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22:34   NY guv Cuomo quits over sex harassment charges

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation on Tuesday, a week after independent investigators said he had sexually harassed multiple women, including former and current state employees.

In a televised message, the 63-year-old Democrat said his resignation will be effective in 14 days.

When I took my oath as Governor I became a fighter, but I became a fighter for you. And it is your best interest that I must serve. This situation by its current trajectory will generate months of political and legal controversy. That is what is going to happen.

That is how the political wind is blowing. It will consume government. It will cost taxpayers millions of dollars, it will brutalize people, he said referring to the sexual harassment allegations and case against him.

Cuomo said the State Assembly on Monday outlined the weeks of process that will then lead to months of litigation and time and money that government should spend managing COVID, guarding against the Delta variant, reopening-up state, fighting gun violence, and saving New York City, all that time would be wasted.

Cuomo said this is one of the most challenging times for government in a generation.

Government really needs to function today. Government needs to perform. It is a matter of life and death and wasting energy on distractions is the last thing that State Government should be doing.

And I cannot be the cause of that. New York tough means New York loving. And I love New York. And I love you. Everything I have ever done has been motivated by that love. And I would never want to be unhelpful in any way. I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing, Cuomo said.

Therefore thats what Ill do because I work for you and doing the right thing is doing the right thing for you, he added.

He said the transition must be seamless and his lieutenant governor Kathy Hochul can come up to speed quickly.

Yoshita Singh/PTI

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Rita Bahuguna Joshi

21:52   BJP expels Bablu over Rita Bahugunas complaint

The BJP on Tuesday cancelled the membership of former BSP MLA Jitendra Singh Bablu, inducted in the party last week, following a complaint by sitting party MP Rita Bahuguna Joshi that he was allegedly involved in the torching of her house in 2009. 

State unit president of the BJP Swatantra Dev Sing has cancelled the membership of Bablu, joint media incharge of the BJP Himanshu Dubey said in a press statement. 

Expressing shock over the induction of Bablu, Joshi, who is the sitting BJP MP from Allahabad, had alleged that Bablu might have hidden the facts from the party leaders. 

In July 2009 when my house was set ablaze in Lucknow, he (Bablu) was in the forefront and he was found guilty during investigations, Joshi, who was in the Congress at that time, had alleged. 

I believe that he has kept the party in the dark and joined the party. The doors of the BJP are open to all and I have full faith that the state unit president was not aware of his criminal background and that he is an accused in the housing burning case, Joshi had alleged. 

She had said she would talk to the state and central unit president of the party in this matter and appeal to them to end his membership. 

Joshis house in Lucknow was set afire in 2009, when Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati was the chief minister of the state, allegedly by BSP supporters protesting over derogatory remarks against their party chief. 

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21:13   BSE India INX to allow trading in foreign stocks

The India International Exchange (India INX) on Tuesday said it will soon facilitate buying and selling of shares of foreign stocks, including major US-listed companies, through its platform.

It has proposed to offer stocks from the US, Canada, the UK, Europe, Australia, and Japan, covering about 80 per cent of the investing universe, the BSE-owned India INX said in a statement.

The exchange said it will roll-out the functional details in terms of specifications about the products and will also soon launch trading in international stocks.

Eventually, India INX will in the first phase provide access to over 130 exchanges across 31 countries worldwide covering global exchanges in America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Africa.

Among the exchanges to be offered access are NYSE, Nasdaq, LSE, Canadian Securities Exchange, Toronto Stock Exchange, BATs Europe, Euronext France and Tokyo Stock Exchange.

India INX said it will add international stocks to trading via its wholly-owned subsidiary India INX Global Access IFSC Ltd.

Under the LRS route, resident individuals can use the India INX platform to transact and invest in global stocks in an easy and convenient manner, India INX Chairman Ashishkumar Chauhan said.

He added that the addition of global stocks is a significant step that will bring further investment into the region from investors seeking contracts with a strong emphasis on liquidity and investability.

Under the liberalised remittance scheme (LRS) framework, an Indian can only remit up to USD 2,50,000 outside India in a financial year.           

Members of India INX can access this facility at no additional membership costs.

India INX is the countrys first international exchange based in the international financial services centre (IFSC) at Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City)

On Monday, the NSE International Exchange (NSE IFSC) said trading in select US stocks will soon be facilitated through its platform.

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21:08   Sikkim, Arunachal governors given temporary charge of Manipur, Mizoram

President of India Ram Nath Kovind has appointed Ganga Prasad, governor of Sikkim to discharge the functions of the governor of Manipur, in addition to his own duties, during the absence on leave of Dr Najma A Heptulla, Governor of Manipur.

Brig (Dr) B D Mishra (Retd), governor of Arunachal Pradesh has been appointed to discharge the functions of the Governor of Mizoram, in addition to his own duties, during the absence on leave of Dr Hari Babu Kambhampati, Governor of Mizoram.

The above appointments will take effect from the dates they assume charge of their respective offices.

