Grand Mosque in Makkah drops social distancing; people pray shoulder-to-shoulder

News Network
October 17, 2021

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Makkah, Oct 17: The Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia operated at full capacity Sunday, with worshippers praying shoulder-to-shoulder for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Workers removed floor markings that guide people to social distance in and around the Grand Mosque, which is built around the Ka’aba, the black cubic structure towards which Muslims around the world pray.

"This is in line with the decision to ease precautionary measures and to allow pilgrims and visitors to the Grand Mosque at full capacity," reported the official Saudi Press Agency.

Pictures and footage on Sunday morning showed people praying side by side, making straight rows of worshippers that are formations revered in performing Muslim prayers, for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold last year.

While social distancing measures were lifted, the authorities said visitors must be fully vaccinated against coronavirus and must continue to wear masks on mosque grounds.

Also, the Ka’aba remained cordoned off and out of reach.

Saudi Arabia announced in August it will begin accepting vaccinated foreigners wanting to make the umrah pilgrimage.

The umrah can be undertaken at any time and usually draws millions from around the globe, as does the annual hajj, which abled-bodied Muslims who have the means must perform at least once in their lifetime.

In July, only around 60,000 inoculated residents were allowed to take part in a vastly scaled-down form of the annual hajj.

The Covid-19 pandemic hugely disrupted both Muslim pilgrimages, which are usually key revenue earners for the kingdom that rake in a combined $12 billion annually.

Hosting the pilgrimages is a matter of prestige for Saudi rulers, for whom the custodianship of Islam's holiest sites is their most powerful source of political legitimacy.

The once-reclusive kingdom began issuing tourist visas permitting foreign visitors to undertake more than just the pilgrimages for the first time in 2019 as part of an ambitious push to revamp its global image and diversify income.

Between September 2019 and March 2020, it issued 400,000 of them -- only for the pandemic to crush that momentum as borders were closed.

But the kingdom is slowly opening up and has started welcoming vaccinated foreign tourists since August 1.

Saudi Arabia also announced that fully-inoculated sports fans will from Sunday be allowed to attend events at all stadiums and other sports facilities, reported SPA.

It has also been said that masks in most open spaces are no longer mandatory.

Saudi Arabia has registered over 547,000 coronavirus cases and 8,760 deaths.

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News Network
November 24,2021

New Delhi, Nov 24: Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan on Wednesday said of the 6,000-odd cryptocurrencies in existence today, only one or two, or at most, only a handful would survive.

In an interview with CNBC-TV18, the former RBI governor said, “If things have value only because they because they will be pricier down the line, that’s a bubble.” 

“A lot of cryptos have value only because there is a greater fool out there willing to buy.” He compared the current mania in cryptocurrencies to the tulip mania in the Netherlands in the 17th century.

“Cryptos may pose the same problem as unregulated chit funds which take money from people and go bust, a lot of people holding crypto assets are going to be aggrieved,” he said.

According to Rajan, it was not as if cryptocurrencies had no value at all, just that most of them did not have permanent value. Also, some of them would survive to provide payments, especially cross border payments.

Rajan was not alone in voicing concerns over cryptocurrency dealings in India. RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das recently has also issued warnings on cryptocurrency trading. Das in his address has opined for a strong and formal framework to regulate cryptocurrency dealings in India.  

The Centre is all set to introduce a Bill to regulate cryptocurrencies during the winter season of Parliament. A comprehensive Bill on the digital currencies is likely to be tabled for the Cabinet approval.  

Rajan also said, “In the US, crypto is a $2.5 trillion problem that nobody really wants to regulate,” adding that the problem was partly due to regulators not fully understanding this space and how to regulate it. What governments can insist on is getting information from crypto entities, when crypto entities get too big, government can examine them more closely to ensure there isn’t fraud. This is a situation where at best you can send warnings to the broader public,” he added. 

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News Network
November 29,2021

New Delhi, Nov 29: The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on Monday passed the "Farm Laws Repeal Bill 2021" to repeal the three contentious farms laws enacted in 2020, against which various farm organizations have been carrying out widespread protests for the past one year.

The bill, which was tabled by Union Minister for Agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar, seeks to repeal the three farm laws - (1)Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; (2) Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020; and (3)Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020.

The bill was passed through a voice vote. Though opposition MPs belonging to Congress, TMC and DMK demanded a discussion, the bill was passed without any discussion.

The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Farm Laws Repeal Bills noted that "even though only a group of farmers are protesting against these laws, the government has tried hard to sensitise the farmers on the importance of the Farm Laws and explain the merits through several meetings and other forums."

These laws, enacted by the Parliament in September 2020, have been stoutly opposed by several farmers organizations. Several farmers groups across the nation have been holding widespread protests and agitations for over a year since the passing of these laws demanding that they be scrapped.

On November 19, in a special address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that the Centre will take steps to repeal the three farm laws in the upcoming winter session of the Parliament.

In January 2021, the Supreme Court had stayed the implementation of these laws until further orders, to facilitate a process of negotiation between the Centre and the protesting groups. The Supreme Court had also constituted a committee to hold the talks. However, the leaders of the farmers unions boycotted the committee.

The main grievance raised by the farmers is that the laws will result in the dismantling of the state-run Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees, and will disrupt the Minimum Support Price mechanism. The protesting farmers fear that the laws will pave the way for corporate exploitation. A batch of petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of these farm laws and also questioning the competence of the Parliament in enacting the same.

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News Network
November 25,2021

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Shivamogga, Nov 25: Anti Corruption Bureau (Eastern Zone) conducted raids at Joint Director of Gadag Agriculture Department, TS Rudreshappa's houses at and recovered 9.4 kg gold ornaments, eight acres of agriculture land documents and Rs 15,94,000 cash.

Besides the gold ornaments, cash, land documents, the ACB also recovered three kg silver, two cars, three bikes and home appliances worth Rs 20 lakh, said ACB.

"A total of 9 kg and 400 grams of gold ornaments, 3 kg silver, two cars, 3 bikes, 8 acres agriculture land documents, Rs 15, 94,000 cash and 20 lakh worth of home appliances were recovered during a raid," said ACB.

Close to 50 ACB officials pounced on his office and a rented house at Hudco Colony in Gadag and his Chalukya Nagar house in Shivamogga on Wednesday.

The cops raided the officer’s house and the agriculture department office at 6 am and searched the premises for over seven hours.

ACB Inspector Basavaraj Badnur told reporters, “Agriculture Joint Director Rudreshappa T S is staying alone at a rented premise at Hudco Colony in Gadag. His family stays in Shivamogga. During our search at the house and the office, we found documents of two cars. While Innova is in his mother-in-law’s name, Nexon car is owned by his wife.”

Yet another team had visited his native Tanigere in Channagiri taluk of Davangere district. The cops have found eight-acre agricultural land and are verifying if it was inherited or purchased by the officer in question.

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