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88 pc Indians strongly favour strengthening tobacco control law: Survey

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New Delhi [India], February 11 (ANI): Over 80 per cent of Indians believe that use of cigarettes, bidis and smokeless tobacco is a very serious problem and 88 per cent strongly support the strengthening of the current tobacco control law to address this menace, while 72 per cent believe second-hand smoke is a serious health hazard, stated a survey.
A survey conducted by Consumer VOICE amongst adults in 10 states found overwhelming support for banning smoking in all public places, eliminating special smoking areas in airports, hotels, and restaurants, banning the sale of loose cigarettes and bidis and advertising of tobacco products at selling points.

The detailed phone survey covered a sample pool of 1,476 adults (18+). Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) and random digit dial (RDD) selection methodology was used to conduct these in-depth interviews in 10 languages (Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Oriya, Marathi, Tamil, Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada) across the country.
As per the main findings of the survey, tobacco use is seen as a serious problem by most Indians. Various forms of tobacco use is seen as a very serious problem by most respondents. Around 82 per cent of the respondents believe smokeless tobacco use is a profoundly serious problem; 80 per cent say so about smoking cigarettes and 77 per cent say bidis use is a very serious problem.
Another finding said second-hand smoke is a serious health hazard. According to 72 per cent of respondents and seven in 10 Indians say that it bothers them to be exposed to second-hand smoke.
According to another finding, Indians strongly favour strengthening the tobacco control law. Support for strengthening the current tobacco control law is overwhelming. More than nine in 10 Indians are in favour of this with 88 per cent favouring it strongly. Support is high across all demographic and geographic breaks such as age and gender. Even tobacco users support the idea.
Ashim Sanyal, Chief Operating Officer, Consumer VOICE said, “It is very encouraging to see the overwhelming support from people for strengthening the current tobacco control law. Government of India has started the amendment process of tobacco control law COTPA 2003, which is an important step towards improving public health. It is looking to strengthen the provisions for prohibiting smoking in public places and a ban on point-of-sale advertising displays besides a ban on the sale of loose cigarettes and have higher penalties.”

“Prohibiting smoking in most public places, including abolishing smoking areas in restaurants, hotels and airports, chewing tobacco advertisement bans and a ban on point of sale advertising displays are strongly favoured by 80 per cent or more. Increasing fines for violation of the anti-tobacco law and banning the sale of individual cigarettes and bidi also receive broad support,” stated Dr Shekhar Salkar, Oncologist and Secretary, National organisation for Tobacco Eradication (NOTE), Goa.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and premature deaths globally and in India, more than 10 lakhs people are losing lives every year due to tobacco-related diseases.
India has over 26 crore tobacco users, cutting across all demographics and genders. The annual economic costs from all tobacco products were estimated at Rs 177,341 crores in 2017-18 amounting to 1 per cent of India’s GDP.
Tobacco use in all forms, whether smoking or chewing, is significantly also associated with severe COVID-19 casualties also as per advisories issued by the Ministry of Health and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). (ANI)

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BSE Institute organises skill development training course in Srinagar

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Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], March 1 (ANI): A six-day skill development course organised by the Bombay Stock Exchange Institute Ltd (BIL) for the wards of police martyrs, personnel and students at Police Public School (PPS), Bemina, Srinagar was innagurated by , SJM Gillani, Additional DGP (Coordination), here on Monday.
The course is organised by BIL in pursuance of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Jammu and Kashmir Police and Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) Institute Limited.
IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar, DIG CKR Amit Kumar, SSP APCR Junaid Mehmood, SSP Javaid Ahmed Dar, AIG (Welfare/Comm) Police Headquarters (PHQ) Manoj Kumar, Sanjay Kumar and Rajesh Joisher, experts from BIL, Principal Police Public School, Bemina Shri Tazim Wahidi and other senior police officers and staff of PPS Bemina were present at the inaugural function.
Speaking on the occasion, Gillani said that police headquarters has been continuously focusing on the welfare measures for the NoKs of police martyrs, serving and retired personnel and their family members.
He said that on the directions and personal interests of Director General of Police (DGP) J&K, an MoU was signed between J&K Police and BSE under which BIL institute is providing skilling development courses for the wards of martyrs, serving, retired police personnel.
Highlighting the importance of such skilled training courses in today’s modern times, he added that this programme is an effort to provide skilled training to these wards to increase their employability. The ADGP also advised the trainees to take full advantage of this opportunity and change lives for the better, while promising that more such courses will be organized in the future.
Further during the occasion, AIG (Welfare/Comm) Manoj Kumar said that the MoU with BSE is an effort to provide expertise to the wards of police personnel in the insurance and financial sectors. These short courses will expand the opportunities for the trainees in different fields.
Sanjay Kumar, an expert from BIL Institute, said that during the course, the trainees will be educated about the insurance and financial sectors and added that it will help them to get better jobs in the future. At the end of the course, the trainees will be given the certificates, and will be registered as Point of Sales Persons (PoSP) and will be able to sell insurance products and start earning from them.
The six-day programme is focused on enhancing the skills of the trainees and provides them an insight into the current scenario of insurance and financial markets which will help them to choose their profession in these fields. (ANI)

