12:54 India to send astronauts to space by December 2021: ISRO :
India’s target for sending astronauts to space is December 2021, the chief of ISRO said today.
The ambitious Gaganyaan project by the space agency will help India become the fourth nation to independently send humans to space.
“The initial training for Gaganyaan will be done in India and advanced training maybe in Russia. Women astronauts will be there on the team. That’s our aim,” Indian Space Research Organisation chairman chief K Sivan said.
Last month, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had announced that three Indian astronauts will be sent to space for up to seven days by 2022 as part of Gaganyaan. The cabinet has cleared of Rs. 10,000 crore for the programme.
Sivan on Friday also announced that the launch of India’s second Moon mission, Chandrayaan-2, has been planned for the middle of April this year.
ISRO had earlier said Chandrayaan-2 will be launched in a window between January-February 16 this year.
The mission, costing nearly Rs 800 crore, is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission about 10 years ago.
“Regarding Chandrayaan-2 schedule, right now Chandrayaan is scheduled from March 25 to April end. Most probably, the normal targeted date is April middle,” Sivan told reporters here.
He said the space agency had earlier planned to launch the spacecraft sometime between January and February but it could not materialise because certain tests could not be conducted.
“Once we missed the February target, next available target is April. Right now it is planned for April,” the ISRO chief added.
12:29 SC closes case against Johnson and Johnson for faulty hip implants:
The Supreme Court on Friday closed the case seeking action against United States-based pharma major Johnson and Johnson for implanting faulty hip implants into patients in New Delhi, saying that steps have been taken by the Centre to provide compensation upto Rs 1.22 crore to them.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S K Kaul considered the response filed by the Union health ministry which said that a compensation scheme has been formulated by it to ensure proper compensation to the victims of faulty hip implants.
Disposing of the PIL filed by one Arun Goenka, the top court asked the Centre to widely publicise its compensation scheme to ensure that all the victims of such implants seek help for their grievances.
Earlier, the Centre had informed the apex court that the report of its panel on alleged “faulty” hip implants, made by the pharma major was ready and would be filed within a week.
The PIL had alleged that “faulty” and “deadly” hip implants have been fitted into the bodies of 4,525 Indian patients who had undergone the replacement surgeries since 2005. — PTI
12:17 If Trump and Kim can meet, why not others: Nepal on stalled SAARC summit:
Nepal on Friday strongly pitched for convening of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation or SAARC summit, saying differences should be resolved through dialogue and the grouping should collectively deal with terrorism and other key challenges facing the region.
Nepalese foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali also cited last year’s historic talks between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore, saying dialogue was the only way to address differences.
“If US President Trump and North Korea’s Kim can meet, then why not (leaders of) other countries,” he asked during an interaction with a group of foreign policy experts and reporters.
It is Pakistan’s turn to host the summit. However, India, citing continued support to cross-border terrorism by Pakistan, has been maintaining that it is difficult to proceed with the summit.
The 2016 SAARC summit was to be held in Islamabad. But after a deadly terrorist attack on an Indian Army camp in Jammu and Kashmir that year, India expressed its inability to participate in it.
The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to participate in the meet. Maldives and Sri Lanka are the seventh and eighth members of the grouping.
“There is no alternative to sitting together and mitigating differences. The problems we (the region) are facing cannot be resolved alone. We need to put collective efforts to deal with various key challenges like climate change and terrorism,” Gyawali said.
The Nepalese foreign minister, who held bilateral talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday, said his country has been raising the issue of the SAARC summit with India.
“I am hopeful the summit will be held soon,” Gyawali said.
SAARC summits are usually held biennially, hosted by a member state in alphabetical order. The member state hosting the summit assumes the chair of the Association. The last SAARC Summit in 2014 was held in Kathmandu, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. — PTI
11:56 Rajasthan shocker: Male nurse botches delivery, splits baby in half, leaves head in womb:
A shocking dereliction of duty has come to light from a hospital in Ramgarh district of Rajasthan.
A male nurse working at a government medical centre has ‘decapitated a baby while pulling too hard during a difficult birth’.
The mother is said to be battling for her life after the unfortunate incident.
During the time of the delivery, the nurse pulled the foetus so carelessly that it resulted in splitting the body of the baby into two parts.
After the incident, the nurse along a colleague deposited the lower part of the foetus in the centre’s mortuary and asked the family of the victim to take her to Jaisalmer for further treatment.
Another mistake, that the Ramgarh health centre committed was lying to the gynaecologist at Jodhpur Umaid hospital that they have finished the delivery.
The Ramgarh’s hospital staff left the placenta in the womb.
Later, a team of doctors headed by Dr Ravindra Sankhla operated the victim again and found that the foetus’ head is in the womb.
