India Newsletter

FRONT PAGE NEWS
24 Oct 2020

PM KICKS OFF CAMPAIGN CITING GALWAN, ART 370 AND 'NAYA BIHAR'

 

Kicking off his election rallies in Bihar on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra

Modi contrasted the NDA's work on a "naya Bihar" with the "misrule" of the

1990s, while accusing the Opposition of being anti-reform, and of siding

with "dalaal" (brokers), Naxalites and "forces out to weaken the country".

At three brief halts in Sasaram, Gaya and Bhagalpur, the Prime Minister

spoke of the Galwan clash with China in June, in which soldiers of 16 Bihar

regiment had been killed, and accused the Opposition of supporting those

"conspiring" against India.

"Today, the situation has become such that these people (Opposition parties)

do not hesitate to support people who are conspiring to weaken India. The

country had been waiting for years to abrogate Article 370 from Jammu and

Kashmir. We took the decision, but today, these people are talking about

reversing this decision. They are saying that if they come to power, they

will bring back Article 370. And look at their audacity. After saying all

this, they still have the nerve to seek votes from the people of Bihar, the

Bihar that sends its sons and daughters to guard the country on the border.

Is it not an insult to the feelings of Bihar?" he asked the crowd at his

first rally in Sasaram.

In Gaya, Modi accused the Opposition parties of supporting Naxalites. "What

an irony it is that the place where Lord Buddha received enlightenment, the

land of peace, has been gifted to Naxalites," he said.

Modi said most of the current problems of the state were a legacy of the

misrule of the 1990s, and told people they were witnessing the making of a

"naya Bihar".

Modi also brought up the recent protests by the Opposition against the two

farm laws introduced by the Central government, and accused them of trying

to save brokers and middlemen. "When the country decided to free farmers

from middlemen and brokers, they (the Opposition) came out in support of

middlemen and brokers; mandi-MSP (market and Minimum Support Price) is just

an excuse," he said.

 

 

RAHUL, TEJASHWI IN A JOINT RALLY

 

Grand alliance leaders Rahul Gandhi and Tejashwi Yadav were unsparing in

their attack on PM Narendra Modi and CM Nitish Kumar over NDA's handling of

the pandemic, migrant crisis, LAC standoff and economy, as they addressed

their maiden joint rally in Bihar's Nawada yesterday.

Targeting the PM, Rahul said, "China has taken 1,200 sq km of our land. The

PM should tell us when he will throw out the Chinese." At another rally in

Bhagalpur, Rahul said PM's promise of 19 lakh jobs was a "jumla", as was the

"Rs 15 lakh cash in everyone's bank accounts".

Tejashwi Yadav said the PM is unable to grasp the real issues of Bihar since

there was a generational gap with the people. "I'm just a small theth Bihari

who is speaking up for Biharis, talking about youth, jobs, migrant

labourers. We are talking on these lines. They are senior to me. There is a

two-generation gap between me and Modi ji and Nitish ji. If they can't sense

the real issues of Biharis, who's at fault," he said at a press conference

in Patna.

The 31-year-old politician is the chief ministerial candidate for the

RJD-led Mahagathbandhan that includes Congress, CPI, CPI(M) and CPI-ML.

Bihar goes to polls in three phases - on 28 October, 3 November and 7

November, with counting scheduled for 10 November.

 

 

WON'T CONTEST POLLS TILL J&K SPECIAL STATUS BACK: MEHBOOBA

 

Declaring that she will have "nothing to do with elections" till J&K's

special status under the Constitution is restored, PDP president and former

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said Friday that she will raise the Tricolour

only when the J&K state flag is also restored.

Following the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, the J&K state

flag, which used to fly along with the Tricolour atop the civil secretariat

building in Srinagar, was removed.

"They are trying to replace this country's Constitution with the BJP

manifesto, and this will not last long," she said. "The people of J&K are

expendable to them (Centre), what they want is territory. This country will

run on the Constitution, not BJP's manifesto," she said.

Referring to the constitutional changes stripping J&K of its special status,

Mufti said "what has been snatched away from us, will be taken back. this is

a political battle that we will fight peacefully."

