Afghanistan has been the “Graveyard of Empires”. After decimating the Soviet Union in the 20th century, it became a sore in the eyes of the US in the 21st century as the US tried to find the elusive peace for Afghans.
The recent US-Taliban peace talk was one of the last efforts to bring peace in the region. But will it succeed?
The Usanas Foundation has recently organized a webinar on the topic ‘Healing the wounds of Kandahar and Kabul: Searching for Peace in Afghanistan’.
Member, National Security Advisory Board and Former Envoy to Afghanistan Amar Sinha said that this is the first-time certain set of conditions have been placed before the Intra -Afghan talks could take place. Such negotiations are made possible because the US and Taliban’s interests have coincided in reducing US troops in Afghanistan.
Dr. Michael Rubin who is a former Pentagon Official and Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute believes that American diplomacy with rogue regimes is more involved with the process than peace. Examples are spread throughout history in the case of Iran, Iraq and North Korea or the Islamic Emirates of Taliban. The US is willing to keep the diplomacy alive and willing to ignore that the Taliban might not be serious in the peace process.
Madhav Nalapat, Strategic Affairs Expert, Editorial Director, The Sunday Guardian and NewsX believes that history gets repeated more than once and Afghanistan has proved it.
He broadened the scope of the argument beyond Afghanistan and brought China into the picture. Nalapat does not support the deal with the Taliban and calls it a disaster for Afghanistan.
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Delhi records 217 new COVID-19 cases, 78 recoveries in last 24 hours
New Delhi [India], March 2 (ANI): Delhi reported 217 fresh COVID-19 cases and 78 recoveries in the last 24 hours.
With these new cases, the cumulative count has gone up to 6,39,681 and as many as 6,27,227 patients have recovered in the national capital, said the Delhi government.
As the national capital has not registered any new COVID-19 deaths, the cumulative toll remained at 10,911.
Presently, a total of 1,543 cases are active in the national capital.
Delhi has a cumulative positivity rate of 5.12 per cent and case fatality rate (CFR) of 1.71 per cent, the government said.
India’s total COVID-19 active caseload stands at 1,68,358 on Tuesday as the country added 12,286 new cases in the last 24 hours, said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
According to the Ministry, the country’s present active caseload now consists of 1.51 per cent of total positive cases.
It also informed that over 1.48 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered so far in the country.
As many as 2,08,791 people above 60 or those aged 45-60 with comorbidities have been given first dose of COVID vaccine from Monday 9 am till Tuesday 1 pm, it added. (ANI)
Maharashtra power minister to table reports in Mumbai power outage tomorrow in state assembly
Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 2 (ANI): Maharashtra Power Minister Nitin Raut on Tuesday said that he will table all the reports on the Mumbai power outage of October 2020 on Wednesday in the state Assembly.
“I am going to table all the reports and their findings in connection with October 12 Mumbai power outage tomorrow in the Assembly,” he said while interacting with mediapersons here.
Responding to Union Minister RK Singh’s “Human-error” remark, he said, “Let them say what they want to. Wait for their reactions after I table the findings in the Assembly.”
Meanwhile, addressing reporters here Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said: “Cyber-attack issue is not just confined to Mumbai but it could spread across the country. We should not politicise this issue.”
“I have spoken to Union Power Minister RK Singh about this. He has sought details about it and said that we should remain alert,” Deshmukh added.
Earlier in the day, RK Singh had said that Mumbai power outage of October 2020 was caused by “human error” and there is no evidence to prove that it was triggered due to a cyber attack by China.
Singh’s remark follows a statement put out by the union power ministry yesterday which said there was no impact on operations of Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO) due to any malware attack.
A report by 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.
Yesterday, Anil Deshmukh had said that according to a preliminary report, the massive blackout on October 12 last year an attempt at “cyber-sabotage”. A report of the incident prepared on the basis of an investigation by Maharashtra’s Cyber Police Department was handed over to the state energy minister Nitin Raut. (ANI)
BJP President JP Nadda offers prayers at Jaipur’s Kali Bari temple
Jaipur (Rajasthan) [India], March 2 (ANI): Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Jagat Prakash Nadda on Tuesday offered prayers at Kali Bari temple in Jaipur.
