Schools in Delhi have reopened only for students of classes 10 and 12 from Monday in view of the upcoming board exams, especially for practicals, project work and laboratory related activities.
After the students of classes 10 and 12 returned to schools in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, "It is a very emotional moment for me to see the children in Delhi's schools studying again after a long time. Leaving the harsh times behind, schools have reopened. Hopefully everything will be normal soon and all children will come back to school to meet their teachers and friends."
Deputy Chief Minister and Education Minister Manish Sisodia said, "It was really nice to meet children in schools after such a long time. Students are still adjusting to come back to schools with the necessary Covid safety norms, but are happy to meet their friends."
Permission has also been granted to these students to use the laboratories. They will be able to prepare their projects related to the board exams in the schools.
The Education Minister said, "Good luck to the students of classes 10 and 12 who are going back to their school today after a gap of 10 months. Though it is only for limited purpose and with Covid-19 protocols, but still I am happy that schools are opening in Delhi."
The Delhi government has also prepared a standard operating procedure (SOP) for schools which will have to be followed strictly. The schools will have to maintain a record of how many children are attending. However, this record would not be used for marking the attendance of the students.
Schools will not open in the containment zones. Students, teachers and other persons living in the Covid-prone (red zone) areas would not be allowed to come to school.
Sisodia released information on the reopening of schools, saying,"In view of the upcoming CBSE board examinations and practical examinations in Delhi, permission has been given to open schools for practical, project work, counselling etc for classes 10 and 12 from January 18. Children will be called to school only with the consent of parents. Children will not be forced to come to school."
Rajya Sabha MP Jyotiraditya Scindia played a major role in the BJP coming back to power in Madhya Pradesh, but due to the increasing activity of Scindia in the Gwalior-Chambal region it is fast turning into a political storm. There are also indications that the relationship between Scindia and Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has turned sour.
Jyotiraditya Scindia's recent visit to the Gwalior-Chambal region has already scripted a new political story. Morena is the parliamentary constituency of Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar where 25 people died recently due to consumption of spurious liquor in two villages. Scindia not only shared the grief of the victims' families by visiting the villages but also gave financial aid of Rs 50,000 each to the families of the affected people.
Scindia assured them that the state government will take strict action against the culprits. The former Union minister said he may not stand with the people in happier times but was with them in the time of crisis.
During Scindia's stay in Morena and Gwalior, no major leader from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was seen alongside him. However, those who recently left the Congress and joined the BJP including cabinet ministers in the current Shivraj Singh Chouhan government such as Pradhuman Singh Tomar, Suresh Rathkheda, OPS Bhadoria, were present. People associated with the BJP and minister Bharat Singh Kushwah, who is considered close to Tomar, stayed away.
The day after Scindia's visit, Tomar also reached out to the affected families. During the visit by Tomar, no minister who is a supporter of Scindia, was seen there. Tomar said he spoke to the Chief Minister on the day of the tragedy and is in constant touch with him.
Strict action needs to be taken against those found guilty in the incident. We all need to share the sorrow in this hour of grief. People will take lessons from this incident so that such cases are not repeated, Tomar added.
According to BJP sources, the friction between Scindia and Tomar began to increase during the recent Assembly by-elections, After the results, the fissures between the two leaders became more visible. The Morena hooch tragedy has made it clear that the relationship between the two leaders is not the same as it used to be.
On the one hand, where the friction between Scindia and Tomar is increasing, on the other hand, Chief Minister Chouhan and BJP state President Vishnu Datt Sharma openly applauded Scindia and credited him for the BJP forming the government in the state.
Political analyst Dev Shrimali believes that while Scindia has his own style of functioning, the BJP operates under a system, has its own organisational structure and a set of rules and procedures. It is not easy for Scindia to completely gel in the BJP. This is the reason that during his stay, old BJP leaders and workers were not seen, only those who left the Congress and joined the BJP were present there.
The farmers protesting against the new Central farm laws have announced a 'Tractor March' on Republic Day. On Monday, the Supreme Court heard the petition of the Delhi Police on the issue. The apex court said it is for the Delhi Police to decide whether it would allow the farmers to enter Delhi or not.
The apex court asserted that it is the Delhi Police and not the judiciary which has the authority to decide on the issue.
Responding to this SC order, the National Spokesperson of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Rakesh Tikait, said the highest court has taken cognizance of the matter, it is a good thing that the law and order situation must be looked into by the police. At the same time, the farmers leaders have said they would take out a parade on Outer Ring Road in the national capital so the police should come and talk to them and remove the roadblocks for the parade.
