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Sensex nosedives 1,939 points, worst in 11 month

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NEW DELHI: A broad-based sell-off in equities and weak global cues amid rising bond yields played a Black Friday for Indian stock markets as the Sensex posted its worst single-day performance since 30 March 2020.

The BSE S&P Sensex closed 1,939 points or 3.8 per cent lower at 49,100 while the Nifty 50 tumbled by 568 points or 3.76 per cent to 14,529. The global selloff was triggered by an overnight sharp rise in US 10-year treasury yields. When bond yields rise, equity markets generally underperform.

Rising oil prices and the US airstrikes on Syria led to the negative sentiments of investors who feared foreign outflows and reversal of interest rate cycle.

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Thought I had won: Mary Kom on ‘unfair’ defeat at Olympics

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Six-time world champion Mary Kom was “shocked and upset” to learn about her Tokyo Olympics exit on Thursday. Mary Kom faced a shocking defeat—split decision—at the hands of Colombia’s Ingrit Valencia to bow out from the tournament. Valencia won bout 3-2.

However, Mary Kom thought she had won since the ace boxer had clinched two rounds after going down in the first essay. “I thought I have won but after some time I saw Kiren Rijiju’s tweet, I was shocked and upset at the same time (to know that I have lost the match),” Mary Kom told reporters two hours after the bout.

After Mary Kom’s defeat, Kiren Rijiju, the Union Minister of Law and Justice, said the boxer was a clear winner but judges had their “own calculations”.

“Dear Mary Kom, you lost in Tokyo Olympics by just one point but for me you are always a champion! You have achieved what no other female boxer in the world has ever achieved. You are a legend. India is proud of you BOXING & OLYMPICS will miss you @MangteC,” Rijiju tweeted.

Mary Kom slammed the International Olympic Committee’s Boxing Task Force for “poor judging” in her Flyweight (51kg) pre-quarterfinal at the Tokyo Games which she lost despite winning two of the three rounds. The Task Force is conducting the boxing competition at the Tokyo Olympics after the International Boxing Association (AIBA) was suspended by the IOC for alleged mismanagement and financial wrongdoing. “I don’t know and understand this decision, what’s wrong with the Task Force? What’s wrong with the IOC?” she asked in a telephonic interview to PTI after the 2-3 loss to Colombian Ingrit Valencia in the pre-quarters in Tokyo. “I was also a member of the Task Force. I was even giving them suggestions and supporting them in ensuring a clean competition. But what have they done with me?” she said.

“I was happy inside the ring, when I came out, I was happy because in my mind I knew I had won. When they took me for doping, I was still happy. Only when I saw the social media and my coach (Chhote Lal Yadav repeated it to me), it sunk in that I have lost,” she said. “I had beaten this girl twice in the past. I couldn’t believe that her hand was raised by the referee. I swear, it hadn’t struck me that I lost, I was so sure,” she added.

“The worst part is that there is no review or protest. Honestly I am sure the world must have seen, this is too much what they have done,” she said. “I should have got the second round unanimously, how was it 3-2? What happened was totally unpredictable,” she reasoned.

The IOC’s Boxing Task Force had promised a more transparent judging system after amateur boxing’s credibility took a hit during the 2016 Rio Olympics judging fiasco which led to suspension of 36 officials.

Mary Kom is part of the BTF’s 10-member athletes ambassadors group.

Valencia advanced to the quarter-finals of the showpiece event after defeating Mary Kom in the women’s flyweight (48-51kg) category event.

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NEW NEP MAJOR FACTOR IN ‘MAHAYAGNA’ OF NATION BUILDING: PM MODI

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As the new National Education Policy (NEP) completed one year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that it is one of the major factors in the grand exercise of nation-building and assures the youth that the country supports their aspirations. He said that in the last one year, teachers, principals and policymakers of the country have worked very hard in implementing the National Education Policy on the ground.

Addressing a programme on the completion of one year of the NEP, the PM said what new heights “we will achieve in the future will depend on what kind of education we are giving to our youth at present”. He added, “India’s new National Education Policy is one of the major factors in the ‘mahayagna’ (great exercise) of nation-building.”

PM Modi also launched multiple educational initiatives including Academic Bank of Credits, National Digital Education Architecture and other initiatives to mark the completion of one year of NEP 2020.

