6 States Continue To Report Surge In New Covid-19 Cases

As many as six states including Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat – have shown a surge in new cases in the last 24 hours, said the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Sunday.

According to the Ministry, 86.37 per cent of the new cases are from these six states. As many as 16,752 new cases were registered in the last 24 hours.
Maharashtra continues to report the highest daily new cases at 8,623. It is followed by Kerala with 3,792 while Punjab reported 593 new cases.

Tamil Nadu continues to report 486 cases, Karnataka reported 523, while Gujarat reported 451 new cases.

The Centre has been engaging with the states and UTs exhibiting a higher caseload of active cases and those reporting a spike in the daily new COVID-19 cases.

The Cabinet Secretary reiterated that states need to maintain a continued rigorous vigil in terms of containing the spread and not squander away the gains of the collective hard work of the last year.

“They were advised not to lower their guard, enforce COVID appropriate behaviour and deal firmly with violations. It was strongly underlined that they need to follow effective surveillance strategies in respect of potential super spreading events,” the Ministry said.

The Centre has also deputed high-level multi-disciplinary teams to Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir to ascertain reasons for the surge and coordinate with the State Health Departments in COVID-19 control and containment measures.

84.96 per cent of the new deaths in the six states- Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. India reported 113 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Moreover, a total of 1.07 cr people has recovered so far. 11,718 patients have recovered and got discharged in the last 24 hours, while 84.19 per cent of the new recovered cases are observed to be concentrated in six states.

According to the Health Ministry, India is all set to start the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination on March 1, 2021, for those who are over 60 years of age and for people aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions.

To ramp up the COVID-19 vaccination capacity, around 10,000 private hospitals under Ayushman Bharat PMJAY and more than 600 private hospitals under the Central Government Health Scheme will be utilised.

Other private hospitals empanelled under State Govts Health Insurance Scheme can also participate as COVID-19 Vaccination Centres (CVCs). (ANI)

DRDO Surveillance Satellite ‘Sindhu Netra’ Put In Orbit

By Ajit K Dubey

In a boost for the country’s surveillance capabilities to monitor activities of both military warships and merchant shipping in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), the ‘Sindhu Netra’ satellite developed by a team of young scientists from Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) was successfully deployed in space on Sunday.

The satellite was launched using the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) PSLV-C51 which took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh at 10:30 am today.

The Sindhu Netra satellite has been developed by the young scientists of the DRDO and is capable of automatically identifying the warships and merchant ships operating in the IOR. The satellite has also started communicating with the ground systems, government sources told ANI.

The satellite, if required, can also help in carrying out surveillance in specific areas such as the South China Sea or the pirate-infested areas near the Gulf of Aden and the African coast, the sources said.

They added that the Sindhu Netra is one of the first in the series of satellites that would help the nation in enhancing its surveillance capabilities on land in areas such as the Ladakh region with China and the border areas with Pakistan.

Seeking to keep a closer eye on the activities of the Chinese military both near the Indian territory as well as in its depth areas all along the 4,000 kilometre Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Indian security agencies feel there is a requirement of four to six dedicated satellites which can help them keep a check on the adversary’s moves.

Along with the setting up of the Defence Space Agency, the government also created a defence space research organisation to look after the ability to protect space assets from being attacked by adversaries there. The space arm of the defence forces would also be bolstered significantly in near future. (ANI)

Saudis Snub Pak, Maintain Neutrality Over Kashmir

Much to Pakistan’s dismay and India’s delight, Saudi Arabia maintained neutrality over the Kashmir issue, even when Islamabad is making all efforts to mend its relations with the Gulf country and is wooing it to change its stance.

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, his government has had good relations with Saudi Arabia. After the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Riyadh in October 2019, Saudi Arabia has maintained neutrality over Kashmir and backed India on cross-border terrorism, said Abhinav Pandya, a strategic analyst and the CEO of Usanas Foundation, an India based think tank, told The Epoch Times.
The Saudis have had ambiguous stands on Kashmir on various global diplomatic forums–many times they supported Pakistan’s stance before they recently took to neutrality in India’s favour.

“Three events of 1979 had a direct impact on Kashmir [seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the Islamic Revolution of Iran, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan],” said Pandya.

