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India backs Seed Treaty targets

narendra singh fao
Narendra Singh Tomar at the opening ceremony ITPGRFA

Rome, Italy (NVI): India has told the Seed Treaty nations that “Conservation of plant genetic resources is the shared responsibility of humanity,” and that New Delhi will be forthcoming to support all global efforts in this regard.

While addressing the Opening Ceremony of the Governing Body of International Treaty of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) here, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said:  “crop biodiversity is part and parcel of life in India and whose indigenous people, peasants have shaped the crop genetic resources that form the basis for breeding elsewhere in the world.”

The Governing Body sessions are biennial in which delegates from 146 countries, international organizations, civil societies, farmers’ organizations, FAO officials and UN organizations participated. The session started on 11th November and will go on till 16th November.

Tomar, while informing about the uniqueness of Indian legislation “Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act” to protect Farmers’ Rights and breeder’s rights, said that in Indian legislation a farmer is entitled to save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under the PPV&FR Act, 2001 except brand name, and our legislation is fully compliant to article 9 of the Treaty.

“Under the provisions of this Act, 138 farmers and farming communities have been awarded with Plant Genome Saviour Awards. India has received about 16,620 applications for Plant Variety Protection out of which 10,920 (66%) have been received from farmers alone. Also, the PPV&FR Authority has registered about 3631 plant varieties out of which 1597 (44%) belong to the farmers”, he added.

ITPGRFA also known as Seed Treaty, is a comprehensive international agreement for ensuring food security through the conservation, exchange and sustainable use of the world’s plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA), as well as the fair and equitable benefit sharing arising from its use. It also recognizes farmers’ rights, subject to national laws.


PTM activists stage protests in Paris against arrest of Pashtun leaders

New Delhi (NVI): Scores of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement activists today staged a protest outside Pakistan embassy in Paris, demanding immediate release of Pashtun leader Ali Wazir and Dr Said Alam Mehsud of PTM who are being prosecuted on anti-state charges.

The protesters demanded illegal detention of the Pashtun lawmakers and leaders, campaigning for Pakistan’s ethnic Pashtun minority. The protest was organised PTM France.

Earlier on January 9, dozens of activists rallied in front of the residence of the Ambassador to Pakistan in Washington DC against the arrest of Ali Wazir and Dr Said Alam Mehsud.

Members of the PTM in the Washington Metro area had called for the demonstrations after the authorities announced that both the leaders were being prosecuted on anti-state charges.

The protestors rejected the accusation and demanded the immediate and unconditional release of the leaders.

Human Rights activists have criticised the detention of Ali Wazir, a sitting Member of National Assembly (MNA- the Pakistani Parliament) and Dr Said Alam Mehsud, a senior leader of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM).

Ali Wazir was arrested in the northwestern city of Peshawar on December 16 after a case was lodged against him in the port city of Karachi in connection with a recent public meeting by the country’s opposition.

An anti-terrorism court in December remanded in police custody Wazir and three others in a case pertaining to allegedly using provocative language against state institutions at a gathering in Karachi.

The Pakistani authorities have accused the PTM leaders of committing several offences, including hatching a criminal conspiracy and passing derogatory remarks against state institutions, as per local media reports.

Dr Said Alam Mehsud, another prominent Pashtun voice was arrested earlier this month while participating in a protest against the arrest of Wazir.

Pertinent to mention here that Pashtuns are a minority population in Pakistan and they have been targeted by the military for a long time, besides facing ethnic stereotyping at the hands of the Pakistani state and its security forces.


India lodges protest with Sri Lanka over death of 3 Indian fishermen

Indian fishermen

New Delhi (NVI): India today lodged a strong protest with Sri Lanka over the loss of lives of three Indian fishermen after their vessel collided with a Sri Lankan naval craft.

“We are shocked at the unfortunate loss of lives of three Indian fishermen and one Sri Lankan national following a collision between their vessel and a Sri Lankan naval craft,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

The protest in regard to the incident was conveyed by the Indian High Commissioner to the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister today. A strong demarche was also made to the Sri Lankan Acting High Commissioner in New Delhi, the MEA said.

