India Newsletter

FRONT PAGE NEWS
25 Sept 2020

PAKISTAN PLAYING SAARC SPOILER WITH TERROR, TRADE HURDLES: JAISHANKAR

 

With Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi listening, External

Affairs Minister S Jaishankar Thursday listed cross-border terrorism,

blocking of connectivity and obstruction of trade as the key challenges

confronting SAARC. Jaishankar's remarks at an informal meeting of SAARC

foreign ministers targeted Pakistan for being a spoiler in regional

cooperation. The meeting, chaired by Nepal, was held in virtual mode and

attended by all SAARC member states.

One of the agenda items in the SAARC ministerial meeting was the 19th SAARC

Summit, which was to be hosted by Pakistan. Most countries felt it was not

an "opportune time" for the event considering that member states are

preoccupied in dealing with the Covid-19 situation. So the proposal fell

through due to lack of consensus.

Jaishankar urged SAARC member states to collectively resolve to defeat

terrorism, including the forces that nurture, support and encourage an

environment of terror and conflict, which impede the objective of SAARC to

realise its full potential for collective collaboration and prosperity

across South Asia, according to a statement from the Ministry of External

Affairs.

At another forum of foreign ministers-Conference on Interaction and

Confidence-Building Measures (CICA) in Asia hosted by Kazakhstan - Pakistan

raked up the issue of Kashmir.

India hit back, saying that it is "typical of Pakistan" to use multilateral

platforms "to raise bilateral and contentious issues".

 

 

MEA TAKES HOPE FROM CONSENSUS AT MILITARY COMMANDERS' MEETING

 

India on Thursday highlighted the fact that the latest meeting of military

commanders had led to a joint press release. The Ministry of External

Affairs (MEA) interpreted it as reflecting the "stated commitment of both

sides to disengage along the LAC". It noted that this was the first joint

press release after any Senior Commanders' meeting.

The latest Senior Commanders' meeting was critical to ensure stability on

the ground at a time when troops are about to undertake disengagement which

is a complex process requiring redeployment towards regular posts on the

respective sides of the LAC, said MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava. The

meeting had undertaken not to add to troops' strength on the border and not

to unilaterally change the status quo of the border. These steps were

essential in view of two past instances of extreme aggression that led to

shots being fired on the LAC for the first time in 45 years.

Srivastava hoped the way ahead will be to refrain from making any attempts

to unilaterally change the status quo, while the two sides continue their

discussions to achieve complete disengagement in all friction areas.

In this regard, he said, the two sides have also decided to have the next

meeting of the Senior Commanders at the earliest as well as hold in parallel

a meeting of the inter-Ministerial MEA-led Working Mechanism on Consultation

and Coordination.

 

 

CONG SLAMS GOVT OVER CAG RED FLAG IN RAFALE OFFSETS

 

The Congress on Thursday said the new CAG report admits that "technology

transfer" was shelved in Rafale offsets and wondered whether the report

opens a can of worms.

Congress leader P Chidambaram said, "The CAG finds that the vendors of the

Rafale aircraft have not confirmed the transfer of technology under the

offset contract. The offset obligations should have started on 23-9-2019 and

the first annual commitment should have been completed by 23-9-2020, that is

yesterday. Will the govt say if that obligation was fulfilled."

Raising the issue, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted,

"Chronology of biggest Defense deal continues to unfold. The new CAG report

admits that 'technology transfer' shelved in Rafale offsets. 1st, 'Make in

India' became 'Make in France'. Now, DRDO dumped for tech transfer. Modi ji

will say - 'Sab Changa si' (all is well)."

The Comptroller and Auditor General in its report released on Wednesday said

that French aerospace major Dassault Aviation and European missile maker

MBDA are yet to fulfil their offset obligations of offering high technology

to India under the Rafale aircraft deal.

 

 

INDIA'S R VALUE DROPS BELOW 1 FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE COVID PANDEMIC STRUCK

 

For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, India's R value

- a key parameter to measure the rate of the spread of an infection - has

dipped below 1, reducing to 0.93 from 1.08 last week.

According to Sitabhra Sinha, a researcher at the Institute of Mathematical

Sciences in Chennai, some of the worst-affected states - including

Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka - have also registered an R value

of less than 1.

R value represents the number of people one patient can infect.

