Air Pollution In Delhi

Delhi’s Air Quality Slips To ‘Very Poor’ Category, AQI 308

The air quality in the national capital deteriorated on Friday slipping to ‘very poor’ category, according to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR).

The overall Air Quality Index (AQI) on Delhi was recorded this morning at 308.
The concentrations of PM 2.5 and PM 10 stood at 130 in the ‘very poor’ and 237 in the ‘moderate’ category respectively.

According to the SAFAR bulletin, New Year celebrations on December 31 night may increase emissions and worsen the air quality but the net effect is likely to keep AQI within ‘very poor’ or ‘higher end of very poor’ for the next three days.

“AQI today indicates ‘Very Poor’ air quality. Prevailing cold wave conditions in the northwest region of Delhi and winds blowing from the west/northwest direction affect weather in Delhi. However, minimum and maximum temperatures show a tendency to increase slightly for the next 3 days (December 31, January 1 and January 2). Consistently high wind speeds are likely for the next three days. Mixing layer height continues to be 1.0 – 1.5 km,” SAFAR said in its bulletin.

While the air quality of Noida remains in the ‘very poor’ category with AQI at 304 and air quality of Gurugram is in ‘poor’ category with AQI at 252.

As per the government agencies, an AQI between zero and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, and 401 and 500 ‘severe’.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the cold wave conditions prevail in northern India, Delhi’s Safdarjung and Palam recorded 3.8 and 7.0 degrees Celsius temperature at 8:30 am on Friday.

The cold-wave/severe cold wave conditions will be witnessed in many parts of Punjab Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, and Rajasthan till January 3 and over Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh till January 2, 2022.

According to IMD bulleting, dense fog in isolated pockets in the morning hours is very likely over Uttar Pradesh during the next 5 days and over East and Northeast India during the next 2 days. (ANI)

Meerut: Modi To Lay foundation Stone Of Sports University On Jan 2

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Meerut on January 2, 2022, and lay the foundation stone of Major Dhyan Chand Sports University at around 1 pm, said a press release from PMO.

The University will be established at Salawa and Kaili villages of Sardhana town in Meerut at an estimated cost of about Rs 700 crore.
One of the key areas of focus for the Prime Minister is to inculcate sporting culture and to establish world-class sporting infrastructure across the country.

The establishment of Major Dhyan Chand Sports University at Meerut will be a major step towards fulfilling this vision.

The Sports University will be equipped with state-of-the-art sports infrastructure including synthetic Hockey ground, Football ground, Basketball/Volleyball/Handball/Kabaddi ground, Lawn tennis court, Gymnasium hall, Synthetic running stadium, Swimming pool, Multipurpose hall, and a Cycling velodrome, said the release.

The university will also house facilities for Shooting, Squash, Gymnastics, Weightlifting, Archery, Canoeing, and Kayaking, among other facilities. The University will have the capacity of training 1,080 sportspersons including 540 female and 540 male sportspersons. (ANI)

Pink Tide Resurges In Latin America

The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.
Che Guevara

Che Guevara would be a happy man today. Born in Argentina, he fought for the Cuban revolution. He left his position as industries minister in Havana, his family and friends, his wife and children, to bring a revolution in another country. He died young, in the forests of Bolivia, murdered by CIA mercenaries. His last picture is still starkly vivid: lying on a slab in his guerilla fatigue, dead, his handsome face peaceful and soft, like a rain-soaked stone.

He would be happy and so would be Fidel Castro, and all their comrades, because it was a hard journey through the rocky mountain terrain of Sierra Maestra, a hideout of many rebels and many rebellions since the 16th century, from where the guerillas led the struggle against Batista’s dictatorship in Cuba. Apparently, Castro was carrying Rousseau’s ‘Social Contract’ in his back pocket then, having already read several philosophical texts in prison earlier. Che was asthmatic, smoking his cigar, often breathless, lagging behind, while his comrades pushed forward.

From there to Congo, India, Bolivia, the journey of Che, and their comrades, has been a remarkable synthesis in original rebellion, with shifting sands on changing shores. Were they communists like the Bolsheviks and Maoists? Not exactly. This is because Latin American revolutionaries and freedom fighters created their original, open-ended hypothesis of knowledge and liberation, often not dogmatic, crafted from their indigenous lands, cultures and communities, and influenced by their local heroes and legends, from Simon Bolivar, to the Zapatistas, to Salvador Allende and Pablo Neruda. Till the time, they, themselves, became legends. Like Che and Castro.

