India Newsletter

FRONT PAGE NEWS
26 Sept 2020

BIHAR TO GO TO POLLS IN 3 PHASES FROM OCT 28 TO NOV 7

 

The Election Commission on Friday announced the three-phase schedule

beginning October 28 for Bihar assembly elections for which the counting

will take place on November 10.

Briefing the media about the details of dates and preparations for the

polls, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, who was flanked by the two

Election Commissioners Sushil Chandra and Rajiv Kumar, said the polling for

71 seats in 16 districts in the first phase would take place on October 28.

"In the second phase, 94 seats in 17 districts will go to polls on November

3 and voting for the third phase comprising 78 seats in 15 districts will

take place on November 7," the CEC said, adding the counting for all the

three phases of Polls would take place on November 10.

Elaborating on the poll panel's preparations to meet the challenges posed by

COVID-19 pandemic, Arora asked the officials to ensure that

social-distancing norms were followed properly.

 

 

INDIA SLAMS PAK FOR RAKING UP J&K IN UNGA

 

India on Friday hit back at Pakistan for raking up Jammu and Kashmir in the

UN General Assembly, saying Islamabad peddled "another litany of vicious

falsehood, personal attacks, war mongering".

"PM of Pakistan statement a new diplomatic low -- at 75th UN General

Assembly. Another litany of vicious falsehood, personal attacks, war

mongering and obfuscation of Pakistan's persecution of its own minorities &

of its cross-border terrorism. Befitting Right of Reply awaits," India's

Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti tweeted.

In his pre-recorded video statement to the General Debate at the 75th

session of the UN General Assembly on Friday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran

Khan made references to India's internal affairs, including Jammu and

Kashmir.

The Indian delegate in the general assembly hall walked out when PM Khan

started his usual diatribe about India.

 

 

CONGRESS BACKS BHARAT BANDH; RAHUL SAYS NEW AGRICULTURE LAWS WILL 'ENSLAVE'

FARMERS

 

Voicing support for the Bharat Bandh call given by farmer organisations to

protest the farm bills, the Congress on Friday alleged that the new

agriculture laws would "enslave" farmers and the MSP will be "snatched away"

from them.

Various farmer groups have called for a nationwide shutdown on Friday

against the three bills, which were passed by both houses of Parliament

during the Monsoon session and await presidential assent.

Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Randeep Surjewala

spoke out against the farm bills and backed the Bharat Bandh.

"A flawed GST destroyed MSMEs. The new agriculture laws will enslave our

farmers," former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi tweeted with the hashtag 'I

Support Bharat Bandh'.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi also hit out at the government,

saying the three farm bills brought by it are reminiscent of the "East India

Company rule". The MSP (minimum support price) of the farmers would be

"snatched away" and they would be forced to become slaves of billionaires

through contract farming, Priyanka Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi. "Neither

will they get the price nor respect. Farmers will become labourers in their

own land," she alleged. "BJP's agriculture bills are a reminder of the East

India Company rule. We will not allow this injustice to happen," she added,

using the hashtag 'Bharat Bandh'.

Congress' chief spokesperson Surjewala said the party joined farmers in

their struggle. "Farmers are protesting with Bharat Bandh. Their livelihood

is being snatched away and the Modi government has attacked their farms," he

said in a video message. "There is chaos everywhere. Modi ji swears by

farmers but stays true to his friendship with crony capitalist friends,"

Surjewala alleged.

 

 

PM MODI DEFENDS NEW FARM LAWS

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said his is the first government in

decades to have framed laws that benefit farmers, workers, women and other

marginalised sections of the society.

Modi hit out at the Opposition for its attack on his government over the

Bills - opposition parties have called these anti-farmer - and said those

who have always "lied" to farmers are now "shooting from their shoulders"

and misleading them for political benefit.

Modi said small and marginal farmers, who constitute 85 per cent of the

sector, will benefit the most from these reforms. He said these reforms will

give them an option to sell their produce outside agriculture 'mandis' for a

better price.

This was the third time in recent days that Modi spoke in support of the

Bills and countered the Opposition's criticism.

Targeting the Congress, Modi said hollow slogans were given in favour of

farmers and workers for decades since Independence even as the party formed

governments at the Centre and in states in their name. All that farmers and

labourers got was a jumbled web of promises and laws, he said. "They are

spreading rumours. Saving farmers from such rumours and explaining the

importance of the agriculture reforms is the responsibility and duty of all

BJP workers, because we have to make the future of farmers bright," he said.

