India Newsletter

FRONT PAGE NEWS
24 Sept 2020

PM MODI SPEAKS TO CMS OF 7 WORST COVID-HIT STATES

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday told the chief ministers of seven top COVID burden states of India to focus on micro containment zones in 60 districts where the disease load is concentrated besides ensuring universalisation of masks to block the chain of viral transmission.

In a virtual meeting with the CMs of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, UP, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Punjab, which account for 65.5 per cent of India’s total cases and 77 per cent of all deaths, the PM stressed the need to start focusing on economic revival along with COVID management.

”I urge all the CMs to analyse whether local level lockdowns are yielding benefits in the fight against COVID19 or not. They must ensure that these lockdowns are not interrupting economic activity,” the PM said, announcing the Centre’s decision to enhance from 35 to 50 per cent the limit for fund use by states under the state disaster relief fund.

The PM defended the national lockdown in early days, adding that “it helped a lot and was praised worldwide”.

He told the CMs, “We must now start micro containment in the 60 districts which account for maximum COVID load in India. These districts are in seven states. I urge CMs to ensure block level containment in these 60 districts,” PM Modi said.

”We have to guard against rumours, like Punjab CM Amarinder Singh ji has said. Wearing masks may be a tough habit but we have to inculcate it. I agree with Uddhav Thackeray ji that it is like wearing spectacles,” the PM said, asking states to coordinate on the movement of life saving oxygen to save lives.

 

 

ERDOGAN’S REMARKS ON J-K AT UNGA ‘COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE’: INDIA

 

India and Turkey clashed for the second year running at the UN General Assembly’s high level session after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described Kashmir as a “burning issue”.

Speaking at the high level segment of the UNGA, Erdogan did not name India but criticised the situation in Kashmir after the August 5, 2019, change in status and the lockdown.

India’s Permanent Representative in the UN TS Tirumurti hit back by describing his remarks as “gross interference in India’s internal affairs” and said they were “completely unacceptable”.

Turkey, he said, should learn to respect the sovereignty of other nations and reflect on its own policies more deeply.

Turkey under Erdogan has been engaged in a brutal crackdown on the minority Kurds, denies the Armenian genocide and recently converted a museum into a mosque, drawing condemnation from around the world.

Last year at the same event Pakistan and Malaysian prime ministers besides Erdogan had touched on the Kashmir issue.

 

 

OPPOSITION REQUESTS PRESIDENT NOT TO GIVE ASSENT TO CONTENTIOUS FARM BILLS

 

The Opposition parties on Wednesday urged President Ram Nath Kovind to return the “unconstitutional” farm-related Bills, requesting him to reserve his assent on the legislations till the time these were reconsidered and taken up again through due process.

 

In a meeting with the President on Wednesday evening, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, speaking for 18 non-NDA parties, alleged that the Bills were passed by the Rajya Sabha in violation of all parliamentary and constitutional rules and procedures with no voting or division allowed on the resolutions and motions moved by Opposition members.

“All limits were crossed in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday and Constitutional rules, regulations and procedures were disregarded in the temple of democracy. The way Deputy Chairman passed the Bills, we moved the motion of no confidence against him. The President said he will look into our concerns,” said Azad.

Earlier yesterday, Opposition MPs held a march from Mahatma Gandhi statue to Ambedkar statue inside Parliament House to protest farm Bills and labour Bills passed in the absence of the Opposition.

 

 

MONSOON SESSION COMES TO AN END

 

The Lok Sabha was adjourned sine die on Wednesday with the Monsoon Session curtailed by seven days amid concerns of spread of the Covid-19 virus among the members.

The House, which achieved a productivity of 167 percent in the brief 10 days it functioned, saw the passage of 25 legislations, including the contentious agriculture legislations amid vociferous objections from Opposition parties

In the absence of a Question Hour for the first time in the history of Parliament, members received written answers to as many as 2300 questions.

Presenting the details of the proceedings, Speaker Om Birla thanked all the MPs for the smooth running of the House.

The last day of the Monsoon Session also saw Lok Sabha members thanking Speaker Om Birla for efficiently running the House in spite of difficult circumstances in the wake of the COVID pandemic.

With the passage of 25 bills and introduction of six others, Rajya Sabha records showed 100% productivity as it was adjourned sine die on Wednesday. This was also the second-shortest monsoon session of the Upper House since 1952.