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Ceasefire pact with Pakistan has immense potential to bring peace in border areas, says Lt Gen BS Raju

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Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], March 1 (ANI): Indian Army Lieutenant General BS Raju on Monday welcomed the ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan, stating that the decision has ‘immense’ potential to bring peace in the border areas.
“The ceasefire observance decision is a positive step and has an immense potential to bring peace in the lives of people living in the border areas. We have had many civilian casualties due to ceasefire violations in Kupwara and Uri. The decision has also given us a better capacity to check infiltrations,” the Lieutenant General said.
“I think the situation in the Valley remains fairly normal. I have no hesitation in saying that all the parameters of violence, whether in terms of stone-pelting, agitations or bandhs, everything has seen a very distinct drop. People are going about their business in the usual manner, whether it is trades people, or school children,” he said commenting on the overall situation in the Valley.
When asked about the recruitments of local youth in militancy, he said, “With better outreach programs by Army, civil administration and Police, we have been able to establish greater trust and connect with public. I believe this will manifest into lower (terrorist) recruitments. I believe we, security forces, elected representatives, grassroots representatives, and the people themselves, have to work together to ensure peace in the region.”
He further higlighted that after the restoration of 4G Internet connectivity, there has not been a major surge in the attempts to use social media to recruit people in militancy. “While Pakistan and inimical elements have always used propaganda to agitate minds, locals are shunning those paths now,” he said.
On Thursday, India and Pakistan had released a joint statement saying that they have held discussions regarding establishing a mechanism for hotline contact among both nations. Both sides also agreed to a ceasefire along the LoC starting from February 25. (ANI)

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Third phase of COVID-19 vaccination drive takes off smoothly in Telangana

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Hyderabad (Telangana) [India], March 1 (ANI): The third phase of the vaccination drive for Covid-19 on Monday began in Hyderabad. In this phase, individuals who are above 60 years of age and individuals between 45 to 60 years of age with comorbidities are being allowed to take the vaccine.
Somesh Kumar, Chief Secretary of Telangana State, told ANI, “The third phase of COVID-19 vaccination process has begun in Telangana today. In this phase, we are targetting individuals who are above 60 years and individuals of age group 45 to 60 with comorbidities. A soft launch for this drive has taken place in Telangana in 48 government institutions and 44 private institutions. The drive is running very smoothly as the reports are very encouraging. If people come forward in the same way, we would be able to control COVID once and for all.”
The Chief Secretary further said, “Currently, we are aimed to inoculate 200 individual per vaccination centre in a day. As the days pass by, we will be increasing the count. To get vaccinated, individuals must register themselves in the Co-WIN application. If any person is unable to apply online due to some issues, we have appealed to the vaccination centre officials to allow walk-in and make spot registeration.”
Dr. Sunitha, Regional Program officer said, “The response from the public is very good for the third phase of vaccination drive. People are realising that it’s better to take the vaccine. One must register themselves through Co-WIN application and if they are unable to get themselves registered, then you can come and register yourself at the vaccination centres.”
Suresham, a beneficiary who took COVID-19 vaccine told ANI, “The vaccine is completely safe and I’m feeling completely well. For now, I haven’t faced any sort of problem. I appeal to all the people especially the senior citizens who are being given the opportunity to come forward and take the vaccine.”
Sanjiva Rao, another beneficiary aged 63 years said that the vaccine is completely safe and appealed to people to come forward and take the vaccine shots. He said that he hasn’t noticed any sort of problems. (ANI)

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Can central govt clarify confusion? As PM Modi takes Covaxin, Owaisi questions Covishield’s efficacy