 

 

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

======================

 

 

ANGRY EXCHANGES AT TOP UN MEETING ON COVID-19

 

Two days after President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General

Assembly to attack China, its ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun,

strongly criticized the US global role.

"I must say, enough is enough! You have created enough troubles for the

world already," he told a Security Council meeting on global governance

attended through videoconference by several heads of state.

"The US has nearly seven million confirmed cases and over 200,000 deaths by

now. With the most advanced medical technologies and system in the world,

why has the US turned out to have the most confirmed cases and fatalities?"

he asked. "If someone should be held accountable, it should be a few US

politicians themselves."

Using a phrase often told by US leaders to China, Zhang said, "The US should

understand that a major power should behave like a major power." The United

States, he said, "is completely isolated." "It's time to wake up," he said

in remarks enthusiastically backed by his Russian counterpart.

Trump in his speech Tuesday had demanded action against China for spreading

the "plague" of Covid-19.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, voiced anger at the

tone of the session, which was presided over by Niger's president, Issoufou

Mahamadou.

"You know, shame on each of you. I am astonished and I am disgusted by the

content of today's discussion," Craft said. "I am actually really quite

ashamed of this Council, members of the Council who took this opportunity to

focus on political grudges rather than the critical issue at hand. My

goodness."

 

 

TOKYO IS DETERMINED TO HOST OLYMPICS NEXT YEAR, SUGA TELLS U.N.

 

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told the United Nations General Assembly on

Friday Japan is determined to host the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 after the

games were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"I will continue to spare no effort in order to welcome you to Games that

are safe and secure," Suga said in his debut speech to the United Nations as

Japan's new leader.

 

 

THE REST

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S P BALASUBRAHMANYAM PASSES AWAY

 

SP Balasubrahmanyam, the playback singer, composer, actor, producer and

musician whose evocative voice and the earnestness in it could elevate a

simple piece of music to sublimity, died on Friday of cardio-respiratory

arrest at MGM Healthcare in Chennai. He was 74.

He was admitted to the hospital on August 5 after he tested positive for

Covid-19. He was later shifted to the ICU after he developed severe

pneumonia due to complications.

Widely believed to be one of the finest male playback singers,

Balasubrahmanyam had a 50-year career and transcended language barriers by

singing in 16 of them including Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil.

He found success in the Hindi film industry. In South Indian film music

there was more - a cult status and genuine affection from people.

In a condolence message on Twitter, Kamal Haasan said, "A great singer who

sang for four generations of heroes will be remembered for seven generations

to come", while Mangeshkar referred to him as "nek insaan" (good person).

 

 

DNA CONFIRMS IDENTITY OF THREE LABOURERS KILLED BY ARMY IN SHOPIAN

 

The DNA samples of the three labourers from Rajouri in J&K, who were killed

in an encounter in Shopian by the Army on July 18 and labelled as

"terrorists", have matched those of their families, IGP (Kashmir) Vijay

Kumar said Friday.

The confirmation comes days after the Army said that its inquiry into the

killings in Amshipora village "prima facie" found that the soldiers involved

had exceeded their powers under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA),

and that disciplinary action would be taken.

Following the confirmation, the families of the slain labourers - Abrar

Ahmed (25), Imtiyaz Ahmed (20) and Mohammed Ibrar (16) - demanded that the

victims' bodies be exhumed and handed over to them, and those behind the

killings be arrested.

Political parties in the Valley, meanwhile, hit out at what they said was

murder "in cold blood" and demanded to know what the "incriminating

evidence" was that the Army had said led them to identify the labourers as

"terrorists".

 

 

LANCET CAUTIONS INDIA ON GIVING 'TOO MUCH POSITIVE SPIN' TO COVID-19

 

The renowned medical journal Lancet has criticised India on the danger of

presenting the current situation in India with too positive a spin. It not

only clouds reality but also hampers vital public health initiatives.

It said that perpetuating unrealistic claims or failing to honestly report

negative news creates uncertainty among the public and healthcare

professionals, discouraging people from taking preventive action or taking

public health messages seriously.

Lancet said according to news reports, hours before announcing the national

lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told owners and editors from India's

largest media organisations that it was important to tackle the spread of

pessimism, negativity, and rumour.

This pressure to avoid negative news, and to offer reassurance, appears to

have been felt by several professional scientific organisations in India.