“After 1979, the Saudis sponsored Wahhabism across the globe.” Muslim majority Kashmir became a “natural choice for Wahhabi proselytization” because of the deep penetration of Pakistan, which had historically close relations with the Saudis, added Pandya.

The rift between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia started when Riyadh didn’t heed Pakistan’s demand to call a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC, which Saudi Arabia leads) to discuss the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s original political status by the Modi government.

“Pakistan Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi asked Saudis to show “leadership” and threatened that if Saudi doesn’t call a meeting of the foreign ministers of the OIC over Kashmir, Pakistan will be forced to go to Iran, Malaysia, and Turkey for support,” said Madiha Afzal, in an analysis for the Brookings Institute.

Meanwhile, the Saudis also denied permission to the Pakistan embassy in Riyadh and the consulate in Jeddah to organise Kashmir black day programs on October 27 last year.

The ruler of Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India on October 27, 1947, and Pakistan observes that date as the Kashmir Black Day every year.

In recent years, India’s relationships with the Arab countries have significantly improved, particularly with Saudi Arabia because India is an emerging economy and a key global market.

“Riyadh, like many countries, sees India as an important player, as a key market and a country that it doesn’t want to antagonize. Obviously, if you refrain from supporting the Kashmir cause publicly that certainly will help your cause with India,” said Michael Kugelman, the Deputy Director of the Asia Program at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC.

There are multiple geopolitical reasons vis-a-vis Pakistan that have influenced the Saudi stance over Kashmir.

Afzal said that Saudis didn’t take kindly to Pakistan’s “overt pressure” last year and immediately recalled a USD 1 billion loan it gave to Pakistan in 2018 as part of a USD 3 billion loan.

Hamid Bahrami, author and an independent Middle East analyst based in Glasgow, told The Epoch Times over a chat platform that new and asymmetric blocks are emerging in the geopolitical arena, and the Saudis have lost some interest in its relationship with Pakistan, which is impacting the Saudi stance over Kashmir as well.

“Since Pakistan has disappointed Saudi regarding the war in Yemen, and Pakistan took neutrality between Saudi and Iran, MBS (Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman) has been convinced that the current Pakistani approach is not favouring him,” said Bahrami.

“Moreover, Pakistan political establishment has a positive view of MBS’ political rival inside the Saudi royal family.”

Bahrami said the close relations of Saudis with the United States and Pakistan’s close ties with US rival China also add to the dynamics of foreign policies in Kashmir.

“The main threat is China, and unfortunately, Pakistan is paving Beijing’s way to access the Middle East through the port of Gwadar. This is a serious threat to the Saudi-US camp. I consider Iran-Pakistan-Turkey-China-Russia as an asymmetric camp with different interests but the same rivals,” said Bahrami. The United States and Saudis are moving closer to India than to Pakistan to control China and the emerging asymmetric camp, he said.

“If we want to get deeper, MBS’ view about geopolitics and protecting Saudi interests is not based on a religious agenda of supporting Wahhabism. MBS’ seeks economic development under ‘Vision 2030’ and Pakistan does not have enough capacity for a profitable bilateral relation with Saudi,” said Bahrami.

Moreover, the Chinese equation with Pakistan has complicated the situation, and MBS, according to Bahrami, is sending a warning to Pakistan. (ANI)

Covid-19 Vaccine At Private Facilities To Cost ₹250

The price of the coronavirus vaccine at private facilities in the country has been capped at Rs 250 per dose which includes Rs 100 as service charge, according to central government sources.

From March 1, India is going to start the vaccination of people above 60 years and individuals above 45 years of age having comorbidities against coronavirus.

“The cost of the COVID-19 vaccine has been kept Rs 250 per dose, includes Rs 150 is a vaccine charge plus Rs 100 as a service charge,” a government source confirmed ANI.

On Friday, the Union Health Ministry said that covid19 vaccination will be free of charge at the government vaccination centres. The beneficiary will have to show a photo ID document for proof of age (preferably Aadhar card or EPIC card) and a certificate of co-morbidity (if required). Those taking the COVID vaccine at any designated/empanelled private health facility will have to pay a pre-fixed charge.

The States and UTs were explained the simplified process of registration, which shall be through three routes: Advance Self-Registration: In this, the beneficiaries will be able to self-register in advance by downloading the CO-Win 2.0 portal and through other IT Applications such as Arogya Setu etc.