Epidemiologists have been waiting for the number to drop below 1 in India

because this means that the number of recoveries now outnumber the new

infections. "We will still see new infections happening, but the important

point is that recoveries are more. If the R value can be maintained below 1,

the epidemic will eventually die out but we need to have R less than 1 for a

considerable length of time for this to happen," says Sinha.

"Earlier we had seen that in Delhi, after keeping R less than 1 for more

than a month, the R suddenly increased beyond 1, thereby losing the gains

they had made," he said.

The top five states with the highest number of active cases in India have

all registered R values below 1. Sinha said this was the reason for the drop

in India's overall R.

 

 

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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TRUMP CONTINUES TO CAST ASPERSIONS ON ELECTION PROCESS

 

President Donald Trump on Wednesday refused to clearly guarantee a peaceful

transfer of power should he lose the upcoming US election in November to Joe

Biden.

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," Trump responded when asked

at a White House press conference whether he is committed to the most basic

tenet of democratic rule in the United States.

Trump, who is currently behind in the polls against Democratic challenger

Joe Biden, then resumed his near daily complaint about the way the election

is being organized.

Trump frequently claims that mail-in ballots are vulnerable to mass fraud

and are being encouraged by Democrats to rig the election. However, there is

no evidence that ballots sent through the postal service have ever led to

significant fraud in US elections.

At the press conference, Trump seemed to suggest annulling what are expected

to be the huge numbers of mailed-in ballots, saying that in such a scenario,

he would remain in power.

"Get rid of the ballots and you'll have a very peaceful -- there won't be a

transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation," he said.

Trump's latest insistence that there cannot be a fair presidential election

on November 3 came as pressure mounts over his plan to put a new,

right-leaning justice on the Supreme Court.

 

 

ON INDIA'S CALL FOR UNSC REFORM, CHINA DEMANDS 'PACKAGE SOLUTION'

 

China, which has been stonewalling India's entry into the UN Security

Council, on Thursday said there were "enormous divisions" on reforms to

expand the premier body of the United Nations and expressed its willingness

to work for a "package solution" that can accommodate interests and concerns

of all parties.

The G4 grouping comprising India, Japan, Germany and Brazil on Wednesday

expressed their concern over lack of any "meaningful" forward movement on

long-pending reform of the UN Security Council (UNSC) and demanded "urgency"

on the issue.

The foreign ministers of the G4 countries, including External Affairs

Minister S Jaishankar, held a virtual meeting coinciding with the 75th

session of the UN General Assembly during which they held extensive

discussion on the need for urgent reform of the UNSC.

Responding to the G4 ministers call for text-based negotiations with a fixed

time to carry out reforms for the UN Security Council, Chinese Foreign

Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing here that: "We believe

the reform of the Security Council is an important issue which concerns the

long-term development and all the immediate interests of its members."

"There have been enormous divisions on this issue and there lacks a

widespread consensus on the arrangement for reform. China is willing to work

with other UN members to seek a package solution that can accommodate all

parties' interests and concerns through dialogue and negotiation," he said.

 

 

THE REST

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BHARAT BANDH BY FARMERS TODAY, AND 3-DAY 'RAIL ROKO' IN PUNJAB,

 

Farmers in several parts of Punjab on Thursday started a three-day "rail

roko" agitation against the Union govt's three agriculture sector Bills.

The Railways has cancelled at least 14 pairs of special trains running from

the Ferozepur division from September 24 to 26, following the strike call.

The decision was taken keeping in mind the safety of passengers and the

protection of railway property, it indicated.

The agitation, being held under the banner of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangarsh

Samiti and other farmer outfits, is also expected to affect freight traffic,

which has seen some recovery in recent months.

Another farmer organisation, the Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers

Movements (ICCFM), representing 12 farmers' organisations based in UP, MP,

Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, and Haryana, has called for a

complete nationwide bandh on Friday.

"We farmers have been demanding fair and remunerative prices for the past

four decades. The BJP govt made election promises of doubling farmers'

incomes. Instead of fulfilling that promise, we are being slapped with these

Bills designed to end the govts' responsibility to ensure a fair price to

farmers. When seen in totality, these bills have nothing to do with

improving farmers' incomes, over 80 per cent of whom are small and marginal

farmers," said Yudhvir Singh, national convener of the ICCFM.

Another farmers' body, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee

(AIKSCC), said it would also hold a nationwide protest if the minimum

support price was not guaranteed, and crop price and food security of the

poor were left to multi-nationals and corporate houses.

