Amid political turmoil, Puducherry Assembly to meet for special session on Feb 22 - The Daily Guardian
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Amid political turmoil, Puducherry Assembly to meet for special session on Feb 22

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Puducherry [India], February 20 (ANI): Amid a political crisis in the union territory, Puducherry Legislative Assembly Secretary R Mounissamy on Friday said the Union Territory Assembly will reassemble for a special session on February 22, after Tamilisai Soundararajan ordered a floor test for the Congress government.
The ruling Congress in the UT seemingly slipped from the halfway mark in the 33-member assembly after four MLAs resigned from the cabinet recently. Now Congress has 10 MLA along with three MLAs of DMK and one independent MLA in an alliance.
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy on February 18 alleged that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was trying to bring down a democratically elected government.
“Following the announcement of the floor test by LG Tamilisai Soundararajan, I convened a meeting of Congress MLAs at my residence. I held a meeting with MLAs and discussed the floor test. No decision has been taken in today’s meet. We will hold a meeting again on February 21. We are also consulting with our alliance partner DMK,” Narayanasamy has said.
Puducherry is scheduled to go to polls later this year. (ANI)

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Buy affordable medicines from ‘Modi ki dukaan’: PM on Janaushadhi Diwas

Aditya Nair

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday addressed Janaushadhi Diwas celebrations and interacted with beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana through video conferencing.

He urged people to buy medicines from Janaushadhi Kendras at affordable prices and said, “Medicines are expensive, that’s why we have the PM Jan Aushadhi Yojana for the poor which saves them money. I urge people to buy medicines at affordable costs from ‘Modi kidukaan’ as people like to call it.”

On the occasion, the leader also dedicated to the nation the 7,500th Janaushadhi Kendra at the North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) in Shillong.

Union Ministers D.V. Sadananda Gowda, Mansukh Mandaviya, Anurag Thakur, Chief Ministers of Himachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, and Deputy Chief Ministers of Meghalaya and Gujarat were also present.

While interacting with a beneficiary, PM Modi asked people to spread the word about the benefits of janaushadhi. He said, “You are my family and your ailment is the ailment of my family members, which is why I want all my countrymen to stay healthy.” The PM also requested everyone to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

He told beneficiaries that due to affordability, patients are taking the required medicines, which is leading to better health outcomes. He praised the youth for promoting the ‘Janaushadhi movement’ and asked them to help in the ongoing vaccine drive.

Talking about the 7500th Janaushadhi centre which opened in Shillong, PM Modi said that the dedication to the cause was important as there were not even 100 centres in India six years ago. He said that the aim now is to achieve the target of 10,000 centres.

PM Modi pointed out that for a long time, the government treated health as a subject of only disease and treatment. However, the topic of health is not confined to this but also affects the economic and social fabric of the country.

“Poor and middle-class families are saving about Rs 3,600 crore every year on expensive medicines. This scheme is also promoting self-reliance among women as more than 1000 centres are being run by them. In order to promote the scheme, the incentive has been enhanced from Rs 2.5 lakh to 5 lakh with an additional incentive of Rs 2 lakh for Dalit, Aadivasi women and people of the Northeast,” he said.

He further stated that the Ayushman Yojana had ensured free treatment up to Rs 5 lakh for the country’s more than 50 crore poor families. So far more than 1.5 crore people have taken advantage of it and saved about Rs 30,000 crore, he said.

The Prime Minister also noted that the demand for India-made medicines and surgery has increased. “Production is also increasing to keep up with the increasing demand. A large number of employment opportunities are also being created,” he said, adding that 75 AYUSH medicines are now available at the Janaushadhi centres. He said that patients will benefit by getting cheaper AYUSH medicines and the fields of Ayurveda and AYUSH medicine will also benefit.

The Prime Minister then lauded scientists for the ‘Made in India’ Covid-19 vaccine, saying, “Today, India has vaccines not only for local use but also for helping the world. The government has kept the interest of the poor and middle-class in mind for the vaccinations. Vaccination is free in the government hospitals and private hospitals are charging just Rs. 250, which is the lowest in the world.”

The leader also stressed on the need for having infrastructure for effective treatment and the availability of quality medical staff, adding that the government has started working on a holistic approach in extending the country’s health infrastructure from primary hospitals in villages to tertiary hospitals and medical colleges like AIIMS.

