India Newsletter

FRONT PAGE NEWS
6 August 2020

PM MODI LAYS STONE OF RAM TEMPLE IN AYODHYA, SAYS RAM BELONGS TO ALL

 

With a 40-kg silver brick, a sapling and soil from across the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation for the Ram temple in Ayodhya Wednesday amid chanting of shlokas, declaring that the Ram Janmabhoomi had been “liberated” from the “centuries-old cycle of destruction and resurrection”. Addressing a select gathering after performing the bhoomi pujan for the temple, Modi put his mark indelibly on what he called a defining moment in the nation’s history — the culmination of a campaign that powered the rise of the BJP and marked its principal promise to its electorate.

Drawing a parallel between the Ram temple movement and India’s struggle for freedom, Modi said that just like August 15, August 5, too, will stand as a powerful symbol for the “sacrifice and commitment” of generations.

“The entire country is emotionally charged today, the wait of centuries is ending today,” the Prime Minister said, adding that “crores cannot believe” what they are witnessing today.

Sharing the dais with UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and Mahant Nritya Gopal Das who heads the Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra, a Trust constituted by the Centre for the construction and management of the Ram temple, Modi said: “For our Ramlalla, who has lived under a canopy and tent for years, a grand temple is going to be built.”

Modi drew on Ram and the Ramayan to not just highlight their influence across India but also in other countries — from Indonesia to Malaysia, China to Nepal and Bangladesh.

Underlining that the Ram temple will be “a modern symbol” of Indian culture and nationalism, he said that after the construction of the temple, it will not just be the grandeur of Ayodhya, its economy too will serve as a magnet for people from across the world.

“Ram belongs to all and lives in all. I am sure this grand temple being constructed in Ayodhya will be an indicator of the rich heritage of Indian culture… we need to ensure that the message of lord Ram, Ram temple and our tradition of thousands of years reaches the entire world till years to come. It is the responsibility of the present generation and future generations to make the world familiar with our knowledge, our way of life,” he said.

 

 

OPPN RESPONDS BY INVOKING RAM AND UNITY, AVOIDS BJP REFERENCE

 

For all the faultlines that the Ayodhya movement engendered, Wednesday ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi laying the foundation stone of the Ram temple prompted the Opposition to frame their response in terms of national unity and divinity rather than the BJP. The chorus was an invocation of Ram and underlining of religious co-existence and plurality.

Most illustrative was a statement by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. A strong critic of the BJP and its Government, more so in the year before her state elections, her tweet was telling, in English and Bengali: “Hindu Muslim Sikh Isaai. Aapas mein hain Bhai Bhai! Mera Bharat Mahaan, Mahaan Hamara Hindustan. Our country has always upheld the age-old legacy of unity in diversity, and we must preserve this to our last breath!”

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra Tuesday officially endorsed the Ram Mandir bhoomi pujan ceremony, saying “Ram sabke hain (Ram belongs to everyone)”. She also signed off the statement with the traditional greeting of ‘Jai Siya Ram’, instead of ‘Jai Shri Ram’, which is more closely identified with the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.

Rahul Gandhi yesterday tweeted: “Maryada Purushottam Lord Ram is the ultimate embodiment of supreme human values. He represents the core of humanism embedded deep in our hearts. Ram is love, he can never appear in hatred. Ram is compassion, he can never appear in cruelty. Ram is justice, he can never appear in injustice.”

Breaking her silence on the issue, BSP chief Mayawati credited the Supreme Court for paving the way for construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. “The BSP had been saying from the beginning that our party will accept whatever verdict the Supreme Court gives. And that (the Supreme Court’s verdict) should now be accepted by all. This is the advice of BSP,” she added.

“Jai Mahadev Jai Siya-Ram, Jai Radhe-Krishna, Jai Hanuman,” tweeted Akhilesh Yadav. “Let all be filled with Lord Shiva’s welfare, Sri Ram’s ‘abhayatva’ (fearlessness) and Sri Krishna’s ‘unmukt bhav’ (unfettered gesture).”

Kejriwal congratulated the country for the bhoomi pujan.

 

 

INDIA TO CHINA: PROPOSAL TO STEP BACK FURTHER IS UNTENABLE, NOT ACCEPTABLE

 

The fifth round of Corps Commander-level military talks failed to break the deadlock in the 14-week border crisis in eastern Ladakh after India rejected Chinese demands for further disengagement on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as “untenable”, says Indian Express, quoting official sources.

Two days after the talks were held, the high-powered China Study Group (CSG) reviewed the Chinese proposal Tuesday and asked the Army to convey that the proposal of “mutual and equal” disengagement at Pangong was “not acceptable” to India. The next step will be decided after a formal Chinese response is received and deliberations are held within the government, they said.

