DON’T TURN COVID-19 INTO MATTER OF POLITICS: PM MODI - The Daily Guardian
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DON’T TURN COVID-19 INTO MATTER OF POLITICS: PM MODI

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday met the floor leaders of all parties in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha to inform them about the trajectory of Covid-19 in the country and the public health response to the pandemic. He said that the pandemic should not be a “matter of politics and is a matter of concern for the entire humanity”.

“PM informed leaders about the rising speed of India’s vaccination program and how the first 10 crore doses took around 85 days while the last 10 crore doses took 24 days. He also informed the leaders that the daily closing stocks show an average of more than 1.5 crore vaccines at the end of the day throughout the country,” the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs said in a statement.

PM Modi said that the vaccination drives at the district level should be properly planned on the basis of availability indicated by the Centre to ensure there is no inconvenience to people. He expressed concerns that a large number of healthcare and frontline workers had not been vaccinated.

Leaders of several Opposition parties including Trinamool Congress, NCP, BJD and BSP attended the meeting convened by the government on Tuesday evening. However, the Congress, RJD, AAP, SAD and Left parties chose not to participate.

Leaders of the BJD and the Shiv Sena, who spoke to ANI, expressed satisfaction with the meeting. Prasanna Acharya of BJD said the meeting was “very fruitful”.

“The Union Health Secretary gave us a half-an-hour presentation on COVID and what the government is doing. We were briefed about what steps are being taken. We were also briefed about the vaccination programme,” he said.

Acharya said Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the leaders and told them that despite the size of the country’s population, the vaccination drive was better than several other countries. “The Prime Minister also said that we have to fight this pandemic with cooperation and coordination with states and the Central government will extend all help to states,” the BJD MP said.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut told ANI that the government gave them details about what it is doing to fight the pandemic. “I can say that it was a satisfactory presentation of the Health Secretary,” he said.

Sources said TMC leaders talked about “vaccine shortage” and gave a letter to the Prime Minister demanding more vaccines for West Bengal “because it’s a vast state and third wave of Covid-19 has set in”.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, Parliamentary Affair Minister Prahlad Joshi, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goel and Minorities Affairs Minister M.A. Naqvi were present in the meeting.

Floor leaders of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Tamil Manila Congress, All India Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal (Secular), Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP), Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Janata Dal (United), Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) were among those present.

WITH ANI INPUTS

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BILL AND MELINDA GATES ARE OFFICIALLY DIVORCED

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WASHINGTON: The divorce between Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates has been finalised. As per CNN report, filing with the King County Superior Court in Washington made the move official. Melinda French Gates filed the petition for divorce in King County, Washington.

Bill and Melinda announced in May that they would be ending their marriage after 27 years, saying, “we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”

However, the duo said they will continue to work together at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Meanwhile, the foundation said last month that the organisation was planning a two-year trial period to see if the pair could continue working together effectively.

“If after two years either decide they cannot continue to work together as co-chairs, French Gates will resign her position as co-chair and trustee,” CEO Mark Suzman said. In the weeks following the initial announcement of the divorce, Bill faced allegations of questionable workplace conduct in the early years at Microsoft.

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BLINKEN ANNOUNCES US REFUGEE ADMISSIONS PROGRAMME FOR AFGHAN NATIONALS

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a US refugee admissions programme Priority 2 designation for Afghan nationals on Monday. The US is weeks away from completing military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Blinken, during a press briefing, said, “The State Department is announcing a new resettlement program for Afghans who assisted the United States, but who do not qualify for special immigrant visas. We’ve created a Priority-2 or P-2 designation, granting access to the US refugee admissions program for many of these Afghans and their family members.”

He said that even as the US forces withdraw from Afghanistan, the US will remain deeply engaged with the country.

“We’ll continue to work toward an Afghanistan, where all Afghans can live in safety and security, and we will continue our support for Afghan institutions, and for the gains that the Afghan people have made over the past 20 years,” said Blinken.

“We will keep engaging intensely in diplomacy to advance negotiations between the Afghan government, the Taliban, with the goal of a political solution, which we believe is the only path to lasting peace. And we’ll keep working closely with countries in the region, which all have a stake in a stable, peaceful, democratic Afghanistan,” he stated.

