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Barkha bags National Media Talent Award

Academy Chairman R.S Babu said Dutt was awarded for the work she undertook during the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic…reports Asian Lite News.

Popular television journalist Barkha Dutt won the Kerala Media Academy’s National Media Talent Award 2020.

Academy Chairman R.S Babu said Dutt was awarded for the work she undertook during the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Babu added that her news coverage during the pandemic was exemplary as she travelled almost every part of the country by road to cover the fallout when the first wave of the pandemic hit the nation.

He added that Dutt had put her own life at risk to do unbiased coverage.

The jury, under the chairmanship of veteran journalist Thomas Jacob along with Dr. Sebastian Paul, M P Achuthan, K.V Sudhakaran, Dr. Neethu Sona and Dr. Meena T Pillai, said that Dutt’s work during the period was exceptional and should be considered as an example for others.

Her report on the plight of the migrant laborers could not be denied by the government and it even caught the attention of the Apex court.

49-year-old Barkha Dutt was previously awarded Padmashree and other awards. The National Media Talent Award 2020 will be presented to Dutt by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

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-Top News UK News

Govt green lights self-driving cars on UK roads

The government said automated lane-keeping systems (ALKS) would be the first type of hands-free driving legalised…reports Asian Lite News.

Motorists could see self-driving vehicles on British roads for the first time later this year, the Department for Transport has announced.

The government said automated lane-keeping systems (ALKS) would be the first type of hands-free driving legalised.

Designed for use on a motorway in slow traffic, ALKS enables a vehicle to drive itself in a single lane, while maintaining the ability to easily and safely return control to the driver when required.

The technology controls the position and speed of a car in a single lane and it will be limited to 37mph (60km/h), the BBC reported.

The technology could improve road safety by reducing human error, which contributes to over 85% of accidents. The driver will be able to hand control over to the vehicle, which will constantly monitor speed and keep a safe distance from other cars.

Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said it is a major step for the safe use of self-driving vehicles in the UK, “making future journeys greener, easier and more reliable while also helping the nation to build back better.”

“But we must ensure that this exciting new tech is deployed safely, which is why we are consulting on what the rules to enable this should look like. In doing so, we can improve transport for all, securing the UK’s place as a global science superpower,” the minister said.

“The automotive industry welcomes this vital step to permit the use of automated vehicles on UK roads, which will put Britain in the vanguard of road safety and automotive technology,” said SMMT Chief Executive, Mike Hawes. “Automated driving systems could prevent 47,000 serious accidents and save 3,900 lives over the next decade through their ability to reduce the single largest cause of road accidents – human error.”

“Technologies such as Automated Lane Keeping Systems will pave the way for higher levels of automation in future – and these advances will unleash Britain’s potential to be a world leader in the development and use of these technologies, creating essential jobs while ensuring our roads remain among the safest on the planet,” he said.

Also Read-Single vaccine dose halves transmission: Study

Read More-Poll Panel To Probe Boris Flat Bill

-Top News China Defence

China’s military modernisation poses global threat

It is reported that China mobilised 60,000 troops ostensibly for military exercises, but were in fact used to occupy contentious positions in Eastern Ladakh against India…reports Asian Lite News

China continues its military modernisation and aims for advances in high technology that will give it an edge over its adversaries, posing a major threat to global security.

Fabien Baussert for Modern Diplomacy writes that China mobilised 60,000 troops ostensibly for military exercises, but were in fact used to occupy contentious positions in Eastern Ladakh against India and was very much a part of the offensive strategy adopted by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) across its periphery, displaying new weapons and equipment.

Western analysis of China’s defence budget over the years has claimed that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) does not officially reveal its actual expenditure on defence and that available figures are way below the expenses actually incurred by the PLA.

DF-21Ds at the 2015 Victory Parade(wikipedia)

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which had originally estimated China’s defence expenditure for 2019 as being USD 261 billion, has reduced its estimates for expenditure in 2019 to USD 240 billion.

However, this assessment fails to take into account the rapid pace of China’s military modernisation in the last decade or so, including specific attention given to the rocket and missile forces, the PLA Navy and Air Force.

Also read:China continues incursions in Taiwan air zone

The new SIPRI estimates also exclude the idea that arms imports expenses came from outside the national budget, writes Baussert for Modern Diplomacy. Only the money spent on military research and development and testing has been retained in the official defence expenditure.

