Category Archive : Top Stories

Samyuktha Karthik: ‘The backlash to my Bigg Boss stint isn’t justified at all’

The model-actor who was eliminated from the Tamil reality show recently, talks about why she feels Ramya Pandian is the front-runner to win this season

Samyuktha Karthik speaks to The Hindu about her tiff with Aari Arjuna, being a working mother in the industry and the experience of being in the Bigg Boss Tamil house during a pandemic and a cyclone. Excerpts from an interview:

How did it feel going into the Bigg Boss house during a pandemic? From one lockdown to another?

It was like a vacation you couldn’t take in the outside world. Definitely, a different experience owing to this particular year. Since we’ve already been in lockdown, to move into a house like that didn’t feel that claustrophobic because you are used to being confined to one particular space.

What was your purpose of participating in the reality show?

I have been modelling for quite some time now, but I felt like I had never done anything in mainstream media all these years. This was my one shot at it.

On top of that, you were stuck there in the middle of a cyclone. How was that experience?

When we were inside the house, we didn’t know the implication of the cyclone. But when they said they were going to evacuate us out for a night and bring us back, that kind of struck an alarm. We felt we were safe inside the house, but if they were going to stop an entire day’s shoot and take so much effort, we thought the situation outside was probably really, really bad. So we all started panicking about our families, but they kept reassuring us that they had been in touch with them and everybody was safe.

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If you had the Topple card in your hand, who would you have sent to the nominations instead of you?

Anita. I find her personality the most deviant from everybody else in terms of her moods, being sportive and so on.

You were quite popular with the people within the house, what do you think went wrong?

Obviously when you’re inside, you don’t even realise it. Now I feel that it is probably because certain words that I used inside the house got misconstrued and blown out of proportion. Way more offensive words have been used inside that house and none of them were highlighted.

I’m getting enormous amounts of love, but there is a lot of backlash also which I don’t feel is justified at all.

Samyuktha Karthik: ‘The backlash to my Bigg Boss stint isn’t justified at all’

Can you speak to us about your tiff with Aari?

The basis of our tiff was Sanam and Bala’s earlier argument. When he (Aari) yelled at me using the word ‘dubakur’ during the court argument, things got a little agitated. It went to an extent when things started becoming all about personal attacks which everybody got offended by. I don’t know why what I murmur — when I was so hurt — became such a big deal.

Who would you have called in the ‘Bigg Boss Call Centre’ task if you had continued your sojourn in the house?

I wanted my call to be for Nisha! I just wanted to play around with her and do some comic stuff.

If Nisha had already chosen by somebody else, then I’d probably have spoken to Sanam. The previous day, I was in a very sassy mode, so I would have explained to her about things in a more neutral tone.

How hard is it to thrive in the entertainment industry as a working mother?

It is hard, but thankfully I have a great support system. My mother is always there to support me. Because of my support system I am able to do how much ever I do.

What would you want your son Rayan to learn from your journey in the Bigg Boss house?

He is probably not going to relate to any of what is happening now. When he grows up, I would like him to believe that I stood up for myself and atleast tried to create an identity for myself.

Usually, with motherhood, which is a full-time job, you cannot afford to do anything else. You don’y have the mental bandwidth, and even if you do, then the practicality of the entire thing comes into question.

Despite all the challenges, I have tried to do things that I have been passionate about, while balancing the entire motherhood experience and keeping that as a priority. I would like him to be proud of that fact.

Who do you think in the house is most capable of winning?

I think Ramya is the most capable of winning because she is aware of the game. She is playing it smart, and most importantly, is playing it very fair.

Would you go back to the Bigg Boss house if asked?

I don’t think so. I’d like to just meet up with the people that I have spent time with there, but I don’t think I want to go back.

Samyuktha with Kamal Haasan on the show

Samyuktha with Kamal Haasan on the show

Who is the one person you wouldn’t want to meet up with after the show?

That would definitely be Anita. Personally,I think she is a very talented girl… the way she speaks, her grasp of the language, the points that she puts forward. In fact, in that sumangali  issue, Shivani and I were the only girls who supported her. We told her what she did was a great thing and that it was a fantastic platform.

However, she is always finding fault with others. Such a talented person having such a negative approach to life is something that I saw first-hand and don’t approve of.

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Business Live: Shares hit record highs as central bank keeps rates steady

The benchmark stock indices opened the day on a bullish note looking ahead to the RBI’s policy announcement.

Join us as we follow the top business news through the day.

1:00 PM

RBI to review guidelines on credit default swaps

An important regulatory move coming from the RBI.

PTI reports: “The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday said it will review the guidelines on credit default swaps to facilitate the development of the credit derivatives market.

The central bank will soon issue draft directions for public comments in this regard.

“With the recent enactment of the legislation for Bilateral Netting of financial contracts providing a fillip to the underdeveloped credit derivatives market in India, it has been decided to review the extant guidelines on Credit Default Swaps (CDS) and issue draft directions for public comments shortly,” RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said while announcing the monetary policy.

