AS INDIA RECORDS 1.61L CASES, GOVT SAYS THERE’S NO SHORTAGE OF VACCINES - The Daily Guardian
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AS INDIA RECORDS 1.61L CASES, GOVT SAYS THERE’S NO SHORTAGE OF VACCINES

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India recorded a massive surge of 1,61,736 Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours. Taking the country’s Covid tally to 1,36,89,453 cases and making it the second worst-hit nation in terms of total cases and the third worst-hit in terms of active cases. India also witnessed 880 fatalities due to Covid-19 in a single day. The death toll from the deadly infection stands at 171,089.


Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday said, “India has 89.51 percent people who have been cured of Covid-19, 1.25 per cent deaths related to the viral infection and 9.24 percent active
cases currently. If we look at the new cases, we will find that the previous highest surge has already been crossed and the trend is going upward. That is a cause for worry.”


Amid concerns of a vaccine shortage in the country, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved the use of the Sputnik V vaccine for usage, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). It is set to be the third vaccine against Covid-19 in India.

RDIF said that India is expected to make 50 million doses of Sputnik V each month this summer. RDIF head Kirill Dmitriev told reporters on Tuesday that besides the tie-up with five drug companies, they are looking for more partnerships in India, some for production pacts.


Meanwhile, Bhushan assured that despite the surge, there is no shortage of vaccines. “In the last 24 hours, over 40 lakh doses were administered. As per data till 11 am today, unutilised doses available with states and UTs is over 1,67,20,000. This month— till April end—2,01,22,960 doses will be provided to states and UTs. This clearly shows that the issue is about better planning and not the shortage of doses,» Bhushan said.

He added that if wastage is taken into account and consumption is looked at, then states and UTs used 11.43 crore doses till now. “Till now we›ve provided 13,10,90,000 doses to states and union territories. On one hand, we have states like Kerala where there is zero wastage (of vaccine) and on the other hand, we have several other states where there still is 8-9 percent of wastage,” said the Health Secretary.

The five most affected states by total cases are Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh.

As many as 60,212 fresh Covid-19 cases have been reported in Maharashtra, where CM Uddhav Thackeray announced a 15-day Janata Curfew. With this the active number of cases reached 5,93,042. The state also reported 281 deaths in 24 hours. The positivity rate stands at 15.6%. 

Delhi recorded as many as 13,468 fresh coronavirus cases, the sharpest daily spike this year. With this, the tally of Covid-19 cases in the national capital has reached over 7.50 lakh, while the death toll mounted to 11,436. 81 fatalities have been recorded in the last 24 hours. The case tally stands at 7,50,156 in the national capital, including 6,95,210 patients who have either been discharged or have migrated or recovered. The number of active cases is 43,510, of which 21,954 are in home isolation.

Uttar Pradesh reported the highest-ever single-day spike of 18,021 coronavirus cases while 85 fatalities took the death toll in the state to 9,309. The total number of cases in the state stands at 7,23,582 and the active caseload is 95,980. 

Gujarat reported 6,690 new coronavirus cases, 2748 discharges and 67 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Rajasthan reported 5,528 new cases, 1,251 recoveries and 28 deaths in the same period. 

Goa reported 562 new coronavirus cases, 236 recoveries and 3 deaths in the last 24 hours, the total case tally rose to 63,342, and active cases stood at 4,888.

Uttarakhand reported 1,925 new cases, including 775 cases in Dehradun and 594 cases in Haridwar, taking the total number of cases to 112,071.

Kerala recorded 7,515 Covid-19 cases, taking the total caseload to 11.80 lakh as active cases mounted to 52,132. As many as 2,959 people were cured of the infection, taking the total recoveries to 11,23,133. The test positivity rate stood at 10.23 percent. The death count has gone up to 4,814 with 20 more fatalities being added to the tally.