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20:56   LS okays bill restoring states quota power

The Lok Sabha on Tuesday approved the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Seventh Amendment) Bill 2021, restoring the power of states and UTs to make their own OBC lists, after a daylong debate in which the Opposition supported the governments move.

In all, 385 members approved the motion, and no member opposing it.

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20:38   Rupee falls for 2nd day, declines 17 paise to 74.43 against dollar

Extending losses for the second straight session, the rupee on Tuesday fell by 17 paise to end at 74.43 against the US currency due to a stronger dollar in the overseas markets.

The rupee opened on a negative note at 74.40 per dollar as against its previous close of 74.26 at the interbank foreign exchange market. It hovered in the range of 74.33 to 74.46 per dollar during the day before closing at 74.43.

The domestic currency has lost 28 paise in the two trading sessions to Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the dollar index, which gauges the greenbacks strength against a basket of six currencies, rose 0.10 per cent to 93.04.

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Satyendar Jain

19:57   Delhi has overcome Covid Delta variant: Minister

Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Tuesday said Delhi has already overcome the Delta variant of coronavirus detected in over 80 per cent of Covid samples sent for genome sequencing during the second wave of the pandemic and thereafter. 

The minister told reporters that the Centre has not yet asked for data on deaths due to shortage of oxygen and that a new sero survey will be undertaken in the city soon. 

The first sero survey conducted in June-end last year found Covid antibodies in 22.6 per cent of the samples. The number increased to 29.1 per cent in August and then dropped to 25.1 per cent in September. In October, it went up to 25.5 per cent. 

The January round of the survey found antibodies in 56.13 per cent of people screened. 

Jain said more than 80 per cent of the samples sent for genome sequencing during the second wave and thereafter showed the presence of the Delta variant. 

Since the Delta variant originated in India, we have already faced the wrath of this variant during the second wave. Other countries need to prepare themselves as it is spreading there. 

Delhi has already battled and overcome the Delta variant wave. The ICMR has also pointed out that Delhi was battling the Delta variant during the second wave. Therefore, I dont think that it should be a cause of concern for us anymore, he said.

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Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

19:37   No Khela Hobe Divas on Aug 16: Hindu outfits

West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Tuesday said representatives of various Hindu organisations met him and expressed reservations over the TMC governments decision to observe August 16 as Khela Hobe divas, stating that the Muslim League had proclaimed Direct Action Day on this date in 1946, which led to large-scale violence and bloodshed.

Khela hobe had been the rallying cry of the TMC in the assembly polls held earlier this year.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said her government would want to promote sports on Khela Hobe Divas in the memory of football fans who were killed in a stampede during a match some 40 years ago.

Taking to Twitter, the governor said, Representatives of Sanatan organisations called on Governor WB today to seek change in the date of Khela Hobe Divas as it reminds the horrendous memories of Direct Action Day and the week of long knives in 1946 that led to killings of thousands.

Dhankhar also said that he would convey their message to the government.

Their (Hindu leaders) only objection was to the date of Khela Hobe Divas... Governor assured them that their feelings would be conveyed to the government, he wrote on the microblogging site.

Leader of the Opposition in Assembly and BJP MLA Suvendu Adhikari, who led the group of monks to Raj Bhavan, said any celebration on August 16 would bring back painful memories of a gory past.

Accompanied by revered monks, pleaded the Honourable Governor Shri Dhankarji to persuade the WB Govt to change the day of the proposed Khela Hobe divas, as any celebration on this day would only make the Bengalis relive the pain of the gory past, the saffron party leader said.

August 16 is a blot on Bengals history, he maintained.

The day is horrifically remembered as Direct Action Day or Great Calcutta Killings which led to the brutal killings of thousands of Bengalis. Many dead bodies kept lying on road for days to be fed by dogs and vultures, Adhikari added.

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18:57   Amarinder Singh meets Sonia Gandhi in Delhi

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday met Congress president Sonia Gandhi here amid talk of a possible Cabinet reshuffle in the state. This is Singhs first meeting with Gandhi after the appointment of Navjot Singh Sidhu as the Punjab Congress president, which the chief minister had initially opposed. 

 Sources said Singh is likely to discuss the names of potential candidates for the Cabinet reshuffle and the political situation in Punjab, which goes to the polls early next year. They said Singh is also likely to take up with Gandhi Sidhus continuous attacks on the Punjab government. 

 The chief minister is also expected to discuss the progress made on 18 issues raised by an AICC panel headed by senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and present action taken report. Among others, these 18 issues include taking action against the drug mafia and transport mafia and those involved in the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib. PTI

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18:46   Mumbai local train passes to be issued from Wed

Maharashtra Government allows reopening of schools for classes 5th to 8th in rural areas and classes 8th to 12th in urban areas from August 17. District and local authorities to take a final call after reviewing the situation.

The Mumbai civic body, the BMC, has said in order to enable citizens to travel in suburban trains, offline verification procedure for COVID19 vaccination and  issuing Local Railway Monthly Pass to start from 7 am of 11th August at suburban railway stations.

