Highlights

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New Delhi, Jan 4 (PTI) Following are the top stories at 5 pm: NATION: DEL30 2NDLD PM World's biggest COVID-19 vaccination programme set to begin in India: PM New Delhi: The world's biggest inoculation drive against coronavirus is set to begin in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday, a day after India's drugs regulator approved two vaccines for restricted emergency use.

DEL14 VIRUS-2NDLD CASES India records 16,504 new COVID-19 cases, positivity rate dips to 5.89 per cent New Delhi: Daily new COVID-19 cases in the country remained below 20,000 for the third consecutive day taking the virus caseload to 1,03,40,469, while higher testing has led to further decline in the cumulative positivity rate to 5.89 per cent, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Monday.

DEL36 VIRUS-UK VARIANT POSITIVE New COVID-19 strain: Total 38 people in India test positive New Delhi: A total of 38 people have tested positive for the new UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 in India so far, the Union Health Ministry said on Monday.

DEL39 VIRUS-VACCINE EXPERTS Experts question govt's claim of Covaxin efficacy against new coronavirus strains New Delhi: Some healthcare experts Monday questioned the government's assertion that Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin can target mutated coronavirus strains and maybe used us a 'backup', as they asked for the scientific basis for the claim and for the vaccine's safety and efficacy.

DEL40 FARMERS-2NDLD MEETING Union ministers meet farmer groups to break deadlock over agri laws New Delhi: The seventh round of talks between protesting unions and three central ministers got underway here on Monday afternoon to resolve an over-a-month-long impasse over farmers' agitation against three farm laws, but representatives of farmer groups stuck to their demand for the repeal of the Acts.

DEL26 ITX-VADRA I-T dept visits Robert Vadra's premises in connection with benami assets case New Delhi: The Income Tax department on Monday visited the premises of Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, to record his statement in connection with its probe against him under the benami assets law, official sources said.

DEL35 MEA-JAISHANKAR-LANKA Jaishankar to begin 3-day visit to Sri Lanka on Tuesday New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will pay a three-day visit to Sri Lanka beginning Tuesday during which he will hold discussions with the Sri Lankan leadership on the entire gamut of bilateral relations.

DEL24 CONG-FARMERS True test of 'nationalism' today: Cong ahead of govt-farmers talk New Delhi: Ahead of the next round of talks between the Centre and the agitating farmers, the Congress Monday said it would be a 'true test of nationalism”, and warned no government can face the wrath of farmers 'who believe they are being deceived'.

CAL1 WB-GANGULY-POLITICS Sourav under pressure to join politics; CPI(M) leader's comment triggers storm Kolkata: Senior CPI(M) leader Ashok Bhattacharya's statement that BCCI president and former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly, who suffered a heart attack and is now hospitalised, was under pressure to join politics created a storm on Sunday.

LEGAL LGD1 SC-MLAS-GOA Goa Congress leader seeks SC direction to Speaker to decide disqualification plea against MLAs New Delhi: A Congress leader from Goa Monday urged the Supreme Court to direct the state's Assembly Speaker to decide his plea seeking disqualification of 10 MLAs of his party who had joined BJP in July, 2019. LGD2 SC-ANIMALS SC asks Centre to withdraw or amend 2017 rules on confiscating animals during trial New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday asked the Centre to either withdraw or amend rules notified in 2017 for confiscating animals of traders and transporters during the pendency of trial in cases under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, saying they are contrary to the law.

LGD4 DL-COURT-AKBAR #MeToo: Ramani called me predator without any basis, Akbar tells court New Delhi: Former union minister M J Akbar on Monday told a court here that journalist Priya Ramani called him 'media's biggest sexual predator' without any investigation or basis.

LGD3 DL-HC-PREGNANCY TERMINATION HC allows termination of 25-week pregnancy as foetus unlikely to survive with abnormalities New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Monday granted permission to a woman for medical termination of her 25-week pregnancy as survival of the foetus, suffering from serious abnormalities, is unlikely.

FOREIGN: FGN24 US-INDIA-TRADE India-US trade ties hit by tariff policies under Trump administration: US Congress report Washington: Under the Trump administration, US-India tensions have increased over each side's tariff policies, a Congressional report has said, noting that the two sides have also held concerted negotiations to address these trade frictions. By Lalit K Jha FGN19 VIRUS-UK-OXFORD-LD VACCINE UK begins Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine rollout with dialysis patient London: The UK on Monday began rolling out the Oxford University vaccine developed by AstraZeneca as protection against COVID-19, with an 82-year-old Oxford-born dialysis patient becoming the first to receive the new jab. By Aditi Khanna PTI TDS TDS