Typically, monsoon sessions are held during the months of July-August; this year, due to the pandemic, the session was delayed and Parliament could reconvene only in September. The budget session that precedes the monsoon session also had to be cut short in March when the Covid-19 outbreak occurred.

 

 

CAG RED-FLAGS DEFENCE IMPORTS OFFSET POLICY

 

French aerospace major Dassault Aviation and European missile maker MBDA are yet to fulfil their offset obligations of offering high technology to India as part of the deal relating to procurement of 36 Rafale jets, the Comptroller and Auditor General said in a report released on Wednesday.

The Dassault Aviation is the manufacturer of the Rafale jets, while the MBDA supplied the missile systems for the aircraft.

In its report tabled in Parliament, the CAG also painted a grim picture of efficacy of India’s offset policy saying it did not find a single case of foreign vendors transferring high technology to the Indian industry, adding defence sector ranked 62nd out of 63 sectors receiving FDI.

Under India’s offset policy, foreign defence entities are mandated to spend at least 30 per cent of the total contract value in India through procurement of components or setting up of research and development facilities.

The offset norms are applicable to all capital purchases above Rs 300 crore made through imports. The offset obligations can be made through Foreign Direct Investment, free transfer of technology to Indian firms and purchase of products manufactured by Indian firms.

The auditor said though the vendors failed to keep up their offset commitments, there was no effective means of penalise them.

The CAG said as the offset policy has not yielded the desired result, the defence ministry needs to review the policy and its implementation.

 

 

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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‘BIRTHERISM’ LIES ABOUT KAMALA HIGHER THAN IN OBAMA’S CASE

 

“Birtherism” misinformation about Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, now exceeds that about President Barack Obama at its peak in 2017, according to a new analysis.

Lies that Harris was not born American (she was) and is therefore not eligible for the vice presidency spiked last month in the week after Joe Biden announced her as his running mate, according to Zignal Labs, a media insights company. Mentions of the falsehood soared to 1,03,400 that week across social media and TV broadcasts. That was higher than the volume of birtherism misinformation about Obama in the week after President Donald Trump renewed questions about his predecessor’s birthplace in 2017, Zignal Labs said. Those mentions rose to 98,100 that week.

Birtherism theory about Harris has become the fifthhighest election misinformation topic by volume since January, according to Zignal Labs. The topics that have surpassed it were falsehoods about voting by mail; Bill and Hillary Clinton; billionaire investor and Democratic donor George Soros; and vaccines.

 

 

TAKE POLITICAL DECISIONS IN PAK HOUSE, NOT ARMY HQ: MARYAM

 

Former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif’s daughter and PML-N vicepresident Maryam Nawaz said on Wednesday all political decisions should be made in parliament and not at the army’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

She was responding to a question on a secret meeting of opposition leaders, including PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, with army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed on September 16. While the meeting was called to discuss granting of provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan, the opposition used the opportunity to raise other matters with the army and ISI chiefs, especially the military’s interference in politics.

“I heard about the meeting. From what I understand it was called to discuss Gilgit-Baltistan, which is a political issue,” Maryam said. “These decisions should be made in parliament, not in GHQ.”

 

 

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PARLIAMENT PASSES THREE REMAINING LABOUR CODE BILLS

 

Rajya Sabha passed the controversial labour bills that relax norms for winding up of companies and allow firing of staff without government permission in firms with up to 300 workers. This completes the Parliamentary procedure to pass the Bills.

The Bills were passed in Rajya Sabha unanimously with voice vote amid boycott by opposition parties including Congress and Left over suspension of eight members of the House. They were passed by Lok Sabha on Tuesday and these will now be sent to the President for his assent.

The Bills pertain to the three remaining labour codes on industrial relations, social security and occupational safety.

Replying to the debate on the three labour reforms Bills, Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar said, “The purpose of labour reforms is to provide a transparent system to suit the changed business environment”.

Gangwar also told the House that as many as 16 states have already increased the threshold for closure, lay off and retrenchment in firms with up to 300 workers without government permission. He said that the increase in threshold would result in job creation and encourage employers to hire.