Sunday’s meeting started around 11 am and lasted for about 10 hours in Moldo, on the Chinese side. However, unlike the previous four rounds, neither the Army nor the External Affairs Ministry issued a statement later. A senior officer in the security establishment said there is a possibility of diplomatic talks or discussions being held at the level of Special Representatives to break the logjam.

 

 

COVID-19 DASHBOARD – (Nos. IN INDIA / Nos. WORLDWIDE)

(Indian data from covid19india / and World Data from worldometers.info/coronavirus/ )

 

Total Cases 19,62,789 (+56,625) / 1,89,75,254 (+2,73,582)

 

Total Deaths 40,739 (+919) / 7,11,220 (+6,855)

 

Total Recovered 13,27,200 (+45,540) / 1,21,63,754 (+2,48,423)

 

Active Cases 5,94,850 (+10,166) / 61,00,280 (+18,304)

 

 

TOP IMPACTED NATIONS SO FAR: (AND SOME OF INDIA’S NEIGHBOURS)

Country, Total Cases / Total Deaths / Recovered Cases / Active Cases

 

1 USA 49,73,568 / 1,61,601 / 25,40,137 / 22,71,830

2 Brazil 28,62,761 / 97,418 / 20,20,637 / 7,44,706

3 India 19,63,239 / 40,739 / 13,27,200 / 5,95,300

4 Russia 8,66,627 / 14,490 / 6,69,026 / 1,83,111

5 South Africa 5,29,877 / 9,298 / 3,77,266 / 1,43,313

6 Mexico 4,56,100 / 49,698 / 3,04,708 / 1,01,694

7 Peru 4,47,624 / 20,228 / 3,06,430 / 1,20,966

8 Chile 3,64,723 / 9,792 / 3,38,291 / 16,640

9 Spain 3,52,847 / 28,499 / N/A / N/A

10 Colombia 3,45,714 / 11,624 / 1,86,317 / 1,47,773

11 Iran 3,17,483 / 17,802 / 2,74,932 / 24,749

12 UK 3,07,184 / 46,364 / N/A / N/A

13 Saudi Arabia 2,82,824 / 3,020 / 2,45,314 / 34,490

14 Pakistan 2,81,136 / 6,014 / 2,54,286 / 20,836

16 Bangladesh 2,46,674 / 3,267 / 1,41,750 / 1,01,657

 

 

TOP IMPACTED INDIAN STATES SO FAR

State / Confirmed Cases / Active Case / Recovered / Deceased

 

Maharashtra 4,68,265 / 1,45,961 / 3,05,521 / 16,476

Tamil Nadu 2,73,460 / 54,184 / 2,14,815 / 4,461

Andhra Pradesh 1,86,461 / 80,426 / 1,04,354 / 1,681

Karnataka 1,51,449 / 73,957 / 74,679 / 2,804

Delhi 1,40,232 / 10,072 / 1,26,116 / 4,044

Uttar Pradesh 1,04,388 / 41,973 / 60,558 / 1,857

West Bengal 83,800 / 22,992 / 58,962 / 1,846

Telangana 70,958 / 19,568 / 50,814 / 576

Gujarat 66,777 / 14,618 / 49,607 / 2,552

Bihar 64,732 / 21,992 / 42,370 / 369

Assam 50,446 / 14,429 / 35,893 / 121

Rajasthan 47,845 / 13,251 / 33,849 / 745

Odisha 39,018 / 13,011 / 25,738 / 269

Haryana 38,548 / 6,133 / 31,960 / 455

Madhya Pradesh 35,734 / 8,741 / 26,064 / 929

Kerala 29,151 / 11,492 / 17,533 / 95

Jammu and Kashmir 22,955 / 7,285 / 15,244 / 426

Punjab 19,856 / 6,422 / 12,943 / 491

 

 

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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TWO-WEEK STATE EMERGENCY IN BEIRUT

 

There were two explosions in Beirut on Tuesday afternoon (local time), which occurred barely within minutes of each other. The explosions took place in the central port area of the city. In footage on social media, it appears as though the two blasts were triggered in different buildings. Following the first blast, the fire spread to a nearby building, triggering a bigger explosion.

A two-week state emergency has been imposed in Beirut following the blast.

In Beirut, the blast affected residents living as far as 10 kilometres away from the site. It even damaged the Baabda Palace, the residence of the Lebanese President.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said the scale of the losses “was too great to be described”, and the “biggest loss is the loss of dozens of dead and injured”.

The blasts were likely triggered by confiscated explosives, stored by authorities near the port.