Tikait said the citizens of the country cannot be stopped by constitutional institutions or the police from celebrating Republic Day. "We are not going to the national capital to fight. We will celebrate the R-Day in Delhi, earlier we used to celebrate it in the fields and villages. Now we are here in Delhi so we will celebrate the day here," the BKU spokesperson added.
The Delhi Police had filed a petition in the Supreme Court to ban the 'Tractor March' by the farmers on January 26. They had said that law and order could be affected if the march is allowed on Republic Day.
During the SC hearing, it said the entry of farmers into Delhi is a law and order issue and who are allowed to come to Delhi or not is for the Delhi Police to decide.
However, he farmers have said they would take out a parade on January 26 on Outer Ring Road. The parade would include tableaux in vehicles that would showcase the agricultural reality in various states in addition to historical regional and other protest marches.
The farmers would hoist the national flag on these vehicles and also carry the flags of the farmers organisations. No flag of any political party would be allowed in the parade.
There would be participation of the families of the martyrs of the farmer protests, defence service personnel, reputed sportspersons, women farmers etc. Several states are expected to be represented in the parade.
The farmers who can't come to Delhi to participate in the parade will organise parades in various state capitals and district headquarters.
The avian flu outbreak in India could pare poultry sales by a third this month, but if the history of upward price correction after every avian flu outbreak is any indication, the industry will bounce back in quick time with profitability intact for the full fiscal, rating agency Crisil said on Monday.
The outcome is based on an analysis of 87 Crisil rated poultry companies, which comprise 30 per cent of the industry's revenue.
Avian flu has been confirmed in as many as 10 states since the first incident was reported in Kerala in the first half of December 2020. Such outbreaks have been witnessed year after year due to carrier migratory wild birds crossing into the country. However, the outbreaks in organised poultry farms have been rare.
The flu has chopped around 30 per cent off broiler chicken volume, bringing down daily chicken demand in the country from 100 lakh kg in December 2020 to an estimated 70 lakh kg in January 2021.
Additionally, wholesale prices of broiler chicken have crashed 20-30 per cent from Rs 105-Rs 110 per kg in December to Rs 80 per kg.
Given this, overall revenue could decline 30-40 per cent in January 2021 due to a fall in realisations and volume, the Crisil analysis pointed out.
It noted that as wholesale prices usually correct sharply following such outbreaks, the fall in prices tends to be temporary.
Notably, wholesale prices of broiler chicken had crashed to a low of Rs 50 per kg in March 2020 from Rs 90 per kg in January 2020 due to apprehensions of Covid-19 spreading through poultry.
However, wholesale prices surged back to Rs 90-Rs 100 per kg in the subsequent quarter, shaking off the blues. Prices could well reach Rs 90-Rs 100 per kg soon this time around, too, the rating agency said.
According to Dinesh Jain, Director, Crisil Ratings Ltd, "The impact of the current avian flu outbreak on the poultry industry will depend on its intensity and duration. In recent past, the impact of such outbreaks has been temporary due to swift implementation of testing, culling and containment protocols by the authorities. Fears against chicken consumption do not last for more than a few weeks as the infection rate abates. We, therefore, believe Crisil's earlier estimate of 200 bps increase in operating margin to 7-7.5 per cent this fiscal will hold despite the outbreak."
The poultry industry has made attractive profits operating margin of 8 per cent compared with 5.5 per cent on average historically in the two quarters following lifting of the pandemic-led lockdowns in May and June, supported by higher sales realisations and prevalence of low poultry feed prices. High profitability of preceding quarters and likely price recovery post the current outbreak is expected to support improved operating margins of 7-7.5 per cent for the industry in the current fiscal.
Further, the government's compensation for culling birds is resulting in quicker loss absorption by poultry farmers. Notably, despite four avian flu incidents in the past two years, operating margins of poultry farmers have remained stable in the range of 5-6 per cent over fiscals 2017-2020.
The Kangana Ranaut-starrer spy thriller Dhaakad will release theatrically on October 1, the actress announced on Monday with a poster of the film.
In the poster, Kangana is seen wielding a sword against the backdrop of blood and gore, setting the action tone of the film. Kangana, who will play the role of Agent Agni, recently flew to Bhopal to kickstart the shooting of the film.
"'Dhaakad' is India's first female led high octane spy thriller and I am excited as this film is going to mark the beginning of a new era for Indian cinema. An action entertainer of this huge scale deserves a holiday weekend release and I can't wait for the audience to meet Agent Agni on 1st October," Kangana shared.
