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T20 World Cup: Dhoni not to charge for India mentor role: BCCI

(IANS): Former India captain MS Dhoni will not be taking any fees for his role as the mentor of the Indian cricket team during the upcoming T20 World Cup 2021.

Dhoni was appointed as the mentor for the upcoming T20 World Cup which will be played in Oman and the UAE, starting October 17. BCCI secretary Jay Shah on Tuesday said that the board is grateful to Dhoni as the legendary cricketer agreed to serve the team during the quadrennial event.

Speaking to Aaj Tak, Shah said the legend wouldn’t be charging a single penny for his new role. “MS Dhoni won’t charge even a single penny for his role as Indian team mentor during the World Cup,” Shah was quoted as saying.

The 40-year-old Dhoni, who led India to glory in the inaugural edition of the T20 World Cup in 2007, retired from international cricket in August 2020. However, Dhoni has continued to play for Chennai Super Kings in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League. CSK have reached the final of IPL 2021 after beating Delhi Capitals in Qualifier.

Centre extends date to submit suggestions on amendments to Forest Act

(IANS): Ten days after it put out a Consultation Paper on the proposed amendments in the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has extended the deadline for submission of comments and suggestions on the same till November 1.

The Ministry put out a notification regarding the extension of date on Monday on its website, but the letter announcing it is dated October 8. The Ministry’s consultation paper had drawn lot of criticism not just for the proposed amendments but also for the barely 15 days given for people to send in comments and suggestions.

The earlier date of sending in suggestions was October 15, which is now extended to November 1.

Several activists had also demanded that the Consultation Paper should be made available in all 22 official languages of the state. Sources in the Environment Ministry said, even that will be done soon.

Earlier, the Consultation Paper too had been posted online on October 4, but it was dated October 2, thus effectively leaving just 13 days for comments/suggestions.

Among other activists, environment conservationist and founder member, Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE), Vikrant Tongad had demanded the Consultation Paper to be made available in 22 languages. Tongad was instrumental in getting the MoEF&CC agree to translate the draft of a similar proposed amendment in the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Act in 22 official languages.

“If it is for public comments, then this needs to be put out in all regional languages. There needs to be widespread publicity for the material to reach to a large number of people, the real stakeholders,” Tongad said, and added, “If not, then the basic question is, why is it not opened for public consultation?”

Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) had on Sunday written a letter to the Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) Bhupendra Yadav, demanding extension of the consultation window for proposed amendments to Forest (Conservation) Act and availability of the proposed draft in non-English languages as well.

Welcoming the development, SIO national president, Mohammad Selman Ahmad, said: “Participation of citizens in the legislative process is the heartbeat of democracy. As the amendments are going to affect the tribal and indigenous people at large, we call for broad-based consultation with key stakeholders to arrive at a nuanced and balanced policy.”

The SIO also said, lack of official press release further adds to a “growing trend of opaque consultations and autocratic decision making.”

Microsoft mitigates largest DDoS attack ever on Azure

(IANS) Microsoft has thwarted the largest-ever distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on its Azure Cloud service that was recorded at 2.4 terabytes per second (Tbps).

The mega DDoS attack in the month of August was 140 per cent higher than the 1 Tbps attack in 2020, and higher than any network volumetric event previously detected on Azure, according to Amir Dahan, Senior Programme Manager, Azure Networking.

The attack traffic originated from approximately 70,000 sources and from multiple countries in the Asia-Pacific region, such as Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, and China, as well as from the US.

“The attack vector was a UDP reflection spanning more than 10 minutes with very short-lived bursts, each ramping up in seconds to terabit volumes. In total, we monitored three main peaks, the first at 2.4 Tbps, the second at 0.55 Tbps, and the third at 1.7 Tbps,” Dahan explained in a blog post on Monday.

Attacks of this size demonstrate the ability of bad actors to wreak havoc by flooding targets with gigantic traffic volumes trying to choke network capacity.

“However, Azure’s DDoS protection platform, built on distributed DDoS detection and mitigation pipelines, can absorb tens of terabits of DDoS attacks,” the company said.

