DD/AIR News

  • South Africa will be banking on their formidable fast bowling attack to dismantle India's strong batting line-up but after nine successive Test series wins India are brimming with confidence –- and a belief that they can thrive in any conditions. Six of India's winning series were played at home and the others – two in Sri Lanka and one in the West Indies –- were in conditions where fast bowling was not a major factor. The last time India lost a series was when they were beaten 2-0 in Australia in a four-match contest in 2014/15 but it was a series which showed India's batsmen could stand up to raw pace on hard, bouncy pitches. They scored more than 400 in each of their first innings, losing the first two Tests before drawing the last two. "The tour to Australia is the one that laid a great foundation for this team," said Indian captain Virat Kohli during his arrival press conference last week. Kohli hit four centuries in that series and it marked the start of his captaincy, initially in a stand-in capacity in two of the Tests in Australia but afterwards on a full-time basis when Mahendra Singh Dhoni retired from Test cricket. India have a poor record in South Africa, losing five out of six series with one drawn, and winning only two out of 17 Test matches against eight defeats and seven draws. Significantly, though, they have pushed South Africa hard on their two most recent tours, in 2010/11 and 2013/14, sharing the first series and narrowly losing the second. Thirteen of the 2013/14 tourists are in the current party and they are a vastly more experienced squad who have become accustomed to winning. Both teams have selection dilemmas. South Africa have to make room for returning captain Faf du Plessis in their batting order and will have to decide on their best bowling line-up. Fast bowler Chris Morris will vie with medium-pacer Andile Phehlukwayo as an all-rounder to augment an expected pace attack of Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada. India have to choose between Lokesh Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan as an opening batting partner for Murali Vijay, while in pace-friendly conditions there may be room for only one specialist spinner, meaning that one of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, a match-winning combination in India, could miss out. Squads: South Africa: Faf du Plessis (captain), Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wkt), Theunis de Bruyn, Vernon Philander, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel. India: Virat Kohli (captain), Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wkt), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Parthiv Patel (wkt), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah.

  • The governors of Florida, Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina declared states of emergency, warning residents to expect icy roads and unseasonable freezing temperatures. In the northeast, work crews loaded trucks with road salt in advance of the storm. Much of the eastern United States is in the grips of a sustained cold spell that has frozen parts of Niagara Falls on the American and Canadian sides, played havoc with public works causing pipes to freeze and water mains to burst, and impeded firefighting in places where temperatures barely broke 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The cold has been blamed for at least nine deaths over the past few days, including two homeless people in Houston. Police in Roseville, Michigan, said on Wednesday that a 96-year-old woman, recently diagnosed with dementia, was found dead in a playground, apparently having frozen to death after wandering outside in a robe and slippers. The U.S. National Weather Service had blizzard warnings in effect from Virginia to Maine, with areas around Boston expected to see about a foot (30 cm) of snow on Thursday.

  • The Brihanmumbai Disaster Management Cell has informed that the fire that started at around 2.08am was a level-two fire. The injured were rushed Holy Spirit Hospital nearby for treatment. The fire brigade managed to control the fire under control within ​​30 minutes with the help of 6 firefighters and pulled out people trapped inside. More details are awaited. 

  • A police officer told that a joint team of army’s 29 RR and SOG during a naka at Zangam Bridge in Pattan area and arrested the trio. The official said that arms and ammunition including a Chinese pistol, with 1 Magzine, 4 rounds, one AK-47 rifle with two magazines and 60 rounds were recovered from them. The official identified the trio as Miyser Majid Bhat(OGW) son of Abdul Majid Bhat of Sirwaripora Pattan, Muzafar Ahmad Hurra son of Ghulam Mohd and Bashir Bhat son of Munawar Bhat. “A case has been registered under relevant sections of law and further investigations taken”, official said.

