tirupati l friday l October 23, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l anantapur EDITION Women are symbol of Durga, must be respected: PM Modi Invoking Goddess Durga, the prime minister on Thursday reaffirmed his govt’s commitment to women’s empowerment With an eye on Bengal assembly elections Addressing the people of West Bengal at the start of Durga puja, Modi said the Goddess is also worshipped as a daughter in the state, and emphasised that women must be respected. In his address, ahead of next year’s Assembly elections, Modi also highlighted the Centre’s various schemes for the state and the initiatives taken for women empowerment ■ 78,000 Low footfalls at Puja pandals ■ Due to Covid-19 restrictions, Kolkata’s streets were bereft of the crowd of revellers normally seen on Mahasasthi, which marks the beginning of the five-day Durga puja festivities In many big-ticket pandals, only a handful of organisers and locals were allowed due to restrictions imposed by Calcutta HC polling booths across West Bengal televised the PM’s address CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI US weighs crackdown on B-1 visas for H-1B jobs Whenever available, the doses would be given to all states at a nominal cost. It’s up to the chief ministers to decide how it would be administered, as healthcare is a state subject, says BJP Politics of vaccine Outrage as Bihar BJP plays the free shot for all card to keep mandate nounced India’s Covid access strategy Kindly refer to the state. wise election schedule to know In what was read as the politics of when you will get it, along with a vaccine, the BJP’s manifesto in hoard of false promises.” Bihar promised to provide free RJD’s chief ministerial candiCovid-19 shots to all people in the date Tejashwi Yadav hit out at the state if it retains power in the BJP for playing politics in the forthcoming Assembly elections. time of pandemic by asking the The party perhaps saw people to vote for the as it as a trump card, as $7 billion vaccine. Access to a vacthe universal free vacset aside cine is the fundamental cine in the state was the for India’s right of every citizen of first promise on its poll vaccination India and making it a manifesto released by vote issue is electoral A Bloomberg Finance Minister Nirblackmail, he said. report quoting mala Sitharaman. Leaders from other unnamed sources “As soon as the vacnon-NDA parties also said the Centre has cine is available for prolashed out at the “blaalready set aside duction at a mass scale, tant populism” and acabout $7 billion for every person in Bihar cused the BJP of exploitCovid vaccination will get free vaccination. ing Covid-19 fears for across the country. This is the first promise electoral mileage. Each person needs mentioned in our poll The BJP defended its two injections, manifesto,” she emphaannouncement with with each shot sised, adding: “Bihar is party general secretary costing $2. The a politically sensitive Bhupender Yadav sayestimated cost per state. Here people caning the promise has been person, including not be fobbed off with made as part of its pubinfrastructure and empty promises.” lic policy. The BJP’s IT storage, is $6-7, the Amid a barrage of department head Amit report said criticism, the BJP Malviya said the Centre sought to justify the anwould provide the vacnouncement saying the vaccine cine to all states at a nominal cost. would be made available at a nom- “It will be up to the state governinal cost and it’s up to the state ments to decide the distribution governments to decide on provid- of the vaccines.” ing it to the people free of cost Meanwhile, activist Saket since health is a state subject. Gokhale filed a complaint with In a tweet dripping with sar- the Election Commission, saying casm, Congress leader Rahul Gan- the announcement violated the dhi said: “Government just an- model code of conduct. E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi/Patna India restores all existing visas amit bandre Dr Reddy’s Labs attacked by hackers E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Hyderabad Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical major Dr Reddy’s Laboratories became a target of a cyber attack on Thursday As soon as the . attack was detected, the pharma company isolated all its data centre services. “We are anticipating that all services will be up within 24 hours, and do not foresee any major impact on our operations due to this incident,” Mukesh Rathi, chief information officer (CIO) of Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, said. The cyber attack comes within a week of the announcement that the pharmaceutical firm, in collaboration with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), received approval from the Drug Control General of India (DCGI) to conduct an adaptive phase-two/three human clinical trial for the Sputnik V vaccine against Covid-19 in India. The announcement was made on October 17. In September