 

 

TOMAR REASSURES FARMERS ON 3 AGRI-LEGISLATIONS, SLAMS CONGRESS LIES

 

A day before countrywide farmers' agitation, Agriculture Minister Narendra

Singh Tomar on Thursday accused the Congress of "lying and misleading" while

assuring farmers that the three "historic" agri-legislations passed by the

Parliament were for their "better future and prosperity in the agriculture

sector".

Slamming the Congress "for doing petty politics on matter related to

farmers' future even while it promised very same reforms in its poll

manifestos," Tomar also said "if farmers want any discussion on the bills,

they are most welcome, our doors are always open".

According to Tomar, the legislations will change the lives of farmers and

the sector for the better. "Check the records and see what Kamal Nath

(former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister) had said at the high-level chief

minister' meeting. He (Kamal Nath) said it on record that Essential

Commodities Act has achieved its purpose. What the govt has done is what the

Congress promised in Punjab and in its 2019 Lok Sabha manifesto. The party

should stop lying and doing politics on matters concerning farmers," Tomar

said while speaking to mediapersons at the BJP headquarters.

 

 

CAG: CENTRE BROKE THE LAW, USED FUNDS FOR GST COMPENSATION ELSEWHERE

 

Citing the opinion of the Attorney General of India, Finance Minister

Nirmala Sitharaman told Parliament last week that there was no provision in

the law to compensate states for loss of GST revenue out of the Consolidated

Fund of India (CFI).

However, the CAG has found that the govt itself violated the law by

retaining Rs 47,272 crore of GST compensation cess in the CFI during 2017-18

and 2018-19, and used the money for other purposes, which "led to

overstatement of revenue receipts and understatement of fiscal deficit for

the year".

Compensation Cess Fund, shows that there was short crediting to the Fund of

the GST Compensation Cess collections totalling to Rs 47,272 crore during

2017-18 and 2018-19," the CAG has said. "The short-crediting was a violation

of the GST Compensation Cess Act, 2017," the national auditor said in its

report on the accounts of the Union govt, which were tabled in Parliament on

Wednesday, the last day of the Monsoon session.

 

 

VETERANS MEET MAHA. GOVERNOR OVER ATTACK ON EX-NAVY MAN

 

A delegation of retired Navy officers and sailors on Thursday met

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari here and sought action against

Shiv Sena workers who allegedly assaulted ex-Navy man Madan Sharma.

The delegation described the attack on Sharma as "dastardly.

A group of Shiv Sena workers had attacked Sharma (62) on September 11 after

he posted a cartoon lampooning Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, in a

WhatsApp group.

A statement, issued by Commander Vijay Vadhera (retd), president of the Navy

Foundation (Mumbai chapter), said the delegation demanded immediate and

visible action against the attackers.

The Honourable Governor has been made aware that if immediate visible action

is not taken against the miscreants, it would send a wrong signal to the

citizens in India that the Armed Forces veterans do not get the respect they

deserve for making supreme sacrifice for the safety of our nation and its

citizens," said the statement. Such attacks on the veterans will not only

affect their morale, but also that of the serving defence personnel, Vadhera

said.

 

 

OVER 200 EDUCATIONISTS, FILMMAKERS AND AUTHORS DEMAND RELEASE OF UMAR KHALID

 

More than 200 educationists, filmmakers and authors, including Noam Chomsky

and Mira Nair, issued a joint statement on Wednesday demanding the Centre

free Umar Khalid arrested in connection with the northeast Delhi riots.

Besides Chomsky and Nair, the signatories include actor Ratna Pathak Shah,

authors Amitav Ghosh, Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy, and journalist P

Sainath.

"We stand in solidarity and outrage, with the brave young scholar and

activist Umar Khalid, arrested in New Delhi on September 14, 2020, under

fabricated charges of engineering the Delhi riots in February 2020," the

statement said. The statement said that Khalid "used the passion of his

commitment to his country, marshalled his education and his voice to join

the movement for equal citizenship, against the CAA" which introduced

religion as a criterion for citizenship, and has no place in a secular

nation.

Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava had last week said the force has

collected documentary evidence, including scientific evidence, to support

its case in connection with the riots. He said the police have so far

arrested 1,571 people irrespective of their caste or religion and they are

almost equally distributed among both communities.