The revised directions are expected to facilitate the development of credit derivatives market and a liquid and vibrant market for corporate bonds, especially for low-rated issuers, he said.

The CDS guidelines were last issued in January 2013.

The RBI said it has also reviewed the comprehensive guidelines on derivatives, issued in November 2011, and will issue the draft directions for public comments later on Friday.

“The revised guidelines seek to promote efficient access to derivative markets while ensuring high standards of governance and conduct in Over the Counter (OTC) derivative business by market makers,” Das said.

RBI will also release comprehensive draft directions on call, notice and term money markets, Certificate of Deposits (CDs), Commercial Papers (CPs) and Non-Convertible Debentures (NCDs) with original maturity of less than one year for public feedback later on Friday.

“The revised directions seek to bring consistency across products in terms of issuers, investors and other participants,” Das said.

He said these announcements may sound technical but they will go a long way in promoting and developing the corporate bond market and the derivatives market in India.

“Time will tell how effective they are but we are very optimistic that this will definitely give a fillip to the corporate bond market segment and also to the money markets,” Das said.

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) on Friday left key interest rates unchanged but decided to maintain an accommodative stance.”

12:30 PM

RTGS to be made available 24X7 in next few days: RBI Governor

In a business friendly move, the Reserve Bank of India on Friday said that the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system, used for large value transactions, will be made available round-the-clock in the next few days.

In December 2019, the National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) system was made available on a 24x7x365 basis.

Currently, RTGS is available for customers from 7.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. on all working days of a week, except second and fourth Saturdays of every month.

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said, “RTGS system will soon be made available 24×7 in the next few days… with this enablement, it is proposed to reduce settlement and default risk in the system by facilitating settlement of AePS, IMPS, NETC, NFS, RuPay, UPI transactions on all days of the week instead of five days earlier.”

“This will make the payment ecosystem more efficient,” he added.


12:00 PM

Highlights of RBI’s monetary policy statement

PTI reports on talking points from RBI’s policy decision this morning.

* Benchmark rate kept unchanged for third time in a row at 4 pc

* Indian economy expected to contract 7.5 pc this fiscal, lower than 9.5 pc contraction projected in Oct

* Economy to clock growth of 0.1 pc in Q3; Q4 to see 0.7 pc growth

* Retail inflation projected at 6.8 pc in Q3, 5.8 pc in Q4

* Inflation to remain elevated, barring transient relief in the winter months

* Fiscal stimulus moving beyond being supportive of consumption and liquidity to supporting growth-generating investment.

* Private investment still slack and capacity utilisation has not fully recovered

* RBI to use various instruments at appropriate time to ensure ample liquidity is available in system

* RBI ready to take further measures to ease liquidity; will continue to respond to global uncertainty

* RBI to maintain accommodative monetary policy stance to support growth, keep inflation at targeted level

* To raise limit for contactless card transaction from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 per transaction from January

* RTGS system to be made 24X7 in next few days

* Commercial, cooperative banks to retain profit made in 2019-20; not to make any dividend payment

* RBI committed to preserving depositors’ interest in the financial system.

11:40 AM

Indian shares hit record highs as central bank keeps rates steady

The RBI’s monetary stance has turned out to be bullish for stocks.

Reuters reports: “Indian shares hit record highs on Friday after the country’s central bank kept interest rates steady in the face of stubbornly high inflation, while also retaining its accommodative monetary policy stance.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das said India’s prospects have brightened with progress on COVID-19 vaccines, consumer confidence has turned positive and projected real GDP for the current financial year to contract just 7.5%.

The NSE Nifty 50 index was up 0.80% at 13,239.05 as of 0512 GMT, while the S&P BSE Sensex was up 0.80% at 44,993.92. Both indexes hit record highs. The Indian rupee strengthened to 73.72 against the dollar.

All 53 analysts and economists in a Reuters poll conducted in November said they did not expect any change in rates at the three-day policy meeting ending Friday.

“RBI has been extremely proactive in terms of providing support to the economy and to the market in whichever way possible,” said Avneesh Sukhija, senior financial analyst at BNP Paribas India.

Today’s decision marks a continuation from October’s decision of entering a revival mode from survival, Sukhija added.

Including today’s session, the benchmark indexes have hit record highs for 11 of the last 18 sessions, boosted by progress in developing a working coronavirus vaccine. They added more than 11% in November on record inflows from foreign institutional investors.

The RBI has already cut its key interest rate by a total 115 basis points this year to revive growth and cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rate-sensitive financial stocks also rose after the policy announcement. The Nifty Banking index, which surged nearly 24% in November, was up 1.27%.

UltraTech Cement Ltd rose as much as 6.2% to a record high, a day after the cement manufacturer said it would invest 54.77 billion rupees to expand capacity.”

11:20 AM

HCL’s Roshni tops list of India’s richest women

HCL Technologies chairperson Roshni Nadar Malhotra, with a net worth of ₹54,850 crore, tops the Kotak Wealth Hurun list of India’s wealthiest women.