The DDoS attack will send multiple requests to the attacked web resource, with the aim of exceeding the website’s capacity to handle multiple requests, and prevent the website from functioning correctly.

In the first half of 2021, Microsoft reported a 25 per cent increase in the number of DDoS attacks on Azure compared to Q4 of 2020.

Not explained why I was dropped as SRH captain: Warner

(IANS) Former SunRisers Hyderabad captain David Warner on Tuesday made a shocking revelation, saying that he was not explained by the owners or the team management why he dropped as captain.

The Australian opener, Warner was replaced by Kane Williamson in the first half of the Indian Premier League 2021 in April, when the team was plumbing the bottom after losing five of their six matches.

“With the utmost respect for the owners, Trevor Baylis, Laxman, Moody and Murali, when a decision gets made, it has to be a unanimous one. You don’t know who the person is going for you and who isn’t,” Warner told Sports Today.

“The other disappointing thing for me was not being explained why I was dropped as captain. If you want to go along the lines of form, it is a difficult one because I guess whatever you have done in the past would have some weight moving forward, you would think.

“Especially when you have played about 100 games for the franchise, I think I had four bad games in those first five matches in Chennai. It is difficult, a tough pill to swallow. There are still questions to which I think I’ll never get answers, but you have to move on,” he added.

The Australian further said that he would “love to represent SRH” again but it’s not in his hands. “I would love nothing more than to represent SunRisers but obviously, that decision is with the owners,” he said.

Sunrisers finished at the bottom of the IPL 2021 points table.

Google forms cybersecurity action team, launches ‘work safer’ tool

(IANS) Google on Tuesday announced the formation of a premier ‘Cybersecurity Action Team’ to support the security and digital transformation of governments, critical infrastructure, enterprises and small businesses, as nation-state hacking incidents grow.

The Google Cybersecurity Action Team has already formulated a security and resilience framework that delivers a roadmap for a comprehensive security management programme.

“While access to the latest, most advanced security technology is important, the expertise of what it will take to become resilient in the face of today’s risk and threat environment is foundational,” said Sunil Potti, VP/GM, Google Cloud Security, at the annual ‘Google Cloud Next ’21’ conference.

Google recently announced a $10 billion investment to advance the security of governments around the world, and by extension, help enterprises and organisations to do the same.

The company also launched ‘Work Safer’, a feature designed to help organisations, their employees and partners collaborate and communicate securely and privately in today’s hybrid work environment.

‘Work Safer’ provides companies with access to best-in-class security for email, meetings, messages, documents, and more. It uniquely brings together the cloud-native, zero-trust solutions of Google Workspace with BeyondCorp Enterprise for secure access with integrated threat and data protection.

“For customers who want secure devices, Work Safer includes Pixel phones managed with Android Enterprise, Chrome Enterprise Upgrade, and HP Chromebooks,” said Phil Venables, VP/CISO, Google Cloud.

Google Workspace also introduced new security features during the Cloud event.

“Client-side encryption for Google Meet, in beta, gives customers direct control of encryption keys and the identity service used to access keys. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) for Google Chat, in beta, helps prevent sensitive information from leaking outside of your organization,” the company said.

Modi speaks to UK PM, discusses climate change

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday spoke to his UK counterpart Boris Johnson over phone and had an extensive discussion on several issues related to climate change in the context of the forthcoming annual climate change summit, COP26, to be in Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31 to November 12.

“The two leaders had an extensive discussion on issues related to climate change. Prime Minister Modi conveyed India’s commitment to climate action, as seen in its ambitious target for expansion of renewable energy and the recently-announced National Hydrogen Mission,” a release from the PMO said.

The UK is to host the climate change summit of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Glasgow from October 31.

The two leaders also reviewed the progress made in bilateral relations since their virtual summit earlier this year, and expressed satisfaction over the steps already initiated under the ‘Roadmap 2030’ adopted during the virtual summit.