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18:30   Visible signs of economic rejuvenation: FM

The finance ministry on Tuesday said the economic impact of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to be muted and there are visible signs of economic rejuvenation. 

 The latest Monthly Economic Review, released by the finance ministry, said the robust recovery in tax collections cushions the fisc towards meeting the budgeted support to the economy. 

It also said the recent sero-prevalence results signify that India can reduce the likelihood of severe illness due to COVID-19 if the country sustains the momentum of the vaccination programme. 

 Having antibodies reduces the probability of acquiring serious illnesses, as is borne by studies. So, any subsequent waves are expected to be mild in terms of severity of disease, the ministry said in the report. 

 However, it is imperative that COVID-appropriate behaviour and due protocol is followed. At this juncture, it said, the economy and society are at a crucial inflection point where sustenance of economic recovery, vaccination progress and COVID-19 appropriate behavioural strategies are needed in close synergy with each other. With the second wave abating in most parts of the country and state governments lifting the restrictions in phases, there are visible signs of economic rejuvenation since the second half of May, it said. 

This resonates with the economic impact of the second wave expected to be muted, the report added. Noting that inflation has remained above the band of six per cent in May and June, the report said these pressures are likely to smoothen out in the coming months, with easing of restrictions, progress of southwest monsoon, and recent supply-side policy interventions in pulses and oilseeds market.

 It said that while systemic liquidity continued to remain in surplus in July, a decline in growth of cash in circulation reflected a shift away from the pandemic-induced precautionary savings. -- PTI

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French President Macron had also tested Covid+ve

18:02   US advises its citizens to avoid traveling to France

The State Department has advised Americans to avoid all travel to France because of the growing number of coronavirus infections in that country.

France is battling a fourth wave of the virus even though hospitalizations due to Covid-19 are still far below earlier peaks. 

The State Department has issued a Level 4: travel ban recommendation for France, based on a parallel warning from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the countrys leading medical body.

If you have to travel to France, make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling, the CDC said.

France recorded a total of more than six million infected and 1,11,000 dead in the pandemic, and the daily number of infected returned to the figure of about 20,000 people, while the number of dead remains low compared to the peak of the pandemic.

A total of 74 million doses of the vaccine were injected in France, the World Health Organization said, and more than 55 per cent of the population received both doses of the vaccine, News agencies reported.

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17:45   New Covid mutants can reach anywhere any time

New COVID-19 mutants can reach anywhere at any time, said the Central government on Tuesday, adding that it is monitoring Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Delta Plus variants.Addressing media on the COVID-19 situation, National Centre for Disease Control Director Dr SK Singh said, The variants of concern that we monitor are Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Delta Plus. There are two variants under investigation - Kappa and B1617.3. 

We were doing two kinds of surveillance - to monitor variants of concern (coming from outside) and to monitor the impact of the Delta variant in the country. Today, we need to look for new mutants because they can reach anywhere any time, he added.

He further explained that the World Health Organization (WHO) came out with a strategy that the sentinel sites need to be identified and representative samples from every district of every state be subjected to genome sequencing. -- ANI

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17:26   50%+ of Indias total Covid cases from Kerala

Kerala reported more than half of the total Covid-19 cases recorded in the country in the past seven days, the central government said on Tuesday. At a joint press briefing on the pandemic, an official said that 37 districts across nine states, including Kerala (11 districts) and Tamil Nadu (seven districts), were showing rising trend in daily new COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks. 

As many as 44 districts across 11 states and union territories reported a weekly positivity rate of more than 10 per cent, the official said. Kerala reported 51.51 per cent of the total COVID-19 cases recorded in India in past seven days, he said. According to the central government, the reproduction number that denotes the spread of COVID-19 was more than 1 in five states -- Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

The increasing trend of reproduction number in some states is cause of concern, although there is stabilisation in COVID-19 cases in the country, it said, adding there are significant reasons to enforce pandemic control measures. 

The government said Delta Plus variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in 86 samples in India, including 34 in Maharashtra, as on August 9. India logged 28,204 new coronavirus infections, the lowest in 147 days, taking the total tally of cases to 3,19,98,158, while the active cases fell to 3,88,508, the lowest in 139 days, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Tuesday. The death toll has climbed to 4,28,682 with 373 fresh fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed. PTI

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16:33   Sensex scales fresh peak

Equity benchmark Sensex rose by 152 points to end at a record high on Tuesday, tracking gains in index majors HDFC, Bharti Airtel and Infosys amid a largely positive trend in global markets. 

 The 30-share index ends 151.81 points or 0.28 per cent higher at its lifetime peak of 54,554.66, while the broader NSE Nifty advanced 21.85 points or 0.13 per cent to 16,280.10. Bharti Airtel was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, rising around 4 per cent, followed by Tech Mahindra, HDFC, Kotak Bank, M&M and HCL Tech. On the other hand, Tata Steel, NTPC, ITC and PowerGrid were among the laggards.