President Michel Aoun said there was at least 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilisers and bombs, stored at the port without safety measures.

 

 

SRI LANKA’S GENERAL ELECTION SEES HIGH VOTER TURNOUT AMID PANDEMIC

 

Sri Lankans, wearing face masks and carrying their own pens, turned out in large numbers to vote on Wednesday in the twice-postponed parliamentary election which is expected to be won by the powerful Rajapaksa family-run Sri Lanka People’s Party (SLPP).

The voter turnout was 70 per cent.

The results will be announced by Thursday evening.

Under the guidelines, every voter’s hands were cleaned before and after voting as special arrangements were made to transfer the indelible ink to the index finger, with no physical contact with any surface at the polling station, election officials said.

 

 

US ANNOUNCES HIGHEST-LEVEL VISIT TO TAIWAN IN DECADES, RISKING CHINA ANGER

 

A senior US official is to lead a delegation to Taiwan in the highest-level visit since 1979 to discuss the coronavirus pandemic and to “celebrate the shared values” of the two democracies – prompting China to urge the US not to “send the wrong signals to Taiwan secessionists”.

The US health secretary, Alex Azar, said he would be the first cabinet member to visit in six years, in the most significant trip there since the US formally cut diplomatic ties decades ago to pursue relations with the Chinese Communist party. Taiwan said the visit would take place in the coming days.

“Taiwan has been a model of transparency and cooperation in global health during the Covid-19 pandemic and long before it,” said Azar, who is also the chair of the US coronavirus taskforce. “I look forward to conveying President Trump’s support for Taiwan’s global health leadership and underscoring our shared belief that free and democratic societies are the best model for protecting and promoting health.”

 

 

THE REST

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HEAVY RAIN, STRONG WINDS BATTER MUMBAI

 

Strong winds reaching up to 100 kmph and heavy rain continued to lash Mumbai and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, uprooting trees, damaging cranes and tearing down hoardings and awnings.

For the second day running, Mumbai received heavy rain, surpassing the annual seasonal average rain of 2,260.4 mm. Within two months and five days of the monsoon, Mumbai has so far received 2,319.7 mm rain.

Mumbai’s island city received this season’s most intense showers, recording 229.6 mm rain in nine hours between 8:30 am and 5:30 pm on Wednesday — highest to be recorded in 22 years for August.

Breaking its “all-time” record of the highest 24-hour rain in August, the Colaba observatory recorded 293.8 mm rain ending at 8:30 pm on Wednesday — highest in 46 years. The Colaba observatory was set up in 1841, while the archive data is available from 1974.

The intensity of the winds led to the collapse of three cranes at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Navi Mumbai. The gusty winds destroyed the iconic signage mounted on top of the Bombay Stock Exchange building.

Places like Girgaum Chowpatty and Oval Maidan were submerged and many housing societies in these areas were flooded as water entered the premises. The Mumbai Art Deco Heritage buildings located near Oval Maidan were also flooded.

Hospitals in South Mumbai were also affected with water entering the casualty ward of JJ Hospital while heavy rains damaged part of the Jaslok Hospital building.

 

 

J&K DECISION A STRATEGIC BLUNDER FOR INDIA, SAYS PAK PM IMRAN KHAN

 

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Wednesday his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi’s action to scrap the special status of J&K was a “strategic blunder” based on four miscalculations.

Addressing a special session of the legislative assembly of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in Muzaffarabad on the first anniversary of India’s action, Khan said the first mistaken assumption was to expand his Hindu vote base by revoking Kashmir’s status. The second assumption, he said, was that Pakistan would remain quiet “because we were trying to become friends with them”. The third assumption was the world would stay silent because other countries want to use India to counter China, he added. The fourth miscalculation, he said, was that India thought it would be able to crush the Kashmiris by posting hundreds of thousands of troops in the Kashmir Valley and then change the region’s demography. All these assumptions had proved wrong, Khan said.

There was no immediate reaction from the Indian side to Khan’s comments, which came a day after Islamabad issued a new political map that depicted the Indian union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh and parts of Gujarat state as Pakistani territories.

India had dismissed the map as an “exercise in political absurdity” with no legal backing.

 

 

GC MURMU QUITS AS A J&K L-G, MANOJ SINHA SET TO REPLACE HIM

 

Gireesh Chandra Murmu, who took oath as the first Lieutenant Governor of Jammu & Kashmir on October 31, 2019, resigned Wednesday.

The Centre has approved the appointment of former Union minister Manoj Sinha as the next Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir.

Sinha has represented the parliamentary constituency of Ghazipur in eastern Uttar Pradesh thrice in the Lok Sabha. He has also served as junior railways minister.

