our crops to ensure better trade etc. Isn’t that important as well?

Bhupesh Baghel: Different states grow different crops. The government can work to promote that by setting up food processing plants etc. For example, Chhattisgarh has a variety of crops that have high demand internationally as well. We need a cargo plane at the airport, but the Centre is not providing that.

Secondly, you have surplus foodgrains in your godowns. You have supplies for the next three years and there is no space to store more. So the farmers have produced the crops and done their job. Now, should they be punished for it? That would be wrong.

AVISHEK DASTIDAR: The Central government has a Road Requirement Plan (RRP) to ensure connectivity in Maoist-affected areas. The programme is now complete in 90 per cent of the country. A total of 400 km of roads remain to be built, of which 350 km are in Chhattisgarh. The Centre has cited lack of cooperation from the state for the delay. When will the project be completed in the state?

Bhupesh Baghel: I have met (Minister for Road Transport & Highways) Nitin Gadkari and Home Minister Amit Shah regarding the issue. I have proposed that the programme under which roads are being built in LWE (Left Wing Extremism) areas needs some improvements because the (contractors) in these parts take the tenders but fail to work on the ground. That is not something that has happened now, things have been getting delayed for15 years.

I have proposed that instead of building long stretches of roads, we must focus on building small stretches. In J&K you have given permission for precast, steel bridges, but you are not giving permission for it in LWE-affected areas. So many of our jawans have lost their lives trying to protect roads and bridges. If we get permission for steel bridges, then a bridge that would take six months to be built will only take a week. We will have to give less security and things will move faster.

Amit Shahji said send me a proposal and I will discuss it with other departments. The meeting was positive. It would be wrong to claim that the state government is not providing support.

VANDITA MISHRA: The farmer unions have said that they have no links with the Opposition, and will not allow Opposition leaders to speak from their stage. There was a similar situation at the time of the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests too. Isn’t this in some way a failure of the Opposition that the common man doesn’t want the Opposition to speak for it?

Bhupesh Baghel: These are two different issues. On the issue of farmers, both the farmers’ unions and political parties have spoken out. If you say that political parties haven’t done their bit… Punjab, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh governments have opposed the laws in the Vidhan Sabha. The Congress party has always opposed them (the farm laws), and Rahul Gandhi has also spoken about this often. Now, if the farmers are saying that they don’t want political parties to get involved, then that’s fine because they don’t want to tilt towards any one political party. But we have supported them. I am happy that even non-political organisations are fighting the same fight as us.

DEEPTIMAN TIWARY: The Central security forces have often complained about not getting enough support from state police in Maoist-affected areas, including in Chhattisgarh. Why do you think we have not been successful in handling the Naxalism issue in the state?

Bhupesh Baghel: Recently, when the CRPF DG visited the state, he said that we have good synergy with the state police… Now, if the state police alone could solve the issue, then what was the need to bring in Central forces? About 15-20 years ago, the paramilitary forces were brought in because the state police could not handle it on its own. After J&K, Bastar has the most number of paramilitary forces. When I became CM, I made it clear that we must first win the trust of the local people in the areas we are fighting the Naxals.

Secondly, we need more development in the area. We need to make arrangements for healthcare, education, employment. The third aspect is ensuring security. Through these three measures, we have managed to reduce Naxal activity in the region… Despite the pandemic, we ensured that mahua flowers, tendu leaves are bought from the locals. This has helped increase trust. About 105 schools were shut in Sukma district for over 13 years, we started those. People are getting treatment through the Mukhyamantri Haat Bazaar Clinic Yojana… So with these steps, in the coming days, the Naxals will be very constrained.

DEEPTIMAN TIWARY: You have questioned the NIA investigation into the 2013 Darbha Ghati attack on Congress leaders…

Bhupesh Baghel: The fight against Naxals and disagreement on issues are two different matters. In the Minpa attack (in March 2020) where 17 security personnel were killed… They were all part of the state police. At the time, at a distance of 500m the CRPF were sitting, but they did not give support because they did not get orders. So we registered our complaint with the Home Ministry.