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16:31   Decriminalising politics: SC fines BJP, Cong

The Supreme Court in its judgment today slapped a fine of Rs 1 lakh each on BJP and Congress and Rs 5 lakh on NCP and CPM for failing to comply with the Courts earlier directions on making criminal antecedents of election candidates public during the Bihar polls. 

A total of nine political parties were held guilty of contempt and fined today by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court warned parties to be cautious about declaring the criminal records of candidates in the future and displaying the information on their websites. The Election Commission has been asked to create a mobile app that has the information for voters to access easily.

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16:18   Former New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns on life support

Former New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns is gravely ill and on life support at a Canberra hospital, Newshub reported on Tuesday.The 51-year-old suffered an aortic dissection in his heart in Canberra last week and has undergone several operations since, but has not responded to treatment as hoped, as per Newshub.

 He will be transferred to a specialist hospital in Sydney. An aortic dissection is a tear in the bodys main artery. Cairns played 62 Tests, 215 ODIs and two T20Is for New Zealand between 1989 and 2006. The veteran all-rounder amassed 3,320 Test runs at an average of over 33 and took 218 wickets at an average of just over 29.

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15:57   Rohingya Muslims indulging in illegal activities: Govt

The government has reports that Rohingya Muslim migrants are indulging in illegal activities, Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday. Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai also said that all foreign nationals who enter into the country without valid travel documents are treated as illegal migrants. 

 There are reports about some Rohingya migrants indulging in illegal activities, he said in a written reply. 

 Rai said the central government has issued instructions to state governments and union territory administrations advising them to sensitise the law enforcement and intelligence agencies for taking appropriate steps for prompt identification of illegal migrants, their restriction to specified locations as per provisions of law. 

 Instructions have also been issued to capture their biographic and biometric particulars, cancellation of fake Indian documents and for taking legal proceedings including initiation of deportation proceedings under provisions of law. 

 Rai also said that consolidated instructions to tackle the issue of overstay and illegal migration of foreign nationals have been issued on March 30, he said. PTI

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15:53   Need time to heal: Assam CM on Mizoram dispute

Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma on the promise of peace with neighbouring state Mizoram. 

With Mizoram, you need a span of peace because after such a heavy engagement you need some time to heal all the pain. After that, you need to start some confidence-building measures from both sides and then talk about some final resolutions.

I think both the governments (Assam and Mizoram) are now talking and definitely, both sides will work for peace and tranquility. 

 Sarma on Monday said there cannot be an overnight resolution of the decades-old border dispute between the states as it is a very complex issue.

Noting that the border disputes go back to the British era, Sarma in an interview to PTI said Assam has been holding talks with other states too and faulted the previous Congress governments for not clearly demarcating

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15:41   Civilian injured in grenade attack by militants in Srinagar

A civilian was injured in a grenade attack by militants on security forces in busy Amira Kadal area of the city on Tuesday, officials said. Terrorists lobbed a grenade towards security force personnel near Amira Kadal bridge which exploded by the roadside, the officials said. Tariq Ahmad was injured in the blast, they said, adding that police have taken cognizance of the incident. PTI

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15:38   HC cancels Maha govts CET for college admission

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday cancelled the Maharashtra governments Common Entrance Test (CET) for Class 11 admissions, while noting it was a case of gross injustice and would be a threat to the lives of students, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As per a government notification issued in May this year, the CET was to be held physically on August 21 across the state for all Class 10 students before admission to the junior college. The state government does not have the power under law to issue such a notification and this court can intervene in an extreme case of gross injustice, such as this, a division bench of Justices R D Dhanuka and R I Chagla said. 

 The court said even if a petition challenging the notification was not filed, this was a fit case for the court to take suo motu (on its own) notice. 

 If the CET is allowed to be held, then a large number of students would be exposed and would face a threat to life. This would have a cascading effect, the bench said in its order. 

 The court quashed and set aside the May 28 notification issued by the government, which said a CET would be held for all Class 10 students across all boards, based on which they would be able to choose their preferred college while taking admission to Class 11. As per the notification, those unwilling to appear for the CET would be admitted based on the aggregate of their Class 10 marks.

 The high court on Tuesday directed the state government to start the admission of students for Class 11 by considering their Class 10 marks and internal assessments, and complete the admission process within a period of six weeks.

 The HC passed the order on a petition filed by Ananya Patki, a student of Mumbais IES Orion School, affiliated to the CICSE board, and intervention pleas filed by four IGCSE students. -- PTI

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15:30   Parsi Petrel

A rare insight into the mind and motivations of Kobad Ghandy, enigmatic dreamer of revolution. Read the column here. 