Blinken said that Afghans who work with the United States or the International Security Assistance Force at some point since 2001 are facing acute fears of persecution or retribution that will likely grow as coalition forces leave the country.

He further added that “We have a special report the responsibility to these individuals. They stood with us. We will stand with them. Over the past 13 years, the State Department has issued more than 73,000 Special Immigrant Visas to eligible Afghans who have helped the United States, and also to their families. We’ll continue to welcome Afghan immigrants and refugees as our neighbours in gratitude for helping us, despite the danger. We won’t forget it.”

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AFGHAN PRESIDENT GHANI’S TIME HAS RUN OUT: TALIBAN

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KABUL: Taliban said that Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani’s “time has run out” on Monday. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, while reacting to Ghani’s remark that the ongoing war is an external intrigue imposed on the people of Afghanistan, accused the President of lying and spreading false information.

A tweet by Mujahid said that his (Ghani’s) time is over and the announcement of warfare will not survive him. “Speech by @ashrafghani is nonsense, an attempt to control his fears & dire situation. Nation has decided to pursue & bring national traitors to justice. Declarations of war, accusations & lies cannot prolong Ghani’s life, his time has run out, God willing,” said Mujahid. 

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INDIA WANTS PEACEFUL RELATIONS, ONUS IS ON PAKISTAN: TIRUMURTI

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WASHINGTON: India’s Permanent Representative to United Nations, T.S. Tirumurti said that India desires to have peaceful and normal relations with Pakistan but in an atmosphere free from terror.

The Indian Ambassador to the UN informed that issues between the two countries should be resolved in an atmosphere free from terror, hostility, and violence and the onus is on Pakistan to create such an environment. “Pakistan should take credible and verifiable action not to allow any territory under their control to be used for cross border terrorism against India,” said Tirumurti. He also informed that India wants to keep a spotlight on counter-terrorism.

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US-China seek alignment of Afghan interests: Ned Price

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price has said that China’s interest in Afghanistan could be ‘an alignment of interest’ when it comes to what the US and China seek in Afghanistan.

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The People’s Republic of China (PRC) interest in Afghanistan could be “an alignment of interest” when it comes to what the US and China seek in Afghanistan, said US State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Monday. “There’s an alignment of interest in at least some areas when it comes to what we seek, what China seeks and what the broader international community seeks in Afghanistan,” Price told ANI on being asked what is US’ assessment of meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Taliban delegation led by its Chief Negotiator Abdul Ghani Baradar.

Experts say thay although the US might once have fiercely resisted Chinese attempts to increase their influence inside Afghanistan, now Washington’s priority appears to keep away a civil war. Spokesperson Price also affirmed that is in no one’s interest to see Afghanistan descend into an all-out civil war. “It is in everyone’s interest to see a solution to the conflict that is just as durable as Afghan-led, and Afghan Owned,” he concluded.

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AMID COVID PANDEMIC, PMGKY REDUCES WORRIES OF THE POOR: PM MODI

Abhijit Bhatt

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Gandhinagar: Annotsav Day was celebrated on Tuesday on the occasion of the completion of five years of the Rupani government, as part of which a state-level program was organized in Dahod district in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a virtual dialogue with the beneficiaries of the grain welfare scheme. He asked whether the beneficiaries of Dahod and Rajkot have any problem in taking up the scheme or not. Modi said in a dialogue with the beneficiaries that the poor would get free foodgrains till Diwali. Modi praised the performance of the Gujarat government.

Prime Minister’s Poor Welfare Food Scheme is being praised all over the world. More than Rs 2 crore is being spent by the government under this scheme. The aim is that not a single person in India goes to bed hungry. Under this scheme, ration cardholders are being given double the amount of foodgrains than before. The plan is to run till Diwali.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday addressed the beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana and said this scheme has reduced the worries of the poor and increased their confidence. Three and a half crore beneficiaries in Gujarat are getting the benefit of free foodgrains. “I commend the Gujarat government for this. Preference is given to workers from other parts of the country. Workers have benefited from this scheme. Gujarat is the first to offer the benefit of One Nation One Ration Card,” said the Prime Minister.

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