The Prime Minister recounted the government’s efforts to improve the medical setup in the last six years. He informed that in that period, more than 30,000 seats have been added to the 55,000 MBBS seats that existed in 2014. Similarly, to the 30,000 PG seats, 24,000 new seats were added. 180 new medical colleges have also been established in the last six years, along with 1.5 lakh health and wellness centres in villages, 50,000 of which have already started functioning. These centres are treating serious ailments and making sophisticated tests available locally, he noted.

The PM also spoke of the enormous increase in the allocation for health in the Union Budget and talked about the Pradhan Mantri Aatmanirbhar Swasthya Yojana. “Every district will be provided diagnostic centres and more than 600 critical care hospitals have been established. Work is on for establishing one medical centre in three Lok Sabha constituencies,” the Prime Minister said.

He ended his address by claiming that the effort of the government today is to make treatment cheaper and more accessible for everyone.

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IPL RETURNS TO INDIA, MI TO FACE RCB IN OPENER ON 9 APRIL

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After nearly two years, the Indian Premier League is set to return home this April, with Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata hosting the event. The season will kick-start on 9 April 9 in Chennai with a clash between defending champions Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore.

The world’s richest T20 competition was shifted to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last year as India grappled with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The IPL this year at home will be played behind closed doors to begin with and a call on allowing spectators will be taken at a later stage of the tournament,” Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Jay Shah said in a statement.

Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium— world’s largest cricket stadium—will host the playoffs as well as the 30 May final, with Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata being the other venues.

Each team is set to play at four venues during the league stage of IPL 2021. Out of the 56 league matches, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru will host 10 matches each while Ahmedabad and Delhi will host 8 matches each. All the matches this season will be played at neutral venues.

“The fixtures of the tournament have been mapped in a way that every team will travel only three times during the league stage, thus reducing commute and minimising risk,” Shah said.

“After hosting the tournament safely and successfully in the UAE last year … the BCCI is confident of hosting the IPL at home with health and safety of players and all people involved being paramount,” he added.

Smartphone maker Vivo returned as title sponsor of the league after pulling out of last year’s tournament amid a backlash against Chinese firms in India.

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After joining BJP, ‘pure cobra’ Mithun says he will finish opponent in one strike

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Actor Mithun Chakraborty, ending weeks of speculation by finally joining the BJP at a massive rally addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kolkata, on Sunday compared himself to the dangerous ‘Cobra’ snake and said he will finish the Opposition in one bite.

While sharing the dais with PM Modi in Kolkata on Sunday, he took a dig at Trinamool Congress (TMC) and said, “Ami ekta cobra, ek chobol-ei chobi (I am a pure cobra, My one bite is enough to kill people).” He also recited a famous dialogue from his 2006 hit film, MLA Fatakeshto, “Maarbo ekhane, lash podbe shoshaney (I will thrash you here, your body will fall into the crematorium)”.

While joining BJP, Mithun said that his dream came true by sharing a stage with PM Modi. “I had never imagined that I will be sharing the dais where the biggest leader of the biggest democracy our beloved PM Narendra Modi is about to speak. I always had a dream to work for the poor, downtrodden. Now, it is seen as being fulfilled,” he said at the Brigade Parade Ground here.

The veteran actor joined the BJP at the Brigade Parage Ground in the presence of state party chief Dilip Ghosh on Sunday. BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, party vice president Mukul Roy and Suvendu Adhikari were also present at the ground where PM Modi addressed an election rally.

Mithun, 70, was a Rajya Sabha MP for the TMC for two years. He resigned from the position in 2016 citing health reasons after his name surfaced in the Saradha ponzi scam. In October 2019, he visited Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) headquarters in Nagpur and paid tributes to the K.B. Hedgewar, the founder of RSS.

The West Bengal Assembly elections will be held in eight phases starting from 27 March with the final round of voting taking place on 29 April. The counting of votes will take place on 2 May.

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PM Modi bats for ‘asol paribartan’ in Bengal

‘What if Didi’s scooty falls in Nandigram’, says the PM targeting Mamata Banerjee.

Sabyasachi Roy Choudhury

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday addressed a mega rally at the Brigade Ground in Kolkata on Sunday. In his speech, PM Modi made remarks about the current Mamata Banerjee-led state government and declared that West Bengal will move towards development after the BJP is elected to power.