Trailing her is Biocon’s Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw with a net worth of ₹36,600 crore. In the third spot is Leena Gandhi Tewari of the Mumbai-headquartered pharmaceuticals firm USV, with a net worth of ₹21,340 crore. The list of 100 richest women is based on their estimated net worth as on September 30. The cumulative wealth of those on the list is ₹2,72,540 crore.

The threshold for the ranking was a net worth of ₹100 crore. According to a release, the 2020 edition of the report focusses exclusively on women who play an active role in their family business, entrepreneurs and professionals. There are 31 self-made women in the list and among them Ms. Shaw is at the top spot, followed by Radha Vembu of Zoho (sister of Zoho founder Sridhar Vembu) with a net worth of ₹11,590 crore and Jayshree Ullal, CEO of Arista Networks, with ₹10,220 networth. Of the 31 self made women, six are professional managers and 25 entrepreneurs.


11:00 AM

Corona vaccine faces a supply chain problem

10:40 AM

Rupee rises 16 paise to 73.77 against US dollar as RBI maintains status quo on interest rate

RBI policy announcement bullish for the Indian currency.

PTI reports: “The rupee appreciated by 16 paise to 73.77 against the US dollar in the opening session on Friday as the Reserve Bank of India maintained status quo on benchmark interest rate for the third time in a row.

Traders said sustained foreign fund inflows, positive opening in domestic equities and weakness of the American currency in the overseas market also supported the local unit.

At the interbank forex market, the domestic unit opened at 73.81 against the US dollar and gained ground to touch a high of 73.77 against the greenback, registering a rise of 16 paise over its previous close.

On Thursday, the rupee had settled at 73.93 against the American currency.

The Reserve Bank of India on Friday maintained status quo for the third time in a row and kept benchmark lending rate unchanged at 4 per cent.

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said the central bank will maintain accommodative monetary policy stance to support growth and keep inflation at the targeted level.

Meanwhile, the dollar index, which gauges the greenback’s strength against a basket of six currencies, was down 0.02 per cent to 90.69.

Foreign institutional investors were net buyers in the capital market as they purchased shares worth Rs 3,637.42 crore on a net basis on Thursday, according to exchange data.

On the domestic equity market front, the 30-share BSE benchmark Sensex was trading 343.73 points higher at 44,976.38, and the broader NSE Nifty rose 97.90 points to 13,231.60.

Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, was trading 1.93 per cent higher at USD 49.65 per barrel.”

10:20 AM

RBI keeps key rates unchanged

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday kept policy rates unchanged and maintained an accommodative stance to help the economy deal with the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The key lending rate of the RBI or the repo rate was left unchanged at 4% while the reverse repo rate, or the rate the RBI pays when funds are parked with it, stayed at 3.35%.

The RBI has also projected the ongoing GDP contraction to narrow to 7.5% this fiscal with the economy returning to growth of 0.1% in Q3 and expanding 0.7% in Q4 of FY21.

Governor Shaktikanta Das, while announcing the policy, said inflation still remains a concern as RBI sees core inflation remaining sticky. He projected retail inflation to average 6.8% in Q3, before moderating to 5.8% in Q4.

The RBI also announced a host of measures for liquidity management and to deal with exchange rate risks.

10:00 AM

Sensex jumps over 200 points ahead of RBI policy outcome; Nifty tests 13,200

A bullish start to the day for stocks ahead of the RBI’s interest rate decision.

PTI reports: “Equity benchmark Sensex jumped over 200 points in early trade on Friday tracking gains in index majors HDFC Bank, L&T and ICICI Bank ahead of the Reserve Bank of India’s monetary policy outcome.

The 30-share BSE index was trading 202.71 points or 0.45 per cent higher at 44,835.36.

Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty was trading 66.10 points or 0.50 per cent up at 13,200.

UltraTech Cement was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, rising around 4 per cent, followed by L&T, M&M, Maruti, ONGC, Bharti Airtel, PowerGrid and ITC.

On the other hand, Asian Paints, Infosys, Reliance Industries and Tech Mahindra were among the laggards.

In the previous session, Sensex ended 14.61 points or 0.03 per cent higher at 44,632.65, while Nifty settled 20.15 points or 0.15 per cent up at 13,133.90 — its lifetime closing high.

Foreign institutional investors were net buyers in the capital market as they purchased shares worth Rs 3,637.42 crore on a net basis on Thursday, according to provisional exchange data.

Domestic equities continue to look resilient and firm. A continued foreign fund flow remains a key driver for markets, said Binod Modi Head-Strategy at Reliance Securities.

“Outcome of the Reserve Bank’s policy meeting would be crucial for the day. While RBI is broadly expected to maintain status quo, any sort of hawkish commentary, given the concerns over inflation due to excess liquidity, might result in hardening of bond yields and BFSI may come in pressure,” he noted.

Given current valuations, a sharp up-move in broad indices looks difficult, he said, adding that midcap and smallcap outperformance should continue to persist in the near term.

US markets finished mostly higher as investors continued to focus on renewed hopes on fiscal stimulus.

“However, benchmark indices came off day’s highs after Pfizer announced that it will be able to ship only 50 per cent of targeted vaccines in 2020 due to supply chain issues.