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14:35   5,886 security personnel killed in J-K in 30 years

As many as 5,886 security personnel were killed in Jammu and Kashmir in terrorist incidents from 1989 till August 5, 2019, informed Minister of State Home Affairs Nityanand Rai in Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

In a written reply to Lok Sabha regarding security personnel killed in Jammu and Kashmir before abrogation of Article 370, Rai said, Jammu and Kashmir have been affected by terrorist violence that is sponsored and supported from across the border. Since the inception of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir (from 1989 till August 5, 2019), 5886 security personnel were killed in J&K in terrorist incidents.

 He further said that ex-gratia relief is given to the Next of Kin (NoK) as per the extant rules of the security forces concerned. -- ANI

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14:25   India to evacuate all diplomats from Afghanistans Mazar-e-Sharif

India is to evacuate all diplomats at its consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif of Afghanistan as the Taliban are on a rampage in the country. All the officials from Kandahar were brought back in a special flight to Kabul, from where they are expected to work as of now. 

 A special flight is also leaving from Mazar-e-Sharif to New Delhi. Any Indian nationals in and around Mazar-e-Sharif were requested to leave for India in the special flight scheduled to depart late today evening, said the Consulate General of India in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan.

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14:14   Neeraj eyes World Championships title next year

A history-making Olympic gold in his pocket and having won the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games titles, star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra is now targeting a top podium finish in the World Athletics Championships to be held in USA next year. 

 The World Championships was to be held this year in Eugene, Oregon, in US but was pushed to 2022 after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was postponed by one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will now be held from July 15-24, 2022. I have already won gold in Asian Games and Commonwealth Games and now an Olympic gold. So my next target is winning gold in the World Championships next year, Chopra said during a press conference arranged by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) to felicitate him on his Olympic gold-winning feat. 

 Chopra scripted history on Saturday in Tokyo when he clinched Indias elusive Olympic medal in athletics to become only the second Indian to win the yellow metal in an individual event with a best throw of 87.58m in the final. 

 World Championships is big a competition and sometimes tougher than the Olympics. I am not going to be content with this Olympic gold and sit on this laurel. I would like to do even better and win gold again in Asian Games, CWG and again in Olympics. The 23-year-old superstar also felt that his inclusion in the national camp by AFI in 2015 despite finishing fifth during the National Games in Kerala was a turning point in his career. -- PTI

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13:49   Govt approves Bharat Biotechs Ankleshwar plant to produce Covaxin

Union minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday said the government has given approval to Bharat Biotechs Ankleshwar-based manufacturing plant to produce COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin. 

Govt of India approves vaccine manufacturing facility for production of @BharatBiotechs #Covaxin in Ankleshwar, Gujarat, Mandaviya tweeted. The approval would help increase availability of COVID-19 vaccines in the country, he added. 

Following PM @NarendraModi jis vision of #SabkoVaccineMuftVaccine, this will increase vaccine availability & accelerate the worlds largest vaccine drive, the minister who heads both Chemicals and Fertilisers and Health ministries noted. 

In May this year, Bharat Biotech had announced that it plans to produce an additional 200 million doses of Covaxin at its subsidiarys Ankleshwar-based facility. The Hyderabad-based firm had noted that it would utilise the manufacturing plant of its wholly-owned unit - Chiron Behring, to add another 200 million doses of Covaxin. PTI

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13:46   Rahul begins Tuesday with prayers in Srinagar

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday visited the Kheer Bhawani temple in Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir and the Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar.

Immediately after leaving the temple complex, Rahul Gandhi visited the nearby shrine of Mir Baba Haider to pay obeisance there.

He then visited the Dargah Hazratbal shrine on the banks of the Dal Lake here and prayed there. The Congress MP had attended a wedding reception of Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee president Ghulam Ahmad Mirs son at a hotel on Monday evening.

Image: Rahul Gandhi at the Hazratbal Dargah, Srinagar. Pic: Umar Ganie

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13:32   Modi wants to hide the truth about caste census data

In 2018, when the Narendra Damodardas Modi government introduced Article 342A through the 102nd Constitutional Amendment that empowered the President to specify the socially and educationally backward communities in a state, the Opposition feared that it would lead to state governments losing the power to finalise their own Other Backward Caste lists.

The Supreme Court of India recently quashed the Maharashtra governments decision to grant reservations to the Maratha community, saying as per Article 342A only the Centre was empowered to draw up a central OBC list.

Justice V Eswaraiah is former acting chief justice of the Andhra Pradesh high court, former chairperson of the National Commission for Backward Classes, president, All India BC Federation and convenor, Social Revolution Alliance.

Once the caste data is published, every community will get its due share, Justice Eswaraiah tells Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com.

Read the interview here. 

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13:24   Rajya Sabha adjourned again amid opposition protests

Rajya Sabha proceedings were adjourned twice during the pre-lunch period on Tuesday amid continued uproar by opposition members. The House was first adjourned till 12 pm soon after the laying of papers as opposition members created noisy scenes. 

Members of the Congress, TMC and some other parties stormed the well carrying placards and started raising slogans. When the House met again at 12 pm, Deputy Chairman Harivansh started with the Question Hour even though opposition members trooped into the well and indulged in sloganeering. The Question Hour continued despite the din by opposition members for around 30 minutes. 

