22 February 2021
A) Two more MLAs quit in Puducherry ahead of floor test.
Two more MLAs of the Congress-DMK alliance in Puducherry resigned on Sunday, delivering yet another jolt to Chief Minister V Narayanasamy, a day before he is scheduled to face a floor test in the assembly to prove his majority. The resignation by Congress MLA K Lakshminarayanan and DMK legislator Venkatesan further reduced the strength of the ruling alliance to 11, while the opposition has 14 MLAs in the 33-member assembly, which has seven vacancies. Mr. Lakshminarayanan and Mr. Venkatesan submitted their resignation letters separately to Assembly Speaker V P Sivakolundhu at his residence in Puducherry, the both said. Speaking to reporters, Lakshminarayanan said that this government led by Narayanasamy has lost majority. He said he has also resigned from the party membership. Later, Venkatesan told the media that he had quit the post of MLA only and continued to be in the DMK. He was not able to meet the needs of the people in his constituency since there was no allocation of funds under the MLA Local Area Development fund, he said. Four Congress MLAs–including ex-ministers A Namassivayam (now in BJP) and Malladi Krishna Rao had quit, while another party legislator was earlier disqualified. Mr. Narayanasamy’s confidante A John Kumar had resigned this week. Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, handed over additional charge of Puducherry, had on Thursday directed Narayanasamy to prove majority by ordering a floor test on February 22.
B) Sonia Gandhi likens high fuel prices to extortion.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday accused his government of profiteering from people’s miseries by called the excessively levying excise duty on petroleum products and called it nothing short of extortion to cover up economic mismanagement. In her three page letter, Ms. Gandhi mentioned that hardships faced by the middle class increased with the price of petrol crossing ₹100 per litre in several parts of India and the surging diesel prices have only added to the problems of the farmers. She asked the government to focus on solutions instead of looking for excuses as India deserves better. The Congress chief said that while India was witnessing erosion of jobs, wages and household incomes, problems for the middle class and marginal income groups have compounded by run away inflation and an unprecedented rise in price of almost all household items and essential commodities. Sadly, in these distressing times, the Government has chosen to profiteer off people’s misery and suffering, Ms. Gandhi wrote, adding that Governments are elected to ease the burden of our people and at the very least, not work directly contrary to their interests.
C) U.P. Police register FIR against 8 Twitter handles.
The Unnao police on Sunday lodged an FIR under the charges of provoking rioting against eight Twitter users for spreading fake stories about the alleged poisoning of three Dalit girls in Asoha on February 17, which left two dead and one in hospital in critical condition. The police said the Twitter handles had spread false information that the girls had been raped, which was not found in the post-mortem report, and that the last rites of the two girls were done without the consent of their families, which also was denied by the police. An FIR was registered under Section 153 of the IPC and Section 66 of the Information Technology Act against @NilimDutta, @themojostory, @janjagranlive, @SurajKrBaudh, @VijayAmbedkarUP, @Abhaykumarazad97, @Rahuldiwkr and @BhimSenaChief. Unnao SP Anand Kulkarni said further action would be taken in the case and the FIR under the same Sections against Congress leader Udit Raj for a tweet, after the police take legal opinion. He said the tweets could have affected the law and order in the village.
D) Covid watch: Numbers and Developments.
The number of reported coronavirus cases from India stands at 1,10,05,310 with the death toll at 1,57,796. The Centre has written to States Kerala, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and J&K which are witnessing a daily surge in the number of daily Covid-19 cases directing an increase in proportion of RT-PCR tests while ensuring that those testing negative with Rapid Antigen be retested by RT-PCR. Centre has also asked states to look into strict, comprehensive surveillance and stringent containment to curb the spread of the virus. In its release issued on February 21 the Health Ministry said that more than 74% of the active COVID-19 cases of the country are in Kerala and Maharashtra and that a spike in cases has been seen in some States. India has been witnessing a rise in the active caseload over the past few days and its total active caseload is pegged at 1,45,634 currently, said the Ministry. It added that in the last four weeks in Kerala the average weekly cases have fluctuated between a high of 42,000 to a low of 34,800 and the weekly positivity here has ranged from 13.9% to 8.9%. In Maharashtra, in the last four weeks, the weekly cases have shown a rising trend and have increased from 18,200 to 21,300 and the areas of concern are the Mumbai Suburban areas where the weekly cases have risen by 19%. Data released by the Ministry said that Punjab too is rapidly assuming a critical dimension with COVID-19 infection registering a positivity rate from 1.4% to 1.6 % in the last four weeks.