They also reviewed the progress of the Enhanced Trade Partnership and agreed on the potential of rapidly expanding trade and investment linkages between both the countries, the release said.

The leaders also exchanged views on regional developments, especially the situation in Afghanistan. In this context, they agreed on the need to develop a common international perspective on issues related to extremism and terrorism, as well as human rights and rights of women and minorities, the release added.

It’s in Aussie make-up to sledge: Boycott’s warning to England ahead of Ashes

Former England cricketer-turned-commentator, Geoffrey Boycott, has said that the Australian bowling unit “is far superior to England’s” in Australian conditions, adding that the tourists should be wary of the host country’s media, which can be “cruel”.

“If players on both sides stay fit then you have to admit the Australian bowling unit is far superior to England’s in Australian conditions,” Boycott wrote in his column for The Telegraph on Monday.

“The Australian media get behind the home team, and try to help by undermining England. They can be cruel,” he added.

Boycott, while praising England skipper Joe Root, also laid bare the shortcomings in the touring party’s batting line-up, saying that there is “not a very good batting line-up behind him”.

“He (Root) is in the form of his life, he is at the peak age for a batsman and this is the tour to make it count. Sadly, there is not a very good batting line-up behind him,” Boycott said.

Boycott demanded utmost commitment from the England side, especially the bowlers.

“Plenty of them (England seamers) have gone to Australia in the past and found the going too tough. But the most important thing of all is do England’s players have the desire and commitment to succeed?” he said.

“If yes then they have a chance. If not, then Australia will win comfortably.”

Boycott also warned England to be ready for an unsparing Australian media.

“On the 2013/14 tour, Aussie coach Darren Lehmann made Stuart Broad’s life a misery by asking the public and media to give him hell for not walking in the Nottingham Test the previous summer. They will all get plenty of that because the Aussies cannot help themselves. They can talk all they want about changing but it is in their make-up to sledge,” warned Boycott.

Centre comes out with draft regulations for plastic packaging waste

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The Centre has come out with draft regulations for extended producer responsibility (EPR) under Rule 9 (1) of the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, wherein the EPR shall be applicable to both pre-consumer and post-consumer plastic packaging waste.

The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 mandate the generators of plastic waste to take steps to minimise generation of plastic waste, not to litter the plastic waste, ensure segregated storage of waste at source and hand over segregated waste to local bodies or agencies authorised by the local bodies.

The rules also mandate the responsibilities of local bodies, gram panchayats, waste generators, retailers and street vendors to manage plastic waste.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has invited comments from the stakeholders within 60 days of the publishing of the draft regulations, after which the final notification will be issued, said the Secretary in the ministry, R.P. Gupta.

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) basically means the producer is responsible for the product till its very end of life and has to ensure reverse collection after the consumer has deemed it as waste.

The draft regulations cast EPR on producers, importers and brand owners for collection and recycling of plastic packaging waste and the EPR shall be applicable to both pre-consumer and post-consumer plastic packaging waste, according to the notification.

As reported by IANS in September, providing a framework for the implementation of EPR, the regulation set out the roles and responsibilities of producers, importers, brand owners, CPCBs/SPCBs/PCCs, recyclers and waste processors for effective implementation of EPR.

Three kinds of plastic packaging categories have been identified to be covered under EPR: Rigid plastic packaging; Flexible plastic packaging of single layer or multilayer (more than one layer with different types of plastic), plastic sheets or like and covers made of plastic sheet, carry bags (including carry bags made of compostable plastics), plastic sachet or pouches; and multilayered plastic packaging (at least one layer of plastic and at least one layer of material other than plastic).

The manufacturer will be deemed responsible for managing the reversal from the consumer end and for recycling or treating plastic packaging waste.

The notification also mentioned category-wise and year-wise targets for the producers.

‘Thank you’; Kohli pens a heartfelt post as RCB bow out of IPL 2021

After Royal Challengers Bangalore’s IPL 2021 campaign came to an end following a loss to Kolkata Knight Riders in the Eliminator at Sharjah, outgoing captain, Virat Kohli on Tuesday posted an emotional message for the RCB fans.