 

 

CONGRESS LEADERS TAKE SWIPE AT PM OVER TRUMP'S 'FILTHY AIR' REMARK

 

Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Friday took a swipe at Prime Minister

Narendra Modi for "flaunting" his friendship with US President Donald Trump

over his remark that 'India sent out filthy air". Sibal said the jibe was

the result of the Howdy Modi event held in Texas in 2019.

"Trump: Fruits of Friendship: Questions India's COVID death toll. Says India

sends dirt up into the air India 'air is filthy'. Called India 'tariff

king'. The result of 'Howdy Modi'," Sibal tweeted.

Another party leader, Anand Sharma, said, "President Donald Trump has

insulted 'Namaste India' and exposed his lack of knowledge on climate change

and the Paris Agreement." "A fact check would have told him that the US is

the largest polluter historically and its per capita green-house gas

emissions are six times India's 'filthy air'," the former External Affairs

minister said.

Trump has accused China, India and Russia of not taking care of their

"filthy air" as he justified America's withdrawal from the "unfair" Paris

climate agreement.

 

 

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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

 

 

PAKISTAN AVOIDS FATF BLACK LIST, STAYS IN GREY LIST FOR NOW

 

Pakistan didn't meet all the action points laid out by the Financial Action

Task Force (FATF), but avoided getting blacklisted yet again. However, the

Paris-based terror financing watchdog kept the country in its 'grey list' at

its plenary that concluded Friday.

The plenary, FATF's highest decision-making body, will next meet in February

2021 and has given Pakistan time until then to meet all the 27 parameters,

especially those that pertain to imposing sanctions on terrorist outfits.

"Pakistan has made progress. It has largely completed 21 items of the 27; it

definitely means that the world has become safer, but the six outstanding

items mean the risks have not gone. The Pakistan government must do its best

to repair and work on these outstanding six items," Marcus Pleyer, the FATF

president, said in a virtual press conference.

The six outstanding action points that Pakistan has to meet mostly pertain

to terror financing investigations, demonstrating terror financing

prosecutions, effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions

against United Nations-designated terrorists, and federal authorities

cooperating on enforcement cases.

Pakistan has been on the FATF grey list since the June 2018 plenary. India

has provided evidence to the FATF, demonstrating the country's role in

financing terror.

 

 

SL HOUSE STRENGTHENS PREZ POWERS

 

Sri Lankan lawmakers approved amendments to the constitution that

strengthened the powers of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and took away

parliament's role in making key appointments such as judges and the police

chief. The new amendments were passed by parliament late on Thursday with a

two-thirds majority after a raucous two-day debate.

Rajapaksa, a former defence chief who oversaw the military defeat of Tamil

separatists a decade ago, swept to power last November and has since

consolidated control. In August, his party and its allies overwhelmingly won

a parliamentary election on an election plank that included doing away with

a previous constitutional amendment in 2015 that had put more power in the

legislature's hands.

Under the new law, Sri Lanka's president will have the power to dissolve the

225-member legislature any time after it crosses the half-way mark of its

five-year term.

Opposition groups have criticised the amendments, and some wore red armbands

in protest in parliament during the debate.

 

 

THE REST

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NEW PARLIAMENT CONSTRUCTION TO BEGIN IN DECEMBER, END BY OCT 2022

 

The construction of the new Parliament building will commence from December

this year and is likely to be completed by October 2022, the Lok Sabha

Secretariat said on Friday. The timeline regarding the construction of the

building was disclosed during a review meeting chaired by Lok Sabha Speaker

Om Birla and was attended by Union Minister of State (Independent Charge)

for Housing & Urban Affair Hardeep Singh Puri and senior officials.

It was also informed that the existing Parliament building will be suitably

retro-fitted "to provide more functional spaces for parliamentary events, to

ensure its usage along with the new building".

"During the meeting, Shri Birla was informed that the construction of the

new Building will commence in December 2020 and is likely to be completed by

October 2022," the Lok Sabha Secretariat said in a statement.

 

 

KERALA: CPM FLAYS CONGRESS FOR TIE-UP WITH JAMAAT WING

 

The CPI(M), the leading constituent of ruling LDF in Kerala, on Friday

accused opposition Congress of "surrendering" its secular stance before the

Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), stating that it is now "led by

Jamaat-e-Islami's ideology".

This comes on a day the Congress-led UDF decided on local-level electoral

adjustments with organisations such as Welfare Party of India (WPI),

political arm of Jamaat-e-Islami, for the coming local body elections in the

state.