He was addressing the policymakers in the domain of education and skill development, students and teachers across the country through video conferencing. While addressing the event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “The development of the nation will depend on the quality of education we provide to our youth. I believe that India’s new national education policy is one of the big factors in the development of the nation.”

The Academic Bank of Credit will provide flexible multiple entries and exit options for students in Higher education. “Multiple entry/exit will help students break away from the shackles of sticking to one stream. One can select their course and can exit if they are not interested. This is a revolutionary change,” said PM Modi in a virtual address.

Speaking about the changed scenario of education during the Covid-19 pandemic, PM Modi said, “Our youth is ready to bring a transformation; it does not want to wait anymore. We have witnessed how Covid changed the entire scenario, but students adapted to these situations quickly and online education is becoming the order of the day.”

“The new National Education Policy assures the youth that the country is complete with them and with their spirits. The program of artificial intelligence (AI) launched now will also make our youngsters future-oriented and will create a way for AI-driven economy,” he said.

The event was also attended by the Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

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DEOGHAR PRIESTS SEEK SC NOD FOR SYMBOLIC KANWAR YATRA, SHARAVNI POOJA

Ashish Sinha

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Panda Dharam Rakshini Sabhat, a registered association for priests and pandas of Deoghar at Baba Baidyanath Jyotirlinga Temple, on Thursday filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking directions to the authorities and permitting the priests/pandas of the Baba Baidyanath Jyotirlinga Temple at Deoghar and limited number of devotees (5,000 per day) to perform the customary and symbolic Kanwar Yatra and Sharavni Pooja at the Baba Baidyanath Jyotirlinga and Baba Basukinath Temple in terms with the latest Covid-19 guidelines issued by the State of Jharkhand, Bihar and Union of India for the Holy Month of Shrava.

The petitioners also sought direction to allow a select and limited numbers priests/pandas of the Baba Baidyanath Jyotirlinga Temple at Deoghar to collect the Holy Ganges water from Sultanganj, Bihar, and offer the same to the deities at Baba Baidyanath Jyotirlinga Temple and Baba Basukinath Temple and perform the customary pooja for the Holy Month of Shravan in terms of the latest Covid-19 guidelines issued by the authorities.

The petitioners in their petition stated that not holding the annual Kanwar Yatra and eventual offering of Ganga Jal collected from Sultanganj in Bihar to the Baba Baidyanath shall have a profound effect on the faith of crores of individuals who are devouts of Baba Baidyanath and the Hindu faith. It is one of the utmost and sacred Hindu pilgrimage centres with the Baidyanath Temple being one of the twelve Shiva Jyothirlingas spread across the country and one of the 51 Shakti Peethas in India and holds very a important place for the worshiper of Lord Shiva. It is only the second Jyotirlinga where the shaktipeeth is located. The Shiva and Shakti reside together at the Baba Baidyanath Temple, it added. The Baba Baidyanath Temple board has a strict mechanism in place to avoid Covid-19 spreading in the area. The temple has developed a system under which around 5,000 individuals can be allowed to visit the temple for darshan in 24 hours, by following proper social distancing and sanitization as per the general Covid-19 pandemic protocol and as set by the Centre and the state government.

The petitioners further stated that Hindu devouts and Kanwars of the Baba Baidyanath believe that offering of Ganga Jal to Baba Baidyanath frees Shiva from the negative effect of the poison which he drank in order to save the entire cosmos. The poison which released as a result of churning of the ocean by the Devatas and Danavs was consumed by Bhagwan Shiv and held in his throat. The interruption in the holy ritual will cause deep agony and pain to the Hindu devouts, the plea said.

Compared to the Kanwar Yatra in Uttar Pradesh, the Kanwar Yatra in Jharkhand and Bihar is less risky and dangerous in the state of present pandemic. The yatra takes place from collecting Ganga Jal at Sultanganj Ganga, where the river runs north, and ends at Deoghar. It is a pilgrimage of approximately 105 km, whereas, in Uttar Pradesh, the Yatris/Kanwars usually collects Ganga Jal from Gaumukh and Haridwar and the Ganga Jal is then offered at local temples. Thus, the Kanwar Yatra in Uttar Pradesh is comparatively difficult to manage, it added.