Rajya Sabha also passed the bill to amend the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act-FCRA to make furnishing of Aadhaar numbers by office bearers of NGOs mandatory for registration besides other provisions.

 

 

SURESH ANGADI 1ST UNION MINISTER TO DIE OF COVID-19

 

Minister of State for Railways Suresh Angadi died of COVID-19 on Wednesday after admission to AIIMS New Delhi about two weeks ago. Angadi had on September 11 tweeted his COVID-19 positive status. He was since admitted to AIIMS New Delhi. He was 65.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the condolences for the departed minister, saying, “Shri Suresh Angadi was an exceptional Karyakarta, who worked hard to make the Party strong in Karnataka. He was a dedicated MP and effective Minister, admired across the spectrum. His demise is saddening. My thoughts are with his family and friends in this sad hour. Om Shanti.”

Leaders cutting across party lines condoled the untimely demise of Angadi, who is the first Union minister to die of COVID-19.

 

 

INDIANS IN US RAISE $3.3MN FOR BIDEN IN ONE NIGHT, SEEK MODERATE POSITIONS ON KASHMIR, CAA

 

Indian Americans raised $3.3 million on a single night for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, a possible record, and pressed his campaign to moderate its positions on Kashmir and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, as also to add an agenda for the Hindu community on its web platform.

Biden acknowledged that he knew and understood this was because of Kamala Harris, his Indian-American nominee for vice president, Kapur said.

The main virtual fundraiser, which followed Biden’s interaction with a handful of Indian Americans, was attended by over 200 people and headlined by Vivek Murthy, the former US surgeon general, who is among those the community is pushing for a cabinet position in a possible Biden administration. He introduced the former vice-president, recalling how he had helped with his rocky confirmation hearing process in the Republican-controlled US Senate.

 

 

5 INDIANS WHO MADE IT TO TIME'S '100 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE OF 2020' LIST

 

The TIME magazine has released the annual list of 100 pioneers, leaders, titans, artists, and icons which have made an impact on the contemporary world. There are five Indians in the list: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bollywood actor Ayushmann Khurrana, 82-year old Bilkis Bano, the 'dadi' who became the face of Shaheen Bagh protest, Professor Ravindra Gupta, known for his work on HIV/AIDS treatment and Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

PM Modi has appeared four times on the list since coming to power in 2014. His name has appeared on the list in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2020. In 2015, former US President Barack Obama wrote a profile for him for the magazine.

Time has also listed US President Donald Trump, Democratic VP nominee Kamala Harris, the former Vice President and the Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, American physician Dr Anthony Fauci, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro among others in the 100 most influential list.

 

 

NCB SUMMONS SOME OF BOLLYWOOD’S LEADING LADIES IN DRUGS CASE

 

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), which is probing an alleged Bollywood-drugs nexus, on Wednesday summoned actors Deepika Padukone, Shraddha Kapoor, Sara Ali Khanand Rakul Preet Singh among others for questioning, an official said.

The NCB, which began the probe after a drugs angle came to light in connection with actor Sushant Singh Rajput's alleged suicide, has now widened its investigation and asked these `A-list' celebrities of the Mumbai film industry to "join the probe", he said.

Earlier, NCB sources had claimed that there was a "reference" to Rakul Preet Singh and Sara Ali Khan in the statement of Rhea Chakraborty, who has been arrested in the case.

Deepika has been called to record her statement on September 25; Sara Ali Khan and Shraddha Kapoor on September 26 while Rakul Preet Singh, Rajput's talent manager Shruti Modi and designer Simone Khambata have been asked to appear on Thursday, the official said.

Jaya Saha, a talent manager who was questioned in the case, gave some important information, he said.

 

 

RELIANCE JIO'S POSTPAID PLANS TURN UP THE HEAT ON AIRTEL AND VODA IDEA

 

The stocks of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea shed 8-10 per cent each after Reliance Jio rolled out a slew of postpaid plans aimed at the lucrative postpaid telecom market.

Jio on Tuesday announced plans ranging from Rs 399 to Rs 1,499, with higher-priced packs coming with increased data and bundled applications. At the entry-level price point, postpaid packs of Airtel and Vi are at a 25 per cent premium to those launched by Jio.

Though Jio had postpaid plans before the new plans, it did not get traction, given limited options and lack of bundled applications. The postpaid subscribers currently account for less than 1 per cent of Jio’s 398.3-million subscribers.