this year, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories and the RDIF entered into a partnership to conduct clinical trials of the Sputnik V vaccine and distribute it in India. They announced that as part of the partnership, RDIF would supply 100 million doses of the vaccine to Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories if regulatory approval was granted in India. Earlier this year, there were reports of cyber attacks on pharmaceutical firms based in the US and UK that are involved in the development of a vaccine for Covid-19, and of ransomware attacks on health tech firms involved in Covid-19 clinical trials. The promise of a free Covid-19 vaccine for every individual in Bihar in the BJP’s poll manifesto is not in line with the Centre’s own stated vaccine policy so far. Top functionaries of the government, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had thus far said once the vaccine is available, it will be prioritised and be given to the most vulnerable groups first. The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration has already recommended a serosurveyassisted vaccine policy, which means leaving out those with antibodies. The group has chalked out a plan to make the vaccine @ New Delhi The US State Department on Thursday proposed to halt the issuing of temporary business visas (B-1) for H-1B specialty occupation. If implemented, the proposed plan could affect thousands of Indian IT workers and their employers. The temporary B-1 visa allowed IT companies to send professionals to the US for a short stay to complete on-site work. “The proposal, if finalised, will eliminate any misconception that the B-1 in lieu of H policy provides an alternative avenue for foreign professionals to enter the US for skilled labour,” the State Department said in a statement. It noted that issuing of temporary business visas “potentially encourages the workers U.S. hopes for universal immunisation by june If the claim of US Operation Warp Speed’s chief adviser Dr Moncef Slaoui is anything to go by, most Americans could be immunised for Covid-19 by June next. “It’s not a certainty, but the plan... should make it such that by June, everybody could have been immunised in the US,” Slaoui told ABC News available to 30-40 crore people in the first phase, covering healthcare workers, frontline workers, the elderly and those with co-morbidities. Earlier this month, Vardhan had said the government is hoping and planning to receive and utilise 400 to 500 million doses covering approximately 25 crore people by July 2021. Experts meanwhile pointed out that vaccines should not be a poll issue. “I think vaccines should be free for everyone and part of universal health coverage,” said Dr Gagandeep Kang, a senior medical scientist. “For SARS-COV2 vaccines, since supply will be limited, they should be provided to those at highest need of protection using an open transparent allocation strategy .” Cases against SEC staff brought up The court sought to know how much was being incurred on the SEC’s official residences in Vijayawada and Hyderabad, and said taxpayers’ money is being misused When the SEC’s lawyer informed the court of cases filed against SEC staff, the court asked what the connection was between the petition and his arguments Why have official residence in both AP and TS, court asks SEC E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Thursday rapped State Election Commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar, questioning how he could have an official residence in Hyderabad and the need for two such residences, o n e e a ch i n A n d h r a Pradesh and Telangana. Justice B Devanand, who resumed hearing on the SEC’s plea to direct the government to cooperate with him in conducting panchayat elections and sanction `40 lakh, reserved orders, but not before posing some tough questions. Expressing dismay over the SEC’s offi- APPSC exam postponed after HC order E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Vijayawada Seeking blessings Lord Malayappa Swamy rode Suryaprabha Vahanam, donning the role of Trivikrama, on the seventh day of the ongoing Navaratri Brahmotsavams at the Tirumala temple on Thursday The Group-I Mains (Descriptive Type) exam has been postponed following orders from the High Court. The Andhra Pradesh Public Service Commission (APPSC) on Thursday said the exam, scheduled for November 2 to 13, has been postponed, and the new dates will be announced on October 29, once the court’s directions are complied with. The APPSC in December 2018 issued a notification to fill 160 Group-I posts, and the prelims were held on May 26, 2019. Some candidates approached the High Court seeking cancellation of the exam on the grounds that of the 120 questions, 51 had mistakes in translation from English to Telugu. Some others filed a petition seeking a direction to the APPSC to prepare the merit list after removing the questions that had mistakes. They also