FRONT PAGE NEWS
5 August 2020
BHUMI PUJAN AT AYODHYA TODAY, AMDIST FEAR OF INFECTIONS
Every street in Ayodhya was seen illuminated with earthen lamps ahead of the
foundation stone laying ceremony of the Ram Temple today.
Senior BJP leader and one of the chief architects of the Ram mandir
movement, LK Advani, Tuesday said that "it is an emotional day not only for
me but for all Indians", and that he was "humbled destiny had made me
perform" a pivotal role in the temple campaign.
Advani has not been invited for the August 5 ceremony in Ayodhya, on account
of his age and the Covid-19 outbreak.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi lands in Ayodhya town at 11.30am today, he
will have a special ring of protection - local police personnel who have
recovered from the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the state's deputy
inspector general of police said on Tuesday.
UP deputy inspector general of police Deepak Kumar agreed that 150 personnel
were not enough to protect the PM in the high-profile event but added that
the larger security detail will comprise 400 additional personnel who have
tested negative for Covid-19 in the past 48 hours and then been isolated.
A FRESH BLAME GAME SURFACES WITHIN CONGRESS
On August 10 Sonia Gandhi completes one year of interim presidentship of the
Indian National Congress, and questions are being raised about a leadership
vacuum. For the first time, responsible quarters are suggesting that as
Sonia cannot function as interim president indefinitely and Rahul Gandhi
seems to want power but not the responsibility, one way out is collective
Those with proximity to Rahul are hoping he will change his mind and assume
presidentship of the party - this means their position in the Congress
apparatus will be secure.
The issue erupted last week at a meeting of Rajya Sabha Members of
Parliament (MPs) called by Sonia. A routine review meeting saw her in the
vortex of a heated debate that touched on policy issues as well as
personalities. And it shows no sign of ending.
At this meeting, several MPs, including Rajiv Satav and K C Venugopal,
thought to be loyal to Rahul held the UPA years (2004-2014) responsible for
the decline in the Congress' fortunes. By implication, this meant criticism
of former prime minister Manmohan Singh's government and its policies.
Several leaders came out in public to say that while they respected Singh,
they had a view that needed to be taken into account.
Sushmita Dev, chief of the women's wing of the Congress, the Mahila
Congress, said the Congress was a democracy and leaders had a right to say
what they wanted to on an internal forum. The other side reacted instantly.
Congress leader and lawmaker Manish Tewari said: "The BJP was out of office
for 10 years. Not once did it blame Atal Bihari Vajpayee or his government
for its predicament then. In the Congress, unfortunately, some ill-informed
Congressmen would rather take swipes at the Manmohan Singh-led UPA
government than fight the NDA/BJP. When unity is required, they divide."
Milind Deora, a junior minister in the UPA, said: "When demitting office in
2014, Singh said: 'History will be kinder to me'. Could he ever have
imagined that some from his own party would dismiss his years of service to
the nation and seek to destroy his legacy - that too, in his presence?"
Chief ministers of the party, who hold the real power, are keeping
absolutely quiet. Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh), Captain Amarinder Singh
(Punjab), and Ashok Gehlot (Rajasthan) have stayed out of the whole
The debate inside the party is not just on its current predicament, it is
also on who the primary enemy of the party is. Several leaders have advised
Rahul that equivalence with Narendra Modi is a mistake as Modi's popularity
is at its peak. Instead the Congress should find blindspots within the BJP
and the NDA government - there are plenty - and focus on those. These
leaders include R P N Singh, Jairam Ramesh and others. However, there is no
evidence that Rahul is taking this advice.
INDIA HITS BACK AT NEW PAKISTAN MAP: 'AN EXERCISE IN POLITICAL ABSURDITY'
On the eve of the first anniversary of the withdrawal of Jammu and Kashmir's
special status under Article 370 and its bifurcation into Union territories,
Pakistan on Tuesday released a new political map which depicts J&K as a
disputed territory, and claims the regions of Sir Creek and the erstwhile
state of Junagadh in Gujarat as part of its territory. Reacting sharply to
the move, India called it an "exercise in political absurdity".
"We have seen a so-called political map of Pakistan that has been released
by Prime Minister Imran Khan. This is an exercise in political absurdity,
laying untenable claims to territories in the Indian State of Gujarat and
our Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and of Ladakh. These ridiculous
assertions have neither legal validity nor international credibility. In
fact, this new effort only confirms the reality of Pakistan's obsession with
territorial aggrandisement supported by cross-border terrorism," the MEA
said in an official statement. The map was unveiled by Pakistan Prime
Minister Imran Khan, who claimed that it negates India's "illegal action" of
August 5, and that it had been endorsed by the federal cabinet. This map
will now be officially used in Pakistan's curriculum, Khan said.