The doctors then informed the victim’s kin about the incident.
Woman’s husband has lodged a complaint against the Ramgarh hospital staff but the police is yet to arrest them. — ANI
11:48 Srinagar-Jammu highway closed due to heavy snowfall: The strategic Srinagar-Jammu national highway was closed on Friday due to heavy snowfall at Jawahar Tunnel.
The highway was open for one way traffic on Wednesday with vehicles moving from Srinagar to Jammu.
11:47 Manmohan Singh ‘shareef tha bechara’, says Anupam Kher’s mother :
Anupam Kher’s mother has praised Dr. Manmohan Singh after watching ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’, in which Kher has stepped into the shoes of the former PM.
The veteran actor shared a video on social media in which his mother, Dulari Kher, heaped praises on her son as well as the former prime minister.
When the A Wednesday star asked if she liked Singh, his mother repiled, “Manmohan Singh shareef tha bechara. Lagta tha door se shareef hai, tabhi log shareef ko bewakoof mante hain. Ye nahi pata wo bohot tez hote hain.”
Praising his acting skills, Anupam’s mother also said she could not believe it’s her son and exclaimed, “What do you eat, I don’t understand!”
She further stated, “I really liked the film and I am sure everyone will like it too.”
Anupam Kher posted the video on Instagram with the caption, “Mother of all Reviews: Dulari Watched #TheAccidentalPrimeMinister and has given her review in a one minute video. Her first sentence was frightening. “Aise koi acting karta hai?” And she almost acted me out.”
He added, “But what followed was a great endorsement for my performance. Her observation about #DrManmohanSingh is spot on. Her review is my ultimate reward. After all these years mom is relieved that I can act. Jai Mata di. #DulariRocks #DulariReviewsTAPM #FilmReleasesToday”
‘The Accidental Prime Minister’ is based on facts as chronicled in a book by Sanjaya Baru — Manmohan Singh’s media advisor between 2004 and 2008.
The film hits the big screens today. — ANI
11:21 1984 anti-Sikh riot culprits must be punished irrespective of identity: Rahul :
“I am very clear on 1984 that anybody, regardless of where he comes from, if he has harmed members of the minority community, he should be punished,” asserted Congress president Rahul Gandhi while speaking about alleged insecurities among minorities in the country.
In an exclusive interview to Gulf News, ahead of his maiden visit to UAE, the Gandhi scion said, “We will punish those who think that they can get away by crushing India. They should not be under the impression that they can crush the weak people. I am very clear on 1984 that anybody, regardless of where he comes from, if he has harmed members of the minority community, he should be punished. The legal system will make sure that the justice is done (in 1984 cases) and we will allow the justice system to work. The legal structure that we have, the laws that we have, are good enough to deal with the problems as long as institutions like the Supreme Court are free to do their work.”
While talking about alliances for 2019 Lok Sabha election, Rahul exhumed confidence about party’s ability in Uttar Pradesh and said that the Congress will surprise people in the state.
“Our first aim is to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi. There are states where we are very strong and we are the primary party and are contesting the BJP directly. There are states where there are possible alliances — Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, where we are working out an alliance formula. There are very interesting things that the Congress party can do in Uttar Pradesh… the Congress idea is very powerful for Uttar Pradesh. So, we are very confident of our ability in Uttar Pradesh and we will surprise people,” said Rahul to the Gulf News editor, who came to Delhi for Rahul’s interview.
The Congress president also said that work is in progress to bring opposition together in the Uttar Pradesh and added, “I have heard some statements in the media but we are going to work together and make sure that we defeat Prime Minister Modi. But, I just want to say again — to underestimate the Congress in UP is a mistake.”
Acknowledging the defeat of 2014 Lok Sabha election, Rahul also talked about having fatigue and arrogance in the party after being in power for ten years.
“You can understand that we were ten years in power and frankly there was a certain amount of fatigue, a little bit of arrogance built up and that harmed us,” he said.
The Congress president also opined that party’s model for 2019 is to bring people into the conversation and listen to what they are saying.
Accusing the government of destroying the institutional structure of India, Rahul also called for ‘allowing them space’ to function.
11:07 Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde compares Modi with Hitler:
Training guns at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde on Thursday compared the former to German dictator Adolf Hitler.
Shinde, who has also served as the Union home minister during the United Progressive Alliance regime said, “Does he listen to anyone? He listens to himself. He sacked the CBI director at night, he imposed demonetisation. Isn’t this dictatorship? Did he ask anyone? Did he ask the finance minister or the Reserve Bank of India governor? No, he just felt like it so he did it. It’s exactly what dictatorship is.”