Andhra Pradesh added 4,228 infections, the highest daily count in exactly six months. The active caseload also crossed the 25,000 mark to 25,850. The gross Covid-19 positives in Andhra Pradesh has now risen to 9,32,892, recoveries 8,99,721 and deaths 7,321.

Karnataka reported 8,778 new coronavirus cases including 5,500 cases in Bengaluru Urban district, 6,079 discharges and 67 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Tamil Nadu reported 6,984 new cases, 3,289 recoveries and 18 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Jammu and Kashmir recorded 1,269 new Covid-19 cases, taking the tally to 1,40,650, while three deaths pushed the toll to 2,037. Out of the fresh cases, 582 were from the Jammu Division and 687 from the Kashmir Division.

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ED SUMMONS AMAZON, FUTURE GROUP OFFICIALS OVER DISPUTED DEAL

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The Enforcement Directorate has summoned Amazon India’s country head Amit Agarwal along with other officials and Future Group head Kishore Biyani in connection with a disputed deal, sources said on Sunday.

“The investigation by the ED is related to Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) in connection with Amazon’s disputed deal with Future Coupons Pvt Ltd (FCPL),” sources said. According to sources, officials of both the groups have been asked to appear before a federal agency headquarters in Delhi on 6 December along with certain documents related to the deal.

Sources further said that ED is examining whether Amazon was in breach of FEMA when it invested Rs 1,431 crore to purchase a 49% stake in FCPL in 2019 or it complied with regulations.

“FCPL owns about 10% of Future Retail Ltd (FRL), the flagship entity that runs the Big Bazaar, Food Bazaar and Easyday chains,” sources added.

“We are in receipt of summons issued by the ED in connection with the Future Group. As we have just received the summons, we are examining it and will respond within the given time frame,” an Amazon spokesperson said.

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My goal is to serve nation, be Pradhan Sevak: PM Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that his goal is to serve the nation and not only to be in power. While addressing the 83rd episode of his Mann Ki Baat radio programme, the Prime Minister also said that his primary duty is to be the Pradhan Sevak to the people. “We have changed lives through the schemes launched by the government. It gives me satisfaction. This is what I seek from life,” he added.

“I do not want to be in power now or in future. My goal is to serve people,” he added.

He also lauded the armed forces noting that the 50th-anniversary celebrations of India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war will take place next month.

The PM said, “The country celebrates Navy Day and Armed Forces Flag Day in December. We all know that on December 16, the country is celebrating the golden jubilee year of the 1971 war.” “On this occasion, I want to remember our armed forces, our soldiers. Especially, the brave mothers who gave birth to these heroes,” he added.

The PM also hailed the progress of start-ups across the country and said that in the era of start-ups, India is making a global footprint as the sector is getting record investment year after year.

The Prime Minister mentioned that there are more than 70 “unicorn” start-ups in the nation. A unicorn is a privately held start-up company valued at over USD 1 billion.

“In every country with a large youth population, three aspects matter a lot. Sometimes, it becomes the true identity of the youth. The first aspect is, ideas and innovation. The second is the spirit of taking risks and the third is the ‘Can Do’ spirit, that is, the determination to accomplish any task, no matter how adverse the circumstances be. When these three things combine, phenomenal results are produced, miracles happen,” PM Modi said.

“This is the era of start-ups and it is also true that today India is leading the way in the world of start-ups. Start-ups here are getting record investments year after year. This sector is progressing very fast,” he said.

BJP national president J.P. Nadda on Sunday lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi for never using the Mann Ki Baat radio programme for political purposes.

Addressing BJP workers in the national capital, Nadda said, “PM Modi has put forward the political issues through different platforms. He addressed the 83rd episode of the ‘Mann Ki Baat’. He never talked about politics through his monthly radio programme or used it for political purposes. He has talked about the culture of the country.” “PM Modi has talked to us about the diversity of festivals in our nation, environment, women upliftment, and Ayushman Bharat. He focused on sports and talked about youth empowerment, as well,” Nadda said.

