Top news of the day: Putin suspends Russian participation in nuclear pact with U.S.; SC urgently lists Thackeray’s plea to stay EC order for Feb. 22, and more

The major news headlines of the day and more.

February 21, 2023 06:43 pm | Updated 06:43 pm IST

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives to deliver his annual address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow, Russia on February 21, 2023.

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives to deliver his annual address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow, Russia on February 21, 2023. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Putin suspends Russian participation in nuclear pact with U.S. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared on February 21 that Moscow was suspending its participation in the New START treaty — the last remaining nuclear arms control pact with the United States — sharply upping the ante amid tensions with Washington over the fighting in Ukraine. Speaking in his state-of-the-nation address, Mr. Putin also said that Russia should stand ready to resume nuclear weapons tests if the U.S. does so, a move that would end a global ban on nuclear weapons tests in place since Cold War times.

Supreme Court urgently lists Uddhav Thackeray’s plea to stay EC order on Shiv Sena for February 22 

The Supreme Court on February 21 listed former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s petition challenging the decision of the Election Commission of India (ECI) to allot party name ‘Shiv Sena’ and symbol ‘bow and arrow’ to the Eknath Shinde faction for hearing at 3.30 p.m. on February 22. In an oral mentioning before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Mr. Thackeray, sought a stay of the Election Commission order of February 17.

Supreme Court proceedings to be transcribed live on experimental basis 

In a first, the Supreme Court started using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing technology for live transcription of its hearings on an experimental basis from Tuesday. The live transcription has been launched in the court room of Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud.

Karnataka govt transfers IAS, IPS officers engaged in bitter public tussle 

Faced with embarrassment following a bitter public tussle between two senior officers, the Karnataka government on Tuesday transferred them, without specifying their new posting. IPS officer and Karnataka State Handicrafts Development Corporation Managing Director Roopa D, and IAS officer and Commissioner of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, Rohini Sindhuri Dasari had levelled allegations against each other.

India, Singapore launch linkage of real-time payment systems 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong, on February 21 launched the cross-border connectivity of real-time digital payment systems via video conferencing. The easy linkage between India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Singapore’s PayNow will allow residents across the two regions to undertake faster and cost-efficient transfers. “This linkage will provide a low-cost real-time payment option to people from both countries and increase remittance. This will benefit students, professionals, NRIs, and their families the most,” Mr. Modi said. The linkage will permit residents to transfer funds from India to Singapore using mobile phone numbers, and vice versa, using the UPI virtual payment addresses. 

Wanted Hizbul ‘commander’ Alam shot dead in Pakistan’s capital 

Hizbul Mujahideen ‘top ranking commander’, Bashir Ahmad Pir alias Imtiyaz Alam, whom the Centre designated as a terrorist five months ago, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad. According to the Pakistani media reports, assailants fired at him when he was standing outside a shop in Islamabad’s Rawalpindi area on February 20 evening. Alam was considered close to Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin. At present, the ‘commander’ was in charge of sending fresh recruits into Kashmir by identifying infiltration routes and providing the logistics.

New Zealand vs England Tests | We are missing couple of small moments but know that’s the nature of Test cricket: Daryl Mitchell 

New Zealand all-rounder Daryl Mitchell laments the “small moments” that were lost during the first Test in Mount Maunganui but maintains that there is no difference between his squad and England. England will look to clinch the series against New Zealand when the second Test commences in Wellington on February 25.

Indira Gandhi removed my father as Union Secretary, he was superseded during Rajiv Gandhi period: EAM Jaishankar 

Noting that he belongs to a family of bureaucrats and that the political opportunity as a Union Minister came as a bolt from the blue in 2019, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Tuesday said that his father Dr K. Subrahmanyam was removed as Secretary, Defence Production, by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi soon after she came back to power in 1980 and he was superseded during the Rajiv Gandhi period with someone junior to him becoming the Cabinet Secretary. In an interview with ANI, Mr. Jaishankar talked about his journey from foreign service to politics and said he had always aspired to be the best officer and get elevated to the post of Foreign Secretary.

Northwest, central and west India to record maximum temperature 3 to 5 degrees above normal in next few days: IMD 

Northwest, central and west India are predicted to record maximum temperatures of three to five degrees above normal over the next five days, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Tuesday. Many parts of the country are already recording temperatures that are usually recorded in the first week of March. The Met office had said Monday that significantly higher-than-normal temperatures may have an adverse impact on wheat and other crops.

