March 24, 2023

Times Top10: Today’s Top News Headlines and Latest News from India & across the World | Times of India



Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on two-day visit to Myanmar; Rahul Gandhi to chair meet on Punjab Assembly polls; Counting of votes: Chhattisgarh urban bodies polls, Maharashtra nagar panchayat polls; India vs Pakistan, Asian Champions Trophy Hockey, third-place playoff; National Mathematics Day

1. A day in the seat of Indian democracy…
1. A day in the seat of Indian democracy...

  • Rajya Sabha Tuesday passed the electoral reforms bill that, among other things, enables the linking of Aadhaar’s identity verification system with electoral rolls even as the opposition members walked out. The bill was earlier passed by Lok Sabha amid the din.


  • Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien was suspended from Rajya Sabha for the remainder of the Winter Session. The motion for suspension was moved by the union minister of state for Parliamentary Affairs V. Muraleedharan and was adopted by a house boycotted by the opposition.
  • O’Brien is accused of throwing a copy of the Rajya Sabha Rule Book at the Chair, presided on Tuesday by vice-chairman Sasmit Patra, demanding a division of votes on the electoral reforms bill.
  • He is the 13th MP to be suspended from this parliament session. Earlier, 12 opposition MPs were suspended for their unruly behaviour during the last day of the monsoon session on August 11.
  • The Winter session is scheduled to end on December 23.

To be scrutinised…

  • A bill that seeks to raise the legal age of marriage for women to 21, bringing it at par with men, was introduced in Lok Sabha and later referred to a parliamentary standing committee.
  • Social activists say penalising marriages under 21 will not serve the intended purpose of improving infant and maternal health in the country.

Tested +ve…

  • BSP MP Danish Ali tested positive for Covid. He had attended the Lok Sabha proceedings on Monday.
2. TMC decimates BJP in Kolkata civic polls
2. TMC decimates BJP in Kolkata civic polls
  • In a ringing endorsement for the Trinamool Congress (TMC) seven months after its landslide win in the state Assembly polls, it romped to victory in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) elections on Tuesday. Mamata Banerjee’s party won 134 of the 144 wards, as nearly 72% of the city residents voted in favour of the party.
  • The BJP, which had emerged as the main Opposition party in the Assembly polls, won three seats, while the Left Front and Congress won two each; three went to Independents.
  • Banerjee announced that the party would choose the mayor and other leadership roles in the KMC after a meeting on Thursday.
  • A first: The KMC will now have 68 women councillors, 64 of them from TMC. This works out to 47% of the seats in the House.
  • The big takeaway: The good news for the Left, which has been bleeding under the double onslaught of the TMC and the BJP, was that it managed to increase its vote share. Contesting in 128 wards, the Left’s vote share stood at over 11%, while the BJP, which contested in 142 wards, secured only about 9% of the polled votes. In 65 wards, the Left came second, while the BJP came second in 54 wards.
  • Also on the day: At least three people were killed and 44 others suffered injuries after a fire broke out at the Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL) refinery in Haldia, West Bengal.
  • A senior police officer of the Purba Medinipur district told PTI that of the 44 injured, 37 were being referred to a hospital in Kolkata. The condition of seven of them is currently critical. An IOC statement said the incident occurred at a unit of the refinery during shutdown related works.
3. “Activate war rooms”, Centre tells states as Omicron cases cross 200
3. “Activate war rooms”, Centre tells states as Omicron cases cross 200
Warning that Omicron “is at least 3 times more transmissible than the Delta” variant, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan has written to states to “activate the war rooms” as India’s Omicron cases touched 218.

Centre’s claim

  • Even as the Centre asked states to ensure 100% vaccination coverage and increase bed capacity, Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya, in a written reply, informed the Rajya Sabha that “vaccines are expected to still offer protection against severe disease and vaccination with the available vaccines remains crucial.” He however conceded that there’s “limited available data” and “no peer-reviewed evidence on vaccine efficacy or effectiveness to date for Omicron.”
  • The Centre’s assertions came even as it was revealed that 81% of the Omicron cases in Maharashtra were fully vaccinated, with some even receiving a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which is not yet officially available in the country.
  • According to Dr Vineeta Bal, immunologist at Pune’s Indian Institute of Science Education, most available vaccines, including Covaxin and Covishield, are not transmission blocking as they are “not strong enough to locally destroy the virus” at the point of entry, which is the nose and throat, as they are intramuscular injections.