“BJP now has a goal to gather every month to listen to and discuss ‘Mann Ki Baat’, in all 10.40 lakh booths till May, to connect with the nation,” he added.

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AHEAD OF WINTER SESSION, OPPOSITION TABLES DEMANDS AT ALL-PARTY MEET

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Pralhad Joshi

An all-party meeting called by Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi took place on Sunday ahead of the winter session of Parliament. 31 parties participated in the all-party meeting. “42 leaders from various parties participated in a constructive discussion,” Joshi told a news agency. “The government is ready for any discussions permitted by the Chairman and the Speaker without any disruptions,” the Union Minister added.

The Opposition on Sunday demanded compensation for the families of Covid-19 victims and the farmers who lost their lives during the farm laws protest in the all-party meeting.

“Many issues including, inflation, fuel price hike, farmers’ issues and Covid-19 were raised in the all-Party meeting today. All parties demanded that a law guaranteeing MSP should be made,” Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge told ANI after the all-Party meeting convened by the government concluded at the Parliament Annexe Building. “We demanded from the government that families of Covid19 victims be given compensation of Rs 4 lakh each. Compensation should also be given to farmers who lost their lives during the farm laws protest,” Kharge said.

“We expected PM Modi to attend the meeting today. But for some reason, he did not attend it…The government has withdrawn farm laws but PM had said that he could not make farmers understand. It means that these laws may be brought back in some other form in future,” he added.

Meanwhile, YSRCP leader Vijay Sai Reddy stated that his party demanded to bring the Women’s Reservation Bill in the upcoming parliament session.

Leaders of various political parties including Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Union Minister Piyush Goyal and Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury were present at the Parliament for the all-party meeting.

The BJP-led government has a heavy agenda for the winter session with its legislative business including 26 new bills.

The government has indicated that the bill to repeal three farm laws will be taken up on priority. The bill was cleared by the union cabinet earlier this week. The government’s agenda also includes the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021. The winter session will commence on November 29 and is scheduled to conclude on December 23. BJP and Congress both have issued a three-line whip to its MPs asking them to be present in both the Houses of the Parliament on November 29.

Besides the ruling BJP, 30 parties including INC, DMK, AITC, YSRCP, JD(U), BJD, BSP, TRS, SS, LJSP, NCP, SP, CPI(M), IUML, TDP, Apna Dal, CPI, NPF, SAD, AAP, AIADMK, KC(M), MNF, RSP, RPI(A), RJD, NPP, MDMK, JKNC and TMC participated in the meeting.

TMC raised 10 issues including women’s reservation bill in all-party meet ahead of Winter Session. The TMC also raised the issue of BSF jurisdiction that has been increased in West Bengal and other states, Pegasus issue, disrupted Monsoon session and Covid-19 situation in the country.

Aam Aadmi Party Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh on Sunday boycotted the all-party meeting alleging that the government never allows anyone to speak during the meet. “They (Government) don’t let any member speak during the all-party meeting. I raised the issue of bringing a law on the MSP guarantee in this session of the Parliament and other issues including the extension of Border Security Force’s jurisdiction, among others. They don’t let us speak in all-party meet and Parliament,” said Singh. “The government is busy with Jinnah and other issues, ignoring the core issues related to farmers and common man,” he added.

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BJP sweeps Tripura civic polls, TMC gets a reality check

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The BJP swept the Tripura civic polls by winning 329 of the total 334 sets in an election that was closely followed across the country. Out of the 222 seats that went to the polls, the BJP won 217 seats. It was earlier declared a winner on 112 uncontested seats.

The remaining five seats were won by the CPI-M (3) and one each by the TMC and a local outfit, Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance.

The BJP had fielded candidates in all the 334 seats of Agartala Municipal Corporation, 13 municipal bodies and six nagar panchayats. All the 51 wards in the Agartala Municipal Corporation were won by the BJP.