And they have been flexible. From the ‘revolution of the bullet’, to the ‘revolution of the ballot’, they have marked their great leap forward with consensus and imagination. The brilliant victory of young Gabriel Boric, 35, marks the decisive end of the brutal inheritance of dictator Augusto Pinochet, who overthrew the democratically elected government of Allende with an American-backed military coup. He thereby presided over a ruthless capitalist machine accompanied by mass murder, torture, disappearances and imprisonment of thousands, and the suspension of all fundamental rights. That is why the massive uprising of 2019 in Chile, demanded, among other demands, the redrafting of the Pinochet Constitution. Boric was a leader of this mass movement.

That is why Boric, who has read his Marx and Hegel, among other texts, declared on the fabulous night of his primary win, “Chile was the birthplace of neo-liberalism, and it shall also be its grave!”

That is why he said after his victory, as President-Elect, “I know that history doesn’t begin with us… I feel like an inheritor of the long trajectory of those, who, from different places, have tirelessly sought social justice.” The crowd roared back in approval. Irina Karamanos, his girlfriend, stood with him, as companion and comrade, on the stage.

ALSO READ: Make America Breathe Again

Boric, the great grandson of a Croatian migrant family, is deeply attached to his childhood place, Punta Arenas, located at Magallanes, below the Patagonian ice fields. He reportedly created a students’ union in Punta Arenas when he was 14. Later, in 2011, as a law student, Boric led massive protests in multiple campuses seeking an end to the profit-driven education system and free education for all, across the class spectrum. Earlier, he had led a peaceful campus protest in Santiago, against a professor who was accused of corruption and plagiarism. He was elected as a Congressman from his home terrain in 2013, even as student leaders moved on to the higher realm of mainstream politics in a country entrenched with Rightwing Pinochet hardliners.

Over the years, the radical students seemed to have mellowed down a bit. They refuse to follow the extreme policies of either the Left or the Right, wanting to create their own, original niche, which takes along everybody. No wonder, Boric has thanked all those who voted, including those who voted against him. In the same vein, the outgoing president, and Kast, who was defeated by Boric, welcomed him warmly and promised to cooperate. That is why, his government is being called a radical social democratic government, with no strings attached, almost inspired by the Scandinavian model.

Boric has already instituted a 155-member committee to draft a new Constitution. Decisive action on climate change is on the cards. He has promised the complete dismantling of the old neo-liberal economic model and the cruel and murderous Pinochet model of governance. He has wowed to create a new economic system which provides huge benefits to the poorest and indigenous people, include women, push for an universal welfare state, and bring in massive hikes in the public sector, among other social sector reforms.

Indeed, he is doing exactly what Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has promised in Brazil where a thoroughly discredited Trump supporter, Jair Bolsanoro, branded as corrupt, inept, racist and supremacist, held responsible for 60,000-plus Covid deaths due to his dogmatic Covid-denial syndrome, is on his last leg. Lula is not only pitched to win massively in 2022, this electrician turned communist, put in prison on cooked up charges, has turned a new leaf — he is more a Left-of-Centre politician now, taking along the centrists, Left and Right, and open to consensus, including with the West. Between Lula and Boric, therefore, the flexibility of a new paradigm shift is typically Latin American, from ‘bullet to ballot’, to the innovating idea of an enduring, beautiful, better and brave new world!

Celebrating the victory in Chile, Lula put up a happy picture donning a baseball cap with Boric’s face. He said, he was really “happy for another victory of a democratic and progressive candidate in our Latin America”.

According to media reports, other messages of solidarity poured in from the neighbourhood, where Left or progressive-democratic forces have ousted Right-wing regimes, marking once again a ‘Bolivarist moment’, as Hugo Chavez called it. Peronist Alberto Fernández, president of Argentina, appealed to Boric to “work together to end inequality in Latin America”. Now the ruling government, elected yet again with a huge mandate, the inheritors of Evo Morales in Bolivia’s Movement towards Socialism (MAS), hailed it as “the triumph of the Chilean people”. The old-fashioned Leftist in America’s backyard, Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, expressed great “joy”. “The people of Chile had given an example to Latin America and the world,” he said.

Pedro Castillo of Peru, a teacher and Leftist, tweeted: “Your victory is shared by all Latin American people who want to live with liberty, peace, justice and dignity.” And Nicolás Maduro, the troubled inheritor of Chavez in Venezuela, hounded by the Americans, and branded authoritarian by the Western media, congratulated Chileans “for their resounding victory against fascism”.

Cuban president Miguel Diaz Canel was predictably guarded. Boric had earlier backed the protesters in Cuba. He hoped for better ties with the new government and the people of Chile.

Significantly, a former guerilla in Colombia, the imagined and real homeland of the fantastic magic realism of novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, called Boric a “social democrat”, while branding his opponent as a son of a card-carrying Nazi. Well, this former guerilla is tipped to be the next president of Colombia in May: Gustavo Petro.