“A record surge in new COVID-19 cases, which touched 2 lakh on Wednesday, is being overshadowed by increasing possibility of agreement on COVID-19 relief package in coming days. However, the quantum of fiscal aid might not excite the street,” he added.

Elsewhere in Asia, bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo were in the red in mid-session deals, while Seoul was trading with gains.

Meanwhile, the global oil benchmark Brent crude futures were trading 1.81 per cent higher at USD 49.59 per barrel.”


9:30 AM

Aviation loss to widen to ₹21,000 cr. in FY21: ICRA

The Indian aviation industry is estimated to report a significant net loss of ₹21,000 crore in FY21, against a net loss of ₹12,700 crore in FY20, with the industry debt level increasing to ₹50,000 crore (excluding lease liabilities) over FY21-22, ICRA said in a report.

The rating agency said the industry would require additional funding of ₹35,000-₹37,000 crore over FY21-23.

“The two listed airlines [IndiGo and SpiceJet] have together lost ₹31 crore per day during H1 FY21. As the airlines gradually recommenced domestic operations, along with continued chartered and cargo operations, thereby resulting in significantly higher yields, their daily cash burn started reducing,” Kinjal Shah, VP, ICRA Ltd., said. “This resulted in a lower daily loss of ₹26 crore for the two listed airlines in Q2 FY2021, against ₹37 crore in Q1 FY2021,” she said.

“With a sequential improvement in domestic passenger traffic, and continued cost rationalisation initiatives by the airlines, further supported by the benign aviation turbine fuel (ATF) prices, the daily cash burn for airlines has further reduced in Q3 FY2021,” Ms. Shah said.


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Cosmos clinches Ashoka Chakra Cup

Darius Byramji-trained Cosmos (Suraj up) won the Ashoka Chakra Cup, the feature event of the races held here on Thursday (Dec. 3). The winner is owned by Mr. Rienzie M.K. Edwards & Mr. P.P.M. Edwards.

The results:

1. LONGCHAMP PLATE (1,400m), maiden 3-y-o only (Terms): OMBUDSMAN (Darshan) 1, Secret Source (Akshay K) 2, Garamond (Suraj) 3 and Max Mueller (P.P. Dhebe) 4. 2-1/4, 5 and 8-3/4. 1m 28.48s. ₹152 (w), 15, 16 and 12 (p), SHP: 60, THP: 60, FP: 4,810, Q: 950, Trinella: 1,601 and 11,204 (carried over), Exacta: 17,158 (carried over). Favourite: Garamond. Owner: Mr. H.K. Lakshman Gowda. Trainer: V. Lokanath.

2. CORDON BLEU PLATE (Div. II), (1,400m), rated 15 to 35: TWINKLE FEET (Ashhad Asbar) 1, See My Heels (Akshay K) 2, Golden Memory (Darshan) 3 and Pastiche (P. Surya) 4. Not run: Black Coffee. 3-3/4, 2-3/4 and 1. 1m 28.95s. ₹25 (w), 10, 26 and 12 (p), SHP: 39, THP: 40, FP: 77, Q: 119, Trinella: 369 and 113, Exacta: 2,304. Favourite: Golden Memory. Owner and Trainer: Mr. Imtiaz Khan.

3. WORLD SOIL DAY PLATE (1,600m), maiden 3-y-o only (Terms): SPORTING MEMORIES (Trevor) 1, Redoubtable (Akshay K) 2, Handsome (Suraj) 3 and Arlette (P.P. Dhebe) 4. Hd, 4-1/2 and 8-3/4. 1m 40.56s. ₹15 (w), 11, 17 and 16 (p), SHP: 61, THP: 41, FP: 182, Q: 98, Trinella: 412 and 165, Exacta: 730 and 358. Favourite: Sporting Memories. Owners: Mr. & Mrs. P.J. Vazifdar, Mr. M. Rishad & Mr. Kersi H. Vachha. Trainer: S. Padmanabhan.

4. DECEMBER PLATE (1,200m), rated 30 to 50: ANIMAL QUEEN (Saddam . H) 1, Asgardia (Trevor) 2, Donna Bella (Suraj) 3 and She’s Innocent (Chetan K) 4. 2-1/2, 2 and 2-3/4. 1m 15.31s. ₹567 (w), 74, 15 and 19 (p), SHP: 49, THP: 71, FP: 1,143, Q: 578, Trinella: 2,525 and 5,892 (carried over), Exacta: 7,680. Favoruite: Asgardia. Owners: Mrs. Shruthi Krishna Murthy & Mrs. Shreya Rajesh Narredu. Trainer: Rajesh Narredu.

5. KABINI CUP (1,400m), rated 60 & above: AKITA PRO (S. Shareef) 1, Regal Music (Kiran Rai) 2, Roma Victor (S. John) 3 and Malwa (Trevor) 4. 3/4, 3-1/4 and 1-1/4. 1m 29.01s. ₹73 (w), 19, 56 and 19 (p), SHP: 176, THP: 49, FP: 948, Q: 475, Trinella: 2,227 and 5,197 (carried over), Exacta: 7,436 (carried over). Favourite: Malwa. Owner: Mr. S. Pathy. Trainer: Irfan Ghatala.

