India Newsletter

26 Oct 2020



Asserting that India stands firmly with its brave soldiers, Prime Minister

Narendra Modi on Sunday urged people to light a 'diya' at their homes to

honour security forces guarding its borders while they celebrate festivals.

In his monthly 'Mann ki Baat' radio broadcast, Modi wished people on

Dussehra and said that with various festivals coming up, they need to show

patience and follow health guidelines in celebrating these auspicious

occasions during the COVID times.

The prime minister also asked people to keep the 'vocal for local' resolve

in their mind and give priority to local products while shopping for


The world is taking note of India's products, he said, citing the example of

the rising popularity of Khadi.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said India wants an end to the

border tension with China in eastern Ladakh, but at the same time asserted

that Indian soldiers will never allow even an inch of the country to be

taken away by anyone.

The defence minister made the remarks after performing "Shastra Puja" -- the

customary worship of weapons -- at the Sukna-based headquarters of the

Indian Army's 33 Corps in Darjeeling district of West Bengal on the occasion

of Dussehra.

"India wants an end to the ongoing border tension with China and the

restoration of peace. This is our objective. But at times, some nefarious

incidents keep happening. I am very confident that our soldiers will never

allow even an inch of our land to be taken away by anyone," Singh said after

performing the "puja".

"I can say with confidence and on the basis of concrete information that the

courage and deeds of Indian soldiers during whatever has happened at the

India-China border in Ladakh recently will be written in golden letters by

the historians," the minister said without elaborating.





"The world's largest democracy is at the crossroads. That the economy is in

deep crisis is clear. But what is less appreciated is that all the pillars

of a democratic system of governance are under assault. The fundamental

right to freedom of expression has been systematically suspended through

suppression and intimidation. Dissent is deliberately stifled as "terrorism"

or branded as an "anti-national activity". Many institutions that are meant

to uphold the rights of citizens and society at large have been co-opted or

subverted. The Indian State now diverts attention from real problems of the

people by pronouncing bogus threats to "national security" everywhere. Of

course, some of these threats are real and have to be dealt with

uncompromisingly but the Narendra Modi government and the ruling BJP conjure

up sinister conspiracies behind every political protest, indeed behind any

and everything they see as opposition to them. The system unleashes

investigative agencies on dissenters and deploys proxies through sections of

the media and online troll factories. India's hard-won democracy is being

hollowed out."

"Every organ of State that could possibly be used to target political

opposition has already been pressed into service - the Police, the

Enforcement Directorate, the CBI, the National Investigation Agency, and

even the Narcotics Bureau."

"The most cynical attempt to label anti-BJP protests as anti-India

conspiracies is seen in the Modi government's response to the extraordinary

protests against the CAA and the proposed National Register of Citizens. The

CAA-NRC protests, led primarily by women, showed how a genuine social

movement can respond to sectarian and discriminatory politics with a strong

message of peace, inclusiveness, and solidarity."





More than a year after the Central government removed the special status

given to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and split the state into two

Union Territories, the region is "past that stage of uneasy calm", according

to Lieutenant General B S Raju, Commander of the Army's Chinar Corps (XV

Corps), which is responsible for operations along the Line of Control and

against militancy.

"We have been able to stop infiltration substantially" due to "a combination

of a lot of efforts that is being put in by the ground force", including

"additional personnel, additional technology" along the LoC and "drones to

monitor movement", Raju said.

However, he pointed out, there is "no desire on the part of Pakistan to stop

infiltration" and cited intercepts of infiltrators saying that they are

"unable to go" but still being pushed to do so. On combating militancy, Raju

said: "We have been able to keep the violence level at a threshold where

normal people can continue to do their job. (We) have been able to keep the

terrorist numbers also under a fair amount of control."

Raju said the Army will focus more on surrenders, "because for us, getting a

man back is more important than neutralising him". He said "people who have

already joined, we are saying you can come back" - and just because they

"held a gun and took a photo" does not mean they have to die.









Pakistan's former PM Nawaz Sharif lashed out again at the country's army

chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed on Sunday,

accusing them of "interfering in politics for several years with impunity in

violation of their oath".

Sharif was addressing, via video link from London, the third massive rally

of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance comprising 11 opposition

parties with the purpose of ousting PM Imran Khan from office, in Quetta,

the capital of Balochistan province.

Sharif said PDM has risen against "unconstitutional power (military

establishment) that have made Pakistan hollow from inside". "Our struggle is

not against the 'incompetent and selected' person (Imran Khan) but against

the ones who brought him into power. They (military establishment) made him

a PM to provide cover to their unconstitutional political activities. You

(Imran Khan) are irrelevant for us, you are immature in politics, our

competition is not with you," Sharif said.

He said he names individuals "because I don't want the army to be defamed

for the acts of some generals". He called upon the army and the ISI chiefs

to "account" for the country's current situation.