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Hyderabad (Telangana) [India], March 1 (ANI): Raising question against the effectiveness of Serunm Institute’s Covishield, the vaccine against coronavirus, All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Monday said it is not “as effective” for people aged 64 and above.
“As per German Government, Covishield is not as effective for people aged 64 and above. The vaccine is for people aged between 18 and 64. Can the central government clarify the confusion? Is this a coincidence that the Prime Minister took Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccine today? However, I urge all to get vaccinated,” Owaisi told ANI.
Covishield is developed by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India in collaboration with the University of Oxford and Swedish pharmaceutical major AstraZeneca.
On Monday morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the first dose of Covaxin, India’s homegrown coronavirus vaccine developed by biotechnology firm Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Soon after receiving the jab, he tweeted, “Took my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at AIIMS.”
“Remarkable how our doctors and scientists have worked in quick time to strengthen the global fight against COVID-19,” he added.
The second phase of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive for age-appropriate population groups (people above 60 and those with comorbidities above 45) began on Monday with the Union Health Ministry calling out eligible people to get an appointment at respective hospitals in the country. (ANI)

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Amit Shah receives first jab of COVID-19 vaccine

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New Delhi [India], March 1 (ANI): Union Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah administered the first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.
According to his Ministry officials, doctors from the Medanta hospital administered the vaccine to Shah.
On August 2 last year, Shah had said on Twitter that he tested positive for coronavirus. He underwent treatment at Medanta Hospital and was discharged after he tested negative for the virus.
He was later admitted to the AIIMS for post-COVID treatment.
The minister in a tweet had thanked all those who wished for his recovery.
Earlier on Monday morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the first dose of Covaxin, India’s homegrown coronavirus vaccine developed by biotechnology firm Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Soon after receiving the first dose of the vaccine at AIIMS Delhi, he tweeted, “Took my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at AIIMS.”

“Remarkable how our doctors and scientists have worked in quick time to strengthen the global fight against COVID-19,” he added.

The COVID-19 vaccines – Covaxin and Covishield, were made available to the general public from today. (ANI)

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‘Cyber sabotage’ attempt, says Anil Deshmukh on Mumbai’s October 2020 power outage

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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 1 (ANI) Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Monday said that the massive power outage in Mumbai last October was an attempt at “cyber sabotage” according to a preliminary report.
Addressing reporters here, Deshmukh said Maharashtra Cyber Cell has submitted a preliminary report whose findings state that evidence suggests that the grid failure in Mumbai on October 12 last year, that resulted in the city plunging into darkness and disrupting train services, shutting down the stock market and generally hitting economic activities, was likely to be a cyber sabotage. The report has been handed over to Maharashtra energy minister Nitin Raut.
A report by a US-based cybersecurity firm claimed that Chinese-state sponsored groups, had targeted power sector in India with malware. This came months after the clash between troops of the two nations in Galwan valley in June 2020.
The New York Times had on Sunday published a report based on the findings of the report.
” The report of New York Times has come now. But when Mumbai had gone under dark, we had set up a departmental inquiry committee. MERC (Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission) and Central Electricy Authority had also made their own committees. We have complained to Cyber Cell also,” Nitin Raut said while speaking with mediapersons here.
“State Cyber Police Department investigated this and report was handed over to me today by Home Minister Anil Deshmukh ji. I will speak on this in legislature,” Raut said.
According to NYT report, the new study lent weight to the idea that the Mumbai blackout could be a “part of a broad Chinese cyber campaign against India’s power grid, timed to send a message that if India pressed its claims too hard, the lights could go out across the country.”
Addressing a press conference here Deshmukh said: “On October 12 electricity failure, Maharashtra Cyber Cell report says, 8GB unaccounted data must have been transferred to Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) data. Protocol Data which means the server of MSEB was logged in on October 12.”
According to the Maharashtra Cyber Cell report, Deshmukh said: “there was the possibility of login attempts and 14 Trojan horses were landed on MSEB servers. There are chances of some foreign attempts.”
The Massachusetts-based cybersecurity company Recorded Future’s study reported that a Chinese state-sponsored has been seen systematically utilising advanced cyberintrusion techniques to gain access to nearly a dozen critical nodes across the Indian power generation and transmission infrastructure.
“Since early 2020, Recorded Future’s Insikt Group observed a large increase in suspected targeted intrusion activity against Indian organizations from Chinese statesponsored groups, the study said.
” From mid-2020 onwards, Recorded Future’s midpoint collection revealed a steep rise in the use of infrastructure tracked as AXIOMATICASYMPTOTE, which encompasses ShadowPad command and control (C2) servers, to target a large swathe of India’s power sector,” the report said.
According to the report 10 distinct Indian power sector organizations, including four of the five Regional Load Despatch Centres (RLDC) responsible for operation of the power grid through balancing electricity supply and demand, have been identified as targets in a concerted campaign against India’s critical infrastructure. Other targets identified included two Indian seaports. (ANI)

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