6. ASHOKA CHAKRA CUP (1,800m), 3-y-o & over (Terms): COSMOS (Suraj) 1, Salazaar (Anjar Alam) 2, Well Connected (Trevor) 3 and Secretive Force (Irvan) 4. 3-3/4, 5 and 1-1/4. 1m 52.25s. ₹24 (w), 14, 14 and 20 (p), SHP: 38, THP: 45, FP: 208, Q: 31, Trinella: 436 and 108, Exacta: 2,379 and 1,529. Favourite: Cosmos. Owners: Mr. Rienzie M.K. Edwards & Mrs. P.P.M. Edwards. Trainer: Darius Byramji.

7. BHAGAMANDALA PLATE (1,600m), rated 45 to 65: ASTRAL FORCE (Akshay K) 1, Electra (Suraj) 2, Grey Channel (Irvan) 3 and Lycurgus (Vaibhav) 4. Shd, Nk and 1. 1m 41.06s. ₹28 (w), 18, 23 and 20 (p), SHP: 63, THP: 43, FP: 363, Q: 88, Trinella: 841 and 631, Exacta: 2,412 and 2,067. Favourite: Astral Force. Owners: Mr. K. Manoj Kumar & Mr. K. Kamesh. Trainer: Prasanna Kumar.

8. CORDON BLEU PLATE (Div. I), (1,400m), rated 15 to 35: KATANA (Trevor) 1, Realia (Akshay K) 2, Sovereign Legend (Neeraj) 3 and Bombix (Arshad) 4. 1, 3-1/4 and 11-3/4. 1m 28.16s. ₹67 (w), 21, 15 and 10 (p), SHP: 31, THP: 103, FP: 238, Q: 224, Trinella: 229 and 76, Exacta: 2,741 and 2,349. Favourite: Sovereign Legend. Owners: Mr. Marthand Singh Mahindra & Mrs. Rina Mahindra. Trainer: S. Attaollahi.

Jackpot: ₹30,326 (carried over); Runner-up: 6,498 (two tkts); Treble (i): 2,787 (one tkt); (ii): 862 (seven tkts).

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Hyderabad GHMC polls results live: Telangana HC suspends SEC circular on validating ballot papers

Counting of votes in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections conducted on December 1 kicked off on Friday amidst tight security. The poll, which saw fierce campaigning by the ruling TRS, BJP, and Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), saw a voter turnout of 46.55%.

The Hyderabad Mayor post is reserved for women for the next two terms.

While political parties are pretty clear about where they stand and the two major parties — Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — don’t expect any serious reversal of their estimates made after polling, the latter approached the campaign with an eye on the upcoming 2023 State election, flying in top leaders like Amit Shah, J.P Nadda, Yogi Adityanath, Prakash Javadekar and Smriti Irani.

Here are the latest updates:

11.15 am

‘HC judgement not have any impact in counting’

SEC sources say suspension of Dec. 3 circular by the High Court will not have any impact on the counting process.

Result could be delayed only if the number of votes polled (ballots) with other than cross-arrows (swastik) mark is higher than the majority secured by a candidate with ballots not in question. –  B. Chandrashekar

11 am

What made SEC issue late night circular, asks Revanth Reddy

Congress working president and MP A. Revanth Reddy accused the SEC of undermining the dignity of the position.

He said that it is proved yet again that State Election Commissioner is dancing to the tunes of the Chief Minister. “When guidelines are very clear on Swastik stamp what made him to issue late night order,” he asked. – Ravikanth Reddy

10.50 am

Leaders monitor counting from home

TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao is monitoring the counting process from Pragati Bhavan. All the Congress leaders, including Congress chief N. Uttam Kumar Reddy, are at home as well.

This comes after the State Health department urged public representatives, political leaders and party cadre, who participated in campaigning and polling to isolate themselves for a week to contain possible spread of coronavirus.

Counting in progess at the center in Wesley college, Secunderabad on Friday, December 4, 2020.

Counting in progess at the center in Wesley college, Secunderabad on Friday, December 4, 2020.
| Photo Credit: G. Ramakrishna


As politicians and party cadre interacted closely with people, there is a chance for the infectious disease to spread further if asymptomatic virus carriers, who did not take precautions, were part of the rallies or other events, the Health officials pointed out. – Ravikanth Reddy


10.30 am

HC order on ballot papers unlikely to cause delay in counting

The High Court order keeping aside the SEC circular is unlikely to impact counting, on the premise that such ballots would be too few, say officials.

Result could be delayed only if the number of votes polled (ballots) with other than cross-arrows (swastik) mark is higher than the majority secured by a candidate with ballots not in question.

The State Election Commission had earlier issued a circular validating ballot papers with tick mark or any other stamp other than Swastika. Telangana High Court ruled that such ballots should be counted separately, and added only when the secured majority is less than such votes. – Swati Vadlamudi, B. Chandrashekar

10 am

HC suspends SEC’s letter declaring ballot papers with distinguish mark as valid

Telangana High Court has suspended a circular issued by State Election Commission (SEC) declaring that ballot papers having ‘distinguish mark’ other than the instrument (arrow cross-mark rubber stamp) were also valid.