Perpetrators of 26/11 Mumbai attacks roam freely in Pakistan, says Javed Akhtar at Lahore event 

The perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks did not come from Norway or Egypt but are still roaming freely in Pakistan and Pakistanis should not feel offended when India talks about the 2008 carnage, lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar has said. Mr. Akhtar made the comments on February 19 while attending the seventh Faiz Festival organised in Lahore in memory of celebrated Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Responding to a member in the audience who told Mr. Akhtar to take with him a message of peace and tell Indians that Pakistan is “a positive, friendly and loving country”, the 78-year-old writer said, “We should not blame each other. It will solve nothing. The atmosphere is tense, that should be doused.”

PM Modi sent Army to LAC not Rahul Gandhi, says EAM Jaishankar 

Hitting back at Rahul Gandhi who has been targeting the government over China’s aggression on the LAC in eastern Ladakh, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on February 21 said that it is not the Congress leader but Prime Minister Narendra Modi who sent the Army to the Line of Actual Control as a countermeasure to troop deployment by China and the Opposition party should have the honesty to look at what happened in 1962. In an interview with ANI, Dr. Jaishankar said the Modi Government had increased the Budget by five times to ramp up border infrastructure. Referring to Congress and other Opposition parties outraging over the Chinese building a bridge on the Pangong Lake last year, the Minister said the area had been under illegal occupation of China since the 1962 war.

NIA accuses Navlakha of links with ISI agent held in U.S., opposes bail plea 

Activist Gautam Navlakha, arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, had connections with a Pakistani ISI agent arrested in the U.S., the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has told the Bombay High Court while opposing his bail application. The agency, in its affidavit filed in response to Navlakha’s plea, also claimed that he had “committed acts that had a direct impact on the national security, unity and sovereignty.” NIA lawyer Sandesh Patil on Monday informed a division bench of Justices A.S. Gadkari and P.D. Naik that it had filed its reply opposing Navlakha’s bail plea.

Health Ministry says Punjab branding Ayushman Bharat centres as Mohalla Clinics, warns of blocking funds 

The Union Health Ministry has said the Punjab government was converting Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres into Mohalla Clinics, a pet project of the Aam Aadmi Party, and has warned of stopping the funds for the scheme. The Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centre (AB-HWC) is formulated with 60:40 contribution ratio by the Centre and State. In a letter written to the State government on February 6, the Ministry said that the State has vitiated the spirit of the scheme and “defaulted” on its commitment by branding AB-HWCs as Aam Aadmi Clinics and “not adhering’ to the provisions of the memorandum on the implementation of the scheme.

Ind vs Aus | Warner ruled out of Indore, Ahmedabad Tests due to elbow injury 

Struggling Australia opening batter David Warner was on Tuesday ruled out of the remaining two Tests of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy due to an elbow fracture, dealing further blow to the visiting team. Warner will head home to Sydney to recover but is expected to return to India for the three-match ODI series after the four-match Test series. The ODI series begins on March 17 in Mumbai.

Ind vs Aus Tests | Hayden offers to help solve Aussie batting woes against Indian spinners

Batting great Matthew Hayden is ready to help Australia solve their batting woes in the ongoing Test series if asked after the visiting side was bamboozled by the Indian spinners in the first two matches, according to a report. Australia suffered heavy losses in Nagpur and New Delhi with Indian spinners, led by Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, scalping 32 of the total 40 wickets in the two Tests.

Uddhav Thackeray has a ‘dictionary of 20 words’, Devendra Fadnavis after ‘Mogambo’ jibe 

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday hit out at Uddhav Thackeray over his “Mogambo” remark about Amit Shah, saying the former Maharashtra CM has a “dictionary of 20 words” which he keeps using. As to Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut’s allegation that a ₹2,000 crore deal was struck to “purchase” the Shiv Sena name and poll symbol, the BJP leader said he did not see the need to respond to “brainless” people.

IMF only option available to Sri Lanka to overcome economic crisis, says Wickremesinghe 

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe on February 21 emphasised that seeking the IMF bailout package was the only option available to the debt-ridden country to overcome the ongoing economic crisis. “When a country goes bankrupt, it has to go to the International Monetary Fund. Apart from that, there is no other organisation in the world that provides aid when a country goes bankrupt,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said. Addressing a gathering in the central town of Kandy, he said that each nation that experienced an economic catastrophe recovered after engaging in talks with the IMF and cited the example of Greece which took 13 years to recover from the collapsed economy.

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