CMYK SATURDAY www.thestatesman.com 02 JANUARY 2021 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |` 5.00|LC* KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR TRUMP EXTENDS FREEZE ON H-1B VISAS TILL 31 MAR ‘STANDING ATOP EVEREST IS MAGICAL’ P10 Fog/Mist in the morning, mainly clear sky later. Temperature likely to in the range of 25-14 degree Celsius. RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY TEMPERATURE P7 P5 THE BOWLER WHO LEADS INDIA’S TEST CAMPAIGN P12 Panel recommends nod for SII vaccine WEATHER Max. 88% HOUSING FOR POOR, MIDDLE CLASS A PRIORITY: MODI Min. 43% Max: 25.1°C (N) Min: 13.7°C (N) SUN RISES SUN SETS 06:17 hrs 17:04 hrs MOON SETS MOON RISES 08:02 hrs 19:09 hrs Next moon quarter on 06 January THUMBNAILS A crowd at Connaught Place in New Delhi on New Year’s Day on Friday. SNS JCO killed in Pakistani shelling: A JCO of the Indian Army was killed on Friday when Pakistani troops indulged in unprovoked shelling in the Naushera Sector of Rajouri in Jammu division. A spokesman of the Army said that Naib Subedar Ravinder was critically injured and later succumbed to his injuries. "Pakistan Army resorted to unprovoked ceasefire violation on the line of control (LoC) in Naushera Sector (J&K). Own troops responded strongly to the enemy fire", he said. Jammu and Kashmir recorded 5,100 instances of ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) in 2020, the highest in the past 18 years. India takes UNSC seat: India, which has been at the forefront of the years-long efforts to reform the UN Security Council, on Friday began its two-year tenure as a non-permanent member of the powerful organ of the world body. India will sit in the 15-nation United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the 202122 term as a non-permanent member - the eighth time that the country has had a seat on the powerful horseshoe table. India lodges protest with Pak over demolition of temple NEW DELHI, 1 JANUARY India has lodged a protest with Pakistan over the demolition of a Hindu temple in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Karak district earlier this week. “The matter was taken up officially with the Pakistani side and a strong protest was lodged,” a source said. Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj’s samadhi together with the Krishna Dwara Mandir in Teri village in the northwestern city of Karak was vandalised on Wednesday by a mob. The mob claimed that the temple had encroached on extra land and set it on fire. Some 25 people have been in connection with the incident in overnight raids. About 1,500 people had reportedly participated in the attack on the temple. The arrests came after the country’s Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed took suo motu notice of the attack. The issue was raised with him by minority lawmaker Ramesh Kumar.The country’s Supreme Court will hear the case on 5 January. Pakistan’s Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri called the attack on the temple “a conspiracy against sectarian harmony”. Hindus in Pakistan took out rallies to demand the rebuilding of the place of worship. The temple was first attacked and demolished in 1997 and the local community had agreed to its reconstruction after the intervention by the Supreme Court in 2015. There was a dispute over the land allocated to the temple during its reconstruction, leading to some misunderstanding between temple supporters and local clerics. SNS DCGI expected to take call on recommendation for restricted emergency use authorisation for Covishield vaccine PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 1 JANUARY n expert panel of India's drug regulator on Friday recommended emergency use approval for Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine Covishield, being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, paving the way for the roll-out of the first Covid-19 shot in the country in the next few days. As for Bharat Biotech's vaccine, official sources said, the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) on Covid19 of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) asked the firm to expedite volunteer recruitment for the ongoing clinical trial and recommended it may conduct interim efficacy analysis for further consideration of restricted emergency use approval for Covaxin. The SEC recommendation on Covishield has been forwarded to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), which is likely to take a final call soon. A The SEC, which earlier had sought additional safety, immunogenicity and efficacy data from SII and Bharat Biotech, deliberated on their applications seeking emergency use authorisation (EUA) for their shots on Wednesday, and met again on Friday to review the matter. While granting the restricted emergency use approval for the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine, the panel imposed certain regulatory provisions, including that the shot is indicated for active immunisation in individuals of 18 years or more to prevent the disease and that it should