E) WHO says no traditional medicine cleared for Covid-19 treatment.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has in a tweet clarified that it has not certified any traditional medicine for the treatment of COVID-19. The statement comes after recent claims by Patanjali Ayurved on the certification of its product, Coronil, by the global health body. WHO has not reviewed or certified the effectiveness of any traditional medicine for the treatment COVID-19, the global health body said earlier this week. Coronil has received the Certificate of Pharmaceutical Product (CoPP) from the Ayush section of Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation as per the WHO certification scheme, a statement issued by Patanjali had said. The Ministry of Ayush had recommended additional therapies, including the Coronil tablet, as a supporting measure (immune booster) in Covid-19. Patanjali Ayurved had introduced Ayurveda-based Coronil on June 23, 2020.
A) China detains three bloggers for ‘insulting’ PLA men who died in Galwan.
Authorities in China have said they have detained three people for insulting Chinese soldiers who died in the Galwan Valley clash last year, a day after Beijing officially confirmed the deaths. Among the arrested was Qiu Ziming (38), an investigative journalist formerly with The Economic Observer. Mr. Qiu was arrested on Saturday in Nanjing, where he lives, after questioning China’s official account of the Galwan clash. On Friday, the Chinese military announced honours for five People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers, including four who died and one regimental commander who was injured, in the clash on June 15, 2020, which marked the worst violence on the India-China border since 1967. Twenty Indian soldiers lost their lives in the clash. In messages to his 2.5 million followers on Weibo, the Twitter-equivalent used in China, he suggested the fatalities would have been higher than four because as per the official account, some of the soldiers died coming to the aid of troops in difficulty, who, in his view, would have suffered losses as well. He also questioned why the announcement took eight months, while India had, in contrast, promptly recognised the 20 Indian soldiers who died. India’s prompt announcement, he wrote, suggested that in India’s view they won and paid a lesser price. Police in Nanjing posted a message on Saturday saying he was arrested for releasing false information and smearing the four heroes who died and one who was wounded when dealing with the Indian military’s illegal trespassing. Mr. Qiu’s social media account was subsequently suspended. His arrest was among the most discussed topics online, receiving 730 million views as of Sunday evening.
B) Djokovic wins 9th Australian open title, third in a row.
Novak Djokovic racked up yet another Australian Open title, making it nine championship wins from nine finals. The Serbian continues to gain ground on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the Grand Slam standings, now up to 18 overall, two away from the men’s record shared by his two rivals. Djokovic wore Medvedev down with a combination of superb serving and his usual relentless returning and baseline supremacy, grabbing 11 of 13 games in one stretch for a third trophy in a row at Melbourne Park. Some statistics from the Associated Press – The 33-year-old from Serbia improved to 18-0 combined in semifinals and finals on the hard courts of the Australian Open. Serbia’s Novak Djokovic parades with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup after defeating Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in the men’s singles final at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne on February 21, 2021. Looking at the bigger picture, Djokovic has won six of the last 10 major tournaments and is assured of remaining at No. 1 in the rankings at least through March 8. That will give him 311 weeks in the top spot, breaking a mark held by Federer. The No. 4-ranked Medvedev was appearing in his second Grand Slam final he was the runner-up to Nadal at the 2019 U.S. Open but is still left trying collect his first such championship. Djokovic ended the 25-year-old Russian’s 20-match winning streak. Medvedev also had won his previous 12 matches against Top 10 opponents.