The rally was organised a few days after the Election Commission announced the dates for the eight-phase Assembly elections in West Bengal. The rally, which witnessed a record crowd presence, was also attended by several top BJP leaders along with noted personalities like veteran actor Mithun Chakraborty, whom the PM called “Banglar chhele” (Bengal’s son).

Setting the tone for the BJP’s campaign, Modi said, “The next 25 years are very important for the development of Bengal,” asserting that if the BJP is selected, the next five years will be aimed at laying the foundation of the state’s development. He assured people that the dream of ‘Sonar Bangla’ will be fulfilled as the government is planning for Bengal’s development along with an increasing investment in the state and protecting its culture, that will bring widespread change. “I have come to Kolkata to assure the people in the state of ‘asol poriborton’ (real change),” said Modi.

“The democratic system in Bengal will also be strengthened,” Modi promised, adding that efforts will be made to re-establish public belief in government systems, the police and the administration, which has been destroyed in the past.

 “CM Mamata Banerjee broke the trust when it comes to change,” said Modi, stating that the state trusted Banerjee and her cadre but the TMC government broke the trust of people. “The fight is now between the people and the TMC-Congress-Left government,” he said, asserting that the people want ‘shanti’, ‘Sonar Bangla’ and a ‘pragatisheel Bangla’ and, therefore, will fight those who have an anti-Bengal attitude.

He also accused Banerjee of nepotism for choosing to play the limited role of «bua» (aunt) to her «bhatija» (nephew) instead of becoming «didi» (elder sister) to the people. The PM also asksed Banerjee to consider herself as ‘India›s daughter’, instead of limiting herself to the idea that she is solely ‹Bengal›s daughter›.

Citing the recent incident of an 80-year woman in Bengal on whom cruelty was unleashed, PM Modi also commented on the treatment of women in the state.

The Prime Minister also took a dig at her changing her constituency this time from Bhowanipur to Nandigram. “Your (Mamata Banerjee’s) scooty took a turn towards Nandigram instead of going to Bhawanipore. Didi, I wish everyone well and don’t want anyone hurt. But what can I do if the scooty is destined to fall in Nandigram?” he said. The PM was referring to Banerjee’s scooter ride a few days ago in protest against rising fuel prices.

“I have known Didi for several years but this is not the Didi who stood up against the Left Front government. Her remote control is elsewhere. We are outsiders, they say, but are the founders of Congress not outsiders? Are Marx, Lenin and Mao not outsiders? But our leader was Syama Prasad Mookerjee, so Bengal is in the BJP’s DNA. We are indebted to Bengal,” PM Modi said, addressing the rally.

Slamming the Bengal CM further and accusing the state government of playing a “Corruption Olympics”, Modi asked what changes the TMC has been able to bring in the lives of the common people of the state in the last ten years. The TMC government is hoarding the cash provided by the Centre for several schemes, saying that the government does not do any work and does not let others do it, either, he claimed. “The BJP believes not only in announcing schemes, but also in implementing schemes,” said Modi.

The Prime Minister then threw a direct challenge at Banerjee, saying, “Didi, listen, TMC ka khela shesh. Khel khatam, vikas shuru. (The TMC’s game is over. The game ends, development begins)” Targeting Mamata Banerjee›s rule as one of «corruption and loot-tantra (loot), he said to the crowd, “Nothing is hidden. Bengal knows everything. But this khel (game) will not continue.

He also slammed the practice of commission baaji in the state, saying that roads leading to the airport, the Kolkata Metro expansion and regularisation of slums have been halted due to this. He said that it is time for the BJP to come to power in the state and end the practice.

Modi also declared that Kolkata won’t be stopped from becoming a futuristic city. Kolkata’s citizens wish to see their city on the top of the list of cities with a high livability index and the BJP will fulfil that target, he said.

Come 2047, when India will complete 100 years of its independence, Bengal will lead India, he said further.

According to ANI, the rally was expected to be attended by at least 700,000 people. More than 1,500 CCTV cameras were installed across the city and drones were used to monitor the venue.

The Assembly elections in West Bengal will be held in eight phases from March 27 to April 29 and the results for the 294-seat Assembly will be declared on May 2.

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Dragon turns dove, talks peace, partnership with India

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After initiating the disengagement of troops and weapons along the the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh last month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday said that “returning to peaceful negotiation is the right way forward”.