This will show the government and private hospitals serving as COVID Vaccination Centres (CVCs) with the date and time of the available schedules. The beneficiary would be able to choose the CVC of his/her choice and book an appointment for vaccination.

Second is on-site registration: Facility of On-Site registration allows those who cannot self-register in advance to walk into the identified COVID Vaccination Centres and get themselves registered on-site and then vaccinated.

Third, is Facilitated Cohort Registration: Under this mechanism, the State/UT Government will take a proactive lead. Specific date(s) for COVID vaccination will be decided where target groups of potential beneficiates will be vaccinated.

The State/UT health authorities will ensure that that the target groups are actively mobilised and brought to the vaccination centres. ASHAs, ANMs, Panchayati Raj representatives and Women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs) will be utilized for mobilizing the target groups.

Under all the above three routes, all beneficiaries would be captured on the Co-WIN2.0 platform and would be issued digital QR Code based provisional (on receiving the first dose) and final (on receiving the second dose) certificates. These can be downloaded from the link shown in the SMS the beneficiary shall receive after the vaccination. Print out of these certificates can also be taken from the Vaccination Centres. (ANI)

‘Sardar Ka Grandson’ To Stream On Netflix

Four days after revealing the release date of his much-anticipated comedy-thriller film ‘Bhoot Police’, Bollywood actor Arjun Kapoor has announced his next love drama ‘Sardar Ka Grandson’ for a Netflix release.

The announcement of the movie has come after a year the lead stars of the upcoming romantic-drama, — Arjun Kapoor and Rakul Preet teased fans with an intriguing post on social media.

Months after keeping the information about the project under wraps, both the actors gave a sneak peek of their first collaborative project.

The movie also features veteran actor Neena Gupta in a pivotal role, both the ‘Panipath’ and ‘Yaariyan’ stars shared a series of pictures from the shoot on their Instagram handles.

The pictures were captioned as, “Gather your parents and grandparents for this one, Sardar ka Grandson is coming soon to @netflix_in #SardarKaGrandson.”

It will also star Bollywood actors Aditi Rao Hydari and John Abraham in central roles.

Directed by Kaashvi Nair, ‘Sardar Ka Grandson’ was shot amid the coronavirus pandemic last year, according to sources. The release date of the cross-border love story has still been under wraps.

Meanwhile, on the work front, Arjun, who was last seen in Ashutosh Gowarikar’s period drama ‘Panipat’ also has ‘Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar’, co-starring Parineeti Chopra, and

‘Bhoot Police’, co-starring Saif Ali Khan, Fatima Sana Shaikh, and Ali Fazal in the pipeline.

Rakul Preet will appear with Ajay Devgn in his directorial ‘Mayday’. Megastar Amitabh Bachchan will portray a pivotal role in the film. Rakul also has action-thriller John Abraham starrer film ‘Attack’ and Bhushan Kumar’s ‘Thank God’ in the pipeline. (ANI)

Cong G-23 Leaders Say Party ‘Getting Weaker’, Will Revive It

Senior Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and Anand Sharma on Saturday stated that the G-23 or the group of 23 dissenting leaders are seeing the Congress party “getting weaker” and are raising their voice for the betterment of the party.

“The truth is that we see Congress party getting weak. That is why we have gathered here. We had gathered together earlier too and we have to strengthen the party together,” Sibal said at the ‘Shanti Sammelan’ event here.
Anand Sharma who addressed the ‘Shanti Sammelan’ said that “Congress has weakened in the last decade.”

“Our voice is for the betterment of the party. It should be strengthened everywhere once again. The new generation should connect (to party). We have seen good days of Congress. We do not want to see it weakening as we become older,” he said.

Sibal and Sharma along with former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Raj Babbar and Vivek Tankha are among other Congress leaders who were present at the event organised by former Rajya Sabha MP Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Azad is the senior-most member among the 23 leaders, who had expressed dissent with the functioning of the Congress party and had written a letter to Sonia Gandhi in August last year.

The ‘Shanti Sammelan’ event has been organised days after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s “North-South” remark, which has led to a controversy over the past few days. The event is being held at a time when Rahul Gandhi is campaigning in Tamil Nadu.