Rising cases, increasing clampdowns

  • With 11 new cases, Maharashtra’s Omicron caseload reached 65 even as three cases were detected in J&K while two new cases were detected in Odisha. Delhi saw the highest jump in cases, with 24 new infections coming to light, taking its tally to 54.
  • States are clamping down on impending festivities for New Year’s eve, with Karnataka banning mass gatherings in hotels, pubs and restaurants in view of rising Covid-19 cases, including those of Omicron, from December 30 to January 2, according to a statement by state CM Basavaraj Bommai. Delhi and Maharashtra too have issued similar restrictions. The Centre too, has recommended measures like night curfew and regulating attendance in offices.
4. India fines European firm for offsets delay in Rafale deal
4. India fines European firm for offsets delay in Rafale deal
  • India has imposed a penalty on a European missile maker for the delay in fulfilling offsets commitments as part of the Rafale jets deal, Times of India reports.
  • The 2016 deal to purchase 36 Rafale jets from Dassault Aviation in “flyaway” condition, worth 7.8 billion euros, has conditions mandating at least 50% of the total contract value, or around Rs 30,000 crore, be made in India through procurement of components or R&D.
  • Missile-maker MBDA is the weapons package supplier for the Rafale jets. The fine has been “imposed and collected”, top defence sources told TOI.
  • While MBDA has paid the penalty, it has also protested with the defence ministry (MoD). The company refused to comment on the matter.
  • The fine is understood to be less than 1 million euros as 5% of the shortfall in a particular year is the penalty.
  • The offsets in the Rafale deal are spread over seven years from the date of signing the contract, with no discharge in the first three years. “The fine has been imposed on MBDA after it slipped in discharging its offsets obligations for the first applicable year from September 2019-September 2020,” a source said.
  • The decision is in line with the new policy to “tighten the screws on defaulting armament majors”.
6. Japan stun India to enter Asian Champions Trophy Hockey final
6. Japan stun India to enter Asian Champions Trophy Hockey final
  • At their first international tournament since winning bronze at the Tokyo Olympics, India suffered a 3-5 defeat against 2018 Asian Games champions Japan in the semi-final of the Asian Champions Trophy men’s hockey tournament in Dhaka on Tuesday. This after Manpreet Singh & Co, the tournament’s defending champions, had walloped the same opponents 6-0 in their final league match en route to topping the round robin stage.
  • Japan came out blazing, scoring twice in the first minute and a half, and continued their flurry of attacks and penalty corners (six within the first 5 minutes). India did fight back with a goal from Dilpreet Singh early in the second quarter but a penalty stroke towards the end had Japan restoring the two-goal cushion.
  • And it would get worse. A defensive lapse led to Japan’s fourth goal before they made it 5-1 towards the end of the third quarter.
  • An intense fourth quarter was headlined by Harmanpreet Singh, who scored one to reduce the deficit. A penalty corner rebound helped Hardik Singh to net one more but it proved too late for a largely mediocre and clueless India. They will now face Pakistan, who lost 5-6 against South Korea in the other semi, in the third-place playoff today.
  • Also on the day: Ace cueist Pankaj Advani defended his National Billiards Championship title — his 11th in the tournament (and 35th title overall) — defeating his Petroleum Sports Promotion Board teammate and former Asia champion Dhruv Sitwala 5-2 in a best-of-nine games final in Bhopal.
7. Injection to prevent HIV infection receives FDA approval
7. Injection to prevent HIV infection receives FDA approval
  • In a first, an injection to prevent HIV has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • The injectable drug, called Apretude, reduces the risk of getting infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The first two injections are given a month apart and thereafter every two months.
  • Trials showed it reduced the risk of infection by an average of 66% as compared to a daily oral pill developed by Gilead. In a trial on cisgender men and transgender women who have sex with men, it reduced the risk of infection by 69%. In a trial on cisgender women, the efficacy was 90%.
  • It is considered a major healthcare measure for high-risk groups who otherwise have to rely on daily oral pills to reduce their risk of HIV infection. FDA’s Debra Birnkrant said the injection “will be critical to addressing the HIV epidemic in the US”.
  • The drug comes with a boxed warning to not use the drug unless a negative HIV test is confirmed. A boxed warning on the label is FDA’s strictest warning.
8. Kerala HC dismisses plea for removal of PM’s pic from vax certificates
8. Kerala HC dismisses plea for removal of PM’s pic from vax certificates
Noting that “it is the duty of the citizens to respect the Prime Minister of India”, the Kerala High Court (HC) dismissed a petition seeking the removal of PM Narendra Modi’s photograph from the Covid-19 vaccination certificates.

