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Rajya Sabha to hold discussion on statement made by Dr Harsh Vardhan regarding Covid-19 pandemic




ANI | Sep 16, 2020, 10:57 IST

Harsh Vardhan (PTI)

NEW DELHI: The Rajya Sabha will on Wednesday hold a discussion on the statement made by Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan a day earlier regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and the steps taken by the government.

The Union Health Minister had said on Tuesday that the countrywide Covid-19 lockdown prevented approximately 14 lakh to 29 lakh cases and 37,000 to 78,000 deaths.

He also said India has one of the lowest cases and deaths per million in the world.

The Union Minister’s statement came at a time when India’s Covid-19 tally has crossed the 49-lakh mark on September 15.

The monsoon session of Parliament commenced from Monday with several precautionary measures due to the coronavirus pandemic. The session is slated to conclude on October 1.

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The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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PM Modi presents upbeat, forward-looking Indian agenda at UN




NEW DELHI: An assurance that India will use its vaccine production and delivery capacities for the benefit of the entire world, a strong pitch for UN reforms and a subtle message to China — that India’s friendship with any country is not targeted at a third country — formed the highlights of PM Narendra Modi‘s virtual address to the 75th session of the UN General Assembly.

While his Pakistani counterpart, Imran Khan, had stridently targeted India on the Kashmir issue in his address on Friday, Modi ignored Pakistan altogether while mentioning the need to counter terrorism and drugs in his speech which emphasised that India will not hesitate to raise its voice against “enemies of humanity”.

Modi spoke passionately on the need for UN reforms in his pre-recorded message as he sought to know how long was India going to be kept out of the decision-making structures of the world body despite its large population and successful democracy.

He said reform in the responses, processes and in the character of the UN is the need of the hour and that every Indian, while seeing the contribution of India in the UN, aspired for India’s expanded role in the United Nations, which enjoyed a high credibility in the country.

It has been 75 years since the @UN was formed. The world of 2020 is vastly different from the world of 1945. What…

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 1601137160000

“When we were strong, we did not trouble the world; when we were weak, we did not become a burden on the world. How long would a country have to wait particularly when the changes happening in that country affect a large part of the world?” he asked, adding that India was also the country that had lost the maximum number of soldiers in the course of UN peacekeeping missions. “Today, the people of India are concerned whether this reform-process will ever reach its logical conclusion,” he said.

Modi said the Indian pharma industry had sent essential medicines to more than 150 countries. “As the largest vaccine-producing country of the world, I want to give one more assurance to the global community today, India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis,” he said, adding that the Indian government is moving ahead with Phase 3 clinical trials within the country and in the neighbourhood.

India will do everything possible to further global good including the battle against COVID-19 pandemic. At the s…

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 1601137549000

India will also help all the countries in enhancing their cold chain and storage capacities for the delivery of vaccines, he said. Significantly, even as the border situation with China remains tense, Modi said any “gesture of friendship” by India towards one country is not against someone else and that its approach towards the Indo-Pacific is guided by a desire for security and growth for all. Both China and Russia continue to nurse reservations about the Indo-Pacific concept and see it as a US-led initiative to contain Beijing. India maintains though that the Indo-Pacific is a free, open, transparent and inclusive concept with Asean at its centre and that it excludes nobody.

Modi also sought to know where the UN was in the joint fight against the novel coronavirus. “The whole world is fighting the global pandemic of corona for the last 8-9 months. Where is its (UN’s) effective response?” he asked.

Modi also said, in an obvious dig at China’s Belt Road Initiative, that when India strengthens its development partnership, it is not with any mala fide intent of making the partner country dependent or hapless. “We have never hesitated from sharing experiences of our development,” he said.

As India prepares to take over as a non-permanent member of the UNSC, Modi said the country will not hesitate in raising its voice against the enemies of humanity, human race and human values — terrorism, smuggling of illegal weapons, drugs and money laundering.

Modi also said India is moving forward with the vision of “self-reliant India” in the changed circumstances of the post-pandemic era. “A self-reliant India will also be a force multiplier for the global economy. Today, it is also being ensured that there is no discrimination in extending the benefits of all the schemes to every citizen of the country,” he said.

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Farmers’ ‘victory’, Akali Dal had to bow before their doorstep: Congress




NEW DELHI: Reacting to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) quitting the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over the farm bills issue, the Congress on Saturday said it was the “victory” of farmers that the Akali Dal had to bow before their doorstep and break ties with the ruling coalition.

The SAD is the third major party to walk out of the BJP-led coalition in the last couple of years.

Reacting to the development, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala hailed it as a “victory” of “farmers-labourers”.

“Supporters of black laws, Akali Dal, had to leave NDA and break ties with the Modi government,” he said.

“They had to bow at the doorstep of farmers-labourers,” Surjewala tweeted, tagging an old clip of Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal defending the farm ordinances in an interview she gave when she was a Union minister.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said, “Clearly @Akali_Dal_ was left with no choice after @BJP4India exposed that @Officeofssbadal and his SAD were fully party to Anti-Farmer legislations.”