“Expressing our deep anguish at the loss of lives, we emphasized the need to deal with issues pertaining to fishermen in a humanitarian manner. Existing understandings between the two Governments in that regard must be strictly observed. Utmost efforts should be made to ensure that there is no recurrence,” the Ministry said.

India has raised the issue of livelihoods of Indian fishermen in past as well. A number of Indian fishermen are caught by Sri Lankan Navy and put behind bars every year.


Army soldier killed in Pak firing along LoC in J&K’s Poonch

Army soldier killed

(Updating earlier copy)

Poonch (NVI): An army jawan was killed in a sniper firing by the Pakistani army at a forward post along the Line of Control (LoC) in Mankote area of Poonch district of Jammu, defence officials said.

“Pakistan Army resorted to unprovoked ceasefire violation on the line of control (LoC) in Krishna Ghati Sector in Poonch district (J&K) on 21 Jan 2021. Indian Army troops responded strongly to the enemy fire. In the incident, Hav Nirmal Singh of 10 JAK RIF was critically injured and later succumbed to his injuries,” the Defence Wing of PIB said in a statement.

The sniper bullet hit the chest of Hav Nirmal Singh of 10 JAK Rifles. He was airlifted to Udhampur Army Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

“Hav Nirmal Singh was a brave, highly motivated and a sincere soldier. The nation will always remain indebted to him for his supreme sacrifice and devotion to duty,” the Army said in a statement.

Earlier, a soldier identified as Ravindra was killed in Pakistan shelling in Nowshera Sector of Rajouri in the first week of this month.


Genocide in Sindh like in East Pakistan, says Sindhi leader

Genocide in Sindh

New Delhi (NVI): Pakistan is carrying out genocide against Sindhi people, similar to what it did to Bengalis in East Pakistan who rebelled to liberate themselves later to become Bangladesh.

This is what a prominent leader from Sindh has to say about the conditions prevailing in his homeland to justify the demand for freedom from Pakistan.

Zafar Sahito, founder of Jeay Sindh Freedom Movement (JSFM), says India should step in to help the beleaguered ethnic people of Sindh and also those of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Balitistan where Pakistani state authorities are committing “genocide”.

“Why do I want separate Sindhudesh? Because I do not want to lose my secular identity… Pakistan is committing genocide in Sindh,” said the leader of the organisation which is spearheading the struggle for liberation of Sindh from Pakistan.

He likened the situation in Sindh to the one which existed in East Pakistan prior to its independence in 1971 to become Bangladesh.

“In East Pakistan, discrimination was meted out to Bengalis by Pakistan (State). The same is being done to Sindhi people.  We are suffering and getting killed. Pakistan carried out genocide against Bengalis (in East Pakistan which later became Bangladesh). The same is being done to Sindhis,” said Sahito who lives in exile in the US.

“What happened in Bangladesh (East Pakistan)?… If you are in Pakistan and do not belong to Sunni Muslim (sect), or to the military, or the upper class of Punjab, you have no right to live,” he said.

“In Pakistan, Christians are persecuted, Hindus are persecuted. The population of minorities in Pakistan was 26 percent in 1947 (when Pakistan was born). It has now only 1.3 percent Hindus. Where have all others gone? Sindhi Hindus are persecuted every day in Pakistan. Genocide is being carried out in many ways, not only in the form of physical elimination but also culturally, in terms of elimination of language and identity,” the Sindhi leader rued.

On his expectations from India, he said, “India is a mighty country… India has to play its card. It is the right time now. You have a great PM Narendra Modi ji. … We are looking forward to India that it will be our saviour like it was for Bangladesh. It is the moral duty of secular nation… we are same (as Indians).”

Describing India as “a democratic power of Asia and the world”, he said, “It has to realise its power and play its role to save not only the indigenous Sindhis but also the Baloch, the Pashtun and the Gilgit-Baltistan people. India has to give a message that ‘we are the super power of Asia’.”