CPI(M) Politburo member and party's state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan

told the media that IUML had "strongly opposed" Jamaat-e-Islami in the past.

"Now, IUML has abandoned that stand and has no reservations to work with

Jamaat-e-Islami, which wants to establish Islamic country. It is parallel to

the stand of RSS, which aims at Hindu Rashtra. The decision of Congress to

work with WPI would have far-reaching consequences," he said.

The Jamaat, he said, has "supported reconversion of Istanbul's Hagia Sophia

museum into a mosque. "The Congress has surrendered its secular outlook

before IUML for a few votes."

 

 

PRIYANKA CHATURVEDI, AMRUTA FADNAVIS IN TWITTER SPAT

 

A decision of the Mumbai Police to shift the salary accounts of its

personnel from the Axis Bank to the HDFC Bank set off a Twitter spat between

Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi and former chief minister Devendra

Fadnavis's wife Amruta.

In a tweet, Chaturvedi had called the move as being "much-needed" and stated

the Axis Bank was chosen "arbitrarily" and salary accounts of state

government employees were moved to it overnight.

While Chaturvedi did not mention of Amruta, who was earlier associated with

the Axis Bank, on Friday she responded by calling Chaturvedi as

"opportunistic".

"Axis Bank is not my family bank - it's third largest listed private sector

bank and I'm an employee who has worked for the same bank for 18 years!"

Amruta tweeted. She also called Chaturvedi an "opportunistic turncoat" and

said "these accounts were acquired in 2005-basis technology & services".

In response, Chaturvedi asked why Amruta was offended by the tweet when her

name had not been mentioned.

The feud escalated further with Chaturvedi responding to a question by a

Twitter user on why a public sector bank was not chosen to shift the bank

accounts. Chaturvedi said the Government of Maharashtra was not involved in

the decision and unlike the former CM's wife no family member was a direct

beneficiary or employee of the chosen bank.

 

 

REPUBLIC TV EDITORS BOOKED FOR REPORT ON 'REBELLION' AGAINST MUMBAI POLICE

COMMISSIONER

 

The face-off between Mumbai Police and Republic TV has intensified as the

former booked senior editors and newsroom staff of the Arnab Goswami-led

news channel for airing news about a "revolt" within the force against

Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh.

The FIR, registered at the N.M. Joshi Marg station, invokes sections of the

Police (Incitement to Disaffection) Act, 1922, and claims the editors and

staff concerned "attempted to incite disaffection" among members of the

police force and defamed Mumbai Police with the report.

The FIR comes amid a months-long tussle between Mumbai Police and Republic

TV, including over the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput in June.

 

 

BHARAT BIOTECH SAYS ITS ICMR-BACKED VACCINE SET FOR JUNE 2021 LAUNCH

 

Bharat Biotech, which has received approval for late-stage human trials for

its Covid vaccine candidate, expects to have it ready by June 2021 - unless

the government advances its launch through emergency use authorisation,

according to a top company official.

"If we get all the approvals in place, I think during Q2 of 2021, we should

get the efficacy readout from our phase-3 clinical trial - April, May,

June, for example. That is for the full efficacy results," says Sai Prasad,

executive director, Bharat Biotech International.

Covaxin, developed in collaboration with National Institute of Virology, is

an inactivated vaccine that is expected to work by injecting the "killed

version" of the Covid-19 virus into the body to develop an immune response.

The approval for Bharat Biotech to conduct phase-3 trials currently puts it

behind front-runner Serum Institute of India, which is said to be in the

process of recruiting and vaccinating participants for the third phase of

testing for its candidate, Covishield.

 

 

FDA APPROVES REMDESIVIR AS FIRST DRUG TO TREAT COVID, NOTWITHSTANDING WHO

STUDY

 

The US FDA said on Thursday that it had formally approved remdesivir as the

first drug to treat Covid-19, a move that indicated the government's

confidence in its safe and effective use for hospitalised patients. The FDA

said the drug had been approved for adults and pediatric patients ages 12

years and older and weighing at least 88 pounds who require hospitalisation

for Covid-19.

The FDA had granted remdesivir emergency authorisation in May after a trial

by the National Institutes of Health found that it modestly reduced the

recovery time in hospitalised patients. President Trump received the

antiviral drug after he began showing symptoms earlier this month. The drug

does not prevent death.