“The end of the coalition is only an outcome of 3 months of deceit…of defending the indefensible and misguiding the Punjab farmer,” he said.

आख़िर किसान-मज़दूर की जीत हुई,काले क़ानूनों के समर्थक अकाली दल को NDA छोड़ मोदी सरकार से रिश्ता तोड़ना पड़ा,कि…

— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) 1601142951000

SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal announced the decision to snap ties with the NDA on Saturday night, amid stepped up agitation by farmers in Punjab over the three legislations which were recently passed by Parliament amid Opposition protests.

Badal’s wife and SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal had on September 17 quit the Union Cabinet after he strongly opposed the bills in Lok Sabha, claiming these legislations will “destroy” the agriculture sector in Punjab.

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After quitting govt, BJP’s ‘oldest ally’ Akali Dal walks out of NDA




CHANDIGARH: Shiromani Akali Dal announced on Saturday night its decision to break its 24-year-old alliance with BJP less than 10 days after it pulled out of PM Narendra Modi’s government with the resignation of Harsimrat Kaur Badal over the passage of three agri-marketing bills in Parliament.

The alliance between SAD and BJP, formed just after the parliamentary elections of 1996, had increasingly seemed untenable as the party was facing immense pressure from its main vote base, the farmers, to completely cut ties with BJP. The party was on the backfoot in Punjab, where spontaneous protests against the agri-marketing bills led by farmers had the party worried about its future, especially as both the ruling Congress party and the opposition Aam Aadmi Party were highlighting the Badal family’s so-called reluctance to quit the alliance with BJP.

SAD’s decision to pull out of the National Democratic Alliance was decided unanimously at an emergency meeting of its core committee, the party’s highest decision-making body. After the three-hour meeting, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said his party was BJP’s oldest ally but the Modi government did not listen to it on honouring the sentiments of farmers. He described the three agri-marketing bills as “lethal and disastrous for the already beleaguered farmers”. The party said it had quit the alliance in protest against the three agri-marketing bills and the Centre’s “stubborn” refusal to give statutory legislative guarantees to protect assured marketing of farmers’ crops at the MSP and for the Centre’s continued “insensitivity” towards the Punjabi language and issues of the Sikh community.

Shiromani Akali Dal core committee decides unanimously to pull out of the BJP-led #NDA because of the Centre’s stub…

— Sukhbir Singh Badal (@officeofssbadal) 1601140927000

Promising to stand by its core principles of peace, communal harmony and guarding the interest of Punjab, Punjabi in general, and Sikhs and farmers in particular, Sukhbir said the decision was taken in consultation with the people of Punjab, especially party workers and farmers. In a direct attack on the BJP government at the Centre, Sukhbir said with successive decisions the central government had shown its “callous insensitivity” to minority sentiments and has been indifferent to peace and communal harmony in the country, especially in Punjab.

Even after quitting the Modi government, Sukhbir said the SAD had hoped that the Centre would not press on with these “murderous assaults” on farmers and other poor sections who depend on agriculture and trade. “It seems that BJP is totally out of touch with ground realities,” he said. Senior Akali leader Dr Daljit Cheema said the decision to snap ties was taken after much deliberation, adding that the three contentious bills were passed in an undemocratic manner and are being opposed in Punjab, Haryana and other states. “We had even requested President of India Ram Nath Kovind not to approve the bills passed by Parliament,” he said.

Criticising BJP for not paying heed to SAD’s repeated pleas not to force anti-farmer bills, SAD general secretary Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra said there was no point in continuing in the alliance.

Several Insets:

SAD’s Existential Crisis

SAD, which was formed in 1920 and will complete a century in December this year, is going through its worst existential crisis after it was relegated to third spot in the 2017 Punjab assembly election. The party had bagged only 18 seats while rookie AAP secured 20 seats.

Punjab BJP silent:

Despite repeated attempts, Punjab BJP president Ashwani Sharma was not available for comment after SAD pulled out of the alliance with the party. He will be addressing a press conference on Sunday, said a party spokesperson.

Desperate case of political compulsion: Amarinder

Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh has termed the Akali decision to quit the NDA as nothing more than a desperate case of political compulsion for the Badals, who, he said, were effectively left with no other option after BJP’s public criticism of SAD over the farm bills.

‘No alliance important before principles’

In Patiala on Saturday afternoon, Sukhbir Badal had indicated the possible snapping of ties with BJP just hours before the actual announcement when he said for his party no alliance was more important than principles. Claiming that his party was neither informed nor asked before passing the bills, he said SAD would not allow the end of the MSP regime.

“If Pain & Protests of 3 cr punjabis fail to melt the rigid stance of GoI, it’s no longer the #NDA envisioned by Vajpayee ji & Badal sahab. An alliance that turns a deaf ear to its oldest ally & a blind eye to pleas of those who feed the nation is no longer in the interest of Pb. (sic)”

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