 When the members raised their pitch amid continued slogan shouting, the Deputy Chairman adjourned the House till 2 PM. The upper house has failed to transact any significant business due to the uproar created by opposition members, who are pressing for a discussion on the Pegasus snooping issue. Opposition members are also demanding a discussion on the farmers agitation, but want the Pegasus issue to be discussed first.

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13:16   No decision on NRC yet: Govt

MoS Home Nityanand Rai to Lok Sabha on NRC: Till now, the government has not taken any decision to prepare National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) at the national level.

Rai also said there is no proposal to release the caste data at this stage. In a written reply on a question on Census 2021, Rai said the forthcoming Census will be the first digital Census and there is a provision for self-enumeration. Mobile App for collection of data and a Census Portal for management and monitoring of various Census related activities have been developed.

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12:21   PM takes attendance in RS

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the parliamentary affairs minister to submit the details of members who were not present in Rajya Sabha on Monday when voting for a statutory resolution moved by several opposition MPs was held, sources said. 

 The statutory resolution demanded that the Tribunals Reforms Bill be send to the select committee of the House, however, it got negated. Speaking at the BJP parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday, Modi asked Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi to submit the details of those who were not present in the house when the voting was held, sources said.

 The BJP parliamentary party led by Modi also gave a standing ovation to the Olympic medal winners, sources in the party said. Modi also suggested the party MPs to encourage more people in their constituencies to participate in sports and also promote Poshan Abhiyaan and Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana. PTI

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11:48   Thats an ATC tower!

In Nyoma, Ladakh, the Indian Air Force has built one of the worlds highest mobile air traffic control towers at the Advanced Landing Ground there. The ATC controls operations of the fixed wing aircraft and helicopters operating in the eastern Ladakh region.

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11:33   SC on Pegasus case: Dont debate on social media

The Supreme Court will take up the Pegasus matter today. Nobody should cross the limit and all will be given the opportunity in the case, CJI NV Ramana told petitioners and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. 

A three-judge bench of Supreme Court Bench headed by CJI NV Ramana has just begun hearing a batch of petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the reports of government allegedly using Israeli software Pegasus to spy on politicians, activists, and journalists.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta seeks time to take instructions from govt, SC posts hearing for August 16.

Supreme Court tells petitioners Dont want parallel debate in social media, speak in court.

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11:24   Maha: Bodies of lovers found hanging from tree in Palghar

The bodies of a man and a woman, who were in a relationship, were found hanging from a tree here in Maharashtra, police said on Tuesday. While no suicide note was found, the police suspect they took the extreme step as they apparently feared that their families will not approve of their affair, Talasari police stations inspector Ajay Vasave said.

The bodies of the 23-year-old man and the woman aged 22 were found hanging from a tree on the outskirts of Vadavali village of Palghar on Sunday, he said 

 They had posted their obituaries as their WhatsApp status before they were found dead, the official said. A case of accidental death was registered and the bodies were sent for postmortem, he added. PTI

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11:17   Chopper crash in J-K: Search enters 9th day

The Army is seeking international assistance to locate the two missing pilots of its helicopter that crashed into the Ranjit Sagar Dam lake in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir last week as the search operations entered the ninth day on Tuesday, an official said. 

Jammu-based Army PRO Lt Col Devender Anand said a small area of 60x60 metres has been localised and special sonar equipment flown in from Kochi is being used to enable the search operations to enter their final phase. The Army statement came after the younger brother of one of the missing pilots expressed anguish at the search and rescue operations progressing at a snails pace. 

Military authorities are leaving no stone unturned to search for the helicopter which crashed and sank into the Ranjit Sagar Dam along with two pilots. 

The expanse of the dam is 25 km-long, 8 km-wide and more than 500 feet deep, Lt Col Anand said. He said the Army is coordinating the efforts of Indian Navy deep divers team consisting of two officers, four junior commissioned officers and 24 other ranks, Indian Army special forces divers team consisting of two officers, one JCO and 24 other ranks, multi beam sonars, side scanners, remotely operated vehicles and underwater manipulators which have been flown in from Chandigarh, Delhi, Mumbai and Kochi and pressed into action at the crash site. 

 Search operations continue unabated inspite of bad weather and rain. Expertise and equipment of the Army, Navy, IAF, NDRF, SDRF, NGOs, state police, dam authority and private firms from all over the country have also been into action, the army PRO said. 

 He said this deep underwater operation is especially challenging due to the near-zero visibility below 50 metres owing to the colloidal nature of water in this season which adversely impacts accuracy of sonars and other sensors. Experts, specialised equipment and divers are being continuously flown in and international assistance is also being sought. No efforts are being spared for early conclusion of the search operation, Lt Col Anand said. -- PTI

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11:10   Terrorists attack CRPF team in JKs Shopian, constable injured

A security force personnel was injured in firing by terrorists on a road opening party of the Central Reserve Police Force in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, officials said.

