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Jaishankar Holds Talks with US Counterpart Blinken in UK; Discusses Covid-19, Indo-Pacific

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External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in their first in-person meeting, discussed ways to deal with the rampaging Covid-19 pandemic, situation in the strategic Indo-Pacific region and cooperation in multilateral forums. Jaishankar, who is in the UK for a four-day visit, held talks with Blinken on the sidelines of the G7 foreign ministers’ meeting on Monday.

He thanked Blinken for the US’ support in India’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. Ahead of the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ meeting on Tuesday, they also held discussions over issues concerning the Indo-Pacific region, climate change, UN Security Council and Myanmar, according to a tweet by Jaishankar.

The focus of his discussion with Blinken was the American support during India’s Covid-19 challenge, especially the supply of oxygen and Remdesivir. “Good to meet in person my old friend Secretary Blinken. Detailed discussion on the global Covid challenge, focusing on expanded vaccine production capacity and reliable supply chains,” Jaishankar said on Twitter.

“Expressed appreciation for the strong US support to India at this difficult time, especially oxygen and Remdesivir,” he said. Meanwhile, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement issued in Washington that the two leaders reviewed recent efforts in the fight against Covid-19, including the US assistance to India, and expressed appreciation for each country’s support throughout the pandemic.

Jaishankar and Blinken discussed “addressing the Covid-19 challenge and deepening the US-India comprehensive global strategic partnership, Price said. During the meeting, Blinken reaffirmed India’s important role when it comes to the climate crisis and as a leading partner in the Indo-Pacific, he said.

They also discussed ways to deepen cooperation in multilateral fora, including at the UN Security Council and as a G7 guest country, Price said, adding that the two leaders looked forward to continuing the US-India cooperation on the full range of bilateral and global issues. Earlier, Jaishankar described it as a very good meeting.

“Among the many subjects we discussed was first and foremost the strong support we are getting from the United States on dealing with the Covid situation. We are very, very appreciative of that,” he told reporters in a joint appearance with Blinken in London. “We also discussed how our collaboration could help globally in expanding vaccination capabilities,” he said.

In his brief remarks, Blinken recognised the contribution of India when the United States was facing the Covid-19 crisis. “We remember so well when India came to our assistance in the early days of Covid in a very important and powerful way.

“We are joined in this fight together and determined to do everything we can to help,” Blinken said. Meanwhile, sources in New Delhi said Jaishankar and Blinken held in-depth discussion on the Covid-19 challenge and the immediate requirements of India.

Blinken assured Jaishankar that the US was monitoring developments closely and would respond positively to any Indian requirements. Sources said the next shipment of medical supplies from the US will be landing in India soon.

It was also conveyed to Jaishankar that the supply of oxygen and related equipment to India will continue to be a key priority of the US, the sources said. The US has also acted on India’s request for supply of more Remdesivir drugs, they said.

The sources said Jaishankar and Blinken also discussed how greater Indian vaccine production can address both India’s own needs and the requirement of global public health. They said India and the US will collaborate bilaterally, in Quad format and through multilateral initiatives.

In November 2017, India, Japan, the US and Australia gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the “Quad” to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence. According to a source, “Conversation brought out the convergence of interests. Ministers reviewed the progress in practical cooperation in recent months”.

The conversation covered the agenda before the UN Security Council and other multilateral organisations, the sources said. India and the US also exchanged views on the Indo-Pacific strategic landscape, they added.

China, which is flexing its military muscles in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond, is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea. The country claims almost all of the 1.3 million square mile South China Sea as its sovereign territory.

China has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region. It has been building military bases on artificial islands in the region also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Both maritime areas in the South and East China seas are stated to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources and are also vital to global trade.

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Karnataka Temporarily Suspends Vaccination For 18-44 Age Group, Will Prioritise Second Dose

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Owing to the short supply of Covid vaccines, Karnataka on Wednesday decided to ‘temporarily suspend’ vaccination drive for those aged between 18 to 44 years.

In a series of tweets, the Karnataka Health department said that the state government has decided that the vaccine procured directly by the state government for vaccination of persons between 18 and 44 years too will be utilised for vaccination of beneficiaries who are due for the second dose.

“Therefore, all vaccines available with the state government i.e. supplied by union government and procured directly by state will be utilized for vaccination of beneficiaries due for second dose,” the Karnataka health department tweet explained.

The Health department added that vaccination drives for the 18 to 44 age group, including those who have already booked appointments will be temporarily suspended from May 14 till further orders.

According to the health department, the state government on May 7 had decided to utilise the complete supply of vaccines provided by the union government for vaccination of persons above 45 years, for vaccinating beneficiaries who were due for second dose.

“But under the changed circumstances and severe shortage of vaccine, the vaccine procured directly by the state government for vaccination of persons between 18 to 44 years too will be utilised for vaccination of beneficiaries who are due for second dose,” a senior health department official told reporters on the condition of anonymity.

The health department added that this order will be applicable for Covid vaccination at all state-run Covid vaccination centres in the state.