Kohli had announced before the start of the UAE leg of the league that this will be his last season as leader of the franchise.

“Not the result we wanted but I am so proud of the character shown by the boys throughout the tournament. A disappointing end but we can hold our heads high. Thank you to all the fans, management & the support staff for your constant support,” Kohli wrote on Twitter.

Despite stepping down as RCB captain, Kohli reiterated that he will continue playing for the franchise as long as he plays in the IPL.

On Monday, Royal Challengers failed to defend the 138 runs their batsmen managed, which extended their long wait to lift an IPL trophy. The closest they came to winning the trophy in recent times was in 2016 when they lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad in the title decider.

Overall, Kohli led RCB in 140 matches in the last 11 years. He won 66 of those games and lost 70 as skipper of the franchise.

Coal crisis: Assam may face power crisis in festive season

Like the other states in India, Assam might face severe power shortages during the Durga Puja and other festivals due to the coal crisis, officials said on Monday.

The Assam Power Distribution Company Limited (APDCL), the state’s main power distributor, said in a public notification that due to limited coal availability, the generation of power from thermal stations has decreased considerably.

It said: “The power position is clearly at a critical level and power outages may be inevitable. Kindly bear with us and use electricity judiciously. The inconvenience caused is regretted.”

An official from the power department said that Assam needs around 1900-1950 MW power in normal circumstances, and the demand increases to over 2,200 MW in the festive season.

“The state’s own generation from various gas-based power projects is around half of the normal demand. Assam meets its electricity requirement after obtaining power from the national and regional grids,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

In April 2014, the National Green Tribunal had banned indiscriminate and hazardous ‘rathole coal mining’ in neighbouring Meghalaya, further worsening coal supply to Bangladesh and other Indian states.

But mining continued illegally in Meghalaya with the authorities turning a blind eye to it, environmental activists in Meghalaya and Assam allege.

Amid reports of shortage of coal supplies, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday met Power Minister R.K. Singh and Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi and reviewed the situation.

An official statement said that the Ministry of Coal and Coal India Limited (CIL) have assured that there is ample coal availability in the country to meet the demand of the power plants.

“Any fear of disruption in power supply is entirely misplaced. The coal stock at the power plants is sufficient for more than four days’ requirement, and as coal supply is being ramped up by CIL, the coal stock at the power plants would gradually improve,” the statement said.

Four countries unveil T20 World Cup jerseys; India up next on October 13

Five countries competing at the ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman on Tuesday unveiled their jerseys, beginning the countdown to the showpiece event which will begin on October 17 and conclude on November 14.

While the Indian fans will be eagerly waiting for the unveiling of the Virat Kohli-led side’s jersey on October 13, the sides that have unveiled their kits so far are, Ireland, Namibia, Scotland and Sri Lanka.

While Ireland’s kit is a combination of green and blue, Namibia, who are playing at their first ICC World Cup since 2003, will catch plenty of eyes in their sharp jerseys. Predominantly dark blue, with light blue hexagons on the right shoulder and above the left hip, Namibia’s kit also features red accents.

Also, there will be no missing Scotland at the T20 World Cup, with Kyle Coetzer’s team donning a predominantly bright purple kit with helmets to match.

The Sri Lankans have revealed two kits for the tournament — a yellow and blue number with a lion along the right side and a kit of the same design in different shades of blue.

The Indian team will step on the field wearing the new jersey for the first time in their practice match against England on October 18. The jersey will then be worn during India’s opening match in the T20 World Cup against Pakistan on October 24.

Biological E seeks nod for phase 3 trial of Corbevax as booster dose


Pharma major Biological E has sought approval from drug regulator Drugs Controller General of India to conduct the phase-3 clinical trial of Covid vaccine Corbevax. The company has sought approval as a single booster dose for those fully vaccinated with Covishield or Covaxin vaccines.

The Subject Expert Committee (SEC) on COVID-19 of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) may discuss the matter in its next meeting.

The phase 2/3 clinical trials of Corbevax are underway and the results are likely to be declared this month.