be admin- istered intramuscularly in two doses at an interval of 4 to 6 weeks. Further, the SII should submit safety, efficacy and immunogenicity data from the ongoing clinical trials in the country and across the globe for review at the earliest. Also, the Pune-based firm should submit the safety data including the data on adverse event following immunisation (AEFI) and adverse event of special interest (AESI) with due analysis every 15 days for the first two months and monthly thereafter till the completion of the ongoing clinical trial in the country. The Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, has tied up with AstraZeneca to manufacture Covishield. While considering Bharat Biotech's application, the SEC noted that the ongoing clinical trial is a large one with 25,800 subjects of which 22,000 have been enrolled, including subjects with comorbid conditions, which has demonstrated safety till date but efficacy is yet to be demonstrated. “After detailed deliberation, the committee recommended that the firm should try to expedite the recruitment and may perform interim efficacy analysis for further consideration of restricted emergency use approval,” an official source said. Pfizer's application was not deliberated on, sources said. The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on Wednesday had approved the Covid-19 vac- cine developed by scientists at Oxford University and produced by AstraZeneca for human use. “In terms of safety, Covishield was well tolerated with respect to solicited adverse events...majority of solicited reactions were mild in severity and resolved without any sequelae.“Therefore, Covishield is safe and can be used effectively for prevention of Covid-19 in the targeted population. Thus, the benefit to risk ratio strongly supports the widespread use of Covishield,” the EUA application signed by Prakash Kumar Singh, Additional Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at Serum Institute of India (SII), had stated. SII had applied to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for EUA for Oxford Covid-19 vaccine on December 6, while the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech had sought the nod for its indigenously developed Covaxin on December 7. Pfizer had applied for regulatory approval for its vaccine on December 4. Vardhan reviews preparedness for vaccine dry run PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 1 JANUARY Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday chaired a high-level meeting to review preparedness at various session sites in the country for coronavirus vaccination trial run on January 2. Senior officials of the health ministry apprised the minister on various improvements that have been made to make the pan India dry run glitch free, such as number of telephone operators has been increased to answer every possible query from the teams on the ground conducting the dry run. Block-level task forces have been constituted for physical inspection of the sites and all workers have been oriented for the purpose with the dissemination of FAQs on the process, among other issues, the ministry said in a statement. Vardhan asked officials concerned to ensure that the vaccination sites and official in-charge abide by the detailed checklist and SOP for vaccination that has been prepared by the health ministry and shared with the states/UTs to guide them in the dry run. He also pressed the need for perfect calibration between administrative and medical officers to make the event a primer that would later enable mass implementation of the vaccination drive, the statement stated. Re-emphasising the importance of such an event that involves mass participation similar to elections, the health minister said, Let us attempt to implement it as a real exercise with attention to the minute detail. Proper co-ordination will go a long way in building mutual understanding so that the upcoming vaccination drive may proceed without any glitch. Drawing from the pulse polio drive of 1994 in Delhi, Vardhan said as the exercise of vaccination is so integrally based on interaction and involvement of people, the relevant stakeholders, NGOs, civil society organisations (CSOs) and others need to be mobilised, the statement said. Vardhan also updated the officers on the status of the two leading vaccine candidates whose data are being closely monitored by Subject Expert Committee of the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). Farmers warn of firm steps if talks fail PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 1 JANUARY Upping the ante ahead of the next round of talks, farmer unions on Friday warned that they will start shutting all malls and petrol pumps in Haryana if the government fails to resolve their main demands for the repeal of three new farm laws and a legal guarantee for MSP in the January 4 meeting. Addressing a press conference at the Singhu border protest site, representatives of farmer unions said that only five per cent of the issues raised by them have so far been discussed