As far as the NIA is concerned, in July 2014 the chargesheet (in the Darbha Valley incident) was submitted. By that time, the NDA government had come to power… We asked the NIA, that if this attack was part of a political conspiracy, why was that investigation not done? Then, the FIR in the police station here (in Chhattisgarh) had names of big Naxal leaders. Why were the names of big leaders removed? If an incident occurs in Hotel Taj (the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai), people from Pakistan are named in the FIR. Then why were names of Naxal leaders removed? Why won’t we be suspicious?… It has been seven years since the attack, and the culprits are yet to be punished. The Centre is taking the incident lightly, it is obvious for us to question it.

MANOJ C G: From panchayat elections in Rajasthan to municipal elections in Hyderabad, the Congress seems to be struggling to revive itself. What is the way forward for the party?

Bhupesh Baghel: Political ups and downs will always come and go. When people want, they bring you to power, and when they want, they drop you. This is a matter of time. When the time comes, the Congress will come to power too. I am optimistic that the Congress party will do better in the coming days.

MANOJ C G: Your own party leaders wrote a letter seeking internal reforms and sweeping changes within the Congress. The letter was written in August and there is still no response. Why is the party not paying heed to suggestions by its own senior leaders?

Bhupesh Baghel: The 23 leaders (who wrote the letter) have been giving us lessons in discipline so far, that all controversial matters must be raised in internal forums, that we should talk to senior leaders about them through proper channels. What has happened to them now? To those asking questions, I want to ask a counter-question: Who stopped you from going to Bihar during the elections? But once the results came out, you promptly appeared to give reactions. Aren’t you ashamed? The party made you a Member of Parliament, minister, gave you an identity, and when the time came to stand by the party, you are busy giving advice. It is unfortunate.

The lessons that these leaders taught us are also applicable to them. They should have raised the issues in internal party forums. The Congress is the most democratic party. There have been several CWC meetings, and all these issues have been discussed. Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mukul Wasnik, they were all there. I was there too. They all got an opportunity to speak. So once they have spoken there, what was the need to speak outside?

P VAIDYANATHAN IYER: But they are all senior leaders and ministers. Should their concerns be ignored?

Bhupesh Baghel: We are all tied by a certain discipline. There are limits to it. The way you behave with your family and children, can you behave the same way on the streets? Everyone must function within limits, there is a certain beauty about it. By speaking outside, you are revealing the party’s weaknesses.

If they had spoken internally, it would have strengthened the party. There would have been reforms. These are people who have been ministers for decades. Who has brought them up to this level? So all I am saying is that they must talk internally. And the party has internal democracy. That is why, even after everything, their views are being heard… This shows the magnanimity of the leadership too.

MANOJ C G: After every election defeat, the Congress seems to follow a familiar script — some leaders call for introspection, others contest it, and so on. However, after one-two weeks things return to normal. How long will this go on for?

Bhupesh Baghel: When a party is not in power, such things happen. When the UPA government was in power, similar things would happen in the BJP too. In Chhattisgarh, the BJP was in power for 15 years, and now it has been out of power for two years. What is the party’s situation in the state? Same (as the Congress at the national level). So such things happen when parties are out of power and journalists have a field day.

There is always scope for improvement within the party. The Congress has always accepted change and suggestions for improvement. The Congress has played a crucial role in taking the country forward and the party will have the same role in the future too.

MANOJ C G: When you became CM two years ago, there were talks of splitting the tenure between you and another colleague. Was there such a proposal?

Bhupesh Baghel: Chhattisgarh does not have a coalition between two parties. We have a majority in the state. If the party high command tells me to resign, I will resign right away. But there was no such (proposal to divide the Chief Minister’s tenure between two leaders).

KAUSHIK DAS GUPTA: The Congress seems to be lacking grassroots connect, whether it was the anti-CAA protest or this farmers’ protest. Why is that?