The formal approval by the FDA indicated that the drug had cleared more

rigorous regulatory hurdles involving a more thorough review of clinical

data and manufacturing quality since it was given emergency authorisation in

May.

The WHO said on Friday it is preparing guidelines on use of remdesivir and

should be able to release them in three to four weeks. A large WHO study on

Covid patients in hospital found that the drug probably had no effect on

their survival rate. A WHO panel will convene next week to look at all

evidence of the drug's effectiveness, Janet Diaz, the WHO's top official for

clinical care responses, said. WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said

FDA does not appear to have taken the results of its study into account: "We

believe our results are very robust."

 

 

COVID 19 - INDIA'S ACTIVE CASE COUNT DROPS TO TWO THIRDS OF THE PEAK LEVEL

 

Continuing its streak of daily net reduction in active coronavirus cases,

India today reports a decline ofabout 14,000 cases, bringing the total

active count to about 6.80 lakhs, This number of active cases in the country

now is only two-thirds of the September 18 peak of 1,017,754.

Meanwhile, coronavirus testing in India has gone past the 100-million

milestone, with over 1.4 million tests a day conducted on Thursday and

Friday. The overall test positivity rate (TPR) - positive cases as a

proportion of total tests carried out - stands 7.8 per cent. The TPR for

Friday was 3.78 per cent, the lowest so far.

 

 

FACEBOOK GETS 2 WEEKS TO REPLY TO HOUSE PANEL, AMAZON TO SKIP HEARING

 

Facebook India's Public Policy Director Ankhi Das was among its

representatives who appeared Friday before Parliament's Joint Committee on

the Personal Data Protection Bill.

It is learnt that the panel, headed by Lok Sabha MP Meenakshi Lekhi, has

given Facebook India two weeks to furnish written replies to the questions

posed by its members.

Meanwhile, e-commerce giant Amazon has declined to appear before the

committee on October 28, and the panel has taken strong exception to this.

Officials have long argued that data localisation will help law-enforcement

access data for investigations and enforcement. Currently, much of

cross-border data transfer is governed by mutual legal assistance treaties,

a process that almost all stakeholders agree is cumbersome. Civil society

groups have criticised the open-ended exceptions given to the government in

the Bill, saying it will allow surveillance.

"Amazon has refused to appear before the panel on October 28 and if no one

on behalf of the e-commerce company appears before the panel, it amounts to

breach of privilege," said Lekhi.

The panel, she said, is unanimous in its opinion that coercive action can be

suggested to the government against the e-commerce company.

 

 

IPL: MUMBAI INDIANS DEMOLISH CHENNAI SUPER KINGS

 

Mumbai Indians beat Chennai Super Kings by 10 wickets, with almost 8 overs

to spare, in Sharjah yesterday.

Earlier, Trent Boult and Jasprit Burmah produced a devastating pace-bowling

spell in tandem to restrict Chennai Super Kings to 114 for 9. Put in to bat,

CSK were five wickets down inside powerplay overs with Boult and Bumrah

taking three and two wickets respectively and the MS Dhoni-led side could

never recover from there.

CSK could reach to 114 for 9 thanks largely to Sam Curran's enterprising

half-century. The young Englishman mixed caution with aggression and some

creativity to top-score with 52 in an otherwise pathetic display by CSK

batsmen.

Incidentally, Curran's 43-run partnership for the ninth wicket with Imran

Tahir (13 not out) was the highest partnership of the CSK innings which

showed the rest of the batsmen in poor light.

MI now have 7 wins from 10 matches and have the best 'Net Run rate'. CSK are

right at the bottom, with 3 wins from 11 matches.

 

 

INDICATORS

 

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Bitcoin - USD 12,979

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Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,901 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 5,115 / 5,015

Silver (Rs. Per KG) 62,600

 

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

Never mistake motion for action. - Ernest Hemingway

 

 

OFF TRACK

 

An anthropologist shows off his priceless trove of treasure to his saintly

grandmother. "What's that?" she asks, pointing to an oddly shaped item.

"Uh..." stammers the anthropologist, "it's a phallic symbol."

"Oh," says his grandmother, nodding her head. "That's good, 'cause I hate to

tell you what it looks like."

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