Lancet has slammed ICMR. "The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has

been singled out by experts for straying from scientific evidence, appearing

at worst politically motivated and at best overly optimistic," it said.

A record 14,92,409 tests have been conducted for detection of COVID-19 in a

span of 24 hours, taking the total tests done so far in the country to

nearly 7 crores, while the national cumulative positivity rate stands at

8.44 per cent, the Union Health Ministry said on Friday. This exponential

surge in the daily testing capacities strongly demonstrates the determined

escalation of the testing infrastructure in the country, the ministry said.

 

 

CONSUMER GOODS SALES TAPER OFF AFTER JUNE REBOUND

 

India's Rs 4.3-trillion fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market is showing

signs of weakness after bouncing back to pre-Covid sales levels in June. The

data shared by market research agency Nielsen on Friday showed that FMCG

sales in August were below pre-Covid levels as consumers reset their

priorities amid economic uncertainty.

This is significant because Nielsen had earlier pointed to a recovery in the

second half of 2020, which the agency now admits will be "restrained".

"After the lockdown months of April and May, there was pent-up demand among

consumers, which resulted in a spurt in sales in June and July. This has now

settled down, as reflected in August. We see this continuing into the

forthcoming months, though we will keep close tabs on how consumption

evolves during Dussehra-Diwali," said Sameer Shukla, executive director,

retail intelligence, South Asia, Nielsen Global Connect.

 

 

VODAFONE WINS RS 20,000-CRORE TAX ARBITRATION CASE AGAINST GOVERNMENT

 

In a unanimous decision, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague on

Friday ruled that India's retrospective demand of Rs 22,100 crore as capital

gains and withholding tax imposed on the British telecommunication company

for a 2007 deal was "in breach of the guarantee of fair and equitable

treatment". The court has also asked India not to pursue the tax demand any

more against Vodafone Group.

In May 2007, Vodafone had bought a 67% stake in Hutchison Whampoa for $11

billion. In September that year, the India government for the first time

raised a demand of Rs 7,990 crore in capital gains and withholding tax from

Vodafone, saying the company should have deducted the tax at source before

making a payment to Hutchison.

Vodafone challenged the demand notice and in 2012teh Supreme Court ruled

that Vodafone Group's interpretation of the Income Tax Act of 1961 was

correct and that it did not have to pay any taxes for the stake purchase.

The same year, the then Finance Minister, the late Pranab Mukherjee,

circumvented the Supreme Court's ruling by proposing an amendment to the

Finance Act, thereby giving the Income Tax Department the power to

retrospectively tax such deals. The Act was passed by Parliament that year

and the onus to pay the taxes fell back on Vodafone. The case had by then

become infamous as the 'retrospective taxation case'.

 

 

'BEST BEFORE' LABEL MUST ON LOOSE SWEETS FROM OCTOBER 1

 

From October 1 this year, a "best before date" label will become mandatory

for all loose sweet packets and non packaged sweets.

In an important notification issued on Friday, the apex food regulator of

India said the decision had been taken in public interest.

"It has been decided that in case of non packaged and loose sweets, the

container and tray holding the sweets at the outlet for sale must display

the best before date mandatorily from October 1, 2020.

"In addition to this the food business operator dealing in loose sweets may

also display the date of manufacturing which shall be voluntary and non

binding," an order from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India

said.

 

 

POSITIVE PAY SYSTEM FOR CHEQUE PAYMENTS TO COME INTO EFFECT SOON

 

In order to check banking fraud, the RBI has decided to introduce from

January 1, 2021, the 'positive pay system' for cheque, under which

re-confirmation of key details may be needed for payments beyond Rs 50,000.

Availing of this facility would be at the discretion of the account holder.

However, banks may consider making it mandatory in case of cheques for

amounts of Rs 5 lakh and above.

Under the positive pay system, the issuer of the cheque will be required to

submit electronically, through SMS, mobile app, internet banking or ATM

certain minimum details of that cheque like date, name of the beneficiary,

payee, amount to the drawee bank.

 

 

MESSAGES ARE END-TO-END ENCRYPTED, SAYS WHATSAPP AMID ALLEGED LEAKS

 

Concerns have been expressed over the safety of WhatsApp chats on social

media. Some have questioned whether Facebook is making a genuine claim that

WhatsApp's privacy is guaranteed by end-to-end encryption, citing that probe

agencies (CBI, NCB etc) are now using WhatsApp chats as evidence.