Raj Babbar in his address said: “People say ‘G23’, I say Gandhi 23. With the belief, resolve and thinking of Mahatma Gandhi, this nation’s law and Constitution was formed. Congress is standing strongly to take these forward. ‘G23’ want Congress to be strong.”

Sibbal said that the leaders who have gathered in Jammu were saddened after realising that former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is ” being freed from Parliament” by the Congress party.

“What is the real role of Ghulam Nabi Azad sahab? A person who flies an aircraft is an experienced person. An engineer accompanies him to detect and repair any malfunctioning in the engine. Ghulam Nabiji is experienced as well as an engineer,” he said.

“Ghulam Nabi Azad sahab is one such leader who knows ground reality of Congress in every district of every state. We were saddened when we realised that he is being freed from Parliament. We didn’t him to go from Parliament…I can’t understand why is Congress not using his experience,” he added.

Anand Sharma said: “All of us have covered a very long distance to reach where we are today. Nobody among us has come through the window, all of us have walked through the door. We have come through the students’ movement, the youth movement,” he added.

Sharma also said, “There has never come such an occasion after 1950 when there is no representative of Jammu and Kashmir in the Rajya Sabha. This will be corrected.”

Congress leader Sharma said that the G-23 leaders will strengthen the party.

“I have not given anyone the right to tell me if we are people of Congress or not, nobody has that right. We will build the party, we will strengthen it. We believe in the strength and unity of Congress,” he said.

Meanwhile, Azad said, “I have retired from Rajya Sabha but not retired from politics and I have not retired from Parliament for the first time.”

“Today, after many years, we are not part of Jammu and Kashmir, our identity has been lost. The fight will be continued inside and outside our Parliament to regain the status of statehood. When the elected ministers and chief ministers will not be here, then the present condition of unemployment, roads and schools will continue to remain the same,” he said.

Last year in August, G-23 leaders through a letter to interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi expressed their discontent and urged the top leadership of Congress to bring immediate reforms, including organisational elections from the grass-roots to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) level. (ANI)

Border Area Residents Thank Centre For LoC Ceasefire

People living in the border areas of Jammu and Kashmir around the Line of Control (LoC) have expressed relief and gratitude towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan after both sides decided to cease firing along the LoC and all other sectors.

Several residents around the tumultuous area have suffered due to tensions between the two countries, and many have lost limbs, eyes, and other body parts.
Haji Mohd Shafi Naib, Sarpanch of the Pukharni village in Rajouri, described the grim conditions of the people in the village, saying that many used to be terrified to leave their homes due to constant fear.

“We used to be terrified to leave our houses. People rarely left their homes to go to work and schools have been closed for over a year and a half because we didn’t want our children to leave the house. I can point out several houses that have bullet holes on doors and walls. I am grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his consideration for the people living in the border areas,” he told ANI.

He added, “I want to thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for their decision. We have lost several villagers to cross-border firing and many have lost legs, hands and eyes. Now, we can finally sleep and work in peace,” he added.

Another woman, Sharifa Begum who lost her older brother to a firing at the border told ANI, “I am glad that I can now start a new life and feel safe in my home. We are very grateful to the Modi government for the decision. I lost my older brother to such firing incidents a few years ago. Now my children and I can sleep in peace and focus on their education.”

Earlier on Thursday, after discussions between the Director Generals of Military Operations of India and Pakistan, the two sides have to cease firing along the Line of Control (LoC)and all other sectors with effect from midnight of February 24 to 25.

The discussion between the two armies took place at a time when a large number of ceasefire violations were taking place along the LoC and violence levels were going up especially for the villagers living along the LoC on both sides.

“Both sides agreed for strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the Line of Control and all other sectors with effect from midnight of February 24 to 25,” a joint statement issued by the Defence Ministry said. (ANI)

Bhumi Celebrates 6 Yrs Of ‘Dum Laga Ke…’

Bollywood actor Bhumi Pednekar on Saturday celebrated the six-year anniversary of her debut movie ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’, which released back in 2015.

The ‘Pati Patni Aur Woh’ actor was catapulted to stardom with ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ (DLKH), in which she played the role of an overweight girl who stands up for her rights.
Bhumi believes that her debut film, directed by Sharat Katariya, was a milestone moment that paved her path to glory.

