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Karnataka’s ruling alliance bets on retaining seats in by-polls



Bengaluru, Nov 5 :The ruling Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and Congress alliance is upbeat on retaining their hold in the Saturday’s five by-elections ahead of vote count on Tuesday, an official said on Monday.

“Higher voter turnout in the two assembly segments of Jamkhandi and Ramangara and moderate in the three parliamentary seats of Bellary (ST), Mandya and Shimoga indicate that joint candidates of our parties have a clear edge,” a JD-S official told IANS here.

The JD-S contested from the Ramangara assembly seat and Mandya and Shimoga Lok Sabha seats, while the Congress did from Jamkhandi and Bellary (reserved).

Though the opposition BJP fielded candidates in all the 5 by-polls, its nominee L Chandrasekhar from Ramanagara resigned from the party and re-joined the Congress on November 1, making his contest futile, as even his polling agents deserted him.

An unfazed BJP, however, claimed that it would not only retain the Bellary and Shimoga parliamentary seats, but also wrest Jamkhandi from the Congress.

“The heavy turnout (77.17 per cent) in Jamkhandi clearly signals our candidate Srikant Kulkarni will snatch the seat from the Congress,” a BJP official told IANS.

The Congress, on the other hand, dared to retain Jamkhandi where it fielded AAnand Siddu, son of its senior leader Siddu Nyamagouda, whose sudden death in a road mishap on May 28 necessitated the by-poll.

With Chandrashekhar out of contest, it will be a cakewalk for JD-S candidate Anitha, wife of Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, with a huge majority from Ramangara despite 5 Independents in fray where polling was 71.88 per cent.

In the three Lok Sabha seats, Bellary polled 63.85 per cent, Shimoga 61.05 per cent and Mandya 53.93 per cent.

Sons of three former state chief ministers are locked in a triangular contest from Shimoga in Malnad region.

They are B.Y. Raghavendra, son of BJP’s state unit president B.S. Yeddyurappa, who was the party’s first chief minister in the south from 2008-11, Madhu Bangarappa, younger son of late Congress chief minister S. Bangarappa (1990-92) and Mahima Patel, son of late Janata Dal-United (JD-S) chief minister J.H. Patel (1996-99).

L.R. Shivarame Gowda of the JD-S and Siddaramaiah of the BJP are the candidates in Mandya.

In Bellary, the Congress fielded its state legislative council member V.S. Ugrappa against BJP’s Shantha as both belonging to the dominant Valmiki tribal community.

The Lok Sabha by-elections were held to fill vacancies caused by the resignation of its three sitting members -BJP’s Yeddyurappa from Shimoga and Sriramaulu from Bellary and C. Puttaraju of the JD-S from Mandya on being elected to the assembly in the May 12 elections.

The Ramanagara by-poll was held to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Kumaraswamy, who retained the adjacent Channapatna assembly segment after contesting and winning from both the seats in the May 12 state elections./Eom/470 words.


Govt ready to give written assurance on MSP, changes in farm laws

Thousands of protesters have blocked Delhi borders at five points connecting it to Chandigarh, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, crippling supply chains to the national capital.



Ghazipur Border

New Delhi, Dec 5 : With the fifth round of talks between the Centre and farmer leader set to begin on Saturday afternoon, the Union government is learnt to have decided to give a written assurance on MSP, and also agree to amend the contentious three new farm laws enacted in September.

As per sources privy to the developments, the government has decided to accept the farmers’ demand for written assurance on Minimum Support Price (MSP) by an “executive order and not by legislation”.

The development comes after a high-level meeting at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s residence here this morning, in which Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar participated.

After over one-and-half hours meeting with the Prime Minister, the source said, the government may accept to effect amendments to the farm laws that farmers dub as “black” and “anti-farmer”.

The laws are The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

The decision was taken after four earlier talks between the Centre and farmer representatives here in the national capital remained inconclusive.

The fifth round of talks will start at 2 pm at Vigyan Bhavan in central Delhi. A group of nearly three dozen farmer leaders will participate in the meeting. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of State Som Prakash and Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal will join the meeting.

The farmers had put out a five-point demands that include framing of a specific law on MSP, no punishment for stubble-burning, repeal of the three farm laws, settlement of objections about proposed Electricity (Amendment) Act, 2020 and written assurance on MSP.

The farmer union representatives in earlier talks had rejected the government’s argument that the three farm laws were in the interest of farmers, saying the laws will only benefit big business and corporate houses.

Giving an example of sugarcane procurement, the farmers’ organisations had also objected to contract farming and pointed out its drawbacks.

The Bharatiya Kisan Union, Bharatiya Kisan Sanyukt Morcha and Krantikari Kisan Union are among more than 34 farm unions which have demanded a special session of Parliament to frame a law on MSP as well as repeal of the farm laws.

Thousands of protesters have blocked Delhi borders at five points connecting it to Chandigarh, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, crippling supply chains to the national capital.