Bhupesh Baghel: What we need to understand is that there are several organisations that raise issues connected to the common man. As far as farmers’ issues are concerned, the Congress has raised the issues. The farmers’ protest is being led by 32 organisations and we are supporting them from the outside. If they ask us for direct support, we will provide that. If you go without invitation, then we saw what happened with (Delhi Chief Minister) Arvind Kejriwal. He was forced to say that I have come here as a ‘sevadar (for your service)’. We don’t want that. We don’t want to go there (at the farmers’ protest site) to get mocked.

Why Bhupesh Baghel: Two years ago, Baghel gave the Congress its most decisive victory in a state election, winning 68 out of Chhattisgarh’s 90 seats. He is among the CMs to pass an Act in the Assembly to counter the Centre’s farm laws in October this year.


After rounds of failed talks, protesting farmers to block Delhi-Jaipur highway today

In order to contain the situation, two thousand policemen are on duty in Gurgaon and 3,500 policemen are on duty in Faridabad, officials said.

As the demands of the farmers not met yet after the successive rounds of talks, the protesters are set to block Delhi-Jaipur highway today.

Yesterday, one of the 32 protesting unions moved the Supreme Court against the farm bills.

They have dismissed claims that “ultra-left” and “pro-Left Wing Extremist” elements have hijacked their agitation.

In order to contain the situation, two thousand policemen are on duty in Gurgaon and 3,500 policemen are on duty in Faridabad, officials said.

On Wednesday, the government suggested that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for the crops will stay.

The proposal was sent with written amendments that the government intends to implement, with the government assuring that the MSP will continue.

It was conveyed by the government via a written proposal to protesting farmers a day after several farmers’ groups held a meeting at the Singhu border to discuss the future course of action as both sides remain firm on their stances.

I’ll appeal all Bengalis living in state to urge population in Bengal to oust ‘Nirmamta’ didi’s govt: MP Home Minister

Mishra also met superstar Amitabh Bachchan’s mother-in-law Indira Bhaduri in Bhopal.

The BJP is leaving no stone unturned for the upcoming West Bengal elections as a day after attacks on the convoy of party chief JP Nadda, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra said that the Bengali population living in Bhopal and other parts of the state will be urged to appeal to the people of Bengal to overthrow Mamata Banerjee’s government.

Mishra also met superstar Amitabh Bachchan’s mother-in-law Indira Bhaduri in Bhopal.

“Nirmamta Didi (Cruel Didi) government has turned the glorious state of West Bengal into a lawless state. The attack on the BJP national president JP Nadda and national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya’s convoy in Bengal is condemnable and speaks volumes about lawlessness in Bengal,” he said, quoted NDTV.

“Bengali population has a significant presence in many parts of MP, including Bhopal. During the refugee crisis in the past, a large number of Bengalis were accommodated in MP. Even during COVID-19 lockdown, a large number of migrant workers from Bengal who were working in MP were sent to their home state through special transport arrangements,” Mishra said.

“I’ll appeal to all Bengalis living in MP to urge their population in Bengal to oust the cruel and corrupt Nirmamta didi’s government from Bengal,” he added.

Yesterday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee launched verbal spout on former by asking why the BJP, with all the central forces  at its disposal, could not protect its party chief during his visit to Bengal.

She also raised doubts that the attack on JP Nadda could have been “orchestrated”.

“If there was a small incident — I don’t know if there was one. But at a tea shop, one of the 50 cars in your convoy may have hit someone, or something was thrown or it was planned. The police will probe. We will not tolerate all your lies. Enough is enough,” Mamata Banerjee said.

On Thursday, while on his way to West Bengal’s Diamond Harbour to attend a party event, JP Nadda’s convoy was attacked. Protestors, standing at both sides of the road, hurled stones at Nadda’s motorcade, alleged party’s West Bengal chief Dilip Ghosh.