As Gabriel Boric embarks on his incredible journey as an inspiration and a role model, he has both history and time on his side. Surely, he and his student comrades would certainly remember the historic last speech by Salvador Allende, in 1973, when he was under siege, ready to die but refusing to compromise with the US-backed bloody coup led by Pinochet.

Allende had then said in a radio broadcast: “Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail. Keep in mind that, much sooner than later, the great avenues will again be opened through which will pass free men to construct a better society. Long live Chile!”

Karan Johar Appeals Delhi Govt To Allow Cinema Halls To Operate

Filmmaker Karan Johar has requested the Delhi government to allow cinema halls to operate that are closed after the restrictions under yellow alert as per the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) were imposed due to surging COVID-19 cases.

“We urge the Delhi Government to allow cinemas to operate. Cinemas are equipped with better ability to ensure a hygienic environment while maintaining social distancing norms as compared to other out-of-home settings. @LtGovDelhi @ArvindKejriwal @OfficeOfDyCM #cinemasaresafe,” Karan wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

Karan’s tweet comes days after the Delhi Disaster Management Authority on Tuesday ordered the closure of schools, colleges, cinemas and gyms with immediate effect and put various restrictions on the functioning of shops and public transport as a yellow alert was sounded under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) amid the rise in COVID-19 cases across the country.

A day ago, actors Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon backed the Multiplex Association of India’s plea to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to reconsider the new rules and allow the operation of theatres with proper guidelines and protocols in place. (ANI)

Channi Grants ₹ 10Cr For Development Of Rampura Phul Constituency

The Chief Minister exhorted the people to bank upon the developmental era ushered in by the Congress-led Punjab government and opt for the government that stood by the people through thick and thin.

According to the CMO release, Channi also announced the up-gradation of Civil Hospital- Rampura and laid the foundation stone for Rampura city flyover which will ease the entire city traffic.
The flyover will be built between the Railway station and Geeta Bhawan Road at a cost of Rs 63.55 crores, the press statement said.

The chief minister termed Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal as an outsider and said the people of Punjab were wise enough to choose Punjabi to run the state rather than giving a chance to an outsider.

People have seen the governance of Captain Amarinder Singh and Parkash Singh Badal Badal but the time is now to vote for a government that believes in maintaining peace, harmony, and development of Punjab, Channi said.

Speaking further, he said that Rampura city will soon have two ITIs. Apart from Rs 6 crores construction cost, Rs 3.6 crores will also be spent upon the purchase of requisite infrastructure for the ITIs.

The minister also said that courses as per the requirement of Guru Gobind Singh Refinery -Bathinda, will be offered in these ITIs, so that the youth from this area may get jobs in the refinery, the release added.

Former Minister and Rampura MLA Gurpreet Singh Kangar also addressed on the occasion saying Chief Minister is actually ruling the hearts of common man and he is Aam Aadmi in real sense.

Earlier, Channi also dedicated the building of Veterinary Science College worth Rs 105 crore to the people of Rampura. (ANI)

China’s Xi’an Reports 1,117 New COVID-19 Cases

Xi’an, capital of China’s Shaanxi province, reported 155 confirmed locally transmitted COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, local media reported on Thursday.

According to Xinhua News Agency, the 155 coronavirus cases has brought the total number of local infections to 1,117 in the latest resurgence since Deemeber 9.
Of the 155 new cases, 62 were found through mass nucleic acid testing and 92 were identified among those in quarantine at designated places, while the remaining case was detected when the person sought medical help, Xinhua reported citing a press briefing held by the Xi’an municipal government on Thursday.

Starting from 10 am on Thursday, the city has launched a new round of mass nucleic acid testing to screen for as many infections as possible. As of 2 pm today, samples had been collected from over 9 million people, it added. (ANI)

Major Edible Oil Companies Have Slashed Prices By ₹30-40

Major edible oil companies have cut the maximum retail price (MRP) of their products by Rs 30 to 40 to provide relief for the people troubled by the increased prices, said Sudhanshu Pandey, Secretary, Department of Food and Public Distribution.

“All the big brands have made a big cut in the prices of edible oils only yesterday. This has been cut from Rs 30 to Rs 40 on the MRP and has been given in the stock market with the new MRP. Now the supply will be available with the new MRP, which will benefit the customers,” Sudhanshu told ANI.
“The objective was to provide immediate benefits to the customers. Instructions have been given to the State Governments to take necessary steps to implement the new MRP,”

he added.

Counting the achievements of the department in 2021, Pandey said, ” This year we have crossed the 50 crore mark in One Nation One Ration Card in portability transactions. In the COVID-19 period, we have crossed about 43 crore transactions. This in itself is a great achievement”.