The ultras attacked the team at Kralcheck while they were carrying out road opening duties, they said.

Constable Ajay Kumar of the CRPF sustained injuries, they said.

The area has been cordoned off and search operations have begun, they added. -- PTI 

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11:08   India played constructive role in Afghanistan: Pentagon

India has played a constructive role in Afghanistan in the past, the Pentagon acknowledged on Monday.

India has played a constructive role in Afghanistan in the past in terms of training and other infrastructure improvements, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters at his daily news conference.

That kind of work, that kind of effort to help Afghanistan maintain stability and good governances is always welcome, he said when asked about India-US cooperation on Afghanistan.

Responding to a question, Kirby said the United States continues to have conversations with Pakistani leadership about the safe havens that exist along that border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

We are mindful that those safe havens are only providing a source of more insecurity and more instability inside Afghanistan. We are not bashful about having that discussion with Pakistani leaders, he said.

We are also mindful that Pakistan and the Pakistani people also fall victim to terrorist activities that emanate from that region. So, we all have a shared sense of the importance of closing down those safe havens and not allowing them to be used by the Taliban or other terrorist networks to sew discord, Kirby said.

And again, were having that conversation with the Pakistanis all the time, he added. -- PTI

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10:29   Covid: India records lowest daily count in 147 days

India logged 28,204 new coronavirus infections, the lowest in 147 days, taking the total  tally of cases to 3,19,98,158, while the active cases fell to 3,88,508, the lowest in 139 days, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Tuesday.

The national COVID-19 recovery rate has increased to 97.45 per cent, which is the highest ever recovery rate achieved, the ministry said. 

The death toll has climbed to 4,28,682 with 373 fresh fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed.

The active cases comprise 1.21 per cent of the total infections, the lowest since March 2020, the ministry said. 

A decrease of 13,680 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours. -- PTI

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10:27   US Def Sec discusses Afghan situation with Pak Army chief

United States Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday discussed over phone, among other things, the ongoing situation in Afghanistan with the Pak Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Pentagon said.

Secretary Austin and General Bajwa discussed the ongoing situation in Afghanistan, regional security and stability, and the bilateral defense relationship more broadly, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a readout of the call.

Austin spoke by phone with Bajwa to discuss the mutual goals of security and stability in the region, he said.

During the call, Austin expressed his interest in continuing to improve the US-Pakistan relationship and build upon our multiple shared interests in the region, Kirby said. -- PTI

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10:23   Sensex surges over 250 pts in early trade; Nifty tops 16,300

Equity benchmark Sensex jumped over 250 points in early trade on Tuesday, tracking gains in index majors Infosys, Reliance Industries and ICICI Bank, despite a largely negative trend in global markets.

HDFC was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, rising around 2 per cent, followed by Kotak Bank, IndusInd Bank, Reliance Industries and Axis Bank.

On the other hand, PowerGrid, ITC, Bajaj Auto and Nestle India were among the laggards.

In the previous session, Sensex ended 125.13 points or 0.23 per cent higher at 54,402.85, while Nifty advanced 20.05 points or 0.12 per cent to 16,258.25.

Foreign institutional investors were net buyers in the capital market as they purchased shares worth Rs 211.91 crore on Monday, as per provisional exchange data. -- PTI

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10:21   Rahul Gandhi visits Kheer Bhawani temple in J-K

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday visited the Kheer Bhawani temple in Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.  

Gandhi, who arrived on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir on Monday, reached the temple nestled among mighty chinars in Tullamulla area of the central Kashmir district early in the morning, a Congress leader said. 

He said Gandhi was accompanied by the partys general secretary organisation and, K C Venugopal to the famous Ragnya Devi temple popularly known as Kheer Bhawani.

This was a private visit. Rahul ji wanted to pay obeisance at the temple, the leader said.

Scores of party leaders and supporters were waiting outside the shrine complex to welcome the former Congress president.

Gandhi is also scheduled to visit the Dargah Hazratbal shrine on the banks of the Dal Lake here after the visit to the temple.

The Congress MP had attended a wedding reception of Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee president Ghulam Ahmad Mirs son at a posh hotel here on Monday evening.

At 11:30 on Tuesday, the Congress MP will inaugurate the Congress Bhawan at MA Road in the heart of the city here.

He will also interact with party leaders and workers at the party office, the Congress leader added.

Gandhi will leave for Delhi later on Tuesday. -- PTI  

Sharad

Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel arrive at Sibals residence

09:53   At Sibals dinner meet, Oppn leaders call for unity

Top Opposition leaders gathered at Congress Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibals residence on Monday evening and informally discussed how they could work together to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2024 election, according to sources.

Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and leader Praful Patel, Biju Janata Dal MP Pinaki Misra, Trinamool Congress leaders Derek OBrien and Kalyan Banerjee, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, Samajwadi Pary chief Akhilesh Yadav, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja, Shiromani Akali Dals Naresh Gujral, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagams Tiruchi Siva, and Rashtriya Janata Dal  chief Lalu Prasad attended the event.

