25 November 2020
A) Cyclone Nivar: 1,200 rescue troopers deployed, 800 on standby.
The first cyclonic storm of this year’s northeast monsoon is likely to bring very heavy rain to one or two places in the delta region and the northern coastal districts of Tamil Nadu on Tuesday and Wednesday. Named ‘Nivar’, as suggested by Iran according to the list prepared by the World Meteorological Organisation’s panel, the weather system is expected to make a landfall between Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu and Karaikal district in the Puducherry region. Nearly 1,200 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) rescue personnel have been deployed in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry, and 800 others are on standby in view of cyclone Nivar, a very severe cyclonic storm that is expected to make landfall on Wednesday evening. NDRF chief S. N. Pradhan also said they are prepared for a high level of intensity and the worst form of the cyclonic storm as it surges from the Bay of Bengal towards the southern coastline. As of now, 12 teams of national disaster response force have been readied in Tamil Nadu, three in Puducherry, and seven in Andhra Pradesh. Another 30 teams are on alert across country and ready to be moved on requirement.
B) Allahabad HC bats for inter-faith couple, U.P. cabinet clears ordinance against ‘love jihad’.
The right to live with a person of his or her choice irrespective of religion is intrinsic to the right to life and liberty. Interference in a personal relationship would constitute a serious encroachment into the right to freedom of choice of two individuals, the Allahabad High Court noted today, while quashing an FIR against a Muslim man and his family from Kushinagar district by the father of his Hindu wife. A Division Bench of Justices Pankaj Naqvi and Vivek Agarwal also stated that a recent single-judge order of the court, dismissing a writ filed by an inter-faith married couple seeking police protection, on grounds that the conversion just for the purpose of marriage was unacceptable, was not laying good law. In the Kushinagar case, petitioner Salamat Ansari filed a writ seeking the quashing of an FIR against him under Sections 363, 366, 352 and 506 of the IPC and Section 7 and 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Ansari submitted that the couple were adults and had performed nikah on September 19, 2019, as per Muslim rites and rituals. The girl, Priyanka Kharwar, renounced her Hindu identity and embraced Islam and the couple had been living together peacefully for the past one year. The High Court quashed the FIR against Ansari and stressed that the courts and the constitutional courts in particular were enjoined to uphold the life and liberty of an individual guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh government today approved a draft ordinance to deal with religious conversion for the sake of marriage, which could land violators in jail for up to 10 years. An official spokesperson said the State Cabinet gave its nod to the ordinance at its meeting chaired here by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
C) Govt blocks 43 more mobile apps, including AliExpress, Alipay Cashier and CamCard.
The government on November 24 said it had blocked 43 mobile applications, on the grounds that they were posing a threat to national security, integrity and sovereignty. Most of them were Chinese applications such as AliSuppliers, AliExpress, Alipay Cashier, CamCard and DingTalk. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) had issued an order under section 69A of the Information Technology Act blocking access to 43 mobile apps, an official statement said. It said the action was taken based on inputs that these apps were engaging in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, and public order. MeitY has issued the order for blocking the access of these apps by users in India based on the comprehensive reports received from Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Center, Ministry of Home Affairs, it said. The ban on the 43 applications is in addition to a total of 177 Chinese apps banned by the government till now. The MeitY first announced a ban on 59 such applications in June last. The list included popular Chinese applications such as TikTok, Shareit, Mi Video Call, Club Factory and Cam Scanner. Following this, 118 applications including WeChat Work, Baidu, PUBG, Rise of Kingdoms: Lost Crusade and Alipay, were banned in September.
D) Special Cabinet meeting decides to withdraw controversial amendment to the Kerala Police Act. The CPI-M-led LDF government in Kerala on Tuesday decided to bring out an ordinance to withdraw the controversial amendment to the Kerala Police Act. A special cabinet, which met in the afternoon, decided to recommend to Governor Arif Mohammed Khan issue of an Ordinance to repeal Section 118-A, which got his assent on Saturday. The Cabinet has decided to bring out an Ordinance to withdraw the amendment, government sources told. Khan had signed the Kerala Police Act Amendment Ordinance brought by the Left front government envisaging addition of Section 118-A to prevent cyber attacks against women and children. However, after a political outcry across the country over the controversial amendment, the Left government had on Monday decided to put it on hold.
E) Covid Watch: Numbers and Developments.
The number of coronavirus cases reported from India stood at 92,12,335 with the death toll at 1,34,577. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked the State governments to set up steering committees and block-wise task forces to prepare for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines as and when they are available for disbursal, but spent much of his meeting with the Chief Ministers emphasising that the focus should still be on containing the spread of the virus. Vaccines will be available when they pass all the tests for validation of data and regulatory frameworks. They must keep their focus on making sure there is no unmanageable surge in cases. They don’t know which vaccine will pass the scientific parameters for disbursal in our country and by what date, but he want all States to set up steering committees and task forces down to the block level for preparing for vaccine disbursal, he said.