The judge directed the SEC to preserve all ballot papers having ‘distinguish mark’ other than that of the rubber stamp mark provided at the polling stations. If the number of ballot papers with ‘distinguish mark’ exceeds 100, the final result of that division should be kept pending, the order said. – Marri Ramu

9.40 am

Results likely by evening

The results of the keenly-fought election is likely to be known in the evening as ballot papers were used for voting.

The SEC had decided to conduct the election with ballot papers after consultation with major parties, the Health department in view of COVID-19 pandemic and keeping in view other relevant issues, it said earlier.

9 am

Feisty and kind: the first woman mayor of Hyderabad

As the city gears up to elect a female Mayor for the next 10 years, here is a look at the first one to break the glass ceiling.

Rani Kumudini Devi was the first woman mayor of Hyderabad, unanimously elected in 1962. She represented the Wanaparthi Assembly constituency from 1962 to 1972.

Hyderabad GHMC polls results live: Telangana HC suspends SEC circular on validating ballot papers


Ms. Devi was born in Vaddepally in Warangal district on January 23, 1911. Her father, Pingle Venkatrama Reddy, was the deputy prime minister in the Nizam’s government. She was married to J. Rajaramdev Rao of Wanaparthi and was noted for being the first woman vehicle driver, according to records available with the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.

She had set up the Sivananda Rehabilitation Centre for leprosy patients. She died at the age of 98 on August 6, 2009.

8 am

Counting begins

Counting of votes for the recently conducted Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation commenced this morning.

Counting for the keenly contested election is being held in 150 centres set up in different locations across the GHMC limits. The postal ballots will be counted first and this will be followed by the regular ballot papers which are expected to be bundled into 25 ballots each.

Each counting hall will have 14 tables, each table with two counting assistants monitored by one counting supervisor. A total of 8,152 counting personnel have been deployed for the purpose, the statement informed. The whole process in each centre will be supervised by a Returning Officer and Assistant Returning Officer.

The counting process will be recorded by CCTV cameras, and will be overseen by 31 observers. A total of 14,000 votes will be counted in each round.


Ballot papers with distiguish mark valid, says SEC

The State Election Commission has issued a circular which said that ballot papers having ‘distinguish mark’ other than the instrument (arrow cross-mark rubber stamp) are also valid.

SEC C. Parthasarathy issued the letter on Thursday, a day before counting of GHMC elections began.

“During poll conducted on December 1 in some polling stations, the Polling Officer provided distinguish mark instead of arrow cross mark for marking the ballot paper to the voters to cast their vote,” read the circular.

“If the intention of the voter is clear on marking to a particular candidate, the vote can be treated as valid vote to that candidate since it is a mistake of polling personnel under rule 51(h) of Conduct of Election Rules, 2005,” it clarified.


Poll percentage has a few surprises

The final polling percentage of the December 1 Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation election has quite a few surprises among the wards that were affected by October floods in the city.

Hyderabad GHMC polls results live: Telangana HC suspends SEC circular on validating ballot papers


While Chaitanyapuri, Saroornagar, R.K. Puram and Kothapet in the eastern part of Hyderabad showed voter apathy in comparison to 2016 elections, the southern parts of the city showed a higher voter turnout as compared to 2016. Both areas were affected by floods and a large number of residents received Rs. 10,000 solatium announced by the Telangana government.


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Cyclone Burevi: airport to be closed for eight hours

Close on the heels of the closure of Tuticorin and Madurai airports owing to Cyclone Burevi, the domestic and international flight operations from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport have been suspended from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday.

“Precautionary NOTAM” (the notice to airmen), has been issued to alert aircraft pilots of potential hazards following the directive of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) headquarters in New Delhi and based on the weather inputs from the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

The closure of the international airport for eight hours is part of the safety measures as per the SOPs and the District Collector, Thiruvananthapuram, has been informed of the NOTAM, a top AAI official said.

However, the airfield will be available for rescue and relief operations and for overflying flights over Thiruvananthapuram, if needed, during the period depending on the prevailing weather conditions and ground clearance for landing and take-off.

The two international flights and seven domestic flights during the NOTAM period will have to be cancelled or diverted to other airports in the State. The AAI had briefed the operating airlines and stake-holders on the precautionary steps to be taken in case of crisis in the elaborate meetings chaired by Airport Director C.V. Ravindran for the last three days.

A meeting has been convened at 3 p.m. at the international airport on Friday to take stock of the situation and on opening of the airport after the NOTAM ends at 6 p.m. The premier airport of the State was the fulcrum of the rescue and relief operations during the devastating floods in the State for two consecutive years.

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Coronavirus live updates | Infections continue to grow at a constant pace in India

India’s first COVID-19 wave refuses to die down. The consistent fall observed in India’s daily count of cases and deaths between mid-September and October-end, did not persist in November. Lately, many States’ case curves have shown fluctuations, with a week of steady rise followed by a week of consistent decline in new cases, thereby keeping the national curve constant.

