Farmer protests: India's sedition law used to muffle dissent



In recent years there’s been increasing use of a law which bans speaking out against the government.

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NSE hit by massive tech glitch, markets shut till further notice


The National Stock Exchange (NSE) was hit by another technical snag during the first half of the trading session on Wednesday.

According to stock brokers and dealers, the problem started with rates of Bank Nifty index were not updating and later spread to the Nifty index as well. They pointed out that the issue with Bank Nifty feeds started between 10 AM and 10.20 AM. Around 11.40 AM, the NSE said it was suspending trading across futures and options segment.

In the next few minutes, the NSE said it was suspending trading for the day until further notice.

NSE shut trading for entire markets till further notice.

Both Nifty and Bank Nifty are the largest traded derivative contracts of the NSE and the glitch caused market disruption just a day ahead of the February month futures and options expiry leading to much heartburn among traders.

Option writers benefit the most if markets are shut for trading as those who have bought or sold options loose out on time value, brokers said.

Bank Nifty index had gained 22 percent between February 1 and February 16 and fell by around 8 percent in the next few days. However, just two days ahead of the monthly derivative expiry, the index had started to move up again. On Wednesday, the index was up nearly 2 percent before it was hit by a tech glitch.

Before Wednesday, the NSE was hit by a massive tech glitch in December 2020.

Read more: NSE Clearing suffered a tech glitch before Nifty fell by 3%

NSE Clearing, the trade clearing and settlement arm of the NSE, was hit by a ‘technical glitch’ on December 21 that affected several stock brokers. Before the Nifty index witnessed its worst single day fall in nearly seven months by over 3 percent or 432 points, many brokers saw their trade orders being automatically deleted and some even had their terminals disabled.

In September 2020, the NSE Clearing arm suffered a tech glitch after SEBI introduced new margin norms. Also, pay-in and pay-out was disrupted for three days back then.

Read more: Tech glitches mar SEBI new margin regime

“NSE has multiple telecom links with two service providers to ensure redundancy and we have received communication from both the telecom service providers that there are issues with their links due to which there is an impact on NSE system. We are working on restoring the systems as soon as possible. In view of the above all the segments have been closed at 11.40 and will be restored as soon as the issue is resolved,” NSE Spokesperson said.

Although tech glitch has been a recurring phenomena for NSE for the past few years, SEBI has not made public any of its analysis of it. Last year, brokers association ANMI had even shot-off a letter to NSE alleging severe loss to its members due to tech glitch. In 2017,NSE had to suspend trading for three hours after a tech glitch.

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crude oil price today: Oil holds near year-long highs as Covid lockdowns seen easing


LONDON: Oil prices were steady on Tuesday, trading close to more than year-long highs on signs that global coronavirus restrictions were being eased although concerns about the pace of a US economic recovery kept gains in check.

Brent crude was up 7 cents, or 0.1%, at $65.31 a barrel by 1505 GMT, still close to its highest levels since January 2020. US crude fell 14 cents, or 0.2%, to $61.56 a barrel.

Both contracts rose more than $1 earlier before retreating.

“Vaccine news is helping oil, as the likely removal of mobility restrictions over the coming months on the back of vaccine rollouts should further boost the oil demand and price recovery,” UBS oil analyst Giovanni Staunovo said.

But, tempering the upbeat mood, the chair of the US Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, said the US economic recovery remained “uneven and far from complete” and it would be “some time” before the central bank considered changing policies it had adopted to help the country back to full employment.

Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said the recent oil price rise was buoyed by upbeat price forecasts from US brokers.

Goldman Sachs expects Brent prices to reach $70 per barrel in the second quarter from the $60 it predicted previously, and $75 in the third quarter from $65 forecast earlier.

Morgan Stanley, which expects Brent to reach $70 in the third quarter, said new COVID-19 cases were falling while “mobility statistics are bottoming out and are starting to improve”.

Bank of America said Brent prices could temporarily spike to $70 per barrel in the second quarter.