Director Razy Ghai added: "'Dhaakad' is a project that is very special to my heart. Action films headlined by female actors are a rarity in the Hindi film industry. With this film, we aim to set a new trend and we are thrilled to bring to the audiences in this year. We are mounting it on a grand scale and are leaving no stone unturned to make sure we are at par with any world class actioner.."
The film will also feature Arjun Rampal. The makers have also roped in Tetsuo Nagata, an award winning cinematographer.
Actress Kangana Ranaut says after nepotism, the most awful thing about being an actor is going through a night shift.
"Apart from nepotism and movie mafia most awful thing about being an actor is night shifts," Kangana tweeted late on Sunday.
"When sun rises you sleep, body clock and food cycle goes for a toss. First few nights I feel loss of appetite and disoriented. Hmmmm waiting for my body to adapt," she added.
Meanwhile, the actress has announced that she will star in the second installment of the Manikarnika franchise, titled Manikarnika Returns: The Legend Of Didda.
She has also started preparing for her next film, "Dhaakad", and will be seen in the films "Thalaivi" and "Tejas".
Exports of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine by the Serum Institute of India are currently blocked until March or April, as India (along with China) look set to take the lead in driving the region's distribution efforts in the months ahead, according to Moodys Analytics.
It said that India's advancement towards inoculations is a crucial development for the region.
India has approved two vaccines approved for emergency use last week -- one developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, the other domestically developed by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research.
Starting January 16, the Indian government's plan is to inoculate nearly 300 million high-priority people including health workers, the elderly, and those with higher comorbidities by August, Moody's Analytics has said.
"This is an important development. As India is the second most-impacted country in the world, after the US, the need for local immunization is paramount to contain the significant socioeconomic costs, and the country's success in advancing on this front will eventually soften the severity of the pandemic within the region," it said.
Plus, as the largest producer of vaccines in the world, with 60 per cent of the global share, India is well-positioned to use its existing manufacturing capabilities to contribute to mass vaccine production and distribution needs for other countries in addition to meeting its domestic requirements, it added.
Although exports of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine by the Serum Institute of India are currently blocked until March or April, India (along with China) look set to take the lead in driving the region's distribution efforts in the months ahead, Moody's Analytics said.
Mixed reports on the effectiveness of (China's) Sinovac vaccine, for instance, have set back vaccination efforts in countries considering its use as part of their inoculation drive. So while the short-term risks from intensifying domestic outbreaks have increased and will dampen the March quarter recovery in Japan, Malaysia and South Korea, the potential upsides to regional recovery in the second half of 2021 have not appreciably shied our outlook, the report said.
Outgoing US President Donald Trump joins a select club of American Presidents who will sit out their successors inauguration but within that cohort, he will be alone in his attempt to incite a violent mob to storm the US Capitol and the only American President ever to be impeached twice.
Back in 1801, John Adams boarded a stagecoach and rode out of Washington, D.C. hours before Thomas Jefferson was to be sworn in as the country's third president. Adams did not attend.
In 1829, after a bitterly fought election rife with personal insults, John Quincy Adams boycotted Andrew Jackson's swearing in ceremony.
When Jackson's wife died before the inauguration, the future president blamed his opponent for sparking slander-induced stress.
In 1869, Johnson absented himself from the inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant and stayed back in the White House signing last minute legislation. Grant, on his part, refused to ride with Johnson from the White House to the Capitol for the ceremony.
Richard Nixon took off in a helicopter from the lawns of the White House before Gerald Ford's swearing-in. The circumstances around the event were rather muted, and did not have the pomp and circumstance that is a signature of Inauguration Day. Awash in the Watergate scandal, Nixon handed in his resignation letter and Ford took his oath of office in the White House.
There is broad consensus among presidential historians that a President showing up on Inauguration Day is primarily about the optics, there's nothing in the Constitution that mandates a president check off this box.
Trump's absence does not land as any surprise, considering that he has refused to accept the election results and incited an entire army of his supporters to "stop the steal" by attacking the Capitol and trying to stop the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's win.
Biden said he was happy to have Trump stay away.
When Vice President-elect Kamala Harris gets those questions, she usually brushes it aside with a smirk or a laugh. "Don't worry, Mr. President. I'll see you at your trial," Harris jabbed more than a year ago to a snarky Trump tweet, when the second impeachment wasn't anywhere on the horizon.
Turns out, she was almost spot on.
Brendan Murphy, Secretary of the Australian Department of Health, revealed on Monday that it was unlikely that the country's borders will fully re-open in 2021.