Corbevax is based on a protein antigen technology that binds to the Angiotensin Converting Enzyme-2 (ACE2) receptor on the host cell membrane and facilitates virus entry. The body’s own cells stimulate the immune system of the body to produce antibodies to protect against the infection.

Biological E. received DCGI approval for conducting Phase III Comparator Safety & Immunogenicity trial in adults after the Subject Expert Committee’s review of Phase I and II clinical trials data last month. Additionally, Biological E.A also received approval to initiate the Phase II/III Study to evaluate Safety, Reactogenicity, Tolerability and Immunogenicity of CORBEVAX in children and adolescents last month.

The pharma company has submitted the application seeking the nod from DCGA to conduct the phase-3 clinical study of Corbevax.

Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya in Rashid Khan’s top-5 World T20 XI pick

Charismatic Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan has picked India team captain Virat Kohli and all-rounder Hardik Pandya among his top-five choices he would like to have in his World T20 XI side, even as the 23-year-old did not include himself despite having a flattering record in T20Is.

The other three Rashid Khan top-five picks are, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, South African stalwart AB de Villiers and West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard.

In his praise of Kohli, Rashid said, “(He) doesn’t really depend on the wicket, doesn’t matter whatever the wicket is, he is someone who is going to step up and perform.”

Kohli, who has 10,136 T20 runs at an average of 41.20, will go into his fourth T20 World Cup having been crowned the ‘Player of the Tournament’ at each of the past two events. No one has scored more runs in men’s T20Is than Kohli’s 3,159, and among players who have batted at least 20 times, no one has a better average than his 52.65.

Rashid said he would want both Pandya and Pollard to be in his side simply because they have the ability to chase “80-90 runs in the last 4-5 overs”.

“These two (Pandya and Pollard) will be my key (batters) who can chase 80-90 when I need them in the last four-five overs. They are the kind of batsmen who can do the job for you easily,” said Rashid.

Pandya has been a key cog in India’s T20 batting order since he first appeared for the side in 2016, though he has been laid low by a back problem and did not bowl a single delivery during the IPL Dubai leg for his franchise, Mumbai Indians.

With 2,728 T20 runs at 27.28 and 110 wickets at 27.45, a fully fit Pandya would be an asset, though the selectors are keeping a close watch on whether he’ll be able to bowl at nets before the World Cup.

On AB de Villiers, who has 9,424 runs at 37.24, Rashid said that, “(He is) a destructive batsman. Someone who can give you quick runs at any stage, any wicket, against any bowler and he can play any shot. As a captain, you will always love to have that batsman.”

India aims to be advanced but not at environment’s cost: Hardeep Puri

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India aims to achieve economic growth like advanced countries, but it will not copy their path of development as it is aware of the environmental cost, Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Tuesday.

“India recognises the importance of its cities in the country’s transformation as India’s urban areas are expected to contribute to as much as 70 per cent of the national GDP by 2030. We have to achieve both our economic aspirations and realise our environmental responsibilities,” he said, as he called for promoting new and innovative low-carbon technologies under “Accelerating Urban Action for a Carbon-free World” on the United Nations World Habitat Day 2021.

According to a statement by the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry, the ministry is aiming to develop technologies that ensure housing, service delivery, and better mobility for all, and place people at the forefront of sustainable urban development, without producing much carbon footprint.

“‘Accelerating Urban Action for a Carbon-free World’ is not only appropriate but also very relevant from India’s context. The increasing global urban footprint makes more energy demands in cities which are already responsible for 78 per cent of global energy consumption and 70 per cent of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions,” Puri said, adding that the climate change makes human settlements vulnerable, especially for the marginalised and urban poor, who are exposed to extreme weather events.

India was the seventh most-affected country by climate change in 2019, with most of the impact being felt by its cities.

India’s cumulative CO2 emissions from 1870-2017 is very less – at only 3 per cent, as compared to the 25 per cent by the US, 22 per cent by the EU and UK, and 13 per cent of China, the minister added.

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