Talking further about an incident from Solapur Concerning Congress workers, he added, “What else is he (Prime Minister) if not Hitler? Demonstrations have always been held in a democracy but it’s a first where it (Congress workers allegedly thrashed by police in Solapur) was done after instructing police. He works like Putin (Russian Pres). He’s a dictator.”
Earlier, Shinder had accused the Prime Minister of not giving due credit to the Constitution and democratic system of the country for making it possible for a tea seller to become the prime minister.
Shinde had said, “You have heard countless times how a tea seller became the prime minister. But please take note that our prime minister rarely gives credit to our democratic system or the Constitution that has made this possible.” — ANI
Photograph: Vijay Verma/PTI Photo/
10:42 Brother of slain Indian-origin cop supports Trump on border security:
Reggie Singh, the brother of Indian-origin policeman Ronil “Ron” Singh killed in California and described a national hero by Donald Trump, has said he supported the United States president’s efforts on border security so that others do not experience what his family has been going through since the incident.
Corporal Ronil Singh, 33, of the Newman Police Department was shot and killed during a traffic stop on December 26 allegedly by an illegal immigrant.
During a visit to the southern border state Texas on Thursday to push for his controversial US-Mexico border wall plan, Trump attended a border patrol roundtable at McAllen, where Reggie Singh was seated next to the president.
There the US president said, “I watched a family right around Christmas time… suffer and I’d like to ask Reggie, maybe you could say a few words about your incredible brother, the job he was doing. He was so beloved by the people of the department and beyond the department.”
To this, Reggie Singh told the president, “The way he (Ronil Singh) was killed, what my family is going through right now, I do not want any other family, law enforcement person to go through that.”
“Whatever it takes to minimize… put a stop to it, my family fully supports it,” Reggie Singh said.
In the last few days, Trump has made it a point to mention the killing of Ronil Singh by an illegal immigrant to build a strong case in favour of a stronger border security to prevent entry of illegal immigrants.
“We are deeply moved to have with us Reggie Singh, whose brother, Ronil Singh, incredible guy. I mean, I watched, and I’ve rarely felt worse and watching news of our nation than watching your family and the love that you have for your brother,” Trump said.
During the roundtable meeting, Reggie Singh said he and his brother are originally from Fiji.
“He (Ronil) always wanted to be in law enforcement. So legally we migrated to America to fulfil his dream of joining the law enforcement, he said.
“English is our second language. He worked on that, got his education, applied for law enforcement agency and he was asked to get his citizenship. He worked towards that and he became a cop, K-9, Corporal K-9,” Reggie Singh said.
“At 33, Ronil Singh was cremated and I had to pick up his remains. It breaks my heart and no one should ever go through that. Seeing a five-month-old baby looking for his dad, no one should ever go through that on Christmas Day,” he told Trump.
The president replied, “We are with you. You know that, right.”
“That was a tough one, too. That was a tough one for a lot of people, not only the family, for a lot of people in this country. That was a tough thing to watch,” Trump said.
“I can see that, the way it came through. It came through loud and clear. And there are so many other people who have the same — nobody covers them…, nobody talks about how unfair it is to the victims of these brutal killings,” he said. — PTI
09:59 Akhilesh, Mayawati may announce alliance for Lok Sabha poll tomorrow:
Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati will address a joint press meet in Lucknow on Saturday amid talks of seat sharing for Lok Sabha polls.
This was announced Friday by SP national secretary Rajendra Chaudhary and Bahujan Samaj Party national general secretary SC Misra.
The top leadership of both the parties met in New Delhi recently to discuss broad parameters of an alliance to take on the BJP unitedly in the Lok Sabha elections. — PTI
09:57 Security beefed up in Haryana, Punjab ahead of murder trial verdict against Gurmeet Ram Rahim:
A special Central Bureau of Investigation court in Panchkula will likely to pronounce verdict in a journalist’s murder case, allegedly involving jailed Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim is accused of orchestrating the killing of Ramchandra Chhatrapati, a Sirsa-based journalist, for openly criticising the Dera chief in his newspaper Poora Sach.
The Dera chief is currently serving a 20-year prison term in Rohtak’s Sunaria jail for raping two of his women followers.
Ahead of the verdict, elaborate security arrangements have been made in Haryana and parts of Punjab.
Several companies of the state armed police, anti-riot police and commando force have been deployed to combat any untoward situation.
Rohtak’s deputy duperintendent of police Tahir Hussain said: “We have heightened the security of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh ahead the verdict. We have established four more police posts, five patrolling parties around the jail, PCRs and three more inspectors have been put on the duty.”