“I seek blessings from Goddess Kali at this Jaipur’s famous Kali Bari temple. I hope Goddess Kali spreads happiness, peace and prosperity in all our lives,” said JP Nadda in a tweet.
The BJP Chief offered prayers for a couple of minutes at the temple.
Nadda on Tuesday advised party officials to strengthen the cadre and do self-analysis. Addressing the ‘State Executive Meeting’ at Birla Auditorium, Jaipur, Nadda asked the officials to complete the formation of booth committees by September 24.
“A lot of people among us have stopped self-analysis. This reduces our productivity. You all need to start doing self-analysis. You need to analyse — what you are giving to the party, how much contribution are you making to the party, at what level are you accepted in the party,” he said.
“The formation of our booth committees should be completed by 25th September, that is, Deendayal Upadhyay ji’s birth anniversary. There should not be any booth where our booth committee is not formed and every booth should have women, youth, Dalit brothers, people from backward caste in our committees,” he added.
Nadda asked the party officials to ensure BJP’s victory in Rajasthan in the next Assembly polls. (ANI)
Adhir Ranjan’s statement unfortunate, believe in civilised political dialogue, says Congress veteran Anand Sharma
New Delhi [India], March 2 (ANI): Calling West Bengal Pradesh Congress Commitee President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s criticism of his ‘concerns’ as ‘unfortunate’, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma on Tuesday said he believes in a civilised political dialogue even if there are differences or ideological issues.
Sharma had earlier tweeted his concerns about Congress’ alliance with Indian Secular Front (ISF), a Muslim outfit headed by the cleric of a local shrine, in West Bengal and said “alliance with ISF and other such parties is against the ideology of Congress and should have been discussed at Congress Working Ccommitee (CWC)”, to which Chowdhury said, “We are in charge of a state and don’t take any decision on our own without any permission.”
“What I said is expression of my concerns. Not only am I firmly committed to the Congress’ ideology, which is inclusive, democratic and secular, but I’m also one of the historian and ideologue of the Congress party. It has to be taken in that context. There is no politics in this. I have said something and it is for others to take the note,” Sharma told ANI.
“It’s unfortunate statement, I believe in civilised political dialogue and discourse. Even if there are differences and ideological issues, those differences can not be personal. I have noted what Adhir babu said but I can’t become personal,” he added.
When asked about his ‘rebellion’ with other G-23 members (or the group of 23 dissenting leaders, who had questioned the party’s functioning in a letter to interim president Sonia Gandhi), Sharma said there is no rebellion.
“Who are we rebelling against? We believe in leadership of Sonia Gandhi. We have never said a word against the party leadership…Yes, we have our concerns from last the two general elections and it’s a fact. What we are saying have to be understood in the right context. We said openly that we want to strengthen the party and we are united Congress. We don’t want anything that can weaken the party,” Sharma said.
He added that Congress always had a positive democratic exercise of internal discussion and debates.
“Hopefully party will come out of this phase and we will see strong revival. That is what we will work for. We wish the Congress candidate the best in the forthcoming Assembly elections and wherever we are asked to go and campaign, we will do so as Congressmen, as we have done in the past,” he said.
Commenting on BJP’s allegation of Congress losing its secular status and depending on communal alliances for survival, Sharma said, “BJP also have alliances. It is infamous for its polarising agenda and divisive politics. BJP does not have the right credentials and qualifications to make such charges.” (ANI)
Auto drivers bear brunt of hike in CNG prices in Delhi-NCR
New Delhi [India], March 2 (ANI): The Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL), the firm that retails CNG to automobiles and piped natural gas to household kitchens, on Tuesday, increased prices of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Piped Natural Gas (PNG) in Delhi and the NCR, leaving auto drivers in the lurch.