The map depicts the entirety of Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory
while also incorporating Siachen as part of Pakistan. It does not show any
borders in the east of Kashmir, where China illegally occupied Aksai Chin.
It also incorporates Sir Creek into Pakistani territory as well as parts of
the erstwhile princely state of Junagadh.
The map also shows the Federally Administered Tribal Areas as being part of
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The Pakistan cabinet also approved the decision to rename a major road in
Islamabad as Srinagar Highway. The road was previously called Kashmir
COVID-19 DASHBOARD - (Nos. IN INDIA / Nos. WORLDWIDE)
(Indian data from covid19india / and World Data from
Total Cases 19,06,164 (+51,270) / 1,87,01,672 (+2,58,825)
Total Deaths 39,820 (+849) / 7,04,365 (+7,185)
Total Recovered 12,81,660 (+51,220) / 1,19,15,331 (+2,42,708)
Active Cases 5,84,684 (-799) / 60,81,976 (+8,932)
TOP IMPACTED NATIONS SO FAR: (AND SOME OF INDIA'S NEIGHBOURS)
Country, Total Cases / Total Deaths / Recovered Cases / Active
1 USA 49,18,420 / 1,60,290 /
24,81,680 / 22,76,450
2 Brazil 28,08,076 / 96,096 /
19,70,767 / 7,41,213
3 India 19,06,613 / 39,820 /
12,81,660 / 5,85,133
4 Russia 8,61,423 / 14,351 /
6,61,471 / 1,85,601
5 South Africa 5,21,318 / 8,884 /
3,63,751 / 1,48,683
6 Mexico 4,49,961 / 48,869 /
3,00,254 / 1,00,838
7 Peru 4,39,890 / 20,007 /
3,02,457 / 1,17,426
8 Chile 3,62,962 / 9,745 /
3,36,330 / 16,887
9 Spain 3,49,894 / 28,498 / N/A
10 Colombia 3,34,979 / 11,315 /
1,80,258 / 1,43,406
11 Iran 3,14,786 / 17,617 /
2,72,535 / 24,634
14 Pakistan 2,80,461 / 5,999 /
2,49,397 / 25,065
16 Bangladesh 2,44,020 / 3,234 /
1,39,860 / 1,00,926
116 Sri Lanka 2,834 / 11 /
2,524 / 299
TOP IMPACTED INDIAN STATES SO FAR
State / Confirmed Cases / Active Case / Recovered /
Maharashtra 4,57,956 / 1,42,151 /
2,99,356 / 16,142
Tamil Nadu 2,68,285 / 55,152 / 2,08,784
Andhra Pradesh 1,76,333 / 79,104 /
95,625 / 1,604
Karnataka 1,45,830 / 73,845 / 69,272
Delhi 1,39,156 / 9,897 / 1,25,226
Uttar Pradesh 1,00,310 / 41,222 / 57,271 /
West Bengal 80,984 / 22,315 / 56,884 /
Telangana 68,946 / 18,708 / 49,675 /
Gujarat 65,704 / 14,614 / 48,561 / 2,529
Bihar 62,031 / 20,921 / 40,760 / 349
Assam 48,162 / 13,622 / 34,422 / 115
Rajasthan 46,679 / 13,115 / 32,832 /
Haryana 37,796 / 6,122 / 31,226 /
Odisha 37,681 / 12,940 / 24,483 / 258
Madhya Pradesh 35,082 / 8,756 / 25,414 /
Kerala 27,956 / 11,540 / 16,299 / 88
Jammu and Kashmir 22,396 / 7,123 / 14,856 /
Punjab 19,015 / 6,062 / 12,491 / 462
MASSIVE EXPLOSION ROCKS BEIRUT
A powerful explosion rocked Lebanon's capital Beirut Tuesday, destroying
much of its port, with images of smoke billowing from the city center
floating on social media.
Lebanon's Health Minister Hamad Hasan said that more than 60 people were
killed and over 3,000 injured in the blast. The AP also quoted Lebanese Red
Cross official Georges Kettaneh as saying there are "hundreds of casualties"
in Beirut, including dead and wounded.
The cause of the blast was not immediately known.