WhatsApp released a late-night statement on Thursday to clarify its stand on

the matter.

In the statement, WhatsApp spokesperson said, "WhatsApp protects your

messages with end-to-end encryption so that only you and the person you're

communicating with can read what is sent, and nobody in between can access

it, not even WhatsApp."

 

 

I NEVER BLAMED ANUSHKA NOR MADE SEXIST COMMENT: SUNIL GAVASKAR EXPLAINS

AFTER BEING TROLLED

 

Virat Kohli had a bad day in office on Thursday when he led Royal

Challengers Bangalore against Kings XI Punjab. While Kohli was still at

crease, Sunil Gavaskar said India captain is keen to improve and he knows

that he can do so only by practicing more and more. He then added that

during the lockdown Kohli faced only Anushka's (Virat's wife) bowling and it

is showing that it did not help much. Gavaskar was speaking in Hindi when he

made the comment. "Inhone lockdown me to bas Anushka ki gendon ki practice

ki hai" he had said.

However, the comment did not go down well with a lot of people some even

demanded his sacking from Star Sports commentary panel, lashing out at him

on social media.

Anushka, who is currently in the UAE with Kohli, took to Instagram to write,

"That Mr Gavaskar, your comment is distasteful is a fact but I would for you

to explain why you thought of making such a sweeping statement on a wife

accusing her for her husband's game?...."I am sure you can have many other

words and sentences in your mind to use to comment on my husband's

performance from last night or are your words only relevant if you use my

name in the process?"

The remark according to Gavaskar was in reference to a video clip where

Kohli and Anushka were seen enjoying some tennis ball cricket in their

compound. "Firstly, I would like to say, where am I blaming her, I'm not

blaming her. I am only saying that the video showed she was bowling to

Virat. Virat has only played that much bowling in this lockdown period,"

Gavaskar told India Today channel. "It is tennis ball fun game that people

have to pass time during the lockdown, so that's all, so where am I blaming

her for Virat's failures."

 

 

DELHI CAPITALS BEAT CSK BY 44 RUNS, RECORD SECOND CONSECUTIVE WIN IN IPL

 

Delhi Capitals beat Chennai Super Kings by 44 runs to register their second

consecutive win in the Indian Premier League here on Friday.

Sent into bat, DC made 175 for three and then restricted CSK to 131 for

seven to keep their winning run intact.

Scores: Delhi Capitals 175/3 in 20 overs (Prithvi Shaw 64 off 43 balls,

Shikhar Dhawan 35 off 27 balls, Rishabh Pant 37 off 25 balls, Piyush Chawla

2/33).

Chennai Super Kings: 131 for seven in 20 overs (Faf du Plessis 43 off 35,

Kedar Jadhav 26 off 21; Kagiso Rabada 3/26, Anrich Nortje 2/21).

 

 

INDICATORS

 

Sensex 37,389 (+835), Nifty 11,050 (+245), Trading Value NSE ,(Rs.crores)

55,198.73

Nasdaq 10,914 (+241) Dow 27,173 (+359), S&P 3,298 (+52)

US$-Rs. 73.62 GBP-Rs. 93.78, Euro-Rs. 85.72, UAE Dhm-Rs.20.04, Can$-Rs.

55.03, Aus$- Rs. 51.83

GBP 0.78 /US$, Euro 0.85 /US$, Jap.Yen 105.49 /US$, Aus$ 1.41 /US$, Sing

1.37 /US$, Bang Taka 83.25 /US$, Can$ 1.33 /US$, Mal Ring 4.16 /US$,

Pak Re 165.25 /US$, Phil Peso 48.43 /US$, Russian Rouble 77.62 /US$, NZ$

1.52 /US$, Thai Baht 31.54 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 28.05 /US$, Norway NOK 9.54

/US$

Bitcoin - USD 10,732

Dollar Index 94.62 Brent Crude 41.92 BDI 1,605

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,861 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 4,936/ 4,836

Silver (Rs. Per KG) 59,300

 

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

If the power to do hard work is not a skill, it's the best possible

substitute for it. - James Garfield

 

 

OFF TRACK

 

Staring at an empty cage, a zoo visitor asks, "Where are all the monkeys?"

"It's mating season," the keeper replies. "They're inside."

"Do you think they'd come out for peanuts?"

"Probably not."

"Why not?"

"Would you?"

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