She was recently shooting in Rishikesh for her next movie ‘Badhaai Do,’ in the same house where ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ was shot. Overwhelmed by the coincidence, she took to Instagram and shared a video.

She captioned the post as, “A trip down memory lane, as I visit the place where it all started 🙂 #6yearsofdumlagakehaisha #gratitude #livingthedream.”

Bhumi added, “Thank you @yrf @sharatkatariya #ManeeshSharma @shanoosharmarahihai for making my dream come true. @ayushmannk for always being my Hero No. 1 in every way possible.”

In the video, the actor said, “Dum Laga Ke Haisha is truly a milestone moment of my life and I can’t imagine how my career would have shaped up without it. I was extremely fortunate to get this film and everyone knows how hard I worked to deliver this role.”

“It was such a coincidence that I shot at the same location again for Badhaai Do. The house which was my first ever location, for my first film was used for Badhaai Do. I was so nostalgic. What were the chances that after 6 years, I would be at the same place!” she added.

She further said, “I was super nostalgic that I was actually at the locations where I shot DLKH. I was actually standing at the same spot where I gave my first shot ever in life as an actor. I remember we had done about 11 takes for this and I was so nervous. That is where Bhumi the actor was born.”

The 31-year-old actor feels that she clearly told the industry that she meant business as an actor with her first movie. She said, “DLKH gave me an identity as an actress and enabled me to tell the world that I was different, I was hungry, I was ambitious, and that I would take incredible risks to carve my legacy in the Hindi film industry. Today, when I look back at my debut, I’m filled with gratitude towards everyone who ensured that I do my best.”

Crediting the entire team of her first film for inculcating confidence in her as an artist, she said, “Right from Shanoo, Adi sir, Maneesh Sharma, Sharat Katariya and even Ayushmann – everyone believed in me and that gave me so much confidence to go out there and present myself as an artist. DLKH is and will always be a film from which I harness confidence to take on more risks, to experiment constantly and present myself new on-screen every single time.”

‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’, a critically acclaimed movie, received the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi.

The movie also featured Sanjay Mishra and Seema Pahwa in lead roles. (ANI)

IAF Gifts 1971 War Chopper To Dhaka, Gets Jet In Return

Commemorating 50 years of defeating Pakistan in the 1971 war, Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief RKS Bhadauria gifted a legacy Alouette III helicopter to Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) and got a legacy F-86 Sabre aircraft as a return gift from Dhaka.

“To mark the Golden Jubilee of 1971 War of Liberation, IAF chief RKS Bhadauria gifted a legacy Alouette III helicopter to the Bangladesh Air Force. Bangladesh Air Force chief too gifted an F-86 Sabre aircraft that had been restored by BAF after the 1971 war. Both legacy aircraft will find a place of pride in museums on both sides,” IAF stated in a tweet.

The exchange of aircraft took place in Dhaka during the four day trip of Bhadauria to Bangladesh where he visited different airbases and interacted with the top military leadership of that country.

India and Bangladesh are celebrating 50 years of the liberation war in which the Pakistan Army was thrown out of Bangladesh and 90,000 of their troops were made to surrender.

A number of events are being organised by both countries to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the decisive war. (ANI)

Sonakshi Shares Weekend Thoughts

Indulged in some weekend thoughts, Bollywood actor Sonakshi Sinha on Saturday channelled her nature love by sharing a ruminative post for her fans.

The 33-year-old actor hopped on to Instagram that captures her sitting in a park and enjoying a picturesque view of the sunset while posing candidly for the lens.

Along with the enchanting post, the ‘Akira’ actor went on to pen down a deep thought in the caption that reads, “If you really think about it… we’re all sheltered. By mother nature.”

Sonakshi often uses her social media platforms to raise awareness about protecting mother nature. Her latest post received a lot of appreciation from the fans of the actor and her fellow celebrities including actor Diana Penty.

On the work front, the ‘Lootera’ actor will also be seen playing a role of the brave social worker Sunderben Jetha Madharparya, in the upcoming Indian Hindi-language war drama action film ‘Bhuj: The pride of India’, directed, co-produced, and written by Abhishek Dudhaiya. (ANI)