Murphy, who headed Australia's initial response to Covid-19 as the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) before becoming the Department Secretary, said that full-scale travel to and from Australia would likely not resume until 2022, reports Xinhua news agency.
"I think the answer is probably no," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Monday when asked if borders would "realistically" be reopened in 2021.
"I think we'll go most of this year with substantial border restrictions. Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated we don't know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus and it's likely that quarantine will continue for some time," he said.
Australia has so far reported a total of 28,708 confirmed coronavirus cases, and the numbers of locally and overseas acquired cases in the last 24 hours were six and 13 respectively, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health.
The country's death toll stood at 909.
Australia's borders were closed to non-citizens and non-residents from March 20, 2020.
Australians were banned from leaving the country for non-essential reasons from March 25, 2020.
Murphy said on Monday that the unpredictable nature of the pandemic made it impossible to predict when Australians would be allowed to travel overseas en masse.
"I don't want to predict more than two or three months ahead, the world is changing.
"At the moment we've got this light at the end of the tunnel, the vaccines, so we're going to go as safely and as fast as we can to get the population vaccinated and then we'll look at what happens," he added.
Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr, becomes the American President after being elected as the last hope of his Democratic Party to lead and heal the nation tortured by the great ideological divide with his reconciliatory touch.
Thirty-two years after he first reached for the presidency, on Wednesday he will become President by default, a consensus candidate around whom the Democratic Party factions coalesced as the best bet to unseat President Donald Trump, perhaps for the very qualities, his air of uninspired stolidity, his moderation and his role as a Washington insider, that had held him back but now a winning contrast to Trump.
And the old stalwarts of the pre-populist Republican Party have also reluctantly backed him for these very characteristics.
When the Covid-19 pandemic struck in the middle of the Democratic Party process of selecting its candidate to oppose Trump, the rivals dropped out and rallied around him in what amounted to a nomination by acclamation.
When Bidene first ran for the party's nomination in 1988, he said: "It is an exciting and dangerous time, for this generation of Americans has the opportunity so rarely granted to others by fate and history. We literally have the chance to shape the future."
The opportunity that eluded him then, is now his, only the time is more dangerous, the pandemic, the economic crisis, racial and ideological distrust and months of violence on all sides capped by extremist supporters of Trump storming Congress.
It will call on his skills in being able to reach across to foes and rivals for a consensus.
An example of how he can put aside differences is him picking Kamala Harris to be his Vice President after she had viciously attacked him when she was a rival for the Democratic presidential nomination causing a drop in his support for a while.
As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he had pushed for ending sanctions against India for its 1998 nuclear test and worked with Congressional non-proliferation hawks and sceptics across party lines to get the landmark India-US Civil Nuclear Agreement approved by Congress in 2008.
That recognised India as a nuclear in practical terms, effectively ending its international isolation over the tests.
Biden has been making conciliatory speeches since his election and said last week: "Unity is not some pie-in-the-sky dream. It's a practical step to get any of the things we have to get done as a country, get done together."
He not only has to reach out to the 46.8 per cent of the voters who backed outgoing President Donald Trump, but he also has to hold on to the strident left wing of his party.
Joe Biden, as he prefers to be known to fit his "everyman" persona, comes from modest circumstances.
His father who had once been well off slipped economically when he was laid off from his job in Pennsylvania, where Biden was born, and moved to Delaware to work as a used car salesman, initially facing economic difficulties.
In his acceptance speech at the Democratic Party Convention last year, he recalled his father telling the third-grader about the move: "I remember my dad coming up the stairs in my grandpop's house where we were living, sitting at the end of my bed, and saying, 'Joey, I'm going to have to leave for a while'."
For a while, the family stayed with his grandparents as his father struggled to establish himself in Delaware and reunited with his family.
That experience is imprinted on his social and economic outlook.
Of his family's working class heritage, he once said: "I'm the first Biden in a thousand generations to get a college and a graduate degree."
He also worked as a truck driver to help pay his way through college.
A striver, he overcame a stuttering problem by reciting poetry to become a public speaker.
Biden turned 78 on November 20, 2020, and as the 46th President will be the oldest person to assume the American presidency.
He has been preparing for job through his 47 years in politics with ideological shifts and by building bridges and networks even as he faced political failures and tragedies in his personal life.
Biden served eight years as Vice President with former President Barack Obama, bringing the wisdom of experience and the practicality of getting things done in Congress and internationally while getting hands-on experience in the ways of the White House.
His political career began when he was elected as a young lawyer to the Newcastle County Council in 1970 and two years later he ran successfully for the Senate.