  • According to a statement issued by the External Affairs Ministry, Sushma Swaraj will visit Thailand on January 4-5 during the course of which she will hold a meeting with Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai. "All aspects of bilateral relations with Thailand will be discussed with particular focus on political, defence and economic ties and on further enhancing India's engagement with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries," the statement said, adding that Thailand would assume the role of coordinator country for India-ASEAN relations in the middle of this year. During her Indonesia visit from January 5-6, Sushma Swaraj will co-chair the fifth meeting of the India-Indonesia Joint Commission with her Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi. The Ministers will also inaugurate the second meeting of the ASEAN-India Network of Think Tanks. She will also call on Indonesian President Joko Widodo and have other official engagements, including an interaction with representatives of the Indian community. The Indian Minister also meet the new Secretary General of ASEAN Lim Jock Hoi, the statement said, adding: "As the biggest country in the ASEAN region with the largest economy, Indonesia is an important partner for India including in trade and strategic matters. In recent times, there has been intensive engagement between the two countries bilaterally, as well as plurilaterally." It said the Joint Commission meeting and other engagements of Sushma Swaraj would enable the two countries to chart out the course of partnership during the year 2018. She will visit Singapore from January 6-8 during which she will inaugurate the Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) of ASEAN countries on January 7. The theme of this year's event is "Ancient Route, New Journey: Diaspora in the Dynamic ASEAN-India Partnership". Sushma Swaraj will have bilateral meetings with the leaders in Singapore and also interact with PIO delegations from ASEAN countries, who will be participating in the PBD. According to the statement, the Regional PBD is a large scale event covering a wide range of sectors including political relations, economic ties and investment, tourism and culture, connectivity, start-ups and science and technology. "PIO delegations from all ASEAN countries, including ministers, eminent personalities, business and socio-political leaders are participating in the event," the statement said. On all three legs of her visit, Sushma Swaraj will share with her interlocutors, relevant information about the forthcoming ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit in New Delhi on January 25 which marks 25 years of the establishment of Dialogue Partnership between India and the 10-nation regional bloc. A series of events has been organized by the External Affairs Ministry over the last year to celebrate this jubilee in different Indian cities and also ASEAN countries, which will culminate with the Summit in New Delhi. India has also invited the leaders of the ASEAN countries for the Republic Day parade this year.

  • The study is the first to examine group generational differences in perfectionism, according to Thomas Curran from the University of Bath in the UK. Researchers suggest that perfectionism entails "an irrational desire to achieve along with being overly critical of oneself and others." They analysed data from 41,641 American, Canadian and British college students from 164 samples who completed the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale, a test for generational changes in perfectionism, from the late 1980s to 2016. They measured three types of perfectionism: self-oriented - an irrational desire to be perfect; socially prescribed - perceiving excessive expectations from others; and other- oriented - placing unrealistic standards on others. The study, published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, found that more recent generations of college students reported significantly higher scores for each form of perfectionism than earlier generations. Specifically, between 1989 and 2016, the self-oriented perfectionism score increased by 10 per cent, socially prescribed increased by 33 per cent and other-oriented increased by 16 per cent.  The rise in perfectionism among millennials is being driven by a number of factors, according to Curran. For example, raw data suggest that social media use pressures young adults to perfect themselves in comparison to others, which makes them dissatisfied with their bodies and increases social isolation. The drive to earn money, pressure to get a good education and setting lofty career goals are other areas in which today's young people exhibit perfectionism. In another example, Curran cited college students' drive to perfect their grades and compare them to their peers. These examples represent a rise in meritocracy among millennials, in which universities encourage competition among students to move up the social and economic ladder. "Meritocracy places a strong need for young people to strive, perform and achieve in modern life," said Curran. "Young people are responding by reporting increasingly unrealistic educational and professional expectations for themselves. As a result, perfectionism is rising among millennials," he said. The increase in perfectionism may in part be affecting the psychological health of students, said Andrew Hill, PhD, of York St John University in the UK, citing higher levels of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts than a decade ago. 