The election was seen as a bellwether for the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC which contested the election with all the power capital at its disposal. De facto TMC chief Abhishek Banerjee along-with political manager Prashant Kishor were deeply involved in the election which also included poaching established Congress leaders like Sushmita Dev who became the party’s face on the ground during the polls. Dev’s father, late Santosh Mohan Dev was instrumental in installing the Congress-led government in Tripura in 1988. He had also won two (1989 and 1991) Lok Sabha polls from the state.

The Trinamool Congress, which is taking steps to establish itself as a national party, was counting on a positive result from Tripura to give it an impetus in other states like Goa and Chhattisgarh.

The TMC had also gone to the Supreme Court, with its 16 Members of Parliament (MPs) sitting on a dharna outside the office of Home Minister Amit Shah on 22 November, to raise their protest against the alleged political violence against their workers in Tripura.

The TMC however is likely to draw solace from the fact that in many seats, it emerged as the main opposition while pushing the CPM to the third position. Abhishek Banerjee, in a tweet, while accepting the defeat said, “It is exceptional for a party beginning with negligible presence to successfully contest municipal elections and emerge as the PRINCIPAL OPPOSITION in the state with more than 20% vote share.”

BJP National General Secretary, Bl Santosh, termed the efforts put by the TMC in the elections as tantrums. “People of Tripura are showing the @AITCofficial the rightful place … The Dustbin … None of the tantrums got them any results. @BJP4Tripura set to create history by winning more than 80% seats in urban local bodies . Set to win all municipalities,” Santosh tweeted.

On many seats, the combined votes of Trinamool, Congress, CPM and CPI (M) candidates were more than the votes polled by victorious BJP candidates, thereby indicating that if the opposition parties had contested the elections in an alliance, the overall result would not have been so dismal for them, a lesson that perhaps might become important in the coming months.

Prashant Kishor, whose efforts to join the Congress did not bear fruit, had employed considerable resources in the state through his political consulting firm, I-PAC for reaping electoral benefits for the TMC so that it could add to the narrative that the Mamata Banerjee led TMC could replace the Congress as the primary opposition party to take the BJP in the 2024 general elections. This defeat is likely to come as an eye opener for Banerjee whose national political ambitions, according to political observers, are being given a premature push by Kishor.

The elections and the counting were held on 25 November and 28 November respectively under unprecedented three-tier security arrangements with Central paramilitary forces being deployed.

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INDIA REVISES TRAVEL GUIDELINES, WILL REVIEW DECISION ON FLIGHT RESUMPTION

The government also asked the states to prioritise their containment, surveillance, testing, monitoring and vaccination strategies.

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In the wake of the emergence of the new Covid “variant of concern”, “Omicron”, India will review its decision on the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services. On Sunday, the government also revised travel guidelines for passengers coming to India from abroad. The government also asked the states to prioritise their containment, surveillance, testing, monitoring, vaccination strategies, apart from augmenting health infrastructure.

The government revised travel guidelines for international passengers, particularly those arriving from 12 “countries at risk”. These passengers will have to undergo Covid testing post-arrival and wait at the airport for the test results. In the case of a negative test report, the travellers will have to home-quarantine for seven days and will be tested again on the eighth day. If the second test report is also negative, the travellers will have to monitor themselves for another seven days. International travellers will also have to submit 14 days’ travel details and upload a negative RT-PCR test report on Air Suvidha portal before the journey. Travellers from countries excluding those “countries at risk” will be allowed to leave the airport and shall self-monitor themselves for 14 days. A sub-section (5% of total passenegrs on a flight) will have to undergo post-arrival testing at random at the airport The revised guidelines come into effect from 1 December.

On Sunday an urgent meeting was chaired by Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, following the high-level review by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, it was decided that the government will further review Standard Operating Procedure on testing and surveillance of incoming international passengers, especially for those countries identified “at risk” category.