 

 

SENSEX FALLS 1,115 POINTS OVER US FED REMARKS

 

The BSE Sensex posted its biggest single-day fall in four months after

investor sentiment turned sour on the Federal Reserve's dire assessment of

the US economy and rising Covid-19 infections forcing many countries to

re-enforce restrictions.

The Sensex plunged 1,115 points, or 3 per cent, to end at 36,554, its lowest

close since July 10 and the biggest drop since May 18.

US Federal Reserve Vice-Chair Richard Clarida said on Wednesday the US

economy remained in a "deep hole" of joblessness and weak demand and called

for more stimulus measures from policymakers.

Experts said the comments dashed hopes of a swift economic recovery. Also,

many feared with the US election around the corner, the administration would

not be able to provide a strong stimulus package.

 

 

CRICKETER DEAN JONES DIES OF CARDIAC ARREST IN MUMBAI

 

Dean Jones, the former Australian batsman who became famous as a popular

commentator after his cricket career, died after a cardiac arrest here today

at age 59.

Jones was in Mumbai as part of the commentary team for the Indian Premier

League, currently underway in the UAE. He was staying at a city hotel and

was in a biosecure bubble, along with the other commentators and television

crew. According to an IPL source, Jones suffered a heart attack around noon

and was gone in a matter of seconds. "Deano was standing in the hotel lobby

and he suddenly collapsed. Brett Lee was standing by his side. Brett tried

to revive him by applying CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) but he didn't

respond," said the source. He was taken to a hospital in Girgaon, where he

was pronounced dead on arrival

Jones played 52 Tests and 164 ODIs and was part of the Australian team that

won the 1987 World Cup under Allan Border. Jones was the Man of the Match in

the famous tied Test in Madras (now Chennai) in 1986, when he displayed

extraordinary physical and mental strength in extremely difficult conditions

to bat over eight hours in making 210, regarded as one of the greatest

innings ever played, anywhere.

He was also an exciting ODI batsman who was known for his trademark shots

over the field and his frenetic running between the wickets.

 

 

IPL: RAHUL SMASHES SECOND IPL TON, KXIP BEAT RCB

 

KL Rahul smashed his second IPL hundred to lead Kings XI Punjab to a 97-run

win over Royal Challengers Bangalore yesterday. Rahul, who was dropped by

RCB skipper Virat Kohli twice, slammed an unbeaten 132 off 69 balls, highest

score by an Indian in IPL history. In reply to KXIP's 206/3, RCB were

bundled out for 109 in 17 overs.

 

 

INDICATORS

 

Sensex 36,554 (-1,115), Nifty 10,806 (-326), Trading Value NSE ,(Rs.crores)

58747.45

Nasdaq 10,672 (+39) Dow 26,815 (+52), S&P 3,246 (+10)

US$-Rs. 73.74 GBP-Rs. 93.90, Euro-Rs. 85.97, UAE Dhm-Rs.20.07, Can$-Rs.

55.10, Aus$- Rs. 51.96

GBP 0.78 /US$, Euro 0.85 /US$, Jap.Yen 105.40 /US$, Aus$ 1.41 /US$, Sing

1.37 /US$, Bang Taka 83.34 /US$, Can$ 1.33 /US$, Mal Ring 4.16 /US$,

Pak Re 165.70 /US$, Phil Peso 48.50 /US$, Russian Rouble 77.04 /US$, NZ$

1.52 /US$, Thai Baht 31.55 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 27.99 /US$, Norway NOK 9.52

/US$

Bitcoin - USD 10,715

Dollar Index 94.37 Brent Crude 42.03 BDI 1,426

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,869 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 4,941/ 4,841

Silver (Rs. Per KG) 58,500

 

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

You can fake virtue for an audience. You can't fake it in your own eyes. -

Ayn Rand

 

 

OFF TRACK

 

It was an extremely hot day and the sergeant in charge of bayonet drill at

an army base was trying hard to get his listless men to attack the stuffed

dummies with more energy. Finally he halted the drill and said, "Listen,

those dummies are your enemy. They have burned your house and killed your

parents. They carried away your sisters, stole all your money and drank up

all the whiskey in the house."

This time the line surged ahead with new purpose. The men with grim looks on

their faces showed eagerness to attack. One recruit, his eyes stern and his

lips drawn back over his teeth in a snarl, paused to ask: "Sergeant, which

one drank that whiskey."

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