The new ‘Postpaid Plus’ plans will put pressure on Vi and Airtel to match Jio’s offerings. Though the two operators are not expected to cut headline tariffs to match the cheaper Jio plans, offering extra content is expected to increase their operating expenditure.

The impact of any churn because of Jio’s new plans is expected to be greater on Vi than Airtel, as the former gets an estimated 21 per cent of its revenue from the postpaid segment, against 13 per cent for the latter.

Analysts at IIFL Securities believe the move by Jio may push Vodafone Idea to the brink, as the company is preoccupied with balance-sheet repair and its 22.5-million postpaid subscriber base, the highest in the industry, may become relatively vulnerable.

The brokerage has also cut Airtel’s target price by Rs 22 to Rs 598.

 

 

FIR AGAINST DIRECTOR ANURAG KASHYAP AFTER ACTRESS ALLEGES RAPE

 

Mumbai Police have registered an FIR against filmmaker Anurag Kashyap after actress Payal Ghosh accused him of raping her in 2013, an official said on Wednesday.

Kashyap has dismissed the allegations as "baseless".

The FIR was registered at Versova police station late Tuesday night after the actress along with her lawyer Nitin Satpute approached the police, the official said. The FIR was registered under Indian Penal Code Sections 376 (I) (rape), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty,), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 342 (wrongful confinement), the official said, adding that further investigation is underway.

Kashyap will be called for questioning in connection with the alleged seven-year-old incident, he said. In her police complaint, the actress alleged that Kashyap raped her at a place on Yari Road in Versova in 2013.

Kashyap called the actor's claim an attempt to "silence" him for his outspoken views.

 

 

IPL: ROHIT STARS IN MUMBAI INDIANS' 49-RUN WIN OVER KKR

 

Skipper Rohit Sharma's effortless batting formed the cornerstone of Mumbai Indians' resounding 49-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders in an Indian Premier League match on Wednesday.

On a big Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Rohit pummelled the KKR bowlers into submission for a 54-ball 80 and powered Mumbai to an imposing 195/5.

Then the Jasprit Bumrah-led Mumbai attack did most things right to restrict KKR to 146 for nine and end their winless streak in the UAE.

KKR were never on course for a comfortable chase as they lost openers Shubhman Gill (7) and Sunil Narine (9) cheaply to be in a spot of bother at 25 for two. They finished their 20 overs at 146/9

 

 

INDICATORS

 

Sensex 37,668 (-66), Nifty 11,132 (-22), Trading Value NSE ,(Rs.crores) 57349.69

Nasdaq 10,632 (-331) Dow 26,763 (-525), S&P 3,236 (-79)

US$-Rs. 73.52 GBP-Rs. 93.57, Euro-Rs. 85.88, UAE Dhm-Rs.20.01, Can$-Rs. 55.09, Aus$- Rs. 52.27

GBP 0.78 /US$, Euro 0.85 /US$, Jap.Yen 105.19 /US$, Aus$ 1.40 /US$, Sing 1.36 /US$, Bang Taka 83.44 /US$, Can$ 1.33 /US$, Mal Ring 4.13 /US$,

Pak Re 165.86 /US$, Phil Peso 48.51 /US$, Russian Rouble 76.53 /US$, NZ$ 1.51 /US$, Thai Baht 31.47 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 27.97 /US$, Norway NOK 9.41 /US$

Bitcoin - USD 10,296

Dollar Index 94.41 Brent Crude 41.46 BDI 1,364

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,861 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 5,,000 / 4,900 Silver (Rs. Per KG) 59,600

 

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

Today the world changes so quickly that in growing up we take leave not just of youth but of the world we were young in. Fear and resentment of what is new is really a lament for the memories of our childhood. - Peter Medawar

 

 

OFF TRACK

 

Two young boys were spending the night at their grandparents the week before Christmas. At bedtime, the two boys knelt beside their beds to say their prayers when the younger one began praying at the top of his lungs.

"I PRAY FOR A NEW BICYCLE...

I PRAY FOR AN IPHONE….

His older brother leaned over and nudged the younger brother and said, "Why are you shouting your prayers? God isn't deaf."

To which the little brother replied, "I know, but Grandma is!"

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