On 25 August 2017, 41 lives were claimed and scores of people were injured after violence erupted in Panchkula and other towns of Haryana following the conviction of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. — ANI
09:38 Rahul Gandhi in UAE, to interact with Indian community today:
Congress President Rahul Gandhi who will interact with the Indian overseas and student communities during his maiden visit to the UAE was accorded a warm welcome by the Indian diaspora at the Dubai airport on Thursday, the party said.
He is also set to meet some UAE ministers during his two-day visit to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the Khaleej Times reported.
Gandhi, who will begin his tour on Friday, reached Dubai on Thursday evening.
“CP @RahulGandhi will be on a two-day tour in Dubai from tomorrow. He will be interacting with the Indian overseas community and the student community,” the Congress Party tweeted Thursday.
Gandhi had also previously addressed such public gatherings in the US, London, Germany and Bahrain.
“Indians from across Dubai gather at the airport to greet Congress President @RahulGandhi with warmth & love ahead of his two day tour in UAE,” the party tweeted.
The Congress President would also be the “official chief guest” at the ‘Indo-Arab cultural programme’ at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on January 11. The programme would also celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. — PTI
09:09 Don’t align with those views: Kohli on Pandya’s sexist remarks:
Indian skipper Virat Kohli broke his silence on the ongoing controversy involving KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya over their sexist comments on a talk show, Koffee with Karan.
Reacting to the comments made by the duo, Kohli said that Indian team cricketers don’t align with that views and those were the opinions of the players (Pandya and Rahul).
On the eve of the first ODI against Australia in Sydney, Kohli said,” We as the Indian cricket team and responsible cricketers don’t align with those views, those were individual opinions. We are still waiting for a decision to be made.”
“From the Indian cricket team’s point of view, this changes nothing in our beliefs in the change room, it does nothing to the spirit we have have been able to create. Combinations will have to be thought of once the decision comes out,” he added.
Pandya, along with teammate KL Rahul, face potential suspension from the BCCI for their controversial comments on women on the chat show Koffee With Karan.
08:53 Andy Murray announces retirement, eyes Wimbledon as last event :
Britain’s Andy Murray says he plans to retire after this year’s Wimbledon but fears next week’s Australian Open could be the final tournament of his career.
The three-time Grand Slam winner, who is struggling to recover from hip surgery, was in tears as he spoke to journalists in Melbourne on Friday.
“I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months,” Murray said .
“I want to get to Wimbledon and stop but I’m not certain I can do that.”
31-year-old Murray says he still intends to play his Australian Open first-round match against Spanish 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut next week.
The former world number one had surgery on his right hip last January and has played 14 matches since returning to the sport last June.
08:37 Transferred on basis of false and frivolous charges: Alok Verma:
Alok Verma, who has been removed from the post of Central Burau of Investigation director unceremoniously by a high-powered selection committee, has claimed that he was transferred on the basis of “false, unsubstantiated and frivolous allegations” made by only one person who was inimical to him.
The high-powered committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi removed Verma from the post on Thursday on charges of corruption and dereliction of duty.
Breaking his silence over the issue, Verma, in a statement on Thursday night, said the CBI being a prime investigating agency dealing in corruption in high public places is an institution whose independence should be preserved and protected.
“It must function without external influences. I have tried to uphold the integrity of the institution while attempts were being made to destroy it. The same can be seen from the orders of the central government and the CVC dated October 23, 2018, which were without jurisdiction and were set aside,” he said.
Verma termed it “sad” that he was transferred to another post pursuant to the orders of the committee on the basis of “false, unsubstantiated and frivolous allegations made by only one person, who was inimical to him”.
The 1979-batch IPS officer has been posted as the Director General Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards, under the Union home ministry.
The charge of the CBI has been given to Additional Director M Nageshwar Rao, said a government order issued on Thursday.
Headed by the prime minister, the high-powered committee comprised Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Justice A K Sikri, appointed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi as his nominee.
Verma said the committee was assigned the task of deciding his future course of action as the director of the CBI.
“I have stood up for the integrity of the institution, and if asked will do it again in order to uphold the rule of law,” he said.
Verma had resumed duty as CBI director on Wednesday, a day after the apex court paved his return with some riders and asked the three-member panel that selects the CBI chief to decide on his continuance in a week in the light of charges against him in the report of the Central Vigilance Commission. — PTI
00:11 Trump cancels trip to Davos amid standoff over shutdown:
US President Donald Trump announced on Twitter he will not be attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is likely to lead the Trump administration’s delegation to the forum in Davos even if the government remains closed when the conference starts later this month, according to senior administration officials.
However, Mnuchin will likely lead a smaller-than-expected group of administration officials to Switzerland if a large chunk of the government remains closed, the officials said, declining to be identified. The forum is scheduled for January 22 to 25.
Trump told reporters Thursday he planned to go to Davos but would stay home if the shutdown continued