Official figures released by China for 2021 indicate that the defence budget is around Chinese Yuan 1.355 trillion (USD 209 billion), a 6.8 per cent increase over the core 2020 budget. However, the UK’s IISS estimates show that in real terms, the 2021 defence budget growth is slightly lower than in 2020, owing to the three per cent annual inflation rate in China. But in value terms, the increase amounts to USD 13 billion, a figure comparable with the entire defence budget of Taiwan.

Baussert further writes that while China’s central government budget is slated to fall by 0.2 per cent, total national government spending will probably increase by 1.8 per cent. Spending on the military as a share of overall national government spending according to the IISS rises from 5.1 per cent in 2020 to 5.4 per cent in 2021, the highest in several years. (ANI)

Also read:‘Chinese actions in South China Sea causing troubles in region’

-Top News COVID-19

Single vaccine dose halves transmission: Study

In the study, protection against Covid was seen from about 14 days after vaccination, with similar levels of protection regardless of age of cases or contacts, PHE was quoted as saying in a statement…reports Asian Lite News

A single dose of a Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine against coronavirus disease can reduce transmission by up to 50 percent, finds a study.

The study led by UK’s Public Health England (PHE) showed that people who took the first dose of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines — and who became infected three weeks later — were between 38 percent and 49 percent less likely to pass the virus on than unvaccinated people, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

Medical professionals returning back on duty abroad wear protective gear and Personel Protective Equipment (PPE) suits as they arrive to board a flight at the Indira Gandhi International Airport

The protection was in addition to the reduced risk of a vaccinated person developing symptomatic infection in the first place, which is around 60 to 65 percent — four weeks after one dose of either vaccine, the BBC report said.

“Vaccines are vital in helping us return to a normal way of life. Not only do vaccines reduce the severity of illness and prevent hundreds of deaths every day, we now see they also have an additional impact on reducing the chance of passing Covid-19 on to others,” Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, was quoted as saying.

The study, which has yet to be fully peer-reviewed, included more than 57,000 contacts from 24,000 households in which there was a lab-confirmed coronavirus case that had received a vaccination, compared with nearly one million contacts of unvaccinated cases. The findings showed households are among the most likely places for infection to spread, the report said.

While the findings are significant, the experts urged people to continue to take up vaccination and maintain Covid.

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-Top News UK News

Poll Panel To Probe Boris Flat Bill

The latest development was after reports revealed the prime minister was given a £58,000 amount from a Conservative donor to help foot the bill for refurbishments to Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat, reports Asian Lite Newsdesk

The UK Electoral Commission has launched a formal investigation into funding of refurbishments to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat.

The spending watchdog said there were “reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred”, the BBC reported.

The latest development was after reports the prime minister was given a £58,000 loan from a Conservative donor and peer to help foot the bill for redecorations to the No 11 residence. This was not yet denied by the ministers and the Conservative party.

The prime minister has been under growing pressure to declare how the works were paid for after his ex-adviser said there was a plan for donors to “secretly pay”, according to the report.

Johnson told the Commons that he covered the revamp “personally” – but would not say who paid the initial bill.

While it is not against the rules to receive donations, politicians must declare them so the public can see who has given them money and whether it has had any influence on their decisions.

Meanwhile, speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions at the House of Commons, Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer asked the prime minister to explain who paid for the initial invoice for renovations. Sir Keir asked the question with giving options as answers – between the taxpayer, the Conservative Party, a private donor or Mr Johnson himself.

Sir Keir accused the government of being “mired in sleaze, cronyism and scandal”, according to the BBC report.

Prime Minister Johnson’s response quoted by BBC: “The answer is I have covered the costs… I conformed in full with the code of conduct and officials have kept advising me through this whole thing.

“But I think people will think it is absolutely bizarre that he is focusing on this issue when what people want to know is what plans the government might have on improving the life of people in this country.”

Since March, the Electoral Commission has been in contact with the Conservative Party over works the prime minister had carried out to No 11.

“We believe all reportable donations have been transparently and correctly declared and published by the Electoral Commission. We will continue to work constructively with the Electoral Commission on this matter,” BBC quoted a Tory spokesman as saying.

Meanwhile, around 34 million people have been given the first coronavirus vaccine jab in the UK.

On Monday, non-essential shops, gyms, swimming pools, pubs, restaurants reopened in Scotland as the region further eases its lockdown.