The price of CNG has been increased by 70 paise per kilogram and PNG by 91 paise. The new rates have come into effect from Tuesday morning. In Delhi, the price of CNG has now gone up to Rs 43.40 per kg. At the same time, CNG will be available at the rate of 49.08 per kg in Noida, Greater Noida, and Ghaziabad.
The increase in the CNG and PNG prices in Delhi-NCR has put the auto and taxi drivers in trouble due to a continuous hike in the prices. They say their survival is getting tougher amidst such inflation.
Noida-based auto driver Manoj Ojha, speaking to ANI, said, “Prices of everything are going up. Whether it is petrol, diesel, LPG, or PNG. The price of CNG has been increasing continuously since the COVID-19 lockdown. It is getting very difficult for us to survive.”
Atul Kumar, another auto driver from Noida, said there is no work, people are paying less fare too. The problem of unemployment is worsening. The way prices are increasing, it is becoming very difficult for us to bear the cost of a CNG auto.
“Increasing the rate of CNG will cause several difficulties for us. It is getting tougher for us to bear the auto’s expenses. Where the CNG tank used to get filled in Rs 100 is now taking Rs 120. Also, because of the farmers who are sitting on the border right now, we have to cover several kilometres for a Rs 10 ride,” said Sameer, a Ghazipur auto driver.
A Delhi-based cab driver Atul Kumar, who drives his cab in Delhi-NCR, said, “The expenses have exceeded the earnings. Only we know how we are managing. The inflation is increasing. What can we do?”
Meanwhile, Youth Congress workers staged a protest outside the petroleum ministry over rising prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas.
Hundreds of Indian Youth Congress activists assembled outside the petroleum ministry office with placards in their hands and raised slogans against the central government. The police, meanwhile, arrested a few of the protesters to control the situation.
The prices of petrol and diesel have increased sharply over the past few days, with that of petrol touching the 100-rupee mark in some of the cities. Opposition parties have held protests in different parts of the country over the rising prices of fuel.
On February 25, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that she will not be able to answer when the prices of petrol and diesel will be reduced.
However, Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Steel Dharmendra Pradhan has said that price of fuel will decrease once the winter season ends. (ANI)
Assam polls: Priyanka Gandhi ‘guarantees’ financial sops for women, free electricity, 5 lakh jobs
Sonitpur (Assam) [India], March 2 (ANI): Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday announced five poll guarantees for the people of Assam if her party is voted to power in the state.
A law that nullifies the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), creation of five lakh government jobs, a hike in the daily wage of tea workers to Rs 365, free electricity up to 200 units per household and Rs 2,000 monthly income support to all housewives are among the guarantees that Priyanka Gandhi announced
The Congress general secretary said that “these are not promises but guarantees.”
Addressing a rally in Tezpur in the state she said: “We will provide Rs 2,000 per month to all the housewives as ‘grihini samman’. The woman working in tea gardens will be provided Rs 365 per day. We’ll create 5 lakhs new govt jobs. These are not promises but guarantees.”
The Congress leader further announced that when her party is voted to power in the state, a law shall be enacted that will ensure that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is not implemented in Assam.
“When our party comes into power, a law will be enacted to ensure that CAA is not implemented here. 200 units of electricity will be given free of cost every month,” said Priyanka Gandhi.
Earlier today, the Congress general secretary, who is on a two-day visit to the poll-bound state spent some time with tea estate workers at Sadhuru tea garden in Biswanath district.
Dressed in a saree and balancing a basket on her back, the 49-year-old was seen plucking tea leaves.
“The life of tea garden workers is full of truth and simplicity and their labour is valuable for the country. After sitting with them today, I understood their work, felt well being of their families and the difficulties of their life,” Gandhi tweeted along with pictures of herself interacting with the tea workers.
Assam assembly elections will be held in three phases. In the first phase, 47 seats in 12 districts will go to the polls on March 27. In the second phase, 39 constituencies in 13 districts will go to the polls on April 1 while 40 assembly constituencies in 12 districts to go on polls on April 6.
The counting of votes will take place on May 2. (ANI)
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