THE HEADLINES :-
- Nepal PM reshuffles cabinet even as opposition challenges dissolution of Parliament in the Apex Court.
- EU and UK arrive at post BREXIT trade deal.
- India and Bangladesh agree to enhance joint night patrols on international border at DG level border talks.
- India gearing up for COVID vaccination rollout.
- Christmas being celebrated across the globe, Pope Francis appeals to world leaders for equitable access to Coronavirus vaccine in his Christmas speech.
- In cricket, India announces squad for the Boxing Day Test match against Australia starting tomorrow in Melbourne.
Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli reshuffled his cabinet in a surprise move today. Five new ministers were inducted in the Cabinet today. The move comes in the backdrop of seven ministers resigning earlier this week in protest of the dissolution of Parliament. The country is facing a constitutional crisis as the opposition has challenged the decision to dissolve the Parliament in the Supreme Court. They have termed the decision as a constitutional coup.
Analysts point out that the intra party feud in the ruling NCP has led to the prevailing situation. The factions led by Prime Minister Oli and the former PM Pushpkamal Dahal are engaged in a tussle for power.
Amidst the crisis, in a rather interesting move, the Chinese Ambassador Hou Yanqi has been meeting the top brass of Nepal’s Communist party. Bishnu Rai of the Central Committee of the Nepal Communist Party tweeted on Friday that Ms. Yanqi paid a courtesy call to the Chairman of the Nepal Communist Party, Madhav Kumar Nepal today. The two are reported to have discussed what he called the issues of bilateral concerns.
After a lot of dithering, European Union and the United Kingdom struck a post-Brexit trade deal on Thursday. Ending months of disagreements over future business rules, the British government has announced that the deal is done.
Hailing the agreement, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the deal is a way for the country’s businesses to grow in the EU market while preserving the red lines on sovereignity that the BREXIT vote vied for.
Meanwhile European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the deal fair, balanced and reasonable.
India and Bangladesh have arrived at several agreements at the 5 day long Director General level border talks in Guwahati.
In a joint press conference, DG, BSF said that issues of smuggling and associated illegal activites and killings and ways to curb them were discussed. The two sides agreed to hold coordinated border patrols including nightpatrols to stop illegal activites on the border. A year long program to commemorate the 50th year of liberation of Bangladesh will also be organized by BSF in collaboration with BGB.
A civic action plan to promote activites of people living along the border areas was also discussed which seek to organize medical camps, facilitating border Haats and organizing student visits from both sides.
South Africa’s health minister Zwelini Mkhize has rejected his British counterpart Matt Hancock’s claim that a new coronavirus variant in the country is more contagious or dangerous than a similar one spreading in UK. In a statement he said, there is no evidence that the 501.V2 (variant) causes more severe disease or increased mortality than the UK variant or any other variant in the world.
Pope Francis has called on world leaders to ensure unfettered access to coronavirus vaccines for everyone.
In a Christmas Day address delivered online for the first time, the pontiff warned against putting up walls to treatments. In view of the pandemic this year, the annual message was not presented from the balcony at St Peter’s Basilica to huge crowds, as is tradition. Instead the Pope spoke from a lectern in a chamber inside the Vatican.
India is gearing up for the roll out of COVID19 vaccination program across the country. Training of trainers and those who shall administer the vaccine has been taken up across various States.
In order to strengthen the capacity of the human resource for COVID-19 vaccine introduction and roll-out, detailed training modules have been developed for different categories of vaccine handlers and administrators.
Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has said that government is identifying priority groups for immunization and ensuring quick and equitable distribution of the vaccine as soon as it is available. Government has prioritized 30 crore people for COVID vaccination. It includes health workers, frontline workers and sanitation staff.
Vice President of India M. Venkaiah Naidu today expressed happiness over the fact that India is on the verge of releasing its own indigenous COVID vaccine. He was a ddressing the concluding session of the India International Science Festival from Hyderabad virtually. Mr Naidu lauded the dedication of Indian scientists in making India self-reliant in the production of Personal Protection Equipment, PPEs and Covid-19 testing kits.
Rich tributes were paid to India’s former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on his 96th birth anniversary today. The President and Prime Minister led the nation in paying homage to the leader, who was the first leader to address UN General Assembly in Hindi. External Affairs Minister Dr, S Jaishankar said he was a transformational leader when it came to Indian foreign policy.
Ms. Nisha Biswal, president of the U.S.-India Business Council also spoke on the occasion and said that Prime Minister Vajpayee foresaw the potential dangers posed by a rising and unchecked China. He advocated a rules-based order that would enable a more peaceful, prosperous and pluralistic Asia.
In Cricket, India’s squad for the second Test against Australia was announced today. Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammad Siraj are in the playing Eleven for the Boxing Day Test, starting from tomorrow at Melbourne Cricket Ground.
It’s Christmas time albeit without too much fanfare in the wake of COVID19 pandemic. Keeping the spirit of festive season alive, churches have been nicely decorated and prayers being held either with limited attendees or online following the protocols across the globe. We join the listeners in wishing a Merry Christmas to all for a better and happier future