in meetings with the government. They outlined multiple protest actions over a month if their main demands are not met, in an announcement a few days before Republic Day celebrations. Farmer leader Yudhveer Singh said if the central government thinks the farmers' protest will go the Shaheen Bagh way, then it is mistaken. “They (government) cannot make us leave this place like they did in Shaheen Bagh,” he said. Hundreds of protesters had camped at Shaheen Bagh for several months against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and later, the site was cleared by the Delhi Police following the coronavirusinduced lockdown in March last year. At the press conference, farmer leaders made it clear that they will have to take firm steps if the government does not take a decision in their favour in the January 4 meeting. Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav said that the government has not moved an inch on the two main issues -repeal of three agri laws and legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP). Spelling out their next course of action,Yadav said that while talks with the Union government will go on, farmer unions will intensify the protest simultaneously and take it to every corner of the country. “If the January 4 meeting with the government fails to end the deadlock, we will announce dates for shutting all malls, petrol pumps in Haryana,” another farmer leader, Vikas, told reporters. At a meeting of Samkyukt Kisan Morcha ~ an umbrella body of around 40 farmer unions protesting at several Delhi border points ~ several decisions were taken. According to the unions, if the results of the talks on January 4 are not satisfactory, a tractor march will be taken out from the protest site to the KundliManesarPalwal (KMP) Expressway on January 6 and a call will also be given to those farmers protesting at Shahjahanpur on the HaryanaRajasthan border to move towards the national capital. Rallies, dharnas, sit-ins and press conferences will be organised across the country from January 6 to January 20 to counter alleged government propaganda that the protest was Punjab-centric. New Covid-19 strain: Total 29 cases inIndia NEW DELHI, 1 JANUARY A total of 29 people have tested positive for thenew UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 in India so far, the Union Health Ministry said on Friday. These include the 25 cases which were announced till Thursday. “All the 29 persons are in physical isolation in health facilities,” an official said. Meanwhile, India added a total of 20,035 new Covid19 infections in a day, taking the caseload to 1,02,86,709, while the number of people who have recovered from the disease is now 98.83 lakh,according to Union health ministry data updated on Friday. The death toll increased to1,48,994 with 256 new fatalities. There are 2,54,254 active cases of coronavirus infection in the country. West Bengal, meanwhile, added 1,153 new Covid-19 cases and 26 deaths due to 1,02,86,709 2,54,254 20,035 23,181 1,48,994 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. FRIDAY 1 JANUARY 2021 the infection. The total caseload for the state is 5,53,216, while there are currently 11,616 active cases. The death toll has reached 9,738 in the state. SNS/PTI New Delhi pursuing with Beijing case of 39 stranded sailors STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 1 JANUARY India today said it was “pursuing vigorously” with the Chinese authorities the plight of 39 Indians sailors stuck in China on board two cargo vessels for the past several months and hoped the matter would be resolved. “Our Embassy in Beijing continues to remain in close and continuous touch with the Chinese authorities in Beijing, Hebei and Tianjin. The (External Affairs) Ministry is also following up through the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi for an early resolution,'' External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said. The Indian bulk cargo vessel MV Jag Anand of Great Eastern Shipping company has been on anchorage near Jingtang port in Hebei province of China since 13 June with 23 Indian nationals as crew on board. Another vessel, MV Anastasia, which has 16 Indian nationals as its crew, has been on anchorage near Caofeidian port in China since 20 September. Both these vessels have been waiting for discharge of their cargo. There is a growing stress on the crew members on account of the long delay. Noting that there were several other ships from other countries also awaiting their turn for unloading their cargo, the spokesperson said India has repeatedly taken up the matter both with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also the local provincial authorities, requesting that the ships be allowed to dock and/or the crew be allowed to be changed. The Indian Ambassador in Beijing has personally taken up this issue with the Chinese vice foreign minister. The Chinese authorities have conveyed to India that on account of various Covid19 related restrictions imposed by the local authorities, crew change was not being