Hours after the explosion, Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared a national
day of mourning. Diab also said those responsible for Beirut 'catastrophe'
must be held to account. President Michel Aoun has called for 'urgent'
defence council talk in the aftermath of the explosion.
An Israeli government official says Israel had "nothing to do" with the
Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group are bitter enemies, and
tensions have been high following a series of recent clashes. Earlier
Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hezbollah Israel would not
hesitate to strike again if it felt it was necessary. Late Tuesday, Israel
offered help to Lebanon. Benny Gantz, the country's defence minister,
offered the Lebanese government medical and humanitarian aid.
US President Donald Trump said Tuesday that US generals had told him that
the powerful explosions which rocked Beirut appeared to have been caused by
a "bomb of some kind."
"It would seem like it, based on the explosion. I met with some of our great
generals and they just seemed to feel that it was," he said.
CHINA HITS BACK AT USA OVER 'SMASH AND GRAB' TIKTOK STRATEGY
Over the past week, reports emerged about Bytedance looking to sell its USA
operations of viral social media app TikTok to an American company, with
Microsoft emerging as frontrunners. The app was recently banned in India.
While it is seemingly staring at a potential ban in USA as well, the Chinese
government is taking an offensive approach to combat American strong-arming.
Global Times, the international mouthpiece of the Chinese government has
accused USA of "theft", describing the TikTok deal as an act of "bullying".
It went on to state that China will have "plenty of ways to respond", should
it see the US government force its hand in what it has described as a "smash
and grab" strategy to manipulate a Chinese company operating in America. The
narrative also appears to have ruffled sentiments in China, with Bytedance
founder-CEO Zhang Yiming facing public backlash for being "too accommodating
and yielding" to America's demands.
China's recent trend of hitting back at USA further continued with Shanghai
Zhizhen Intelligent Network Technology Company, commonly known as Xiao-i.
The latter has filed yet another lawsuit against Apple, one of the biggest
American (and global) companies, accusing it of stealing bits from its
patents on voice recognition technologies and using them with Apple's
digital assistant, Siri.
The move coincides with China's continued conflict with USA, where Huawei -
arguably one of China's biggest electronics companies - is already
blacklisted, and Bytedance is close to selling off its operations to a US
firm. Even though Apple's statement expressing "disappointment" at a lawsuit
filed by Xiao-i "again" suggests that it is fairly confident of defending
itself in court, the $1.4 billion patent infringement claim suggests China
is attempting to make inroads into US technology dominance, and prove that
it is not going to take things quietly.
SRI LANKA GOES TO POLLS TODAY
Sri Lankans will vote in the twice-postponed parliamentary election on
Wednesday with the powerful Rajapaksa family-run party expected to gain
control of the Assembly that could allow them to amend the Constitution to
restore presidential powers.
Over 16 million people are eligible to vote to elect 196 out of a total of
225 lawmakers for the next five years.
The counting will take place on the following morning - a departure from the
practice of counting the ballots from 8 pm on the election night.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's older brother Mahinda Rajapaksa is assured of
a sweeping victory as the main Opposition is badly divided.
INDIA'S COVID-19 TESTING RATE LOWER THAN OTHER COUNTRIES: WHO CHIEF
The WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan Tuesday said that India has a low
testing rate as compared to some of the countries such as Germany, South
Korea, Japan and Taiwan that have done well in this regard.
Swaminathan said the number of tests being conducted is not adequate if the
Covid-19 test positivity rate is above five per cent. According to Health
Ministry statistics, India's positivity rate stands at 8.89 per cent.
Swaminathan also stressed on the need for governments to constantly monitor
the availability of beds, quarantine facilities, ICUs and oxygen supplies in
district hospitals. "So there is a set of 8 to 10 indicators that the
government needs to keep a close watch on. And you can ramp up or ramp down
based on what you are seeing on the ground," she said.
Speaking about the ongoing vaccine trials, Swaminathan said the WHO has
issued guidelines on it and if the efficacy rate of the vaccine is 70 per
cent, then it is considered to be a good one.
In the last 24 hours, ICMR has conducted over 6,61,892 Covid-19 tests. With
more than two crore tests done till date, ICMR reports 15,119 tests per
26.5 lakh tests out of these over 2 crores have been rapid antigen tests,
which are susceptible to some false negatives.