Under the new measures, travel restrictions were scrapped and people in Scotland are allowed to travel to other parts of Britain for non-essential reasons. Meanwhile, nail salons, museums and holiday accommodation can also reopen in Scotland.


Unlike England, pubs and restaurants will be able to open indoors until 20:00 BST (1900 GMT), but alcohol will have to be served to customers sitting outside.

Scotland has been in Level Four lockdown, the toughest coronavirus restrictions, since December 26 last year, with all non-essential shops, leisure facilities, and hospitality venues closed.

Prime Minister Johnson has acknowledged that the majority of scientific experts are of the view that there will be another wave of coronavirus at some stage this year and Britons must learn to live with the virus.

However, he said there was nothing in scientific data to suggest Britain would have to deviate from the roadmap out of lockdown.

In England, all shops reopened from April 12 as lockdown eased, along with hairdressers, beauty salons and other close-contact services.

On May 17, restaurants and pubs are expected to be allowed to resume indoor service and see most rules on gathering outdoors lifted.

The British government’s four-step plan is expected to see all legal restrictions in England being removed by mid-June.

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Asia News Bangladesh

B’desh govt nod for emergency use of Russian vaccine

The decision came days after Dhaka suspended the first dosing of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on a supply crunch…reports Asian Lite News.

The Bangladeshi government has approved the import and use of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against Covid-19.

Major General Mahbubur Rahman, Director General of the country’s Drug Administration, made the announcement on Tuesday, the Xinhua news agency reported.

AstraZeneca vaccine

The decision came days after Dhaka suspended the first dosing of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on a supply crunch.

“We’ve given permission for the emergency use of the Russian Covid-19 vaccine,” Rahman told journalists.

Amid uncertainty over timely arrival of the next Covid-19 vaccine shipment from India, the Bangladeshi government halted administering first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine across the country from Monday.

Nearly 6 million people have so far received the first dose of the vaccine in Bangladesh.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on January 28 virtually inaugurated the country’s Covid-19 vaccination drive.

The Bangladeshi government on Monday announced that it decided to extend the ongoing lockdown which began on April 14 for another week.

Bangladesh recorded 112 deaths from Covid-19 on April 19, its highest daily toll from the pandemic, the government said.

On Tuesday, the country’s Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) reported 3,031 new cases of Covid-19 and 78 new deaths, bringing the number of total cases to 751,659 and the total death toll to 11,228.

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Asia News

Islamabad on high alert after terror threat

The security of high profile individuals including VVIPs, VIPs, diplomats and Chinese nationals has also been tightened…reports Asian Lite News

Pakistan’s capital city of Islamabad has been put on high alert in the wake of intelligence reports that terrorists might strike in the city.

The security of high profile individuals including VVIPs, VIPs, diplomats and Chinese nationals has also been tightened, Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported.

Moreover, the security was also tightened around important installations, hospitals and religious places.

The Central Police Office (CPO) of Islamabad had written letters to various departments of the city, asking them to upgrade security for personalities and installations, senior police officers told Dawn.

The security officials have also been directed to stay on high alert at all check posts and points.

Earlier this month, radical Islamist party the Tehrik-i-Taliban in Pakistan (TTP) had claimed responsibility for a deadly bomb blast at a luxury hotel in Quetta, hosting the Chinese ambassador, which led to the killing of four. (ANI)

Also read:Islamabad’s bid to expel French envoy fails

Arab News Asia News Saudi Arabia

Pak envoy to Saudi called back over public complaints

The government has issued orders to six other officers of the embassy in Riyadh to return….reports Asian Lite News

Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia has returned to the country over complaints by the Pakistani community in the kingdom.

The government has issued orders to six other officers of the embassy in Riyadh to return. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had also ordered an inquiry and his directions were being implemented, Dawn reported citing the Foreign Office statement on Thursday.

“A high-powered inquiry committee will look into the matter,” it added.

The statement further said the six officers who were issued recall orders worked in the diplomatic, community welfare, and consular wings of the embassy.

“The government of Pakistan attaches high importance to the welfare of overseas Pakistanis. There is zero tolerance, whatsoever, for any lapse in public service delivery,” the statement said, adding that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi himself oversaw the working of all diplomatic missions, particularly with regards to the services being provided to the Pakistani community.