Court notes

  • Terming it “a frivolous petition filed with ulterior motives”, the HC said it had “a strong doubt that there is political agenda also to the petitioner.” Labelling it “a publicity oriented litigation”, the court said it deserved “to be dismissed with a heavy cost” — imposing a fine of Rs 1 lakh.
  • Observing that “the Prime Minister of India is not a person who entered the parliament house by breaking the roof of the parliament building”, the HC said that while the petitioner “can differ on the policies of the Government and even the political stand of the Prime Minister”, the PM’s post “should be the pride of every citizen, whether the Prime Minister is “X” or “Y”.”
  • Admonishing the petitioner for wasting the court’s time, the HC noted that when there are thousands of serious cases pending before the court, a heavy penalty needs to be imposed on such “frivolous petitions”.

The plea

  • The petitioner had contended that when he had paid for his vaccination, printing Modi’s photograph on the vaccination certificate was an intrusion into his privacy and made him a captive audience which violated his fundamental rights — an argument that the HC caustically termed as “fantastic”.
9. Dubai ruler ordered to pay ex-wife $733 million
9. Dubai ruler ordered to pay ex-wife $733 million
  • In what is billed as the largest settlement awarded by a British family court, the High Court in London ordered Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum — who’s also the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — to pay a sum of $733 million to his ex-wife Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, half-sister of Jordan’s King Abdullah, to settle a custody battle over their two children.
  • Giving the order, the judge said that a major part of the amount awarded is to ensure the lifetime security of al-Makhtoum’s ex-wife and two children due to the “grave risk” posed to them by the Sheikh himself. The award comprises a one-time payment of $333 million, to be paid within three months to al-Hussein, for the upkeep of her British mansions and to reimburse the money she claimed she was owed for her jewellery and racehorses, in addition to covering her security costs.
  • The Sheikh has also been ordered to pay $4 million for the education costs of his two kids — Jalila, 14, and Zayed, 9 — along with payment of arrears amounting close to $13 million. In addition, the Dubai monarch will also pay nearly $15 million annually as child maintenance and also pay for their security when they become adults. For this, a sum of $384 million will be held as security by HSBC Bank. The family discord traces its origins to 2019, when the Princess fled to Britain fearing for her safety after she began an affair with one of her bodyguards and sought a divorce from the Sheikh.

Ravi Shastri. Indian offspinner R Ashwin has revealed that he felt like he was being “thrown under the bus” after a remark by the former head coach left him “crushed” during a torrid phase in his career when he contemplated retirement multiple times. On being asked In an interview with ESPNCricinfo how he felt when then coach Shastri anointed Kuldeep Yadav as India’s No. 1 spinner overseas after he had taken a five-for in the 2019 Sydney Test, Ashwin said he was genuinely happy for the bowler but Shastri’s remarks left him “absolutely crushed”.

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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Judhajit Basu, Sumil Sudhakaran, Tejeesh Nippun Singh
Research: Rajesh Sharma

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