"Gen Bajwa, you will have to answer for record rigging in the 2018

elections, for horsetrading in the parliament, for making Imran Khan PM

against people's wishes and by tearing apart the constitution and laws, for

pushing people towards poverty and hunger," the former Pakistan PM said.

Sharif concluded his speech by giving three messages. "First, for the

soldiers and officers of our army: you have taken an oath to protect the

country, but also to safeguard the constitution of the country," he said,

urging them to honour their oath. The second message was for civil servants.

"It is becoming difficult to get away with wrong doings. You should not come

under pressure," he warned. His third message was for the people. "Protest

and freedom of speech is your right. No one can take it away from you. It's

your right to vote and elect your government," he said.





The head of the World Health Organization on Sunday called for global

solidarity in the rollout of any future coronavirus vaccine, as the number

of cases soared across the world.

In a video address at the opening of the three-day World Health Summit in

Berlin, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the only way to recover from the

pandemic was together and by making sure poorer countries had fair access to

a vaccine.

"It is natural that countries want to protect their own citizens first but

if and when we have an effective vaccine, we must also use it effectively.

And the best way to do that is to vaccinate some people in all countries

rather than all people in some countries," he said.

"Let me be clear: vaccine nationalism will prolong the pandemic, not shorten


The WHO on Sunday reported a third straight day of record new infections

across the world, calling on countries to take further action to curb the

spread of the disease.

The agency's figures showed that 465,319 cases were declared for Saturday

alone, half of them in Europe. "This is a dangerous moment for many

countries in the northern hemisphere as cases spike," Tedros said.









(Indian data from covid19india / and World Data from )


Total Cases 79,07,710 (+45,147) / 4,33,28,034 (+4,03,668)


Total Deaths 1,19,030 (+463) / 11,59,009 (+4,267)


Total Recovered 71,33,994 (+58,271) / 3,19,00,636 (+2,34,387)


Active Cases 6,54,686 (-13,587) / 1,02,68,389 (+1,65,014)