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Ahead of farmer talks, PM Modi meets Amit Shah, Narendra Singh Tomar, Rajnath Singh

The government, however, maintains that the new laws will provide farmers with better opportunities. It has also accused the opposition parties of “misleading” the farmers.





Ahead of the Centre’s fifth round of talks with agitating farmers on Saturday, a high-level meeting commenced at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s residence on Saturday morning.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Minister Piyush Goyal are present at the meeting.

On Thursday, talks between the Union government and farmers’ representatives at Vigyan Bhavan did not reach any conclusion, though the Centre softened its stance on some demands. Another round of talks with the farmers is scheduled for 2 pm on Saturday.

The farmers are demanding the repeal of the three farm laws passed by Parliament in September.

The government, however, maintains that the new laws will provide farmers with better opportunities. It has also accused the opposition parties of “misleading” the farmers.

Farmers’ doubts will be cleared in today’s meeting with Centre. In recent meetings, some issues were clarified. It’s Opposition’s politics, they’re instigating the protest. The meeting will be fruitful & we expect farmers will roll back protest, said MoS Agriculture, Kailash Choudhary

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Adar Poonawalla, CEO Serum Institute among 6 named ‘Asians of the Year’ by Singapore daily

The Serum Institute was founded by Poonawalla’s father Cyrus Poonawalla in 1966.




Adar Poonawalla

Singapore, December 5 : Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India, is among six people named ‘Asians of the Year’ by Singapore’s leading daily, The Straits Times, for their work in fighting the Covid pandemic.

Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) has collaborated with the University of Oxford and the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for making the Covid vaccine, ‘Covidshield’, and is conducting trials in India.

The other five named in the list are Chinese researcher Zhang Yongzhen, who led the team that mapped and published online the first complete genome of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that sparked the pandemic, China’s Major-General Chen Wei, Japan’s Dr Ryuichi Morishita and Singapore’s Professor Ooi Eng Eong, who are among those at the forefront of developing vaccines against the virus, and South Korean businessman Seo Jung-jin whose company will enable the making and dispensing of the vaccines and other Covid-19 treatments to the world.

Collectively referred to as “the virus busters”, they are heroes of a kind, having devoted themselves to the pressing cause of resolving the coronavirus pandemic, each in their own capacity, the daily said.

“Sars-CoV-2, the virus that has brought death and hardship to the world’s largest and most populous continent, is meeting its tamer in The Virus Busters,” the award citation said.

“We salute your courage, care, commitment and creativity. In this peril-filled hour, you are a symbol of hope for Asia, indeed the world.”

The Serum Institute was founded by Poonawalla’s father Cyrus Poonawalla in 1966.

Poonawalla joined the Serum Institute of India in 2001 and became the CEO of Serum Institute with complete control of the day-to-day operations of the company in 2011.

Poonawalla said that he had put USD 250 million of his family fortune into ramping up his institute’s manufacturing capacity.

“I decided to go all out,” said Poonawalla, 39, who has pledged that his firm’s COVID-19 vaccines will help supply lower- and middle-income countries that face significant disadvantages in the quest to obtain them.

Poonawalla said his institute is helping poorer countries level up in access to vaccines.

In the big picture of ending the pandemic, commonality of purpose is key, said The Straits Times, Singapore’s mainstream daily.

The Straits Times Asians of the Year have led the way, as have scores of other individuals in their own fields. When an end comes into sight, it will be due in no small part to these people who – undaunted by the tumult – have committed themselves to the sobering, much-needed work to put together an exit plan from the crisis, for humanity.

“There has not been a day this year when the pandemic has not been in the news. Straits Times’ editors felt there could be no more deserving recipients this year than the people squaring up to Asia’s biggest-ever health challenge, engaged in pioneering and courageous efforts to prevent the highly contagious virus from wreaking more damage,” Bhagyashree Garekar, Straits Times’ foreign editor, said on Saturday.

“In a year that is ending with a wish for great resets… Asia’s virus busters are the face of hope on the horizon,” said Garekar.

Between them, the recipients of the 2020 award capture the entire trajectory of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In deciding to honour The Virus Busters, Straits Times editors had in mind those who have, in one way or another, enabled the complex, multi-stage process of preventing as many people around the world from getting the deadly disease in as little time as possible.

“Each year, ST editors seek out a person, team or organisation that has not only made or shaped the news, but also helped contribute positively to Asia in the process,” said Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings’ English/Malay/Tamil Media Group and editor of Straits Times.

“This year, we naturally looked to those involved in the fight against Covid-19, which has dominated the headlines. We debated long and hard, but finally agreed on a group of people who have done the most to help find an answer to the crisis brought on by the virus.

“They are a disparate group whose collective efforts have pushed forward the search for vaccines, allowing these to be discovered and delivered with an urgency never attempted or seen before. Their commitment and actions have helped save lives and give hope to people all around Asia, and the world,” Fernandez said. PTI

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