25 February 2021
A) COVID-19 vaccination for senior citizens from March 1.
People above 60 and those over 45 with comorbidities will be given COVID-19 vaccination from March 1, the Union government announced on Wednesday. After a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said that 10 crore people would be vaccinated in this category and the vaccine would be given free of cost across 10,000 government centres and at more than 20,000 private centres. Those who want to get vaccinated from private hospitals will have to pay and the amount they would need to pay will be decided by the Health Ministry within 3-4 days as they are in discussion with manufacturers and hospitals, he said. The Centre would buy doses and send them to all the States for the government medical facilities. For those who had completed 28 days after the receipt of the first dose, the second dose started on February 13. Vaccination of the frontline workers started on February 2.
B) Union Cabinet recommends President’s rule in Puducherry.
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal to impose President’s Rule in Puducherry. The assembly will be dissolved with the permission of the President, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said during a media conference. Model Code of Conduct will start in a few days and there will be elections, he added. Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy, who led the Congress government, resigned on February 22 ahead of the confidence vote after his ministry was reduced to a minority following a spate of resignations of his party MLAs and a DMK legislator in recent days. The term of the current assembly is expiring in two months and no Opposition party was willing to stake claim. The President formally accepted Narayanasamy’s resignation, along with those of his Council of Ministers, on February 23.
C) Sardar Patel stadium in Motera renamed after Narendra Modi.
The world’s largest cricket stadium, at Motera in Ahmedabad, was renamed as Narendra Modi Stadium on Wednesday. It was inaugurated on Wednesday by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and others. The inauguration was done hours before the start of the day-night third Test between India and England, the first international match at the new venue. The stadium is part of the sprawling Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Sports Enclave, which will have the world’s largest cricket stadium, a natatorium (indoor swimming pool), facilities for athletics and track and field sports, a field Hockey and tennis stadium, indoor sports halls and arenas, velodrome/skating area, and outdoor fields. The facilites are spread over 200 acres on the Sabarmati river bank in north-eastern Ahmedabad. The refurbished stadium at Motera in Ahmedabad, set up by the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA), is the dream project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The old stadium with 49,000 seating capacity was known as Sardar Patel Cricket Stadium, Motera. The new stadium has a seating capacity of 1,10,000.
D) Truth reveals itself, tweets Rahul Gandhi, after stadium name change.
Soon after the renaming of the Motera stadium after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted, Beautiful how the truth reveals itself. Narendra Modi stadium – Adani end – Reliance end – With Jay Shah presiding. #HumDoHamareDo. With the two main stands in the stadium named after Reliance and Adani, Gandhi’s tweet was referring to the two ‘ends’ from where bowlers would run up to the wicket and bowl: the ‘Reliance End’ and the ‘Adani End’. Jay Shah, the President of BCCI, is the son of Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Gandhi had earlier said in Parliament that the Modi regime was a government of ‘Hum Do, Hamare Do’. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said in a tweet, Maybe they just realised the stadium was named for a Home Minister who had banned their parent organisation! When he was home minister, Sardar Patel, after whom the stadium was originally named, had banned the RSS, the BJP’s parent organisation.
E) Uttar Pradesh Assembly passes Bill on religious conversion.
Amid protests by the Opposition, the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly on Wednesday passed by voice vote a Bill aimed at curbing religious conversions by fraudulent or any other undue means, including through marriage. The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2021 seeks to replace the ordinance promulgated in November last year that provides for imprisonment up to 10 years and a maximum fine of ₹50,000 for violators. The Bill was passed in the House even as Aradhana Misra, the Congress Legislative Party leader and Lalji Verma, the leader of BSP in the Assembly, protested. Under the Bill, a marriage will be declared null and void if the conversion is solely for that purpose, and those wishing to change their religion after marriage need to apply to the District Magistrate. The Bill mainly envisages that no person shall convert, either directly or indirectly, from one religion to another by use or practice of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage nor shall any person abet, convince or conspire such conversion. The onus to prove that the conversion has not been done forcibly will lie on the person accused of the act and the convert, it said.