On claims by Pakistan that India is helping the liberation movement of Sindhis, the leader rubbished it as a misleading tactic.

PM to interact with vaccine beneficiaries

PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi

New Delhi (NVI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with beneficiaries and vaccinators of the COVID-19 vaccination drive in Varanasi tomorrow through video conferencing, the Prime Minister’s Office said today.

The participants in the interaction will share their first hand experience of vaccination.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with beneficiaries and vaccinators of Covid vaccination drive in Varanasi on 22nd January, 2021 at 1:15 pm via video conferencing,” the PMO said in a statement.

The Prime Minister in this regard took to Twitter and wrote, “The world’s largest vaccination drive is underway in India. Our frontline warriors are getting vaccinated across the nation. At 1:15 PM tomorrow, 22nd January, I would interact with beneficiaries and vaccinators of Covid vaccination drive in Varanasi, via video conferencing.”

The interaction follows continuous dialogue and discussion by PM Modi with scientists, political leaders, officials and other stakeholders to proactively ensure smooth conduct of the world’s largest vaccination drive, the statement added.

On January 16, the Prime Minister had launched the nationwide vaccnation drive on with more than 3 crore healthcare workers and frontline COVID warriors being prioritised to get the shots in the first phase of the drive.


UP Defence Corridor to be part of Aero India 2021 next month

Air show

New Delhi (NVI): The Uttar Pradesh Defence Corridor will be a part of the International Aero India-2021 show for the first time in Bengaluru, which is to take place from February 3 to 5.

According to an official statement, the show is organised by the Ministry of Defence, and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It will provide different countries an opportunity to demonstrate their defence products to the potential customers and investors.

“Exhibitors are likely to showcase their products using the latest technologies to the potential customers,” the statement said.

Aero India is organised every alternate year in India which is also regarded as one of the major exhibitions for aerospace and defence industries with a public air show.

The show is attended by Defence Aviation, Civil Aviation and well-known companies, it enables industry professionals to gain market insights and announce new developments. “Aero India offers a unique platform to the international aviation sector to bolster business,” the statement read.

Last year, the UP government successfully attracted the country’s defence companies by organizing the finest defence expo in Lucknow.

The foreign Defence Manufacturing companies which were a part of the Defence Expo in Lucknow will now make their presence at the Aero India show.

CEO of UP Defence Corridor, Avanish K. Awasthi also revealed that there will be a huge pavilion of Uttar Pradesh Defence Corridor at the International Aero India Show in Bengaluru, next month.

“Our team is ready and several foreign defence companies have signed agreements to put their units in the Uttar Pradesh Defence Corridor and their work is in progress which will surely be able to attract more companies to come to Uttar Pradesh,” he added.

According to the Ministry of Defence, a total of 541 defence companies will be participating in the show. Out of which, 463 are native and 78 are foreign and the companies already have their pavilions booked. In addition to this, 105 companies will join virtually.

Aero India 2021 is the 13th edition of Aero India and participation of Indian domestic companies and public sector companies (PSUs) has increased every year. The air shows where earlier aerial exhibitions of foreign ships were given prominence, are now prominently featured in the sky acrobatics and aerial displays of indigenous fighter ‘Tejas’ and helicopters.

The statement further said that, it may be recalled that Uttar Pradesh is attracting huge investment in defence manufacturing sector as the ambitious corridor is being set up at six places of the state namely Chitrakoot, Jhansi, Kanpur, Aligarh, Agra and Lucknow.

The state will showcase the facilities provided in the corridor, backed by its robust industrial policy, it added.


Fact check: Claim about hike in interest rate of Kisan Credit Card loans is fake

Fact check

New Delhi (NVI): A media report has claimed that Kisan Credit Card loans will now be available at 12 per cent interest rate instead of seven per cent.

The Fact Check Unit of the Press Information Bureau (PIB) has investigated the viral news and found it to be fake and said that Central Government has not made any such announcement

Debunking the fake news, PIB took to Twitter and wrote in Hindi, “It is being claimed that now Kisan Credit Card loans will be available at 12% interest rate instead of 7%.