In the United States, traffic at the Houston ship channel was slowly returning to normal after last week’s winter storm, although production was not expected to fully restart soon.

Some US shale producers forecast lower oil output in the first quarter.

Stockpiles of US crude oil and refined products likely declined last week, a preliminary Reuters poll showed on Monday, due to the disruption in Texas.



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Anganwadi workers continue stir – The Hindu


Several anganwadi workers and assistants continued their waiting agitation for the second day near the Collectorate here on Tuesday in support of their demands.

Their demands to the government included regularisation as government employees and provision of time-bound scale of pay. Over 300 anganwadi workers participated in the stir, said police sources.

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CBI at Abhishek Banerjee’s residence to examine his wife in coal pilferage case


A CBI team visited the residence of Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee on Tuesday to examine his wife Rujira in the coal pilferage case, officials said. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited the residence of her nephew Abhishek in south Kolkata’s Harish Mukherjee Road minutes before the CBI team landed there.

The CBI’s visit to Abhishek’s residence comes after Rujira told the central agency that she will be available for examination between 11 am and 3 pm on February 23, replying to a notice that the sleuths had hand-delivered her on Sunday.

The agency sought the examination of Rujira Banerjee to ascertain the details of her bank transactions, suspecting a connection to the proceeds of the illegal coal excavation money, sources said.

On Monday, the CBI examined Rujira’s sister Menaka Gambhir in connection with the same case.

Two woman officers of the CBI visited Gambhir’s residence off EM Bypass and had examined her for nearly three hours.

The developments come months ahead of the assembly elections in the state with Trinamool Congress alleging it to be a political vendetta.

The CBI on November 28 last year carried out a massive search operation in a number of locations across four states — West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh — after registering a case against one Anup Majhi alias Lala.

It is alleged that Lala, the alleged kingpin of the scam, is involved in illegal mining and theft of coal from leasehold mines of ECL in Kunustoria and Kajora areas, sources said.



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KCR tells party to canvass 18 lakh jobs he created


Hyderabad: The ruling TRS has decided to take up an aggressive campaign on the jobs created during its reign to counter the opposition parties in the upcoming graduate MLC elections for two seats, according to TRS chief and Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao on Monday.

“The ‘18 lakh jobs created in the last six years’ will be the main poll plank of TRS to attract and seek votes of graduates and youth in these elections”, Rao said.

 

The party supremo instructed his two MLC candidates – Surabhi Vani Devi and P. Rajeshwar Reddy – to counter the criticism of the opposition parties that the TRS government had failed to create many jobs for youth in the last six years, by aggressively bringing this out during their poll campaigns.

According to sources, CM Chandrashekar Rao gave a detailed account of TRS government’s achievements in providing jobs to youth. As per the CM’s presentation, 1.31 lakh jobs were provided in the government sector, 2.11 lakh jobs created in the IT/ ITES sector and 14.59 lakh jobs were provided in the private sector, due to the faster approvals given to industries under the TS-iPASS since he assumed office more than six-and-a-half years ago.

 

The TRS government has decided to distribute pamphlets, put up banners and other harness public display mechanisms. Besides the two candidates, senior party leaders and cadre were told to strive hard to highlight the 18 lakh jobs provided by the TRS government. They were asked to distribute these pamphlets, particularly among graduate voters, in educational institutions and hold debates on the issue at several platforms.

In the ongoing MLC elections, all the Opposition parties are targeting TRS on the issue of lack of jobs to students and youth in Telangana.

 

Opposition parties argue that the ‘tagline’ of Telangana statehood agitation was “jobs, funds and water”. Students and youth had sacrificed their lives and careers to fight for Telangana statehood, with a hope of getting jobs, once the statehood was achieved.

They argue that the TRS government had failed to fulfil their aspirations by failing miserably in filling lakhs of vacancies in government departments. However, the TRS government rubbishes these claims and has gathered data from all sectors to prove how many jobs they had provided so far.