sought postponement of the Mains exam till then. The petitioners’ counsel argued that the APPSC prepared and their employers, to circumvent the restrictions and requirements relating to the H non-immigrant classification, established by the US Congress to protect American workers.” “The resulting transparency would reduce the impact on the US workforce of aliens performing activities in a specialty occupation without the procedural protections attendant to the H-1B classification,” the State Department added. Last December, California attorney general announced a settlement with Infosys in a lawsuit that involved allegations of 500 of its employees working in the US on B-1 visa rather than the H1-B visa. The proposal comes just two weeks ahead of the presidential election in the US with President Donald Trump eager to present himself as the protector of American jobs. ‘Taxpayers’ money is being misused’ @ Vijayawada Not in sync with govt’s policy of vaccine prioritisation S u m i S u k a n ya D u t ta @ New Delhi The Centre on Thursday decided to restore all the existing Indian visas suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. The home ministry announced it’s giving permission to all Overseas Citizen of India and Person of Indian Origin card holders and all other foreign nationals to visit India for any purpose except on a tourist visa, electronic visa and medical visa E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e the merit list after removing 25 questions, but there were mistakes in 26 others; and wanted the court to instruct the commission to prepare the merit list after removing these 26 too. The counsel representing the APPSC said they sought objections from candidates after releasing the first key and the revised key, and only then was the final key released. He added that some candidates did not raise objections then, but approached the court. cial residence in Hyderabad, he asked the reason for it. When informed that the SEC was supposed to work from Vijayawada, Justice Devanand sought to know how much was being incurred on the SEC’s official residences in Vijayawada and Hyderabad. Reminding that it was public money, he observed that taxpayers’ money is being misused. He also pointed at the `5.61 crore due to lawyers from the EC, and remarked that it was unfortunate to spend taxpayers’ money this way . Earlier, as per the court directions, the SEC filed an additional affidavit ex- plaining what kind of cooperation he needs from the government with the main focus being on funds due from the government. He also explained in his affidavit that a lot of money was due to be paid to the lawyers besides filling up of vacancies in the commission. As the hearing resumed, Nimmagadda’s lawyer DV S i t h a r a m a Murthy informed the court of criminal cases filed against some SEC staff members. However, Justice Devanand interjected and asked him what the connection was between the instant petition P5 and his arguments. express read 33 Indians held hostage in Somalia New Delhi: The Indian High Commission in Kenya said on Thursday it is in touch with the Somalian government to rescue 33 Indian labourers kept hostage by a company in Mogadishu. They have been held by the company for the past eight months today’s IPL match mumbai vs chennai The Super Kings are facing an early exit for the first time in IPL history. They need to win their remaining four matches to give themselves a mathematical chance of qualifying for play-offs. Odds : Mumbai 5/8 | chennai 11/8 Liv e : S ta r Spo r t s1/ Ho t s ta r @ 7. 30 PM 5,000 tonnes coming As onion prices cross `100, government promises to sell it at `40 in rythu bazaars E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Vijayawada With the retail price of onion shooting up to more than `100 per kg in Andhra Pradesh, the State government has decided to step in and sell the vegetable at `40 per kg through rythu ba- zaars in a phased manner from Friday. Announcing this at a press conference in Kakinada on Thursday Minister for Agri, culture and Marketing Kurasala Kannababu said the government has placed an indent with the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federa- tion (NAFED) for 5,000 tonnes of onion. NAFED has procured the vegetable from Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, among other places, and maintains a buffer stock to stabilise the market. Kannababu said that of the 5,000 tonnes sought from NAFED, about 1000 tonnes are expected shortly. “In the first phase, onions will be sold at `40 per kg in rythu bazaars in major cities, and subsequently, this will be done in the rest of the State as well,” he explained. Onion prices, which were around `80 per kg for the past week, are now between `100 and `110 in Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Tirupati and even Kurnool, from where onions are normally supplied to marP5 kets in the State.
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