A) Sputnik V vaccine reports interim efficacy of 91%. Candidate Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V has shown an interim efficacy of 91% based on analysis of results from around 18,000 volunteers, some of whom got the actual vaccine while others got a placebo, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said in a press statement on Tuesday. The vaccine candidate is also being tested on human volunteers in India and will cost less than $10 [₹700] for international markets, the RDIF said. Sputnik V has been developed by the Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology and is being funded and promoted by the RDIF, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund. The latest results, which are yet to be announced in a medical journal, were gleaned from ongoing double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled Phase III clinical trials involving 40,000 volunteers. An ‘efficacy’ rate differs from vaccine ‘effectiveness’. The latter shows how protective a vaccine is when it is actually administered in the general population. But efficacy, the number cited by pharmaceutical companies announcing trial results only shows the relative difference between the fraction of the vaccinated that fell sick versus the fraction of the unvaccinated (those who received placebos) that tested positive. If efficacy is zero, it means there is no difference between the two groups. If none of the sick had been vaccinated, then efficacy is 100%. So, an efficacy rate above 90% is pretty good. The Oxford-AstraZeneca adenovirus-based vaccine candidate was reported on Monday to have an efficacy of 70% and Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna’s m-RNA vaccines reported efficacy rates in the low 90s. Like Sputnik V, these results were based on interim analyses from ongoing phase-3 trials.
B) Sri Lanka, China to focus on poverty alleviation.
Sri Lanka and China will expedite ongoing development cooperation projects, and increase trade and investment, with “a special focus” on poverty alleviation and livelihoods generation, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry said. Issuing a statement following a virtual diplomatic consultation between Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Jayanath Colombage and Vice Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, Luo Zhaohui, the Ministry said both sides held extensive discussions on strengthening high level exchanges, the fight against COVID-19, economic recovery efforts, people-to-people exchanges and cooperation on international and regional issues. Amid a persistent second wave of COVID-19, Sri Lanka faces a major economic crunch, as the country’s export and tourism sectors have been badly hit. Colombo has sought a $700 million loan from Beijing in addition to the $500 million obtained in March and is also negotiating a $1.5-biIIion currency swap facility with the People’s Bank of China. Sri Lanka has sought loans amounting to more than a d billion dollars from China this year, while President Goctabaya Rajapaksa told the newly appointed Chinese Ambassador to Colombo that Sri Lanka seeks investments, not loans from China. The discussion of possible Chinese assistance for poverty eradication and liveIihood support in Sri Lanka is in line with President Rajapaksa’s earlier pledge to pursue China-style development in the island nation, and to disprove the popular debt trap analysis about Chinese loans. Achieving the kind of rural development that China has reached over the past two or three decades and to improve the living standards of the rural population in Sri Lanka is one of my prime objectives, President Rajapaksa told the Chinese Ambassador, according to a statement issued by his office last week. Colombo has witnessed heightened engagement from Beijing, New Delhi and Washington over the past few months. In September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a virtual bilateral summit with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, months after the RBI sanctioned currency swap facility of $400 million.
C) ISI chief-led panel to oversee 2 dozen spy agencies in Pakistan.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved the setting up Of the National Intelligence Coordination Committee (MCC), a mechanism to coordinate over two dozen intelligence organisations in the country, to be headed by the ISI chief, according to a media report on Tuesday. Although there have been discussions about the establishment Of the coordination forum, its terms Of reference and modus operandi would be decided once it formally takes shape, Dawn newspaper quoted a senior security source as saying. The new body would be led by the director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence ISD, who would function as its chairman, it said. The intelligence agencies have had at least two rounds Of discussions on the issue after which the proposal was submitted to the Prime Minister for approval. It is expected that the first meeting Of the coordination body could be held as early as next week. The MCC would serve as a mechanism to coordinate over the two dozen intelligence organisations in the country. National Counter Terrorism Authority would also be part Of the new structure. The move is part of the long-awaited reform Of the intelligence apparatus, which aims at clarifying the role of respective agencies, improving their coordination and optimising their capabilities, the report said.
A) Ramkumar wins Florida UTR event.
Ramkumar Ramanathan outplayed 19-year-old Blu Baker of Britain, ranked 79 in juniors last year, 6-0, 6-2 in the final of the UTR Pro tennis tournament at the Sanchez Casal Academy here in Florida. After winding up the professional tour with the Challenger in Orlando last week, Ramkumar has been training in Florida, preparing for the season ahead. Meanwhile in Melbourne, Y. Pranjala lost 6-2, 6-4 by Storm Sanders in the final of the UTR Pro tennis tournament on Tuesday. The 21year-old Pranjala topped her group, winning two matches including against former top-20 player Daria Gavrilova.
B) Burnley posts first win of the season.
Burnley won for the first time in the Premier League this season as Chris Wood sealed a 1-0 victory against Crystal Palace, while Southampton missed a chance to go third in its 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton on Monday. Burnley, which had failed to win any of its first seven games in the joint worst start to a season in the club’s history, was the only Premier League team yet to score a home goal this term until striker Wood put it ahead in the eighth minute. That was enough to clinch a much-needed three points for Burnley, which climbed out of the relegation zone at the expense of Fulham. At Molineux, Southampton took the lead in the 58th minute, with a touch of controversy about the goal. Wolves were frustrated that Stuart Armstrong’s barge into Rayan Ait-Nouri went unpunished in the build-up before Che Adams sent a low cross to the unmarked Walcott, who slotted home from close range. It was the first goal for Southampton since rejoining it on loan from Everton in October. But Pedro Neto came off the bench to equalise as fifthplaced Southampton had to settle for extending its unbeaten run to seven matches. Athletic Bilbao comfortably defeated Real Betis to move further away from the relegation zone in the Spanish league.