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India’s choice refresh button with Nepal after pandemic lockdown and border tensions.

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 The government seems to have realized that Nepal is too important to allow the latter’s cartographic adventurism to tear the bilateral relationship asunder.
Without diluting its stand that Nepal’s territorial claims are not backed by any fact or evidence, India is looking to restart work on economic projects and improve trade ties.
A flurry of high-level visits to Nepal, including the one by foreign secretary Harsh Shringla starting Thursday, will likely give way in the nest few weeks to virtual meetings focused on economic and trade relations. These include meetings between the commerce and energy secretaries of the 2 countries.
During his visit, Shringla is expected to pave the way for a more substantive engagement by focusing on cooperation over Covid-19 and reviewing progress in ongoing projects.
India’s decision to finally press the refresh button with Nepal after the pandemic lockdown and border tensions has come not a moment too soon with reports from Kathmandu saying that the powerful Chinese defence minister, Wei Fenghe, will visit Nepal on Sunday, 2 days after Shringla’s visit.
Wei’s visit will take place amid reports that China has encroached Nepal’s land. China has received a lot of adverse publicity recently in Nepal because of this alleged encroachment by PLA despite official denials by both Nepal and China.
While India has come to terms with the fact that Nepal is officially a part of China’s BRI, it remains edgy about Beijing’s defence ties with Nepal. Nepal and China raised many eyebrows here with their first even joint military exercise in 2017 aimed at, as Nepal authorities said, promoting military relations and enhancing interoperability between the armed forces of the 2 countries.
India has had special military ties with Nepal with the Indian army continuing to recruit from the hilly areas of the eastern neighbour. There are right now 32,000 Nepal Gurkha soldiers serving in the Indian army. According to the government, India also works to modernize the Nepal army by supplying equipment and providing training.
India sought to break the deadlock in ties with a visit to Kathmandu earlier this month by army chief MM Naravane. The visit helped address the misgivings that resulted from Nepal’s spat with Naravane over his remark that Nepal’s protest over India’s road to the strategically located Lipulekh Pass was at someone else’s behest. Nepal’s then defence minister Ishwor Pokharel had accused Naravane of insulting and hurting the sentiments of Nepal Gurkhas who died while serving th Indian army. Pokharel was relieved of the defence portfolio by Nepal PM KP Oli ahead of Naravane’s visit in what some saw as a positive “signal” to India.
While maintaining that joining BRI is in Nepal’s national interest, Oli has been calling for expeditious implementation of mega Indian projects like Pancheshwar multi-purpose project and has said Nepal wants more investment from India in sectors like hydropower, agriculture, tourism, infrastructure and IT. Shringla is expected to address some of these issues during his visit.

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447 cases of adverse effect reported,Covid-19 vaccine given to 2,24,301 beneficiaries :Govt.

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A total of 2,24,301 beneficiaries have been inoculated with COVID-19 vaccine so far, out of which only 447 adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) were reported, the Union Health Ministry said on day two of the nationwide vaccination drive on Sunday.

Addressing a press briefing, the ministry’s Additional Secretary Manohar Agnani said out of the 447 adverse events following immunisation, only three required hospitalisation.

“Today being Sunday, only six states conducted vaccination drive and in 553 sessions a total of 17,072 beneficiaries were vaccinated,” he said.

The six states where the vaccination drive was carried out on Sunday are Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur and Tamil Nadu, he added.

Agnani said a total of 2,24,301 beneficiaries have been vaccinated till January 17 as per provisional reports, adding that 2,07,229 of them received the jabs on day one of the drive.

“A total of 447 AEFI have been reported on January 16 and 17, out of which only three required hospitalisation. Most of the AEFI reported so far are minor like fever, headache, nausea,” he said.

He said a meeting was held with all states and union territories on Sunday to review the progress of the drive, identify bottlenecks and plan corrective actions.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi rolled out the world’s largest inoculation drive against COVID-19 on Saturday and said the two vaccines being deployed will ensure a “decisive victory” for India against the pandemic.

India has approved two vaccines—Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech and Covishield from the Oxford/AstraZeneca stable being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India—for emergency use in the country.

According to the government, the shots will be offered first to an estimated one crore healthcare workers and around two coror frontline workers, and then to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities. PTI

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