  • According to scientists at the National Eye Institute (NEI) in the US, tiny tube-like protrusions called primary cilia on cells of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) - a layer of cells in the back of the eye - are essential for the survival of the retina's light-sensing photoreceptors. The discovery has advanced efforts to make stem cell- derived RPE for transplantation into patients with geographic atrophy, otherwise known as dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness in the US. "We now have a better idea about how to generate and replace RPE cells, which appear to be among the first type of cells to stop working properly in AMD," said Kapil Bharti, lead investigator of the study published in the journal Cell Reports. Bharti is leading the development of patient stem cell- derived RPE for an AMD clinical trial set to launch this year. In a healthy eye, RPE cells nourish and support photoreceptors, the cells that convert light into electrical signals that travel to the brain via the optic nerve. RPE cells form a layer just behind the photoreceptors. In geographic atrophy, RPE cells die, which causes photoreceptors to degenerate, leading to vision loss. Bharti and his colleagues are hoping to halt and reverse the progression of geographic atrophy by replacing diseased RPE with lab-made RPE. The approach involves using a patient's blood cells to generate induced-pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), cells capable of becoming any type of cell in the body. The iPSCs are grown in the laboratory and then coaxed into becoming RPE for surgical implantation. Attempts to create functional RPE implants, however, have hit a recurring obstacle: iPSCs programmed to become RPE cells have a tendency to get developmentally stuck, said Bharti. "The cells frequently fail to mature into functional RPE capable of supporting photoreceptors. In cases where they do mature, however, RPE maturation coincides with the emergence of primary cilia on the iPSC-RPE cells," he said. The researchers tested three drugs known to modulate the growth of primary cilia on iPSC-derived RPE. As predicted, the two drugs known to enhance cilia growth significantly improved the structural and functional maturation of the iPSC-derived RPE, researchers said. By contrast, iPSC-derived RPE cells exposed to the third drug, an inhibitor of cilia growth, demonstrated severely disrupted structure and functionality.

  • Kohli, yet to taste a triumph as captain in IPL in spite of his extremely successful run as national captain, and 2011 World Cup-winning skipper Dhoni are expected to be shoo-ins when RCB and CSK decide which players they are retaining in the squad for the next three seasons -- 2018 to 2020. Among other top Indians who are almost certain to be retained are Rohit Sharma, who led Mumbai Indians to their title triumph last season, exciting MI all-rounder Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, who is set to go back to CSK after playing for Gujarat Lions over the last two seasons, and Australian pocket dynamo David Warner for Sunrisers Hyderabad. Another franchise making a return after serving a two- year suspension, Rajasthan Royals, will certainly go for Australia captain Steve Smith, considering the form he has been in. Each team can opt for up to five players by virtue of a combination of Player Retention (Pre Player Auction) and Right to Match (RTM) (during the Player Auction), according to the decision of the IPL GC at its meeting in New Delhi on December 6. There can be a maximum of either three retentions or three RTMs at the discretion of the franchises and if there is no retention before player auction, then franchises can have up to three RTMs, as per the norms put in place by the IPL GC. The break-up is: Maximum number of 3 capped Indian players, 2 overseas players and 2 uncapped Indian players each. The player pool available for CSK and RR for retention/RTM will be the players who played for them respectively in IPL 2015 and who were part of Rising Pune Supergiant and GL squads in IPL 2017, as per the norms. The salary cap has also been raised. For the coming season, it's fixed at Rs 80 crore and will increase to Rs 82 and 85 crore respectively in 2019 and 2020. The minimum spend has been fixed at 75 per cent of the salary cap for each season. The player retention price guideline for salary cap charged has also been set as Rs 33 crore (for 3 players pre auction), Rs 21 crore (for 2 players pre auction) and Rs 12.5 crore (for 1 player retained pre-auction). Each squad can consist of a maximum number of 25 players (up to 8 overseas players) and a minimum of 18.