“In Assam too, out of 34 thousand Electronic Point of Sale devices (e-pos), 13 thousand e-pos have been installed. We hope that in the coming two months, both the states of Assam and Chhattisgarh will be included in One Nation, One Ration Card, and the whole country will join this scheme in this financial year,” he added.

At the same time, while referring to the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, he said “decisions have been taken at the highest level during the time of Pandemic. The announcement made by the Prime Minister to take forward PMGKAY has far-reaching effects. People will continue to get additional ration in addition to the ration they get from NFSA. Because of this, there will be no shortage in any part of the country”.

Pandey also informed, “the ambitious plan of the Central Government regarding ethanol blending is being worked on very fast and its positive results are coming out. He said that we have registered 62 per cent growth in Ethanol blending this year. This is the highest ever. Right now we have gone from 5 per cent to 8 per cent. This year we aim to achieve 10 per cent. This will influence farmers, environment and will also save foreign exchange”. (ANI)

52-Yr-Old Omicron Patient Dies Of Heart Attack In Pune

A 52-year-old man, who was infected with COVID-19 Omicron variant, died of a heart attack on Tuesday at Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation’s Yashwantrao Chavan Hospital in Pune, as per the Public Health Department.

The health department informed that the patient has a travel history to Nigeria and had diabetes for the last 13 years.
“The death of this patient is due to non-COVID-19 reasons. Coincidently, today’s National Institute of Virology (NIV) report has revealed that he was infected with the Omicron variant of COVID-19,” added the health bulletin by the Public Health Department, Maharashtra.

As many as 198 new cases of COVID-19’s Omicron variant were reported today in Maharashtra. The total number of Omicron cases in Maharashtra has mounted to 450.

Of the 198 patients reported by the National Institute of Virology (NIV), 30 are international travellers, according to the bulletin. (ANI)

Waqf Board Case

AAP Announces 8 More Candidates For Punjab Elections 2022

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Thursday released its sixth list with eight candidates for the Punjab Assembly Elections 2022. The party has so far announced the names of 96 candidates.

Earlier on December 28, the Aam Aadmi Party had released the fifth list of 15 candidates for the upcoming Punjab Assembly Elections 2022.
The party has fielded Dr Charanjit Singh from Sri Chamkaur Sahib against Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi.

According to the list, Advocate Amarpal Singh will contest from Sri Hargobindpur seat, Jasbir Singh from Amritsar West and Jeevanjot Singh from Amritsar East.

The assembly polls in the state will be held in 2022.

In the 2017 Punjab Assembly polls, Congress won an absolute majority in the state by winning 77 seats and ousted the SAD-BJP government after 10 years. Aam Aadmi Party emerged as the second-largest party winning 20 seats in 117-member Punjab Legislative Assembly. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) could only manage to win 15 seats while the BJP secured 3 seats. (ANI)

States Demand GST Compensation For Another 5 Years

Several states and UTs including Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, and Delhi on Thursday urged Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to extend GST compensation cess window to states, which is expiring in June 2022, for another five years.

State leaders made the demand during a pre-budget consultation meeting held under the chairmanship of Sitharaman in the national capital.
The states also asked the Centre to release outstanding funds as their economy has been impacted badly due to COVDI-19 pandemic.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel demanded that the GST compensation to states should be continued for another five years.

Baghel said there has been a loss of revenue to the states due to the GST tax system. “The Centre has not made arrangements to compensate the loss of revenue of about Rs.5000 crore to the state in the coming year, so the GST compensation grant should be continued for the next 5 years even after June 2022.”

Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, said the GST compensation is the biggest problem of states. “If the GST compensation will not be extended the states like Delhi would not be able to make Budget,” he said.

Subhash Garg, a minister in Rajasthan Government sought an extension of the compensation cess window till 2027.

Chandrima Bhattacharya, minister in the Government of West Bengal, also demanded extension of GST compensation till 2027.

Sitharaman chaired the pre-budget consultations with the Finance Ministers of States and Union Territories (with Legislature) for Union Budget 2022-23. The meeting was attended by Union Minister of State for Finance, Chief Ministers, Deputy Chief Ministers, Finance Ministers, Ministers and senior officials.

“Most of the participants thanked the Union Finance Minister for financially supporting their States/Union Territories during the worst months of pandemic, by enhancing borrowing limits, providing back to back loans to States, and through Special assistance for capital expenditure,” Finance Ministry said in a statement released after the meeting.

“The participants also gave numerous suggestions to the Union Finance Minister for inclusion in the Budget Speech. The Finance Minister thanked the participants for their inputs and suggestions towards Union Budget 2022-23 and assured them to examine each of the proposals,” it said. (ANI)