The petitioner body is not seeking opening of the temple for public darshan or offering. The petitioner body has limited its prayer seeking permission for the Kanwar Yatra by the pandas or priests only, the plea said.

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India doubled tiger population 4 years ahead of schedule, says PM Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the occasion of International Tiger Day on Thursday, said that India has achieved the target of doubling of tiger population four years ahead of schedule of the Saint Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation.

In a series of tweets, PM Modi extended his greeting to the wildlife lovers, especially those who are passionate about tiger conservation on the occasion of International Tiger Day. “On #InternationalTigerDay, greetings to wildlife lovers, especially those who are passionate about tiger conservation. Home to over 70 per cent of the tiger population globally, we reiterate our commitment to ensuring safe habitats for our tigers and nurturing tiger-friendly eco-systems,” said PM Modi.

The Prime Minister said that the last tiger census of 2018 showed a rise in the tiger population. “India is home to 51 tiger reserves spread across 18 states. The last tiger census of 2018 showed a rise in the tiger population. India achieved the target of doubling of tiger population 4 years ahead of schedule of the St. Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation,” he tweeted.

He further said that India’s strategy of tiger conservation attaches topmost importance to involving local communities. “We are also inspired by our centuries-old ethos of living in harmony with all flora and fauna with whom we share our great planet,” PM Modi added.

The Saint Petersburg declaration on tiger conservation was signed in 2010. In the meeting, it was decided to celebrate July 29 as Global Tiger Day across the world to create awareness on tiger conservation. WITH ANI INPUTS

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KERALA COVID SPIKE RAISES CENTRAL CONCERN, HIGH-LEVEL TEAM SENT

Reporting 22,064 new cases, Kerala announces complete lockdown on 31 July and 1 August; Maharashtra eases Covid curbs in 25 districts.

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Even as the Maharashtra government on Thursday decided to ease Covid-19 related restrictions in 25 districts of the 36 districts as the state is witnessing a decline in fresh infection cases, the Centre dispatched a high-level team to Kerala in view of the rising cases in the southern state.

Maharashtra Health minister Rajesh Tope made the announcement about relaxations after a meeting of the Covid-19 task force chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray who will take the final call and an order on the same will be out in a day or two. The 25 districts, including Mumbai, are those where the positivity rate and weekly growth rate are lower than the state’s average.

On Thursday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, along with Tope, met the task force to know their view on relaxation and easing of Covid-related restrictions across several districts of the state. “We’ve decided to give relaxation in restrictions in 25 districts. Relaxation will be given in functioning of shops, theaters, cinema halls, gyms. There would be restrictions in wedding functions, etc, we would discourage using an air-conditioned hall,” Tope said, as the state witnessed 6.8 thousand new cases on Thursday. 

At a same time, no relaxations will be given to 11 districts that have more than average positivity and growth rate. “Things will be open on Saturdays with limitations, on Sunday, the restrictions will continue. Detailed guidelines will be issued in the next 2-3 days. Hotels and shops timings will increase till 8-9 pm. But they need to ensure staff is fully vaccinated; they’ll be allowed to function with 50% capacity,” Tope said. The state currently has 10 districts with positivity rates above the state average of 3.8%. These are Satara, Pune, Kolhapur, Sangli, Sindhudurg, Solapur, Ahmednagar, Beed, Raigad, and Ratnagiri.

The task force also discussed the issue of allowing fully vaccinated citizens to travel by local trains, Mumbai’s lifeline. The public health department of state is not in favour of allowing people with two Covid-19 doses to commute in suburban trains amid the threat of spread of infection due to the Delta Plus variant. While there has been rising demand for local trains, no decision has been taken yet on the same.

Meanwhile, the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has dispatched a high-level multi-disciplinary team to Kerala, which reported 22,064 new cases and pandemic-related 128 deaths on Thursday,to collaborate with the state health authorities in instituting effective public health measures for Covid-19 management. The six-member Central team to Kerala is headed by Dr S.K. Singh, Director, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). The team shall reach Kerala on Friday and visit the most affected districts.

The team shall work closely with the state health department, and take a stock of the ground situation and recommend necessary public health interventions to contain the large number of cases being reported by the state.