India’s average daily cases oscillated between the 40,000 and 45,000 marks in November, while average new deaths ranged between 480 and 560.

You can track coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates at the national and State levels here. A list of State Helpline numbers is available as well.

Here are the updates:

Andhra Pradesh

COVID centre fire: Ramesh Hospitals says its role limited to treatment

Fire and Police Departments personnel inspecting the Hotel Swarna Palace-cum-COVID care centre in Vijayawada.

Fire and Police Departments personnel inspecting the Hotel Swarna Palace-cum-COVID care centre in Vijayawada.  
| Photo Credit:
K.V.S. Giri


Ramesh Hospitals general manager J. Rajasekhar clarified through a press release that the hospital’s M.G. Road branch was responsible only for the treatment of COVID patients, nursing, paramedical and ambulance services and round-the-clock monitoring of patients.

Hotel Swarna Palace, where COVID patients were being treated by doctors from Ramesh Hospitals, was supposed to provide the facilities required by the persons infected by COVID, and other amenities and collect the room rent from patients undergoing treatment.

An agreement to this effect was reached by Ramesh Hospitals with Hotel Swarna Palace MD M. Srinivas.

Tamil Nadu

Travel agents get calls about U.K. trips for COVID-19 vaccine

On Wednesday, just after the United Kingdom government gave its approval for Pfizer’s vaccine against COVID-19, a small section of residents from Chennai has been busy making enquiries to look into the possibility of flying to the United Kingdom to get a shot.

However, whether non-U.K. citizens will get access to the vaccine in the early stages remains doubtful. And yet, travel agents said some of their regular clients had reached out to them to know if there were chances for them to get the vaccine by travelling to the United Kingdom.

Mostly, people over the age of 55-60 were the ones wishing to get a vaccine shot at the earliest.

U.K./ U.S.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says U.K. rushed approval of COVID-19 vaccine

Dr. Anthony Fauci. File

Dr. Anthony Fauci. File
| Photo Credit: AP


Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said the U.K. was not as rigorous as the U.S. health authorities in its COVID-19 vaccine approval process.

The U.K. on December 2 became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for the coronavirus.

“The U.K. did not do it as carefully,” he told Fox News. “If you go quickly and you do it superficially, people are not going to want to get vaccinated. We really scrutinise the data very carefully to guarantee to the American public that this is a safe and efficacious vaccine,” he said. “We have the gold standard of a regulatory approach with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The U.K. did not do it as carefully and they got a couple of days ahead,” the 79-year-old expert said.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is the fastest to go from concept to reality, taking only 10 months to follow the same developmental steps that normally span a decade.

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Morning Digest — December 4, 2020

A select list of stories to read before you start your day.

The government gave assurances that MSP will continue, adding that it was willing to look into farmers’ concerns regarding grievance redressal and the right to approach civil courts, as well as the concern that private buyers of farm produce will not require anything more than a PAN Card. Farmer leaders said that their main demand still remained the complete repeal of all three laws as there are major underlying issues with the laws, which cannot be resolved.

India could be looking at making available a COVID-19 vaccine as early as January, says All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Director Randeep Guleria, while saying that what matters the most is safety and efficacy and not being the first off the block.

Cyclone Burevi weakened into a deep depression at 5.30 p.m. on Thursday. The deep depression will move west-southwestwards and cross the Ramanathapuram and Thoothukudi districts between Thursday night and Friday morning, with a wind speed of 50-60 kmph, gusting to 70 kmph.

Ranjitsinh Disale, 32, from Paritewadi village in Maharashtra’s Solapur district, emerged the winner from 10 finalists from across the world for the annual prize founded by the Varkey Foundation in 2014 to recognise an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession. Mr. Disale, who believes that teachers are the world’s real change-makers, announced that he will be sharing 50% of his prize money with his fellow finalists to support their incredible work.

Special NIA court judge P.R. Sitre had earlier directed all the accused in the case, including BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur and Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, to remain present in court on Thursday. However, Pragya Thakur, Ramesh Upadhayay, Sudhakar Diwedi and Sudhakar Chaturvedi did not appear in court.

The share of Indians who gave a bribe to avail themselves of a public service in the 12 months before a survey (the bribery rate) by Transparency International was conducted was the highest among the Asian nations surveyed.

Flipkart on Thursday announced a “partial spin-off” of PhonePe to help the digital payments platform access dedicated, long-term capital to fund its growth ambitions. Flipkart, however, will remain PhonePe’s majority shareholder.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, on December 3 said the U.K. was not as rigorous as the U.S. health authorities in its COVID-19 vaccine approval process. “The U.K. did not do it as carefully,” he told Fox News. “If you go quickly and you do it superficially, people are not going to want to get vaccinated.”

This year is on course to be one of the three warmest ever recorded, the United Nations said Wednesday, as the U.N. chief warned the world was on the brink of a “climate catastrophe”.

