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Last Updated : Feb 21 2020 7:30PM     Screen Reader Access
News Highlights
Around 300 rural clusters developed under Shyama Prasad Mukherji National Rurban Mission            Prez Trump says he likes PM Modi & two leaders to hold talks on broad gamut of relations during his upcoming visit            Centre reiterates convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case cannot be released without its approval            FATF decides continuation of Pakistan in 'Grey List'            India beat Australia by 17 runs in ICC Women's T-20 World Cup opener           

Text Bulletins Details

Midday News

1400 HRS


  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarks on a three-nation tour to France, UAE and Bahrain; Says the focus is on bilateral relations and new areas of cooperation. 

  • Ahead of PM's visit to Paris, India's Ambassador to France says combating terrorism in all forms will be one of the priorities for the two countries.

  • Jammu and Kashmir Governor directs release of five crore rupees for each district and Divisional Commissionerate; Says work must begin under 'Back to Village' programme.

  • Former Union Minister, P Chidambaram to be produced before a CBI court in INX media scam.

  • Home Minister Amit Shah chairs West Zone Council meet in Goa.

  • And in Cricket, Men in Blue take on Caribbeans in the first test match at Antigua this evening; match begins at 7 pm India time.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said his visits to France, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain will strengthen India’s relations with time-tested friends and help explore new areas of cooperation. In a statement ahead of his visit, Mr Modi said in France, he is looking forward to holding talks with President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Philippe.

The Prime Minister said that in the UAE, there would be comprehensive talks with His Highness the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Mr Modi said his visit to Bahrain would be the first ever Prime Ministerial visit to the Kingdom. He said, he is looking forward to meeting Prime Minister His Royal Highness Prince Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa and His Majesty the King of Bahrain Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

Ahead of the PM's visit to Paris, Our correspondent spoke to Indian Ambassador in France Vinay Mohan Kwatra. In an exclusive interview to AIR, He said, one important aspect of the Indo - France relationship in the last four years is the focus is on time-bound implementation of decisions.

"Terrorism is a global issue. In context of India, it is in form of cross-border terrorism. But issues of terrorism and cross-border terrorism, in general and all other issues related to it such as cyber-terrorism, financing of terrorism, India and France have same point of view. Our participation is powerful, strong and global. Naturally, this issue will be talked upon in this upcoming visit between the two leaders."  

Our correspondent has filed this report from Paris.

"Indian Ambassador in France has said that after the first visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015, we have observed that decisions are not only taken in bilateral meetings, but they are implemented expeditiously, efficiently and forcefully. He said that in todays meeting the two leaders will take comprehensive assessment of the relationship and will also establish time line and agenda for our future cooperation in coming years. Talks on cooperation in all important fields like security, industry and trade, challenges of counter-terrorism and climate changes, people to people contacts and cultural exchanges are expected. The Prime Minister is scheduled to address the Indian community and to inaugurate the Memorial for the Indian victims of the Air India crashes at Nid D'Aigle. Nitin Kelkar for AIR News from Paris."

From Paris, PM Modi will go to Abu Dhabi on the 2nd leg of his tri-nation tour. Speaking exclusively to AIR Correspondent, Indian Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Suri said, the two countries will jointly release a stamp to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi along with His Highness the Crown Prince.

"This particular visit is important because Prime Minister will be receiving UAE's highest civilian award- The order of Zayad. He will be having very substantive discussions with his Highness Mohammad Bin Zayad Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and of course he will be launching the RuPay card in UAE. This is going to be the first time that the RuPay will be introduced in the Middle east."


Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik reviewed the status of security and the law and order scenario in J&K and Ladakh at a high-level meeting at Raj Bhawan in Srinagar last evening. It was attended by Advisers to Governor and Chief Secretary. The Governor was given an assessment of the prevailing situation regarding the adequacy of essential supplies and delivery of various public services to the people. He was informed that there is no dearth of essential commodities and their supply is being ensured. While reviewing the law and order situation and preparedness of the government machinery, the Governor emphasized on the need for constant ness, preparedness and synergy among various departments and agencies to enable dealing with emerging situation in a coordinated and effective manner.

The meeting also reviewed the response to the Back to Village Programme. To kick-start the follow-up to this programme, the Governor directed the Finance Department to place five crore rupees per district  and five crore rupees per Divisional Commissionerate to start works on minimum of one work per Panchayat identified in the Back to Village programme. Further the funds released by the 14th Finance Commission to Panchayats so far (800 crore rupees) can be leveraged by Deputy Commissioners(DCs) by incentivizing Sarpanchs to spend money on Back to Village works with DCs giving a small matching grant for each work.


Opposition parties, including the Congress, Trinamool Congress and the DMK, protested at Jantar Mantar in the national capital today to demand release of political leaders under detention in Jammu and Kashmir. Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI General Secretary D Raja, Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav, Loktantrik Janata Dal's Sharad Yadav, RJD's Manoj Jha and Trinamool Congress's Dinesh Trivedi were among those who attended the protest.


Senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram who was arrested by CBI in connection with the INX media corruption case will be produced before a Delhi Court  today. He was arrested by the probe agency last night from his Jor Bagh residence in New Delhi. Chidambaram, was kept at the CBI Headquarters after his arrest. The Former Union Minister  was missing since rejection of his anticipatory bail by the Delhi High Court on Tuesday. He, however, appeared at Congress Headquarters and addressed the media yesterday evening. Rejecting reports of his evading the law, he told reporters that he was working with his lawyers preparing his papers for his bail application. 

The Congress leader had moved Supreme Court seeking protection from arrest in the INX media cases. However, he failed to get any immediate relief from the apex court which will hear his plea on Friday. The CBI had been seeking Chidambaram's custodial interrogation in the case pertaining to alleged irregularities in the grant of foreign investment clearances to INX Media when he was Finance Minister in the UPA-I government. The senior Congress leader's role had come under the scanner of investigating agency in the INX Media case involving 305 crore rupees.


Union Home Minister Amit Shah today chaired the 24th meeting of Western Zonal Council in Goa. It is a forum for the Centre and States to exchange ideas on issues like health, security and social welfare. Chief Ministers of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and representatives from the Union Territories of Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli attended the meeting.

The Zonal Councils provide a forum where irritants between the Centre and the states and among the states themselves can be resolved through free and frank discussions and consultations. The states have been divided into five zones and each zone has its council comprising the Chief Minister, two ministers and the chief secretary of each state.The zonal councils are headed by the Union Home Minister and each zone nominates one Chief Minister as its vice chairman on rotation basis.


External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar paid a courtesy call on President Bidya Devi Bhandari at Kathmandu on the second and final day of his Nepal visit today. Nepal's Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi, the Indian Ambassador to Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri and Nepal's Ambassador to India Neelambar Acharya were also present on the occasion.

Earlier, Dr. Jaishankar and his Nepalese counterpart  Pradeep Kumar Gyawali co-chaired the 5th meeting of India-Nepal Joint Commission yesterday. In a tweet Dr. Jaishankar said discussions were productive. He said Joint Commission comprehensively reviewed bilateral relations and identified areas for cooperation. According to a press release issued by Nepal's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the main focus was on connectivity and economic partnership; trade and transit; power and water resources and culture and education. The commission also expressed happiness over momentum generated in overall aspects of Nepal-India relations following the exchange of high-level visits in last two years.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Food Safety and Standards between Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC) of Nepal was signed. On this occasion cheques amounting to 3.74 Billion Nepali rupees were handed over towards India's support for reconstruction of 50,000 houses in Nuwakot and Gorkha districts and Terai Roads Project.

Dr. Jaishankar is scheduled to depart for New Delhi in the evening.


Addressing the nation on India's 73rd Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech on 15th of August, focused on promotion of domestic tourism. He urged citizens to visit 15 tourist destinations in India by 2022.

Domestic tourism boosts economy and creates cultural integration. Many travel groups are active these days among all sections including young and old generations traveling to their preferred destinations in the country. Women only travel groups are very popular in Kerala. They form small groups and travel together to other historical, hilly, religious areas, ecological hot-spots etc. Remya who hails from Thiruvananthapuram who is an avid travel shares her experience.

"I am a women traveler who loves to explore the culture, heritage and wild life. For me traveling is all about finding new perspective and deeper meaning to my life. Of course, there are fun elements as well. It gives me a lot more positive energy. Traveling helps me to be a strong, self reliant, empowered women. It makes me a better human being."


The government today appointed Ajay Kumar Bhalla as new Home Secretary. He belongs to 1984 batch of Assam Meghalaya cadre  of Indian Administrative Service and is currently serving as Officer on Special Duty in the Home Ministry. He succeeds Rajiv Gauba who will move out as Cabinet Secretary. Earlier, he served as the Secretary in the Ministry of Power.


At the stock markets, the Sensex lost 180 points, or 0.5 per cent, to trade at 36,881, a short while ago. The Nifty at the National Stock Exchange slipped 58 points, or 0.5 percent, to 10,861.

At the forex market, the rupee weakened 14 paise, to 71.70 against the dollar, in intra-day deals.


Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Anil Baijal today said that there is a need for research and innovation centre to provide a platform for global exchange of expertise, problems and information about future cyber-policing. He said, the exiting legal framework at national and international level also need to adjust with the changing reality of cyber-threats.Mr Baijal was speaking at Homeland Security Conference jointly organized by Vivekananda International Foundation and FICCI in New Delhi today. He reiterated that innovation in the vast changing cyber-environment will have to be key element in any cyber-crime controlling programme.

The day-long conference aims to bring together stakeholders from the government, Intelligence and police forces, industry, academia and experts to promote development and implementation of innovative systems and concepts to combat cyber-crime. The conference witnessed participation from senior officials from the government, Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and various State Police Forces (SPFs). The theme of this year’s programme is Innovation led Cyber Crime Management.


India will  take on West Indies in their inaugural World Test Championship opener at North Sound in Antigua today. The match will start at 7 pm Indian time.

All India Radio will broadcast bilingual commentary on the match alternately in Hindi and English. It can be heard on Rajdhani, FM Rainbow, additional frequencies and Prasar Bharati YouTube channels. 

The match will be played at  Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua which is known as Pacer Friendly where Kohli and his men will be facing the Windies first Test.



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