Also read:Pakistan desperate to extradite Farooqi from Afghanistan

A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said that the Prime Minister, “being cognisant of the complaints submitted to him by Diaspora in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and while expressing his displeasure on the performance, attitude and behaviour of officers posted in Pakistan’s Embassy/ Consulates in Saudi Arabia, has taken a serious view of the situation.”

The statement added that the premier had tasked the Prime Minister’s Inspection Commission to inquire into the matter and submit its report within 15 days.

Earlier today, Imran Khan said he had heard that the Pakistani embassy in Saudi Arabia did “not take care of the labour class” working in the Gulf country, Dawn reported.

Earlier this week, two diplomats from the Pakistan Embassy in South Korea were caught shoplifting at a store in Seoul. They were caught stealing items worth 11,000 won (USD 10) and 1,900 won (USD 1.70), respectively, at the same store in Itaewon, Yongsan District. (ANI)

Also read:Internet freedom in Pakistan declined in 2020

-Top News India News Obituary

OBIT: Soli Sorabjee By Sarosh Zaiwalla

SAROSH ZAIWALLA: We have lost a kind noble Soul who has left for his heavenly abode today. In his passing my firm and I have lost a well-wisher, supporter and a friend

Soli Sorabjee, former Attorney General of India, passed away today. He was victim of the current Covid surge in India. I had known Soli since my childhood days in Mumbai. Soli was a unique personality.

Some six or so years ago my firm had instructed him to give evidence on Indian Law on behalf of our client PEC Ltd, an Indian government-owned company based in Delhi, in a case before the English court. PEC Ltd vs Asia Golden Rice involved a challenge to a GAFTA Appeal Board arbitration Award. The case was listed for a three-day hearing in the English High Court before Hon Mr Justice Walker. Soli was going to travel to London for the hearing.

Two days before the hearing my firm got a message from the High Court that Mr Justice Walker had decided to step down as the judge for the hearing on noticing that Mr Sorabjee was going to be an expert witness because he had heard Soli’s presentation at an International law conference in Australia and he was so very impressed by Mr Sorabjee’s truthfulness and integrity that it would not be fair to the other party for him to sit as a judge in the case. Such was Soli’s reputation for truthfulness and integrity.

My last meeting with Soli was in January 2020 when on very short notice he attended the book launch of my memoir in Delhi in a wheelchair. This was another example of Soli’s kind nature. We have lost a kind noble Soul who has left for his heavenly abode today. In his passing my firm and I have lost a well-wisher, supporter and a friend. My sincere condolences to his wife Zeena and other members of his family.

India News Lite Blogs Sports

India’s ‘Shooter Dadi’ dies of Covid 19

She made her own rules, paved her own path and she had a beautiful sisterhood and a beautiful partnership with Prakashi dadi and together they left an impact on so many lives,” says Bhumi…reports Asian Lite News.

People of India very well known the Dadi with extraordinary shooting skills. Shooter Chandro Tomar, fondly known as Shooter Dadi, died after battling Covid on Friday. She was admitted to a hospital in Meerut earlier this week.

Actress Bhumi Pednekar, who played Chandro in the 2019 film “Saand Ki Aankh”, says Chandro Tomar’s death comes as a “personal loss” to her.

“It is completely devastating to know that Chandro dadi is not with us anymore. It really feels like a very big personal loss. She was someone who lived a very fulfilling life. She made her own rules, paved her own path and she had a beautiful sisterhood and a beautiful partnership with Prakashi dadi and together they left an impact on so many lives,” says Bhumi.

The actress adds: “I feel so fortunate to have played her character, got a chance to learn about life from her and she has left a very big part of herself with me.”

The actress says that she will always remember her.

“My condolences to the family and everybody whose life she impacted because I know there will be many who will be grieving her passing away today. But she always said tann buddha hota hai, mann buddha nai hota. I know in spirit she will always be with us because her teachings are going to be with us. She will thoroughly be missed,” she says.

Sharing a picture with her on Twitter, actress Taapsee Pannu, who played the role of Prakashi Tomar in the film, posted: “For the inspiration you will always be… You will live on forever in all the girls you gave hope to live. My cutest rockstar May the and peace be with you.”

She also wrote on her Instagram page: “But I learnt from you to never give up…Daadi will live on forever in the hearts of many girls like me who she was an inspiration to.”

Actor Randeep Hooda also posted on social media about how he was to meet her for the inauguration of a shooting ring, which got delayed due to Covid.

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