Short of resources in ODIs, India will have enough options to choose from to pose a stiffer challenge to Australia when the two sides clash in a three-match T20 series beginning on Friday.

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Dilli Chalo | Hotel opens its doors to protesters

About 6 km into Haryana from the protest site is a small hotel, which has opened its doors for protesting farmers – especially women — and offered them rooms and a hall for free.

Mandeep Khapra (25), owner of Hotel Sudhir in Kundli, said being a farmer’s son, he considers the protesting farmers as his extended family. Mr. Khapra said, “This, I feel, is the least we can do for the old women who have come here. They are all like my mother.”

The 20-room hotel has offered two halls and four-five rooms, along with bathrooms and toilets, to the farmers. Mr. Khapra said that it gets cold in the night and the women need to use toilets. “When the farmers came on November 26, we asked them to park their trucks here. Then we saw women were also there. Initially, we asked women to stay in the rooms and eventually, we opened halls for men as well,” he said, adding that about 60-70 people were currently living there and the hotel is arranging for more.

Mr. Khapra said that he and his team are also sometimes providing tea and food to the protesters. “We will continue providing them a place to stay till they decide to leave the place,” he said.

Jaswant Kaur (65), who is staying at the hotel, said: “The son here has been very considerate. We are not facing any problem.” .

“We are old but we were prepared for the worst living conditions. We are still washing clothes and cooking in the open, but at least we can now bathe and use toilets,” said Baldev Kaur (66) from Sangrur.

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Dilli Chalo | Nuh women break stereotype, join stir

Breaking all stereotypes the Muslim women from Haryana’s Nuh have also come out in support of the farmers’ agitation holding protests and taking part in the sit-ins at the Delhi-Haryana border. Though their number is not large, the social workers in the region say mere participation of the women in the protests signals the changing mindsets in the community.

Working among the women in Nuh, a Muslim dominated district of Haryana, for more than a decade, Sabila Jung, who runs “Jago, Chalo Mahila”, a women awareness organisation, said it was not easy to convince the families with stereotype mindsets to allow their women to come out and protest against the farm laws. “But the change started with the protests against the CAA-NRC when women came out in small numbers to be part of the dharnas across the district. I went on a hunger strike then against the CAA-NRC and the women supported me. Later, the women also distributed food and masks during the lockdown. Though women are reluctant, they understand when things are explained to them,” said Ms. Jung, 35.

She claimed that around a dozen men and women from Nuh were also part of the sit-ins at Tikri and Singhu borders for a couple of days. “We will support the agitation till the time the demands of the farmers are not met,” said Ms. Jung.

Mubarik Atrena, a social worker, said he along with many women from his family, including his aunt, was part of the protesters from Nuh at Tikri border. “We have been encouraging our women also to protest,” said Mr. Atrena.

Jakia, 22, a woman protester, said that she was a daughter of a farmer and it was her duty to support the farmers’ cause. “My family has no objection to it. I also took part in the CAA-NRC protest,” said Jakia, a resident of Sala Heri. She added that women in Nuh were actively taking part in the farmers protest.

Mewat RTI Manch coordinator Rajuddin Meo said that women also took part in a protest against the farm laws in Nuh on Wednesday and marched from Nuh to Sohna before the male protesters were taken into preventive custody.

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Dilli Chalo | Nihang Sikhs on horses join agitating farmers at Singhu border

‘Agitation will strengthen if talks with govt. remain inconclusive’

The Singhu border on Thursday saw intense activity as a group of Nihang Sikhs inched closer to police barricades along with horses in a “show of power”.

Members of the group, Budda Dal, who are traditional keepers of horses, said that they came to join the protest with 15 horses and about 40 more were on the way to Delhi. The group had camped right adjacent to the police barricades and cooked their meals right in the middle.

The group said that there are several mentions of horses in the holy book of Sikhs – Guru Granth Sahib.

Sitting on a horse, Gursimran Singh (18), a resident of Nawa Shehar and a son of a farmer, said he was here to show his support. “The horses, for us, are to show our power. Our gurus used to ride horses… We are not scared of anyone and that is the reason we are here at the front,” said Gurmail Singh, a resident of Barnala, who called himself a “protector”.

Protesting farmers also said that the numbers will swell and the agitation will strengthen if the talks continue to remain inconclusive. “We have been here for a week now and we are to stay. That, we think, the government has come to know. As days pass by, more and more people are coming to join and our strength will only increase,” said Angrez Singh (58), a resident of Moga.

Rajendra Arya (39), national chief of Bharat Kisan Mazdoor Naujawan Union, said that farmers are disappointed in the government and they are adamant on the demands. “The leaders should not disturb the democratic fabric of the country. The protest is indefinite till the demands are met,” he said.

At the protest on Thursday, where several groups played songs on high volume while driving their tractors, a group of Muslim men from Punjab reached and served food. “We have arrived today but other members of the group have been here for a few days. We will stay for as long as the farmers stay,” said Mohammad Furkaan (22).

Thursday also witnessed the beginning of street art by students of Bhagat Singh Chhatra Ekta Manch who wrote quotes by Bhagat Singh on a wall close to the centre stage.

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