BJP’s national secretary and party’s chief observer in West Bengal, Kailash Vijayvargiya’s car was also at the receiving end of stone pelting.

US gives green light to Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine; first immunization in less than 24 hours

President Donald Trump immediately released a video on Twitter, where he hailed the news as a “medical miracle” and said the first immunizations would take place “in less than 24 hours.”

The US green lighted the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine late Friday, paving the way for millions of vulnerable people to receive their shots in the world’s hardest-hit country.

President Donald Trump immediately released a video on Twitter, where he hailed the news as a “medical miracle” and said the first immunizations would take place “in less than 24 hours.”

It comes as infections across America soar as never before, with the grim milestone of 300,000 confirmed deaths fast approaching.

The US is now the sixth country to approve the two-dose regimen, after Britain, Bahrain, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Mexico.

The move came earlier than expected, and capped a day of drama after it was widely reported that the White House had threatened to fire Food and Drug Administration chief Stephen Hahn if he did not grant emergency approval Friday.

Trump’s intervention reinserts politics into the scientific process, which some experts have said could undermine vaccine confidence.

The US is seeking to inoculate 20 million people this month alone, with long-term care facility residents and health care workers at the front of the line.

The government also said Friday that it is buying 100 million more doses of the Moderna vaccine candidate, amid reports the government passed on the opportunity to secure more supply of the Pfizer jab.

The purchase brings its total supply of Moderna doses to 200 million, enough to immunize 100 million people with the two-shot regimen that could be approved as early as next week.

Both frontrunners are based on mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid), a major victory for a technology that had never previously been proven.

Two other vaccine candidates stumbled Friday: France’s Sanofi and Britain’s GSK said their vaccine would not be ready until the end of 2021.

And in Australia, the development of a vaccine at The University of Queensland was abandoned Friday after clinical trials produced a false positive HIV result among subjects involved in early testing.

Sputnik mix

The mixed news on the vaccine front comes as infections accelerated fast in North America and parts of Africa but started to stabilize in Europe and drop in Asia and the Middle East.

Around the world more than 1.58 million lives have been lost to Covid-19 since it emerged in China a year ago, according to an AFP tally from official sources.

Brazil on Friday crossed 180,000 deaths, despite President Jair Bolsonaro’s insistence the crisis was at the “tail end.”

But across the Pacific Ocean, New Zealand, which has been praised for its handling of the virus, took its first tentative steps towards reopening its borders — with the tiny Cook Islands.

Countries which have approved the Pfizer-BioNTech jab meanwhile were preparing for roll out, as the World Health Organization warned of a potentially grim Christmas season.

Following Britain’s lead, the first vaccine shipments to 14 sites across Canada are scheduled to arrive Monday with people receiving shots a day or two later.

Israel, which accepted its first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday, is targeting a rollout on December 27.

And Hong Kong said Friday it had struck deals for two vaccines — one from Pfizer and the other from Beijing-based Sinovac — with plans to launch a campaign in early 2021.

A new combined approach is also being tested by AstraZeneca, whose Russian operation said it would mix its shot with the locally-made Sputnik V vaccine in clinical trials.

Russia and China have already begun inoculation efforts with domestically produced vaccines that have seen less rigorous vetting.

EU countries are eagerly awaiting clearance on the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, in late December and early January respectively.

Carbon down

As Europe’s surge eases off slightly, France is planning to lift a six-week-long lockdown from Tuesday but impose a curfew from 8.00 pm, including on New Year’s Eve.

Greece also announced new plans Friday to slash quarantine time for incoming travelers and reopen churches for Christmas.

But Switzerland, which is seeing a sharp resurgence in cases, announced a 7:00 pm curfew for shops, restaurants and bars.

While lockdowns have brought economic pain, boredom and myriad other problems, the effect on the environment has been more positive.

Carbon emissions fell a record seven percent in 2020 as countries imposed lockdowns, according to the Global Carbon Project.