In the first run for the 1988 presidential nomination after 16 years on the Senate, Biden made several exaggerated or false claims during his campaign about his education and involvement in the civil rights movement and withdrew when they were exposed.
His father's advice saw him through that and more stumbles on the way to the presidency: "My own father had always said the measure of a man wasn't how many times or how hard he got knocked down, but how fast he got back up."
Biden picked himself up and served 20 more years in the Senate, heading the Foreign Relations and Judiciary Committees.
In 2008, he lost the last presidential nomination bid to Obama, who invited him to be his Vice President.
He passed up on the 2016 election deferring to the Democratic Party establishment that backed Hillary Clinton. Less polarising than her, he could have been a stronger candidate against Trump.
In his run for the party nomination last year he suffered initial losses in the intra-party elections, ending up fifth in New Hampshire and fourth in Iowa, both considered bellwether states, and second in Nevada, nearly getting written off.
But he turned things around and scored victories.
At the personal level he suffered a tragedy in 2015 when his son and political heir apparent, Beau Biden, who had been elected the attorney general of Delaware, died of brain cancer.
Beau Biden, who had served in Iraq as an Army officer, was the survivor of another tragedy that struck the family in 1972 just as Joe Biden was about to start his Senate career as a 29-year-old.
Joe Biden's first wife Neilla and their sons Beau, Hunter and daughter Amy were in an automobile accident.
Neilla and Amy died, while the sons were hospitalised with severe injuries.
Recalling his despair after the losses, Joe Biden wrote: "There were moments when the pain cut through like a shard of broken glass."
As a widower, he married Jill Tracy Jacobs in 1977 and they have daughter Ashley Blazer, who is a social worker.
Jill Biden, who has a PhD, is an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College and will continue to work.
She helped him emerge out of the depths of sorrow after the family tragedy and has been politically involved and campaigned for him during the recent election.
His other son Hunter Biden was the catalyst for the first impeachment of Trump.
Removed from the Navy because of alleged drug use and having no experience in the energy sector or in Ukraine, he was appointed to the board of directors of a Ukrainian gas company with salary of about $50,000 per month.
A prosecutor looking into the company was fired at Joe Biden's behest.
Trump was charged with misusing his office by withholding aid to Ukraine in order to get its government to investigate it. The Senate acquitted Trump.
Hunter Biden was in another controversy over a deal with a Chinese company to invest about $1.2 billion. He has since withdrawn from it.
He recently acknowledged that his tax matters were being investigated by the federal government.
Joe Biden suffered two brain aneurysms and underwent separate surgeries for them and also had a pulmonary embolism in 1988, putting him out of action for about half the year.
Biden's family is mostly of Irish descent and he will be the second Catholic after John F. Kennedy, to become President in a nation where all the others have been Protestant Christians.
There may be an Indian connection in his lineage: He has spoken at least twice of having heard that an ancestor may have lived in Mumbai in the 18th century as an East India Company employee, but has not confirmed it.
After a bachelor's degree from Delaware University, he received a law degree from Syracuse University in New York State and briefly practiced law privately and as a public defender, the lawyer for the poor.
He had several stumbles during his political career, but his views and policies have evolved.
Along with many right-wing and racist politicians he opposed the school desegregation plan known as busing that involved transporting children across de facto local racial lines of separation to schools in other areas to end racial exclusivity of schools.
During a Democratic Party presidential debate, Harris criticised him over this and pointed out that she was one of the Black children transported by bus to break down racial segregation.
Biden supported the Iraq War over false claims that it had weapons of mass destruction but said during the campaign he said that he had opposed from the beginning. He later admitted that he "misspoke".
He has repeatedly defended his vote for the war, but also said it was a "mistake".
Biden was one of the promoters of the controversial Crime Control Act which ended up disproportionately hurting African Americans and while it was being debated he talked of "predators" and young people "born out of wedlock, without parents, without supervision, without any structure, without any conscience developing" seen as a coded criticism of the community.
He later backtracked on the support for the law and has said during his campaign that was a mistake too.
Biden is gaffe-prone and his advisers and handlers keep him to scripted speeches and limit his media interactions.
(Arul Louis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)
wo coaches of the Amritsar-Jaynagar Express derailed near Lucknow on Monday, however, no passenger were injured in the incident, official said.
Northern Railway spokesperson Deepak Kumar said the two coaches of Amritsar-Jaynagar Express train derailed soon after its departure from platform number one of Charbagh station in Lucknow division at 7.50 a.m.
While one coach was derailed by all wheels, the other was by one wheel.
NR officials said that senior railway officers have reached the accident site.