President Ram Nath Kovind accepted Murmu’s resignation on Thursday. There is buzz that he is going to be the next Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, replacing Rajiv Mehrishi who completes his term this week on August 7.

 

 

PINARAYI VIJAYAN SLAMS CONGRESS FOTR ITS SHAKY STAND ON SECULARISM

 

Accusing the Congress of having always adopted a “soft-Hindutva line”, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday said there was little surprise in the statement of Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra that the bhoomi pujan for Ram temple in Ayodhya should be seen as a celebration of national unity, fraternity and cultural affinity.

He said worship inside Babri Masjid was permitted under a Congress government at the Centre; and a Congress government was at the helm in New Delhi when shilanyas for the temple was allowed.

Addressing the media, Vijayan said, “Everyone knows the stand adopted by the Congress. The approaches of (former Prime Ministers) Rajiv Gandhi and (P V) Narasimha Rao are part of history. If the Congress had a clear stand on secularism, the country would not have faced the present fate. I don’t find anything new in the approach of Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Gandhi.”

He said the Congress government had stood inactive when kar sevaks went to Ayodhya to demolish Babri Masjid. What later happened is the culmination of this approach, he said.

 

 

CENTRE ISSUES NOTIFICATION FOR CBI PROBE INTO SUSHANT SINGH RAJPUT’S DEATH

 

The Department of Personnel and Training issued a notification paving way for CBI probe in Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death (on June 14). The development came hours after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told the Supreme Court that it had accepted Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s request for a CBI probe.

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court sought a status report from Maharashtra Police on the investigation into Rajput’s death. The SC bench, headed by Justice Hrishikesh Roy, also asked Maharashtra, Bihar and Rajput’s father to file their replies on actor Rhea Chakraborty’s petition seeking transfer of case from Patna to Mumbai.

The lawyer representing Rajput’s father claimed in the SC that Maharashtra Police was destroying evidence in the case. The probe of the Bihar Police SIT sent to Mumbai to investigate Rajput’s death has come to a halt after Patna City (Central) SP Vinay Tiwari, who is leading the team, was put into home quarantine by the BMC.

“Quarantining of Bihar Police officer has not sent good message despite the fact that Mumbai Police has good professional reputation,” the court said.

 

 

FACEBOOK, TWITTER PULL TRUMP POSTS OVER CORONAVIRUS MISINFORMATION

 

Facebook and Twitter have penalised US President Donald Trump and his campaign for posts in which he claimed children are "almost immune" to coronavirus.

Facebook deleted the post - a clip from an interview he gave to Fox News - saying it contained "harmful Covid misinformation".

Twitter followed up by saying it had frozen a Trump campaign account until it removed a tweet of the same clip.

US public health advice makes clear children have no immunity to Covid-19.

A Facebook spokesperson said on Wednesday evening: "This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation."

It was the first time the social giant had taken action to remove content posted by the president based on its coronavirus-misinformation policy, but not the first time it has penalised Mr Trump over content on his page.

 

 

INDICATORS

 

Sensex 37,663 (-25), Nifty 11,102 (+6), Trading Value NSE ,(Rs.crores) 60,901

Nasdaq 10,998 (+57) Dow 27,202 (+373), S&P 3,328 (+21)

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GBP 0.76 /US$, Euro 0.84 /US$, Jap.Yen 105.60 /US$, Aus$ 1.38 /US$, Sing 1.36 /US$, Bang Taka 83.14 /US$, Can$ 1.32 /US$, Mal Ring 4.19 /US$,

Pak Re 167.32 /US$, Phil Peso 49.02 /US$, Russian Rouble 73.05 /US$, NZ$ 1.50 /US$, Thai Baht 30.97 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 27.47 /US$, Norway NOK 9.00 /US$

Bitcoin - USD 11,702

Dollar Index 92.78 Brent Crude 45.18 BDI 1,475

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 2,042 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 5,440 / 5,340 Silver (Rs. Per KG) 65,060

 

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

There is nowhere you can go and only be with people who are like you. Give it up. - Bernice Johnson Reagon

 

 

OFF TRACK

 

A judge was instructing the jury that a witness was not necessarily to be regarded as untruthful because he changed his statement after he gave it to the police.

"For example," he said, "when I entered my chambers today, I was positive that I had my gold watch in my pocket. But then I remembered that I left in on my nightstand in my bedroom."

When the judge returned home that evening, his wife asked him, "Why so much urgency for your watch? Isn't sending three men to pick it up for you a bit extreme?"

"What?" said the judge, "I didn't send anyone for my watch, let alone three people.”

"Is it? But I gave it to the first one," said the wife, "he knew exactly where it was."

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