  • The Malaysia Airlines jet disappeared with 239 people on board in March 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing after diverting from its flight path. No sign of the plane was found in a 120,000 square kilometre (46,000 square mile) zone selected by satellite analysis of the jet's likely trajectory and the Australian-led hunt - the largest in aviation history - was called off in January last year. But it looks set to resume soon. Research vessel Seabed Constructor, leased by exploration firm Ocean Infinity, has set off from South Africa for the Indian Ocean with the aim of arriving in the search zone by mid-January, a source familiar with the matter said. It is hoped by this time the Malaysian government and Ocean Infinity will have finalised a deal for the hunt to resume. Malaysia's Deputy Transport Minister Aziz Kaprawi said negotiations for the firm to restart the hunt on a "no find, no fee" basis were in the final stages. "They (Ocean Infinity) know we are very serious in taking their offer," he said. A spokesman for the company added: "The company are awaiting final contract award before the search recommences." Ocean Infinity was one of three companies which had bid to resume the hunt. The source, who declined to be identified, said that the firm had decided to send the Seabed Constructor, a Norwegian research vessel, to the southern Indian Ocean so that it was ready to start searching in a window of good weather expected in January and February. The vessel is carrying several autonomous submarines which can be launched from the boat to scour the seabed for fragments of the jet. Australia's national science body CSIRO released a report in April suggesting the doomed plane was "most likely" north of the former search zone in an area of approximately 25,000 square kilometres. Only three confirmed fragments of MH370 have been found, all of them on western Indian Ocean shores, including a two- metre wing part known as a flaperon. 

  • Ace India opener Shikhar Dhawan has been declared fit and will be up for selection for the 1st Test match against South Africa in Cape Town. Shikhar Dhawan, who was down with an ankle injury, was seen training full throttle at the Newlands Stadium in Cape Town. Shikhar Dhawan had roared back into contention for this big tour with fine performances against Sri Lanka both away from home and during the home series. But India has suffered another jolt as all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is under the weather and a BCCI medical team has been monitoring him.  The Medical Team in consultation with the local medical team has decided that Jadeja will be taken to a hospital for treatment, and expects him to fully recover in the next 48 hrs  

  • Minister for Social justice and empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot  presented the Constitution 123rd amendment bill 2017 for discussion and passage. Ruckus ensued as TMC members began arguing over aternative amendments  suggested by the Rajya Sabha causing adjournment for the day at 1:35 pm  

  • Pakistan continues to violate the ceasefire along the International Border (IB).  A BSF jawan deployed in the Samba sector of Jammu and Kashmir was martyred on Wednesday after Pakistan launched unprovoked firing on an Indian post in the first such incident this year. The jawan  has been identified as Fifty-year-old Head Constable R P Hazra. He succumbed to his injuries after being rushed to a nearby medical centre with severe injuries. Hazra, who hails from Murshidabad in West Bengal, has served for about 27 years in the border guarding force. The incident comes just days after an army personnel was killed along the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri district on December 31 last year.    