 

The data gathered, say TRS sources, claims that 1.31 lakh vacancies were filled in various government departments since 2014, of which 32,000 vacancies were filled in police department, 35,000 were recruited through TSPSC, 9,350 panchayat secretary posts and 350 jobs in universities, 5,500 driver and conductor posts in TSRTC, besides 9,000 posts in the electricity department.

In addition to these, services of 24,000 artisan posts in the electricity department had also been regularised by the TRS government.

Mr Rao asked party leaders and cadre to extensively campaign about the state government’s readiness to issue job notifications to fill over 50,000 posts in February but due to the poll code, it could not be done. This will be issued immediately after poll code ends in March, he advised them.

 

A senior leader told Deccan Chronicle, “the TRS government has not only filled vacancies in the public sector but has also created lakhs of jobs in the private sector by attracting investments through its industry-friendly policies. About 2.11 youth got jobs in the IT sector. In all, 14,000 new industries came to the state through TS-iPASS, which created 14.59 lakh jobs in the private sector, a major chunk of which was bagged by Telangana locals. We challenge the opposition parties to prove this wrong. We will not seek votes if they prove us wrong.”

 

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Sri Sitarama Kalyanam to be celebrated in grand manner


The mega religious event was celebrated in a simple manner due to COVID-19 pandemic last year

The district administration has charted out a grand plan to celebrate Sri Sitarama Kalyanam (celestial wedding) in a befitting manner in adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols at the historic Sri Sitaramachandra Swamy shrine in Bhadrachalam on the occasion of Sri Rama Navami on April 21.

The mega religious event was celebrated in a simple manner inside the temple complex, devoid of devotees, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in April last year. This time, the authorities have mooted a grand celebration of the “celestial wedding” as per the temple traditions.

Collector M V Reddy on Monday held a review meeting with the heads of the allied government departments in Kothagudem on the arrangements for the forthcoming Vasantha Paksha Tiru Kalyana Brahmotsavams scheduled to be held in the historic shrine in Bhadrachalam from April 13 to 27.

Addressing the meeting, the Collector said elaborate arrangements should be put in place to create a perfect spiritual ambience during the ensuing Brahmotsavams in the temple town. He wanted the authorities to ensure provision of all amenities to the devotees during the mega religious event. He instructed the health authorities to deploy four ambulances, set up 12 health centres and earmark 10 beds at the Government area hospital in Bhadrachalam during the Sri Rama Navami festivities. He said the facility of booking tickets online for the Sita Rama Kalyanam will be launched soon.

The meeting discussed the safety arrangements to be made at the bathing ghats along the Godavari banks, among other measures to ensure smooth conduct of the annual religious fete.

Additional Collector D Anudeep, the temple executive officer Shivaji and others were present.

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Mahout, assistant booked for brutally attacking elephant at rejuvenation camp


The Coimbatore Forest Department Sunday arrested a mahout and his assistant on charges of attacking an elephant at the government’s annual rejuvenation camp at Thekkampatti near Mettupalayam.

In a video that surfaced on social media, Vinilkumar (46) and his assistant Sivaprasad (32) were seen brutally thrashing Jayamalyatha, an 18-year-old female elephant of Andal Temple in Sri Villiputhur, with sticks.

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Within a few hours of the clip going viral, several wildlife conservationists and activists demanded strict action against the caretakers. The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, which is holding the camp for the elephants, said they will conduct an inquiry and initiate necessary action. Kumar, a third-generation mahout who was taking care of the elephant since 2011, was later suspended.

The district forest department also picked the duo from the camp and booked them under sections of the Wildlife Prevention Act. They have also been charged with violating provisions of Tamil Nadu Captive Elephants (Management and Rules), 2011.

As per the reports, the mahout was irked after the elephant refused to obey his command. “He was taking the elephant to the shower area. It (the elephant) suddenly ran out of control after seeing another elephant; the caretakers found very had to bring the elephant under control,” another mahout at the camp said.