Other experts including Dr V.K. Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, Dr Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to Prime Minister and senior officers from Health, Civil Aviation and other Ministries comprehensively reviewed the overall global situation in wake of the Omicron virus.

“Various preventive measures in place and to be further strengthened were discussed. Further, the decision on the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passengers service will be reviewed, as per evolving global scenario,” said a Home Ministry statement.

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, genomic surveillance for Covid variants is to be further strengthened and intensified. “Airport Health Officials (APHOs) and Port Health Officials (PHOs) will be sensitized for strict supervision of testing protocol at airports and ports.”

On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had chaired a comprehensive meeting that lasted for almost two hours to review the public health preparedness and vaccination-related situation for Covid-19.

As per an official statement issued by Prime Minister Office, officials briefed the Prime Minister about the new Variant of Concern ‘Omicron’ along with its characteristics and the impact seen in various countries. Its implications for India were also discussed. Prime Minister Modi spoke about the need to be proactive in light of the new variant.

WHAT THE STATES SAID

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urged him to stop flights from countries affected by the new Covid-19 variant Omicron. In an official letter, Kejriwal wrote, “Our country has fought a tough fight against Corona for the last one and half years. We should do everything possible to prevent the new variant of concern from entering India.” “We should do everything possible to prevent the new variant of concern, recently recognised by WHO, from entering India. A number of countries, including the European Union (EU), have suspended travel to the affected regions. I urge you to stop flights from these regions with immediate effect. Any delay in this regard may prove harmful if any affected person enters India,” he stated.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said that the state government is taking all the precautions and is prepared to deal with Omicron variant of Covid-19. Khattar said, “We are taking all precautions and are prepared to deal with it. The District Commissioners have been asked to remain vigilant especially before granting permission for fairs.”

Uttarakhand Health Secretary Dr Pankaj Kumar Pandey has instructed all the District Magistrates of the state to monitor the people coming from outside along with intensive testing as a precautionary measure against the Covid-19 variant Omicron. The Health Secretary has also given instructions to form monitoring teams at the district level for proper prevention.

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18 lives lost in Bengal accident, PM announces Rs 2 lakh each for next of kin

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In the wee hours of Sunday, 18 people were killed and 5 others were injured after a speeding vehicle, carrying a dead body along with family members and the kin for the last rites, hit a lorry loaded with stones, parked on the roadside.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences to the families of people who lost their lives in the road accident. “Extremely pained by the loss of lives due to a road accident in Nadia, West Bengal. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover at the earliest”, the PM tweeted. Union Home Minister Amit Shah and West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar also expressed grief over the incident. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee too expressed her condolences on the loss of lives and promised that the party would extend all the necessary support to the victims.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives due to the road accident in Nadia on Sunday. “The injured will also be given Rs 50,000 each,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a tweet. “The Prime Minister has announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh each from PMNRF for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives due to the road accident in Nadia, West Bengal. Rs. 50,000 would be given to the injured,” the PMO India tweeted.

Many leaders of Trinamool Congress (TMC) have expressed their condolences and the party will announce the compensation for the victims of the families, who have lost their lives in the Nadia Road accident.

“The party is going to announce the compensation to help the families of the victims. The party is also making arrangements for the treatment of the injured victims,” TMC leader Kunal Ghosh told The Daily Guardian.

As per the report, around 10 men, 7 women and a six-year-old girl were killed. All the 18 people who were killed in the unfortunate accident were the residents of Parmadon at Bagdah, North 24 Parganas. The car carrying the deceased and the relatives, was going to Nabadwip burning ghat. The accident took place at Hanskhali-Krishnagar state highways. While the car was crossing the Phoolbari area in Nadia, it collided with the truck parked on the roadside. The driver of the truck has been detained. All the injured people are shifted to Shaktinagar district hospital. As per the local sources, the accidents occurred due to dense fog and high speed.

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