#PIBFactCheck: This claim is fake. The Central Government has not made any such announcement regarding increasing the interest rate of KCC loan.”

The Press Information Bureau launched this fact-checking unit in December 2019, to identify misinformation related to government’s policies and schemes that are circulating on various social media platforms.


Bharat Biotech seeks emergency use approval for its Covid vaccine in Philippines

Bharat Biotech
Representational/file image

New Delhi (NVI): In another major boost for India’s vaccine diplomacy, Indian vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech today applied for emergency use authorisation (EUA) for its COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin in the Philippines.

The Embassy of India in the Philippines took to Twitter on the development and said, “Major step for Vaccine Maitri and Atmanirbhar Bharat as we seek to elevate bilateral ties to new heights. @bharatbiotech applies for EUA for India-developed COVAXIN in the Philippines.

Indian ambassador in Philippines, Shambhu Kumaran, also said that it is a moment of pride for Indian Research and Development. “A moment of pride for #Indian R&D! The first international regulatory filing for COVAXIN. Delighted it is in #Philippines, a vital Indo-Pacific partner. Process ahead will be challenging but today we celebrate those who made this key milestone possible!” he tweeted.

Other companies seeking EUA approval in Philippines are British firm AstraZeneca, Russian company Gamaleya Research Institute and Chinese drug maker Sinovac Biotech, as per reports.

So far, the Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine has been approved for emergency use in the Philippines.

Earlier in January, the Covaxin produced by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), was given approval for emergency use in India. The other domestically manufactured vaccine give approval in India is Covishield developed by Serum Institute of India (SII).


Parl standing committee on defence visits Karwar Naval base in Karnataka

New Delhi (NVI): A sixteen-member Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence (SCOD) today visited Karwar Naval Base in Karnataka to evaluate the Indian Navy’s security preparedness in the Arabian Sea.

The standing committee led by BJP MP Jual Oram is on a two-day tour to Goa and Karwar. The members of the committee also had a tour of INS Vikramaditya today to review operational preparedness of the Navy.

Former defence minister Sharad Pawar, Kunwar Danish Ali (MP from Amroha), Lok Sabha member Nitish Deb, Deepak Adhikari,  Brijendra Singh (BJP MP from Bharatpur), Sanjay Raut, Ashok Bajpai and Lt Gen DP Vats (Retd) were seen on the deck of INS Vikramaditya.

The visit of the parliamentary committee was part of its on-the-spot study on the ‘State of operational preparedness in the Arabian Sea including Coastal Security’.

he SCOD also visited Goa Naval area yesterday. The delegation was received by Flag Officer Commanding, Goa Naval Area. A briefing on the preparedness of Indian Navy in the Arabian Sea was given by the Western Naval Command.


Five dead in fire at Serum Institute of India in Pune

Serum Institute of India

New Delhi (NVI): At least 5 workers have died in a major fire that broke out at an under-construction building at Serum Institute of India (SII) in Manjri area of Pune this afternoon.

Reportedly, 10 fire tenders were engaged to bring the flames under control which has now been doused.

Furthermore, three of the four people stuck inside the building have been rescued and fire department personnel were in the process of rescuing the fourth person, as per the media reports.

CEO of Serum Institute, Adar Poonawalla took to twitter in this regard and wrote, “We have just received some distressing updates; upon further investigation we have learnt that there has unfortunately been some loss of life at the incident. We are deeply saddened and offer our deepest condolences to the family members of the departed.”

“I would like to reassure all governments & the public that there would be no loss of #COVISHIELD production due to multiple production buildings that I had kept in reserve to deal with such contingencies at @SerumInstIndia. Thank you very much @PuneCityPolice & Fire Department,” he stated in an earlier tweet.

Serum Institute is manufacturing the Covishield vaccine that has been developed by the Oxford University and AstraZeneca. Covishield is one of the two Covid-19 vaccines that have been granted emergency use approval in India.

However, the production of Covishield was not being carried out at the SII building where the fire broke out today, according to media reports.

Details regarding the cause of the fire are awaited.