The Kerala government on Thursday announced a complete lockdown amid the spike of Covid-19 cases from 31 July to 1 August, this year.

Kerala, with an active case load of 1.54 lakh, is contributing 37.1% of the total active cases in the country, with a growth rate of 1.41 in the last seven days. Average daily cases being reported in the state are above 17,443. The state has also reported a high case positivity of 12.93% cumulatively and 11.97% weekly. Six districts are reporting more than 10% weekly positivity.

Meanwhile, registering a spike, India reported 43,509 daily new cases on Thursday. As per the data shared by the Union Health Ministry, India’s active caseload now stands at 4,03,840 and active cases now constitute 1.28% of the country’s total positive cases.

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Govt to offer 27% quota for OBCs, 10% for EWS in medical courses

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The Central government on Thursday announced a 27 per cent quota for OBCs and 10 per cent reservation for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category in the All-India Quota (AIQ) scheme for undergraduate and postgraduate medical and dental courses from the current academic year, 2021-22.

“This decision would benefit every year nearly 1,500 OBC students in MBBS and 2,500 OBC students in postgraduation and also around 550 EWS students in MBBS and around 1,000 EWS students in postgraduation,” a statement issued by the health ministry said.

Terming it a “landmark” decision, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the move will ‘immensely’ help thousands of youth every year.

According to an official statement issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday, Prime Minister in a meeting held on Monday had directed the Union Ministries concerned to facilitate an effective solution to this long pending issue.

“Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has taken a historic and a landmark decision for providing 27 per cent reservation for OBCs and 10 per cent reservation for Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in the All India Quota (AIQ) Scheme for undergraduate and postgraduate medical/dental courses (MBBS / MD / MS / Diploma / BDS / MDS) from the current academic year 2021-22 onwards,” the release informed.

The All-India Quota (AIQ) scheme was introduced in 1986 under the directions of the Supreme Court to provide for domicile-free merit-based opportunities to students from any state to aspire to study in a good medical college located in another state. All-India Quota consists of 15 per cent of total available UG seats and 50 per cent of total available PG seats in government medical colleges. Initially, there was no reservation in AIQ Scheme up to 2007.

In 2007, the Supreme Court introduced reservations of 15 per cent for SCs and 7.5 per cent for STs in the AIQ Scheme. When the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act became effective in 2007 providing for uniform 27 per cent reservation to OBCs, the same was implemented in all the Central Educational Institutions like Safdarjung Hospital, Lady Harding Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University and Banaras Hindu University.

However, this was not extended to the AIQ seats of state medical and dental colleges. “The present government is committed to providing due reservation both to the backward category as well as the EWS category. The Union Government has now taken a historic decision to provide for 27 per cent reservation for OBCs and 10 per cent reservation for EWS in the AIQ Scheme. The OBC students from across the country shall now be able to take benefit of this reservation in AIQ Scheme to compete for seats in any state,” the statement said.

“Being a Central Scheme, the Central List of OBCs shall be used for this reservation. Around 1500 OBC students in MBBS and 2500 in postgraduation will be benefitted through this reservation,” it added.

In order to provide benefit to students belonging to the EWS category in admission to higher educational Institutions, a Constitutional amendment was made in 2019 which enabled the provision of 10 per cent reservation for the EWS category.

Accordingly, seats in medical/dental colleges were increased over two years in 2019-20 and 2020-21 to accommodate this additional 10 per cent EWS reservation so that the total number of seats available for the unreserved category do not reduce. In the AIQ seats, however, this benefit had not been extended so far.

Therefore, along with the 27 pe cent reservation for OBCs, 10 per cent reservation for EWS is also being extended in AIQ seats for all the undergraduate/postgraduate medical/dental courses from the current academic year 2021-22.

This will benefit every year around more than 550 EWS students for MBBS and around 1,000 EWS students for PG medical courses. This decision is also in sync with the significant reforms carried out in the field of medical education since 2014.

During the last six years, MBBS seats in the country have increased by 56 per cent from 54,348 seats in 2014 to 84,649 seats in 2020 and the number of PG seats have increased by 80 per cent from 30,191 seats in 2014 to 54,275 seats in 2020. During the same period, 179 new medical colleges have been established and now the country has 558 medical colleges, including 289 government and 269 private.

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