  • The Union cabinet took several decisions on Wednesday in the interest of farmers, infrastructure development and the health sector to name a few. Key Cabinet Decisions Cabinet approved setting up of AIIMS under Swaast Suraksha Yojana in Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh. It will be built in two years with an outlay of 1,351 crore rupees. This will bridge gap in supply of doctors and health workers in the hill state. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs also approved construction, operation and maintenance of 2-lane bi-directional Zojila Tunnel with Parallel Escape (Egress) Tunnel excluding approaches on Srinagar-Leh section connecting NH-1A.  It will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh. The tunnel will be built in seven years, civil works costing around 5 thousand crores, and the total project cost of 6,808 crore rupees. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs took another major decision, The Jal Marg Vikas Project for capacity augmentation of navigation on National Waterway-1 at a cost of 5,369 crore rupees  with the technical assistance and investment support of the World Bank. The project is expected to be completed by March 2023, and will create a large number of jobs, besides provide alternative amd cheaper means of transport thus speeding up economic activities. The CCEA also extended the mandatory packaging of foodgrains and sugar products in jute bags for the year ending June 2018. Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani, tweeted - Grateful thanks to PM @narendramodi ji & Union Cabinet for approving extension norms for Mandatory Packaging in Jute Material. This decision mandating 90% of food grains and 20% sugar products to be packed in jute bags will benefit nearly 3.7 lakh workers & 40 lakh farmers. Other major Cabinet Decisions Among other decisions the Cabinet was apprised of an MoU between  India and Italy Cooperation in Renewable Energy signed in October. It encourages technical bilateral cooperation on new and renewable issues. Cabinet also approved MoU between Ministry of Road Transport & Highways and 'Transport for London', a statutory body in London to improve Public Transport, passenger services and promote high capacity buses in India. Cabinet also approved 11 amendments in the Model Concession Agreement to make Port Projects more investor-friendly. The amendments were finalized after extensive consultation with stakeholders, and are expected to create numerous jobs. It also approved agreement between India and Israel in the oil-gas sector, and a few other international agreements.

  • Addressing the MOU signing ceremony to expand the 1990 emergency ambulance service throughout Sri Lanka, Wickremsinghe said that the service was first announced for two provinces during PM Modi’s first visit to Sri Lanka in 2015 and was expanded to the whole of country during his second visit last year. Terming the service as invaluable, the Sri Lankan PM  said the service is a very good example of close cooperation between the two countries. The MoU to expand the service was signed by Indian high commissioner to Sri Lanka Taranjit Singh Sandhu and Sri Lankan deputy minister for national policies Harsh De Silva in Colombo on Wednesday afternoon. The service will be operated with an Indian grant of 15.2 million US dollars. As per the MOU, Indian company GVK will provide 209 ambulances and train around 1300 Sri Lankan personnel in emergency health care. Earlier, India had provided for 88 ambulances at a grant of 7.56 million US dollars for operating it in Western and Southern provinces. Indian High Commissioner Sandhu in his address said that the project is a classic case of job creation, technology transfer and innovation. He said India’s bilateral relations are based on sharing and caring.

  • Making a special statement on Wednesday evening on the bond commission report which was submitted to him last week, Sirisena said that the commission has recommended the prosecution of the country's former finance minister and former central bank governor on bribery charges. He said the report has already been  submitted to the Attorney General recommending that action must be taken through the Criminal Investigations Department or Bribery commission. The bond scam has created a political upheaval in Sri Lankan politics and had put the government on backfoot, which was elected on anti-corruption promise. President Sirisena had appointed the commission last year and Prime minister Ranil Wickremsinghe was made to testify before it. Many politicians close to United National Party (UNP) led by Prime minister were accused in the scam which created a political divide in the national unity government. Presently, Sri Lankan Freedom party (SLFP) and UNP have come together to form the government but are divided on several issues.

  • PM Modi was the most talked about Lok Sabha member, while Sachin Tendulkar the most popular Rajya Sabha member on Facebook, it said in a statement.  The ranking is based on total interactions including reactions, shares and comments for 2017.  Others in the tally included names like RK Sinha, Amit Shah, Asaduddin Owaisi and Bhagwant Mann.  Among apex bodies, PMO India was most popular on Facebook followed by President Ram Nath Kovind. The Ministry of External Affairs topped amongst ministries.  PMO India has 13.74 million followers and 13.82 million likes on its Facebook Page. President Ram Nath Kovind, on the other hand, had 4.88 million followers and 4.9 million likes on his page. 