F) Supreme Court rejects another chance for UPSC aspirants.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected giving another chance to Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) aspirants whose last attempt to crack the civil services exam was dampened by Covid-19 pandemic restrictions in October last year. They have dismissed the writ petition, Justice Ajay Rastogi, one of the judges on the Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, announced soon after the court assembled for a virtual session. Justice Rastogi, however, appreciated the efforts made by advocate Anushree Prashit Kapadia, the aspirants’ lawyer. Ms. Kapadia, argued well. He was very clear on the facts, Justice Rastogi told her. The government had objected to giving the candidates another chance, saying a relaxation in age or the number of attempts would trigger a never-ending cycle of requests for similar relief, with every candidate asking for an extra chance. The law officer argued that hardships during the pandemic were uniformly felt by all. The case hearings had seen a roller-coaster ride with the government initially refusing leeway but later, on the gentle prodding of the court, proposing to give another chance to last-attempters provided they had not crossed the age barrier yet. On February 5, the government side said it was agreeable to give an ex-gratia, one-time, restricted relaxation to UPSC candidates who had appeared in the Civil Services Exam-2020 as their last permissible attempt. However, the case took another turn when the aspirants sought a relaxation in age too, prompting the government to revert to its initial stand.
A) Nepal PM Oli in no mood to resign, prepared to face Parliament: official.
Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli will not resign immediately and will implement the Supreme Court’s verdict against him by facing Parliament that is due to convene within two weeks, an official representing the embattled Premier said on February 24. In a landmark ruling, a five-member Constitutional Bench led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher on February 23 annulled the Oli government’s unconstitutional decision to dissolve the 275-member Lower House of Parliament. The court also ordered the government to summon the House session within the next 13 days. Nepal plunged into a political crisis on December 20 after President Bidya Devi Bhandari dissolved the House and announced fresh elections on April 30 and May 10 at the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli, amidst a tussle for power within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP). Oli’s Press Advisor Surya Thapa said the Prime Minister, who turned 69 this week, intends to implement the verdict of the apex court after facing Parliament that is due to convene within two weeks. The Supreme Court’s verdict is controversial. However, it should be accepted and implemented. Its effects will be seen in the future as the decision has not provided any solution to the political problems, Thapa said. He claimed that the apex court’s verdict will further fuel instability and pave way for power-play. The Prime Minister will face the House of Representatives to implement the verdict but will not tender his resignation as of now, Thapa was quoted as saying by The Himalayan Times.
B) ‘Japan-U.S. treaty a product of Cold War’
China on Wednesday called the Japan-U.S. mutual security pact a product of the Cold War following U.S. criticism of the presence of Chinese coast guard vessels in Japanese-claimed territorial waters over the weekend. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin also reasserted China’s claim to a string of tiny, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea controlled by Japan. The verbal exchange followed reports that two Chinese coast guard ships on Sunday twice entered Japanese territorial waters surrounding the islands, known by Japan as Senkaku and by China as Diaoyu. Chief Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby on Tuesday said China had continued to flout international rules and the U.S. would work with its allies to address such challenges. Wang did not directly address the criticism but said the islands were China’s inherent territory. The U.S.Japan security treaty is a product of the Cold War, which should not harm a third party’s interest or endanger regional peace and stability, Wang said at a daily briefing.
C) Imran announces $50 mn defence credit line for Lanka.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a $50 million defence credit line facility for Sri Lanka, even as the two countries stressed the need for stronger partnership in security combating terrorism, organised crime and drug and narcotic trafficking, and intelligence-sharing. Both sides expressed satisfaction at the existing bilateral cooperation in the field of defence and noted that the elevation of staff-level talks to Defence Dialogue has further provided an op. portunity to expand security sector relations, a joint communique issued by the two sides said on Wednesday, as PM Khan wrapped up his two-day visit to Colombo, accompanied by a highlevel governmental and business delegation. Mr. Khan’s visit to Sri Lanka is the first to be undertaken by a head of government, after the pandemic hit the world. It was the first visit by the Pakistani Prime Minister since the formation of the new governments in both the countries and marked Mr. Khan’s return since his cricketing tours to Sri Lanka in 1975 and 1986. Mr. Khan met with representatives of Sri Lanka’s sports fraternity, at an event where Sri Lanka’s Minister of Sports and Youth Namal Rajapaksa announced the commissioning of the ‘Imran Khan High Performance Sports Centre’ in Colombo. Earlier on Wednesday, Mr. Khan held talks with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The leaders engaged in a lengthy discussion on improving bilateral relations, a statement from President Rajapaksa’s office said. They exchanged views on partnering in sectors including agriculture, trade, and tourism.