The caretakers had tied the elephant with the chains near to a tree and thrashed it on Saturday evening. Volunteers of Vanam Trust of India, an animal welfare organisation, shot the incident when they were passing the camp.

The 48-day annual retreat for captive elephants began on February 9. The officials said 1.67 crore rupees were allocated for the camp to set up shelters, bathing platforms, walking tracks, food courts, mobile toilets, etc.

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West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra Accuses Union Home Minister Amit Shah Of Spreading Misinformation On Fund Disbursement


West Bengal government spent Rs 3.1 lakh crore in these six years in different projects: Amit Mitra

Kolkata:

West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra on Sunday accused Union Home Minister Amit Shah of providing misinformation about disbursement of funds by the centre to the state during a political rally and challenged him for a debate.

He said the state government had received Rs 1.13 lakh crore from the centre in the last six years, which is “nothing more than one-third of what the Union minister claimed”.

Mr Shah, in his recent visit to the poll-bound West Bengal, had reportedly said the centre provided Rs 3.59 lakh crore to the state.

“He has given wrong, misleading and politically-motivated information. The centre, as a part of the federal structure, collects taxes from states and shares. We had received only Rs 1.13 lakh crore in the last 6 years  (FY14 to FY20),” Mr Mitra told reporters.

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Referring to his estimate, Mr Mitra said the centre might have collected around Rs 5 lakh crore in these years in the form of direct and indirect taxes from West Bengal and sent only Rs 1.13 lakh crore through central schemes.

Mr Mitra said the West Bengal government had spent Rs 3.1 lakh crore in these six years in different projects, which are fully sponsored by the state, apart from expenditures like salary, pension and other administrative expenses.

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Need to increase pace of vaccinations: Health Ministry tells states


While some states are carrying out vaccination twice a week some others are carrying out four or more than four times a week

New Delhi: The Union Health Ministry has written to all states and UTs highlighting the need to significantly enhance the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations, noting that a large number of healthcare and frontline workers still remain to be covered.

In a letter addressed to chief secretaries of all states and UTs, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the number of days of vaccination in a week should also be increased to a minimum of four days per week at the earliest to speed up the process of vaccination and gear up system to take up the vaccination of the 50+ population.

 

While some states are carrying out vaccination twice a week some others are carrying out four or more than four times a week.

Adequate provisions have been made in the Co-WIN software to support such expansion of services, he said. 

The letter dated February 19 stated a large number of healthcare and frontline workers still remain to be covered and the progress is variable across several states and UTs.

“As highlighted during several review meetings that have been conducted with the states and UTs, the pace of vaccination drive and its coverage needs to be accelerated exponentially to cover all identified beneficiaries in a minimum possible time.

 

“Further, the operational strategy for initiating the vaccination of next priority group of elderly population and persons with comorbidities to be taken up in March, 2021 is also being finalised,” the letter said.

“In view of the anticipated high number of beneficiaries to be vaccinated at a high speed in the forthcoming days”, Bhushan advised states and UTs to ensure that all public health facilities from tertiary level medical colleges, hospitals and institutes to district hospitals, sub-divisional hospitals, community health centres, PHCs, health and wellness centres, health sub-centres etc. should be prepared for offering COVID-19 vaccination services on all designated vaccination days beginning March 1.

 

“You are requested to kindly direct the concerned officials to immediately undertake measures for expansion of COVID-19 vaccination drive. Your continuous guidance to the state and UT teams has been instrumental in driving the ongoing vaccination process and the same is anticipated for upcoming phases as well. I look forward to your continued collaboration in this critical mission of national importance,” the letter stated. 

Till February 21, a total of 1,10,85,173 vaccine doses have been administered through 2,30,888 sessions, as per the provisional report. These include 63,91,544 healthcare workers (1st dose), 9,60,642 healthcare workers (2nd dose) and 37,32,987 frontline workers (1st dose).

 

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