permitted from these ports. The Chinese Foreign Ministry conveyed in late November 2020 that while crew change from Jingtang port would not be feasible, the shipping company/agent might apply for crew rotation from Tianjin port in China, and that the local authorities would examine after receiving requests for the same. The concerned shipping companies have been asked to make crew change applications expeditiously. “While the shipping companies are examining the logistics of sailing the ships away from their current points of anchorage, our embassy is liaising with relevant authorities in Tianjin for berthing approvals to facilitate the crew change,” the spokesperson added. Britain ends long Brexit journey with economic break from EU ASSOCIATED PRESS LONDON, 1 JANUARY Britain's long and sometimes acrimonious divorce from the European Union ended on Thursday with an economic split that leaves the EU smaller and the UK freer but more isolated in a turbulent world. Britain left the European blocs vast single market for people, goods and services at 11 pm London time, midnight in Brussels, completing the biggest single economic change the country has experienced since World War II. A new UK-EU trade deal will bring its own restrictions and red tape, but for British Brexit supporters, it means reclaiming national independence from the EU and its web of rules. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose support for Brex- it helped push the country out of the EU, said it was “an amazing moment for this country”. “We have our freedom in our hands, and it is up to us to make the most of it,” he said in a New Years video message. The break comes 11 months after a political Brexit that left the two sides in the limbo of a “transition period” - like a separated couple still living togeth- er, wrangling and wondering whether they can remain friends. Now the UK has finally moved out. It was a day some had been longing for and others had been dreading since Britain voted in a 2016 referendum to leave the EU, but it turned out to be something of an anticlimax. UK lockdown measures to curb the coronavirus curtailed mass gatherings to celebrate or mourn the moment, though Parliament’s huge Big Ben bell sounded 11 times on the hour as it prepared to ring in the new year at midnight. A free trade agreement sealed on Christmas Eve after months of tense negotiations ensures that Britain and the 27nation EU can continue to buy and sell goods without tariffs or quotas. That should help protect the $894 billion in annual trade between the two sides, and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that rely on it. But companies face sheaves of new costs and paperwork, including customs declarations and border checks. Traders are struggling to digest the new rules imposed by a 1,200-page trade deal that was agreed just a week before split. CMYK The English Channel port of Dover and the Eurotunnel passenger and freight route braced for delays as the new measures were introduced, though the coronavirus pandemic and a holiday weekend meant cross-Channel traffic was light, with only a trickle of trucks arriving at French border posts in Calais as 2020 ended. The vital supply route was snarled for days after France closed its border to UK truckers for 48 hours last week in response to a fast-spreading variant of the virus identified in England. The British government insisted that “the border systems and infrastructure we need are in place, and we are ready for the UK's new start”. But freight companies were holding their breath. Youngs Transportation in the UK suspended services to the EU until January 11 “to let things settle”. “We figure it gives the country a week or so to get used to all of these new systems in and out, and we can have a look and hopefully resolve any issues in advance of actually sending our trucks,” said the company's director, Rob Hollyman. The services sector, which makes up 80 per cent of Britains economy, does not even know what the rules will be for business with the EU in 2021 ~ many of the details have yet to be hammered out. Months and years of further discussion and argument over everything from fair competition to fish quotas lie ahead as Britain and the EU settle into their new relationship as friends, neigh- bours and rivals. Hundreds of millions of individuals in Britain and the bloc also face changes to their daily lives. Britons and EU citizens have lost the automatic right to live and work in the others territory. From now on, they will have to follow immigration rules and obtain work visas. Tourists will not need visas for short trips, but new headaches ~ from travel insurance to pet paperwork ~ still loom for Britons visiting the continent. For some in Britain, including the prime minister, its a moment of pride and a chance for the UK to set new diplomatic and economic priorities. Johnson said the UK was now “free to do trade deals around the world, and free to turbocharge our ambition to be a science superpower”.
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