At least 20 of the so-called G-23 group of leaders, who wrote a letter to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi last year asking for an overhaul in the party organisation, were present at the dinner.

The sources told that Sharad Pawar extended support to the G-23 leaders and said that we are with you in terms of whatever you are doing inside and outside your party.

Interestingly as per the sources, TMC leader Derek O Brien said we want to talk to Congress, on the one hand, Congress fights against us in West Bengal, on the other hand, they want us to be on board with them here.

While BJD Leader said, there are issues in which we feel that we can align with Congress but whom should we talk?.

YSR representative said, we are ready to forget the things in the past for the betterment of the country. At the same time, Naresh Gujral said we can be united on the farmers issue.

Importantly Akhilesh Yadav and Lalu Yadav stressed on strong and united opposition against BJP while both leaders added that Congress should use the experience of leaders like Kapil Sibal.

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09:50   BJP leader among 6 detained for anti-Muslim slogans

Five men including BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay have been detained by the Delhi Police in connection with alleged inflammatory and anti-Muslim slogans at Jantar Mantar on Sunday.

Apart from Upadhyay, a senior police officer said, the detained men have been identified as Vinod Sharma, Deepak Singh, Vinit Kranti, Preet Singh.

On August 9, a First Information Report had been filed against an unknown group of people in connection with raising inciting slogans at Jantar Mantar.

These accused had gathered at Jantar Mantar on Sunday evening during a march for Colonial Laws & Make Uniform Laws, and have raised objectionable slogans.

The DCP of Delhi, Deepak Yadav told, People who had gathered at Jantar Mantar had no permission. It has come to our due notice that some people raised inciting & objectionable slogans as well. We have also received a video and have registered FIR in the case.

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09:34   India on track to achieve WHO-recommended doctor-population ratio: NITI member

India is well on the path to achieving the World Health Organisation-recommended ratio of one doctor per thousand population by 2024 and is increasing the number of hospital beds from 11 lakh to 22 lakh, NITI Aayog member Vinod Paul said on Monday.

In the last 75 years, India has made significant progress in the health sector. At the time of independence, the average life was just 28 years and it has now reached close to 70 years, he said.

However, we are still far away from meeting the aspirations of people in terms of access to health services, and this remains a challenge.

We have taken a lot of steps to address these problems in the last six-seven years, and results are encouraging, Paul pointed out at the online Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav discourse series of Department of Science and Technology (DST), New India @ 75, organised by the National Council for Science and Technology Communication and Vigyan Prasar.

India is well on the path to having one doctor per thousand population by 2024, which is the World Health Organisation-recommended doctor to population ratio and is increasing the number of beds from 11 lakh to 22 lakh, a statement quoted Paul as saying.

Ayushman Bharat Yojna and Jan Arogya Yojna are programmes that focus on providing all kinds of health facilities to people and are steps towards universal health coverage, making health services affordable and ensuring access to health facilities, he said.

DST Secretary Ashutosh Sharma highlighted the contribution of the department in the development and progress of the country in the last 50 years and its efforts to make India a science, technology and innovation power in the world.

The DST is a nursery to help, nurture and grow young talents for the progress and development of the country. It has the capability to create future talents, and in the last five years, we have launched a whole lot of schemes and have taken various steps to identify loopholes and rectify them to ensure that science, technology and innovation play the key role in the progress and development of the country, he said. -- PTI 

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08:22   Damaged temple restored, handed over to Hindus: Pak

The Pakistan government on Monday said it has completed the restoration work of the temple that was badly damaged by a mob last week in Punjab province and arrested a total of 90 suspects involved in the attack.

Hundreds of people had attacked the Hindu temple in Bhong city of the Rahim Yar Khan district, some 590 kms from Lahore, on Wednesday in reaction to the alleged desecration of a Muslim seminary by an eight-year-old Hindu boy.

The charged Muslim crowed carrying weapons, sticks and bamboos assaulted policemen deployed at the temple and vandalized and also burnt down a part of the temple.

The attackers had damaged the idols, walls, doors and electric fittings while desecrating the temple.

The government has completed the restoration work of the temple and handed over to the local Hindu community, District Police Officer of Rahim Yar Khan Asad Sarfraz told PTI on Monday.

He said it was ready for the worship as well.

To a question about how many suspects in the temple attack has been arrested so far, Sarfraz said, A total 90 suspects have been arrested so far with the help of video footages and they have been produced before a court of law for physical remand, he said.

The official added the main suspects have also been arrested and police are interrogating them.

Another official said the government has engaged workers from Hyderabad to make idols for the temple.

Earlier, police had arrested 50 suspects in what Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar called a shameful attack on the temple.

An FIR has been lodged under terrorism and other sections of the Pakistan Penal Code against over 150 people for their involvement in attacking the temple. -- PTI 

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