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.

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INDIA’S COVID-19 VACCINE ROLLOUT ‘RESCUED WORLD’: TOP US SCIENTIST

Total number of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the country crosses 2 crore, says the Union Health Ministry; India reports 18,327 fresh coronavirus cases.

Aishvarya Jain

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India’s rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines in collaboration with leading global institutions has “rescued the world” from the deadly pandemic, said a top American scientist, adding that and the country’s contributions should not be underestimated.

India, called the pharmacy of the world, is one of the world’s biggest drug-makers and a larger number of countries have approached it for procuring Covid-19 vaccines.

Dr Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) in Houston, during a recent webinar, “Covid-19: Vaccination and Potential Return to Normalcy—If and When”, said that the Covid-19 vaccine rollout is “India’s gift’” to the world in combating the virus. The webinar was organised by Indo American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (IACCGH).

“This is something very special and I see it myself because I’m on weekly teleconferences with our colleagues in India, you make a recommendation, and within days it’s done and not only done, but it’s done well and with incredible rigor and thought and creativity,” Dr Hotez said. The scientist further said that he felt compelled to make this statement because “India’s huge efforts in combating global pandemic is a story that’s not really getting out in the world”.

India has provided 56 lakh doses of coronavirus vaccines under grants assistance to a number of countries. The vaccines were sent to Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles.

Speaking at a virtual India-Sweden summit alongside Sweden Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, Prime Minister Modi on Friday said that ‘Made in India’ Covid-19 vaccines have been provided to more than 50 countries. “During the Covid-19 pandemic, on a regional and on a global level, we have understood the importance of collaboration. India has provided medicines and other essential items to over 150 countries. Along with this, with the help of online training programmes, we shared our experiences with frontline workers and lawmakers of Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa,” he emphasised.

In the meantime, India reported 18,327 fresh coronavirus cases and the tally has climbed to 1,11,92,088, while the number of recoveries has surged to 1,08,54,128. The death count due to the viral disease has gone up to 1,57,656 in the country with 108 more fatalities reported in a 24-hour period. The cumulative number of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in India has crossed 2 crore, the Union Health Ministry said.

Maharashtra continued to report over 10,000 daily novel coronavirus cases after breaching 22 lakh-mark in total positive cases since the pandemic hit the state. The worst-hit state in terms of total Covid-19 cases recorded more than 11,000 infections in last 24 hours, the highest in nearly five months. With 11,141 new Covid-19 cases in the state, the total virus infections reached 22,19,727. Along with that, 38 virus-related deaths in the last 24 hours took the state’s toll to 52,478. Case fatality rate stands at 2.36%. Moreover, the state recorded 6,013 recoveries, bringing the total number to 20,68,044, while active cases stood at 97,983. The recovery rate stands at 93.1%

The national capital recorded 286 new Covid-19 cases and two deaths in last twenty-four hours, while the number of tests rose to over 91,000, the highest so far amid a sudden surge in incidences. The positivity rate stood at 0.31 per cent.

Meanwhile, Eight more people died from coronavirus in Uttar Pradesh as 117 fresh cases pushed the total number of infections in the state to 6,04,279. So far, the infection has claimed 8,737 lives in the state.

Gujarat’s coronavirus tally rose to 2,73,386 with the addition of 575 cases. As 459 patients got discharge from hospitals during the day, the recovery count mounted to 2,65,831.

Seventeen more people died from coronavirus in Punjab as 1,051 fresh cases surfaced, pushing the state’s infection count to 188,391. So far, the disease has claimed 5,927 lives in the state. The number of active cases also increased from 7,164.

Southern state of Tamil Nadu saw its daily tally of new Covid-19 infections continue to show an upward trend after crossing the 500 mark once again, with 567 people testing positive for the virus, pushing the numbers to 8,55,121 while one death took the toll to 12,518. Recoveries, which were outnumbering new infections, saw a dip with 521 people getting discharged taking the cumulative number to 8,38,606 leaving 3,997 active cases in the state.

Kerala recorded 2,100 new Covid-19 cases and 13 related deaths taking the total affected in the state to 10.77 lakh and the toll to 4,300.

Andhra Pradesh reported 136 new coronavirus infections, taking the state’s tally to 8,90,692. The death toll after one new fatality stands at 7,174.

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