21 February 2021
A) ‘If highlighting farmers’ protest globally is sedition, I’m better in jail,’ Disha Ravi tells court.
There is no evidence to show that the toolkit on farmers’ protest is responsible for the violence on January 26, activist Disha Ravi’s counsel told a Delhi court, which reserved for February 26 its order on her bail plea. If highlighting farmers’ protest globally is sedition, he is better in jail, Ravi said through her counsel today. Ravi’s counsel was submitting arguments after the Delhi Police opposed her bail plea, alleging she was preparing the toolkit with those advocating Khalistan and was part of a global conspiracy to defame India and create unrest in the country in the garb of farmers’ protest. This was not just a toolkit. The real plan was to defame India and create unrest here, the police said before Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana. However, Ravi’s lawyer rejected the allegations. There is no evidence to link him with Sikhs For Justice, a banned organisation. And even if he (Ravi) meet someone, there is no symbol on him that he is a secessionist, the defence counsel said. The Delhi police gave permission for the farmers’ march, which they’re claiming that he (Ravi) asked people to join, so how did he become seditious, the lawyer said in court. Meanwhile, Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg has extended her support to Ravi. Freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest and assembly are non-negotiable human rights. These must be a fundamental part of any democracy, Thunberg tweeted on Friday, using the hashtag #StandWithDishaRavi. Her first public expression of support comes almost a week after Ravi’s arrest.
B) Unnao survivor taken off ventilator.
The teenager from an Unnao village, who was among three girls found unconscious in a field on Wednesday, was taken off ventilator support on Saturday, a statement from the Kanpur hospital treating her said. The girl was off ventilator and has spontaneous respiration three days after she was admitted to the hospital at 11 p.m. on Wednesday, a medical bulletin issued by Regency Hospital PRO Paramjeet Arora said. The girl was being treated in the pediatric intensive care unit and was under constant monitoring, the bulletin said. The three minor girls, all from the same Dalit family in a village in Asoha block, who had gone to fetch fodder, were found unconscious by family members on Wednesday evening. Two of the girls later died, allegedly due to poisoning. The Uttar Pradesh police on Friday arrested a youth, Vinay, and detained a juvenile from the neighbouring village for allegedly giving the girls water laced with insecticide. Meanwhile, the Unnao Police on Saturday registered an FIR against Congress leader Udit Raj over a tweet by him claiming that the victims’ family had alleged the girls were raped and that the last rites were performed without their consent. The FIR was filed under Section 153 of the Indian Penal Code (provocation to riot) and Section 66 of the Information Technology Act.
C) One more city renamed: Hoshangabad to become ‘Narmadapuram’
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has announced that Hoshangabad city in the state would be renamed as Narmadapuram and a proposal to that effect would be sent to the Centre, PTI reported. While addressing a gathering on the banks of Narmada, Chouhan asked whether the government should change the name of Hoshangabad, to which the people present there replied in the affirmative. What should be the new name? Chouhan asked, and the people replied, Narmadapuram! The chief minister then said that they are now sending a proposal to the Centre to change the name of Hoshangabad as Narmadapuram. BJP workers, led by protem Assembly Speaker Rameshwar Sharma, expressed happiness over Chouhan’s announcement and burst firecrackers. This is a historic moment. Narmada is the lifeline of Madhya Pradesh. Hoshangabad was so far named after an attacker Hoshang Shah, but will be known after the lifeline Maa Narmada, which is a matter of happiness, he said. However, state Congress spokesman Bhupendra Gupta termed the announcement as the ruling BJP’s ploy to divert the attention of people from important issues like inflation and rising prices of fuel. BJP only changed the names related to the Mughals, but not of those linked to the British rulers. Why the name of Minto Hall (old Vidhan Sabha building) has not been changed? This is just to divert the attention. Instead, it should focus on development and give relief to people, he said.
D) Covid Watch: Numbers and Developments.
The number of coronavirus cases reported from India stood at 1,09,81,164 with the death toll at 1,57,625. There has been an upsurge in daily new Covid-19 cases in Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, according to the Union Health Ministry. In the past week, Maharashtra exhibited a spike in the number of daily new cases. In the last 24 hours, 6,112 daily new cases have been reported in the State. Chhattisgarh reported 259 cases, Punjab 383 and Madhya Pradesh 297, said the Ministry. It asserted that people should keep in mind the importance of adherence to Covid-19 appropriate behaviour. This is essential for breaking the chain of transmission of the virus and containment of spread of the disease, it stated. Eighteen States/UTs have not reported any Covid-19 deaths in the last 24 hours and these include Telangana, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Assam, Chandigarh, Lakshadweep, Manipur, Meghalaya, Ladakh (UT), Mizoram, Sikkim, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
A) India, China begin 10th round of talks on next phase of disengagement.
India and China began the tenth round of Corps Commander talks on Saturday to work out an agreement on the next phase of disengagement. The talks began at Moldo on the Chinese side at 10 a.m., a defence official said. On Friday, the two sides completed disengagement and also restoration of the ground on the north and south banks of Pangong Tso, as per the agreement reached in the ninth round of talks. This undated handout photograph released by the Indian Army on February 16, 2021 shows People Liberation Army soldiers during military disengagement along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. The other major friction points are Gogra, Hot Springs and Depsang Plains. The focus of this round of talks is expected to be on Gogra and Hot Springs, where partial disengagement was already done in June-July last year. For disengagement at Pangong Tso lake, both sides had worked out a step-by-step agreement. A second official said a similar agreement would be worked out for the subsequent rounds of disengagement and then de-escalation.
B) Google fires another leader of Ethical AI team.
Alphabet Inc’s Google fired staff scientist Margaret Mitchell on Friday, they both said, a move that fanned company divisions on academic freedom and diversity that were on display since its December dismissal of AI ethics researcher Timnit Gebru, Reuters reported. Google said in a statement Mitchell violated the company’s code of conduct and security policies by moving electronic files outside the company. Mitchell, who announced her firing on Twitter, tweeting, he is fired. Well known transparency activist and whistleblower Chelsea E. Manning reacted to the firing by commenting, he guess this means there’s no such thing as ethical AI under capitalism. Google’s ethics in artificial intelligence work has been under scrutiny since the firing of Gebru, a scientist who gained prominence for exposing bias in facial analysis systems. The dismissal had prompted thousands of Google workers to protest. She and Mitchell had called for greater diversity and inclusion among Google’s research staff and expressed concern that the company was starting to censor papers critical of its products. Gebru had said Google fired her after she questioned an order not to publish a study saying AI that mimics language could hurt marginalised populations. Mitchell, a co-author of the paper, had publicly criticised the company for firing Gebru and undermining the credibility of her work. The pair for about two years had co-led the ethical AI team, started by Mitchell. Google AI research director Zoubin Ghahramani and a company lawyer informed Mitchell’s team of her firing on Friday in a meeting called at short notice, according to a person familiar with the matter. The person said little explanation was given for the dismissal.