  • The Bilaspur All India Institute of Medical Sciences would be completed within 48 months. "The institute will consist of a hospital with a capacity of 750 beds and trauma centre facilities. It will have a medical college with an intake of 100 MBBS students per year. Nursing college with an intake of 60 B.Sc. (Nursing) students per year," said an official statement. The cabinet further said that residential complexes and allied facilities in the hospital will be broadly on the pattern of AIIMS, New Delhi. "The hospital will have 20 Speciality/Super-Speciality Departments including 15 Operation Theatres. It will also have an Ayush Department with 30 beds for providing treatment facilities in traditional system of medicine," said the cabinet. This is under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY).  Several other AIIMS have been established under the scheme, including in Bhubaneswar, Bhopal, Raipur, Jodhpur, Rishikesh and Patna while work on an AIIMS in Rae Bareli is in progress.  Also, three AIIMS in Nagpur (Maharashtra), Kalyani (West Bengal) and Mangalagiri in Guntur (Andhra Pradesh) were sanctioned in 2015; two AIIMS have been sanctioned at Bathinda and Gorakhpur in 2016 and an AIIMS in Kamrup (Assam).

  • The passing away of an advocate put off the pronouncement of quantum of sentence against RJD President Lalu Yadav and his other fodder scam co-accused on Wednesday. But several RJD leaders such as Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Tejasvi Yadav and Congress leader Manish Tewari got into fresh trouble with the Ranchi court issuing them notice on contempt of court charges. All have been directed by the court to appear before it on the 23rd of January. The move comes after they made objectionable remarks after their party chief Lalu Yadav and 14 others were found guilty by the court in a fodder scam case on December 23. They now have to appear before the court on January 23. Though, RJD spokesperson Manoj Jha has denied committing contempt of court. The trial in the case was completed on December 13 in the special CBI court and he was convicted on December 23. Seven accused including former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra were acquitted. The case pertains to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 89.27 lakh from the Deoghar Treasury between 1991 and 1994. He has already been convicted in another fodder scam- the Chaibasa treasury case, in which he is out on bail but the conviction cost him his Lok Sabha seat. He has been disqualified from contesting elections. The Chaibasa treasury case in the 1990s involves fraudulent withdrawal to the tune of Rs 37.7 crore.        

  • Aam Aadmi Party has announced the name of three persons nominated for Rajya Sabha. The names include Senior leader Sanjay Singh, Chartered Accountant ND Gupta and Educationist Sushil Gupta. Prominent ommission in the list are the names of poet and senior Leader and Kumar Vishwas and Journalist turned politican Ashutosh. The names were announced by deputy CM Manish Sisodia. The development is considered a significant one and likely to trigger dissentions in Party. Senior Aam Admi Party Leader Kumar Vishwas hit out at party chief Arvind Kejriwal, accusing him on being stabbed in the back. Taking a dig, he termed party candidates Sushil Gupta and N D Gupta as 'the voice of protesters' and a 'great revolutionary' and said that he accepts his own 'martyrdom'.  

  • Normalcy can be expected to return to Maharashtra which has seen some unrest since Monday following the Bhima Koregaon violent clashes near Pune. Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar called off the statewide bandh call on Wednesday following protests that led to some disruption in road, rail and air traffic including several parts of Mumbai. But the situation had started to return to normal by the evening. Movement of vehicles was affected in some places due to sporadic protests, and the bandh had a mixed response. CM Devendra Fadnavis said Inquiry will be conducted in the incidents of violence that took place across Maharashtra. There was adequate police deployment leading to the situation reaming under control. The central government took cognisance of the situation. The Home Minister was in touch with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Government said opposition parties were fanning violence in Maharashtra for political gains, but the state government has the situation under control. There was a vociferous uproar in both houses of Parliament over the violence in Koregaon. The Rajya Sabha was adjourned twice till two o'clock, before reconveneing. In the Lok Sabha, the treasury accused the Congress of playing politics over the matter. Several political parties appreciated efforts of Maharashtra government and asked the opposition not to indulge in politics on the matter. Maharashtra witnessed unrest after an event to mark 200th anniversary of Bhima-Koregaon battle; a battle remembered by Dalits as one of the earliest symbols of their assertiveness. The overall situation in Maharashtra is under control with the state and central governments keeping an eye on the matter.

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