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



1 USA 88,89,179 / 2,30,510 /

57,72,498 / 28,86,171

2 India 79,09,050 / 1,19,030 /

71,33,994 / 6,56,026

3 Brazil 53,94,128 / 1,57,163 /

48,35,915 / 4,01,050

4 Russia 15,13,877 / 26,050 /

11,38,522 / 3,49,305

5 France 11,38,507 / 34,761 /

1,10,322 / 9,93,424

6 Spain 11,10,372 / 34,752 / N/A

/ N/A

7 Argentina 10,90,589 / 28,896 /

8,94,819 / 1,66,874

8 Colombia 10,15,885 / 30,154 /

9,15,451 / 70,280

9 Mexico 8,91,160 / 88,924 /

6,50,355 / 1,51,881

10 Peru 8,88,715 / 34,149 /

8,07,636 / 46,930

11 UK 8,73,800 / 44,896 / N/A

/ N/A

12 South Africa 7,15,868 / 18,968 /

6,46,170 / 50,730

13 Iran 5,68,896 / 32,616 /

4,55,054 / 81,226

14 Italy 5,25,782 / 37,338 /

2,66,203 / 2,22,241

15 Chile 5,02,063 / 13,944 /

4,78,252 / 9,867

16 Iraq 4,51,707 / 10,623 /

3,81,349 / 59,735

17 Germany 4,37,637 / 10,138 /

3,17,000 / 1,10,499

18 Bangladesh 3,98,815 / 5,803 /

3,15,107 / 77,905

19 Indonesia 3,89,712 / 13,299 /

3,13,764 / 62,649

20 Philippines 3,70,028 / 6,977 /

3,28,036 / 35,015




State / Confirmed Cases / Active Case / Recovered / Deceased


Maharashtra 16,45,020 / 1,40,486 /

14,60,755 / 43,264

Andhra Pradesh 8,07,023 / 30,860 /

7,69,576 / 6,587

Karnataka 8,02,817 / 81,050 /

7,10,843 / 10,905

Tamil Nadu 7,09,005 / 30,606 / 6,67,475

/ 10,924

Uttar Pradesh 4,70,270 / 27,317 / 4,36,071

/ 6,882

Kerala 3,92,931 / 96,585 / 2,94,910

/ 1,333

Delhi 3,56,656 / 26,744 / 3,23,654

/ 6,258

West Bengal 3,49,701 / 37,017 / 3,06,197

/ 6,487

Odisha 2,81,215 / 15,815 / 2,64,102

/ 1,298

Telangana 2,31,252 / 19,465 / 2,10,480

/ 1,307

Bihar 2,12,192 / 10,222 / 2,00,920

/ 1,049

Assam 2,04,171 / 17,510 / 1,85,752

/ 906

Rajasthan 1,86,243 / 16,668 /

1,67,736 / 1,839

Chhattisgarh 1,75,959 / 23,743 / 1,50,398

/ 1,818

Madhya Pradesh 1,67,249 / 11,237 /

1,53,127 / 2,885

Gujarat 1,67,173 / 13,836 / 1,49,648

/ 3,689

Haryana 1,58,304 / 10,295 /

1,46,282 / 1,727

Punjab 1,30,640 / 4,277 / 1,22,256

/ 4,107

Jharkhand 99,686 / 5,844 / 92,976 /


Jammu and Kashmir 91,861 / 7,565 / 82,858 /






Speaking at the Shiv Sena's annual Dussehra rally, Maharashtra Chief

Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday slammed the BJP over its promise of free

Covid-19 vaccination for the people of Bihar. He asked the BJP-led central

government if people from other states were 'from Bangladesh or Kazakhstan'.

The annual rally was held at the Savarkar hall in Dadar this year due to

coronavirus norms, instead of the usual venue, the sprawling Shivaji Park.

The Shiv Sena chief said he didn't need take lessons on Hindutva from

anyone. "They say my Hindutva is not like Balasaheb Thackeray's Hindutva.

They are asking why I am not opening temples in the state. I say my Hindutva

is not about clanging utensils and bells." Taking a dig at former ally BJP,

he also asked if beef was banned in Maharashtra, why was it not banned in

BJP-ruled Goa.

Thackeray also said the time has come to reconsider the present GST system

and if necessary, to modify it, as states are not benefiting from this

system. "PM should acknowledge it and revert to the old tax regime. We

(Maharashtra) are yet to get our Rs 38,000 crore as GST refund," he said.

In a veiled attack on actress Kangana Ranaut, Thackeray said some people

come to Mumbai for bread and butter and then abuse the city by calling it

Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Breaking his silence on allegations against his son Aaditya in the Sushant

Singh Rajput death case, Uddhav Thackeray said those "crying for justice for

Bihar's son are indulging in character assassination of Maharashtra's son."





Chief minister Nitish Kumar lashed out at dynastic politics on Sunday in an

apparent reference to the RJD, training his guns on the main rival of his

coalition government on the penultimate day of the campaign for the first

phase of assembly elections in Bihar on October 28. "For others, wife, son,

daughter...are the families, but to me, the whole Bihar is my family,"

Nitish Kumar said at a public rally in Phulparas constituency. "Serving

people is my duty," he said.

He reminded the audience of the situation that prevailed in Bihar before

2005, when the RJD was in power. "Bihar was in a pathetic situation. A lot

of crime happened here. The development rate was almost zero." He asked

young people who were raising slogans against him to ask their parents about

the situation in Bihar before 2005. "One could not dare to go out after

sunset. We improved law and order," he said.

Addressing a public meeting in Islampur, in the home district of Nitish

Kumar, RJD leader Tejashvi Yadav said: "Nitish Kumar has become energy-less,

conservative and narrow-minded."

LJP president Chirag Paswan,who addressed meetings in Sitamarhi, said that

if voted to power his party will construct a temple for the goddess Sita in

the district that will be bigger than the Ram temple being built in Ayodhya,

Uttar Pradesh. "Lord Ram is incomplete without goddess Sita, and vice versa.

So, a corridor connecting Ayodhya's Ram Temple and Sitamarhi should be

constructed," Paswan said.

Opposition Congress and Rahul Gandhi, who is also under attack from the BJP

for "criticising the abrogation of Article 370", is also being accused by

the BJP of forming a "radical syndicate" along with the Jamaat-e-Islami and

the Popular Front of India (PFI) and supporting extremism in the country.

BJP asked the Congress allies, RJD's Tejashwi Yadav in poll-bound Bihar and

Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, if they, too, are part of the "anti-national"






RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat said on Monday that India will have grow

bigger than China in terms of economic and strategic power and scope to

neutralise its "demonic" expansionist designs and aspirations.

In his traditional Vijayadashami address at Nagpur, which this year was

limited to an indoor event attended by 50 swayamsevaks due to COVID-19, he

said: "India should quickly resolve all disputes with neighbours like

Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Many countries are now standing up

to China," he added, citing Taiwan and Vietnam as examples of the Chinese

expansion plans.






India on Sunday reported its lowest single-day spikes in total coronavirus

infection tally and death toll in three months. While the daily jump of

50,129 in total count was the lowest since July 29, the 578 Covid-19

fatalities reported on Sunday were the fewest in a day since July 19.

The country on Sunday reported anotehr net decline in active cases, of

12,526, bringing its number of active cases down to 6.68 lakhs- the lowest

since August 15 and nearly 35 per cent lower than the September 18 peak of


India on Saturday conducted 1.14 million coronavirus tests, taking the total

count of tests conducted so far in the country to over 102 million. The test

positivity rate recorded on Thursday was 4.39%.