As of now, only two vaccines manufactured by Pune based Serum Institute of India (SII) and Hyderabad based Bharat Biotech are allowed in India for mass inoculation programme, but these companies are struggling to meet the country’s overwhelming demand for vaccines amid the ferocious second wave that has seen India’s Covid burden go up manifold.

Karnataka symbolically launched anti-Covid vaccination drive on May 1 but ever since it has failed to take off due to short supply of vaccines.

Karnataka Health minister, K. Sudhkar was first to state on April 30 that it was better to put off the launch of the drive on May 1 as the state had not received required stock and this was even endorsed by Chief Minister, B.S. Yediyurappa on that day. But, Yediyurappa the next day launched the vaccination drive symbolically on May 1.

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Check Out Tithi, Shubh Muhurat, Rahu Kaal and Other Details For Thursday

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(Representative pic: Shutterstock)

(Representative pic: Shutterstock)

Panchang: The day Guruvara is dedicated to Lord Brihaspati who is known as the priest of Gods

May 13 will mark the Shukla Paksha Dwitiya Tithi of Hindi month Vaishakha in Vikram Samvat 2078 and the day is Guruvara (Thursday). The Dwitiya tithi will prevail up to the full night on May 13. The day Guruvara is dedicated to Lord Brihaspati who is known as the priest of gods. Devotees observe fast and worship Lord Brihaspati by offering yellow flowers, sandals, clothes, jaggery and gram pulse. He is also believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Know about the tithi, timings, Nakshatra, and other details for May 13.

Sunrise and Sunset time for May 13:

Sunrise time – 05:32 am

Sunset time – 07.04 pm

Moonrise time – 06.26 am

Moonset time – 08.33 pm

Tithi, Nakshatra, and Rashi Details for May 13:

Dwitiya Tithi will prevail up to a full night on May 13. The Nakshatra will be Rohini up to the full night. Sun will remain in Mesha Rashi while Moon will transition to Vrishabha Rashi.

Shubh Muhurats on May 13:

The most auspicious muhurat of the day i.e, Abhijit Muhurat will prevail between 11:51 am and12:45 pm on May 13. This time period is believed to be one of the most auspicious muhurat to perform any puja or to start any work. There are some other shubh muhurats which also prevail for a certain period of time almost every day. These are Vijaya muhurat andGodhuli muhurat which will take place between 02:33 pm and03:27 pm, 06:50 pm and 07:14 pm, respectively. There will be no Amrit Kalam for today.

Inauspicious timings for May 13:

The most inauspicious muhurat Rahu Kalam will prevail between 1.59 pm and3.41 pm on May 13. It is said that any auspicious work during this time is interfered with by planet Rahu. Other inauspicious muhurat like Gulikai Kalam and Varjyam will last from 08:55 am to 10:36 am and 08:44 pm to 10:32 pm.

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Yogi Adityanath Takes Cognisance of Bodies Dumped in Ganga; UP-Bihar Govts Blame Each Other

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Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday took cognisance of bodies found floating in the Ganga in Ballia district and said the last rites should be done according to the deceased’s religious beliefs. He also noted that the dumping of bodies in water causes pollution.

At least 45 bodies were seen floating in floating near the Ujiyar, Kulhadia and Bharauli ghats in the Narahi area on Tuesday evening. Late on Tuesday night, seven more bodies were found, taking the total count of bodies to 52, an official said. District officials have begun performing the last to avoid Covid-19 contagion. The dumping of bodies also increases the risk of spreading infections in communities inhabiting the banks of rivers, officials said.

Meanwhile, the Bihar government on Tuesday said altogether 71 bodies have been fished out from the Ganges in Buxar district and were later cremated as per protocols. Some samples were, however, collected for DNA testing.

Bihar Additional chief secretary (home) Chaitanya Prasad said that the bodies in Buxar had flown downstream from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh. Speaking to News18, he said, “All these dead bodies were being dumped in Ganga from Uttar Pradesh, which flowed and stopped at Chausa and Mahavir Ghat in Buxar (Bihar border). An investigation has been launched on the orders of the Bihar government regarding the issue.”

Officials of both UP and Bihar have discussed the issue with their counterparts, including the Chief Secretaries, Additional Chief Secretaries, DGPs and District Magistrates, sources said.

Bihar authorities have raised strong objections to the dumping of bodies amid Covid-19 pandemic concerns. However, both the states have agreed to implement strict Covid-19 protocol in bordering districts. As per reports, a huge net has also been put up in the Ganges near Raniganj, Buxar.

A video of bodies found buried in shallow pits near the banks of the Ganga had also gone viral. The viral video showed dogs nibbling on the corpses.

The Allahabad High Court had earlier expressed concern over the under-reporting of Covid-19 deaths and has asked the state to record the deaths of those who died with Covid symptoms even if their tests could not be done.

Uttar Pradesh reported 329 more Covid-19 deaths and 18,125 fresh cases in the last 24 hours.

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