SUPREME COURT RESERVES ORDERS IN PRASHANT BHUSHAN CONTEMPT CASE
The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved for orders a decade-old contempt case
against noted civil rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan, whose office said he
refused to apologise but has agreed to issue a statement that his remarks
about judicial "corruption" in an interview to Tehelka magazine in 2009, was
not meant to hurt judges' families or tarnish the judiciary.
A two-page judicial order published later in the day said the court was yet
to receive the "explanation/apology" "submitted" by Mr. Bhushan and Tarun
Tejpal, the then editor-in-chief of Tehelka.
The three-judge Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra said it would hear the
contempt case if "we do not accept the explanation/apology".
The flow of events on Tuesday started with a surprise when Justice Mishra
asked senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for Mr. Bhushan, to suggest a
"solution" in the case.
During this interaction, Bhushan refused to apologise and said the word
'corruption' was used in the interview in a wide sense to mean "lack of
propriety". He did not intend to mean the judiciary was financially corrupt.
INDIA'S BIG REVIEW OF CONFUCIUS INSTITUTES TODAY, CHINA SAYS 'BE FAIR'
Nearly 24 hours before India begins a comprehensive review of local chapters
of Confucius Institutes and agreements with Indian universities, Beijing on
Tuesday asked New Delhi to treat India-China higher education in an
"objective and fair manner". In a statement, the Chinese embassy asked India
to avoid what it described as "politicisation of normal cooperation" between
the two countries and maintain stable people-to-people and cultural
The review is scheduled to be held today.
The Confucius Institutes are directly funded by the Ministry of Education of
People's Republic of China with the ostensible aim to promote Chinese
language and Culture. But they have come in for criticism all around the
world, including the US and the UK for helping spread Chinese propaganda.
HARYANA FARMER'S SON TOPS UPSC CIVIL SERVICES EXAM
Whenever he felt he was struggling to keep up with the demands of his job
and preparation for competitive exams, Pradeep Singh says, it was his father
who motivated him to stay the course. On Tuesday, in his fourth attempt, the
29-year-old son of a Sonipat farmer ranked first in the UPSC exam. A total
of 829 candidates have qualified for the civil services, including the IAS,
IPS and IFS. All the top three rank-holders - Singh, Jatin Kishore and
Pratibha Verma, respectively - are serving officials. While Singh is a
resident of Haryana, Kishore is from Delhi and Verma, an IIT-Delhi graduate,
is from Uttar Pradesh.
Last year, Singh had ranked 260 in the UPSC exam, and was undergoing
training as an Indian Revenue Service officer.
VIVO RETIRES HURT FROM IPL; BCCI LOOKS FOR REPLACEMENT
On Tuesday, officials of the BCCI said that Chinese phone maker Vivo had
decided to pull out of the IPL's title sponsorship for a year.
Vivo declined comment on the matter but the cricketing body, officials said,
was seeking a one-year replacement for the brand since it could make its way
back next year.
The original contract with Vivo was from 2018 to 2022 for Rs 2,200 crore.
The firm was paying Rs 440 crore annually, but had been in the eye of a
storm since the deadly clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Ladakh.
It is unclear who will replace Vivo, since the T20 tournament is only a
month-and-a-half away. It will be held in the United Arab Emirates from
RAFAEL NADAL TO SKIP U.S. OPEN OVER PANDEMIC WORRIES
Rafael Nadal will not defend his United States Open men's singles title. On
Tuesday, one day after the entry deadline, Nadal announced that he was
withdrawing from the tournament because of his concerns about travel during
the coronavirus pandemic.
Nadal, 34 and ranked No. 2 behind Novak Djokovic, is a four-time singles
champion at the U.S. Open and won the singles title last year after a
lengthy and memorable five-set duel with Daniil Medvedev in the final.
With 19 Grand Slam singles titles, he is just one short of matching Roger
Federer's men's record, but he has decided to wait.
The US Open in New York, scheduled for August 31 through September 13, will
be followed a fortnight later by the French Open.
Federer will be absent from the US Open, too, but because of two operations
on his right knee this year.
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Bitcoin - USD 11,217
Dollar Index 93.10 Brent Crude 44,47 BDI 1,463
Gold world Spot Price USD/oz 2,014 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 5,330 / 5,230
Silver (Rs. Per KG) 65,410
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Becoming a slave to our passions leaves us no freedom of choice. - Jeffrey
"In New York, a man was too drunk to drive, so he had his 9-year-old
daughter drive their van for him.
And as he was being arrested, he told the girl, 'I'm going to need a lawyer.
Go get your little brother.'"