AMAZON WINS INTERIM RELIEF; FUTURE-RELIANCE DEAL PUT ON HOLD Inc on Sunday won an interim award against its partner Future

Group selling retail business to Reliance Industries Ltd for Rs 24,713 crore

after a Singapore-based single judge arbitration panel put the deal on hold.

Amazon, which had agreed to purchase 49 per cent of one of Future's unlisted

firms last year with the right to buy into flagship Future Retail Ltd after

a period of three years to 10 years, had dragged Future to arbitration after

the indebted Kishore Biyani group firm signed pact to sell retail,

wholesale, logistics and warehousing units to billionaire Mukesh Ambani's


Passing an interim award in favour of Amazon, V K Rajah asked the Future

group to put the deal on hold and said that the deal cannot go through until

it finally decides the matter.

Amazon believes Future Group violated the contract by entering into the deal

with rival Reliance. The deal would have helped Reliance almost double its

footprint as India's largest retailer.

With the dispute, Amazon is drawing the battle lines with Reliance in the

race for India's estimated USD 1 trillion retail market, where online

shopping is gaining ground. It needs the Indian partner to strengthen its

foothold after becoming the authorized online sales channel for Future

Retail's stores that sell everything from groceries to cosmetics and






Driven by its ambitious Starlink project, Elon Musk-run SpaceX has received

a &100 billion valuation by US-based investment bank Morgan Stanley - from

$52 billion just three months ago.

While SpaceX's launch business is valued at $12 billion, its point-to-point

space travel is valued at $9 billion, describing Musk's space business as

"mission control" for the "emerging space economy." A Morgan Stanley

research note said that "the pieces are coming together for SpaceX to create

an economic and technology flywheel".

Last week, SpaceX launched 60 more Starlink satellites aboard Falcon 9

rocket to be deployed in low-Earth orbit, bringing the constellation to 788

as the company gears up for a public beta of the affordable satellite

broadband service.

"Once these satellites reach their target position, we will be able to roll

out a fairly wide public beta in the northern US and hopefully southern

Canada," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet earlier this month. "Other

countries to follow as soon as we receive regulatory approval," he added.

It is expected that there will be gigabit speeds on offer, meaning up to

1Gbps Internet speeds, with a fairly low latency of up to 25ms.

Starlink plans to offer these Internet services for around $80 per month.





Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton became the most successful Formula

One driver of all time in terms of race wins with his 92nd career victory at

the Portuguese Grand Prix today.

The Mercedes driver, who took the chequered flag a huge 25.592 seconds ahead

of second-placed teammate Valtteri Bottas, had equalled Ferrari great

Michael Schumacher's record 91 wins at the previous race, the German Grand


Victory, along with a bonus point for the fastest lap, stretched the

Briton's championship lead over Bottas to 77 points with five races


"You are re-writing the history books," Mercedes told Hamilton over the team

radio, with team boss Toto Wolff adding: "Lewis, 92. 92."





Chennai Super Kings yesterday restricted Royal Challengers Bangalore to a

modest total of 145 for 6 and then returned to overhaul the target with ease

in 18.4 overs.

For CSK, the pace duo of Sam Curran (3/19) and Deepar Chahar (2/31) were

among wickets. Young opener Ruturaj Gaikwad came good with an unbeaten

51-ball 65.

In the second match yesterday, Ben Stokes' spectacular hundred overshadowed

Hardik Pandya's six-hitting spree as Rajasthan Royals spiced up the IPL

play-offs race with an emphatic eight-wicket win over Mumbai Indians here on


Stokes, who plundered 14 fours and three sixes in his unbeaten 60-ball 107,

found an able ally in Sanju Samson (54 not out off 31) as their unbroken

152-run partnership allowed Royals to make short work of the 196-run target.

They cantered to victory in 18.2 overs.

Mumbai had put up an imposing 195 for five courtesy a 21-ball 60 Hardik

Pandya, who smashed seven sixes and two fours. It was the fourth loss for

Mumbai , who remain in comfortable position at the top of the standings.

The comprehensive win over defending champions not only kept Royals alive in

the tournament, it also eliminated Chennai Super Kings from the competition.





Logicians may reason about abstractions. But the great mass of men must have

images. The strong tendency of the multitude in all ages and nations to

idolatry can be explained on no other principle. - Lord Macaulay





The teacher of the earth science class was lecturing on map reading.

After explaining about latitude, longitude, degrees and minutes the teacher

asked, "Suppose I asked you to meet me for lunch at 23 degrees, 4 minutes

north latitude and 45 degrees, 15 minutes east longitude...?"

After a confused silence, a voice volunteered, "I guess you'd be eating


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