India Newsletter

27 Oct 2020



External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed China at length Monday as they met a day before the bilateral 2+2 dialogue in New Delhi.

This was the second in-person meeting in a month between Pompeo and Jaishankar, who also held bilateral talks on the sidelines of the Quadrilateral ministerial dialogue in Tokyo earlier this month.

The meeting went on for about two hours and was followed by a dinner reception hosted by Jaishankar.

According to official sources, both sides exchanged views on the “current global situation and its contemporary challenges, discussed our shared concerns and interests including stability and security in Asia, and how best that can be ensured”. Discussions also centred on the Indo-Pacific and Quad, maritime security, counter-terrorism, open connectivity and resilient supply chains, which are all aimed at containing China’s aggression, the sources added.

India also raised the issue of H-1B visas, which the US has suspended until the end of 2020, and “stressed the uniqueness of our technology and talent flow connects”, sources said.

In a media statement issued Monday night, the US State Department said the two sides had discussed a host of issues.





The stage is set for the signing of the crucial Indo-US Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) — which pertains to geo-spatial intelligence, sharing information on maps and satellite images for defence purposes — as US Defence Secretary Mark T Esper and Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo arrived in Delhi Monday.

They started talks with their counterparts, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, in what is being seen as a strong reinforcement of the bilateral relationship and an unambiguous signal of renewal and continuity a week before the US Presidential elections.

“Today’s discussions will add new vigour to India-US defence relations and mutual cooperation,” Singh tweeted after his meeting with Esper which lasted for about an hour in South Block. The Defence Ministry said that the two ministers “expressed satisfaction that (an) agreement of BECA will be signed during the visit”. Once signed, BECA will be one of the three foundational agreements, signed in the last four years, enabling closer military ties.

Singh was accompanied by Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Army Chief Gen M M Naravane, Air Chief Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria, Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh, Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and other senior officials.

Esper welcomed Australia’s participation in the exercise MALABAR 2020. India had recently announced Australia’s participation in the military training exercise.

After the 2+2 meeting, Esper and Pompeo will jointly call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and have a meeting with NSA Ajit Doval.





Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said India’s energy consumption would double over long term, providing ample opportunities for investments.

“Leading global bodies project that world demand will contract for the next few years. But these agencies project India as a leading consumer,” he pointed out while speaking in virtual format at the Fifth India Energy Forum. Other top participants were Dan Brouillette and Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, Energy Ministers of the US and Saudi Arabia, respectively, both of whom hope to benefit from India’s increased energy consumption.

The subject will also be on the table during the Indo-US two-plus-two talks on Tuesday, the US State Department has said.

PM Modi’s invitation to invest comes at a time when India may see total investments of over $200 billion in the sector.

The energy map of India will be driven by seven key points of change, said Modi.

The seven key drivers as per the Prime Minister are: “Accelerating our efforts to move towards a gas-based economy, Cleaner use of fossil fuels particularly petroleum and coal, Greater reliance on domestic sources to drive bio-fuels, Achieving the renewables target of 450 GW by 2030, Increasing the contribution of electricity to de-carbonize mobility, Moving into the emerging fuels, including hydrogen, and Digital innovation across all the energy systems.”

The PM said that even though India’s carbon footprint is significantly less than the rest of the industrialised world, it will still keep on making efforts to fight climate change.





With the Centre assuring a law on “air quality management” for the National Capital Region, the Supreme Court on Monday kept in abeyance its October 16 order appointing former judge Justice Madan B Lokur to act as a one-man monitoring committee to check stubble burning in the region.

Appearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, “We found that several ad hoc steps were taken in the past which may and may not give results. Central Government has taken a holistic view of the matter and is considering bringing a legislation on ‘Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas’ which will put a permanent body in place with participants from all affected areas.”

Terming it a “welcome step”, the CJI said “this is something that the government should have acted on… The only issue is people are choking because of pollution and it is something which must be curbed”. Agreeing, Mehta said the issue must be dealt with on a war footing.

The bench, which also had Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramaian, was hearing a petition by two students — Aditya Dubey and Aman Banka — seeking directions to Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to completely stop stubble burning.









US President Donald Trump hailed Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court as “a momentous day for America and for the United States Constitution.”

Barrett, 48, was Trump’s choice to fill the vacancy created by the death of the late liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She will be the 115th justice of the US SC and her appointment will solidify the court’s rightward tilt. “This is a momentous day for America,” Trump said at the event. Barrett’s addition after a 52-48 in the Senate is seen as solidification of a 6-3 conservative shift on the nation’s highest court.

Barrett will be able to participate in the court after taking a second oath (the judicial oath) administered by Chief Justice John Roberts in a private ceremony on Tuesday. On Monday, she took the Constitutional Oath in front of a crowd of about 200 on the South Lawn at the White House.





Japan said on Monday it would not sign a UN treaty that bans nuclear weapons and did not welcome its entry into force next year, rejecting the wishes of atomic bomb survivors in Japan who were urging the government to join and work for a nuclear-free world.

The United Nations confirmed on Saturday that 50 countries have ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, paving the way for its entry into force in 90 days.

The announcement was hailed by anti-nuclear activists, but the treaty has been strongly opposed by the United States and other major nuclear powers.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Japan shared the goal of achieving a nuclear-free world, but did not think the treaty was the way to go.

Interestingly,. None of the nuclear powers, including India, has signed the treaty.









The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Madhya Pradesh High Court order, asking political parties to conduct their campaign for the November 3 Assembly bypoll virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The order came on petitions filed by the EC and BJP candidate from Gwalior Pradyumn Singh Tomar, challenging the High Court’s order.

Twenty-five seats had fallen vacant after the defection of 22 Cong MLAs — 19 of whom backed Scindia — and three others later. Three other seats fell vacant after the death of sitting legislators.

As senior advocate, Rakesh Dwivedi, submitted that the High Court’s order interfered with the electoral process and paralysed the entire exercise, the Bench said the poll panel should have been proactive.

Accusing former chief ministers Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh of being the “biggest traitors” in Madhya Pradesh, BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia on Monday said they betrayed voters’ trust by running a “corrupt” government and he had to leave the Congress after people’s issues raised by him were not addressed despite approaching “every port of call”.





Three senior leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) resigned on Monday to protest against party president Mehbooba Mufti’s stand on the Tricolour.

In a letter addressed to Mehbooba Mufti, Jammu-based PDP leaders TS Bajwa, Ved Mahajan and Hussain Waffa said they were feeling “uncomfortable” over some of her actions and utterances which hurt their patriotic feelings.

These leaders were with the PDP since the days of Mehbooba’s father, late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed.

Speaking at her first press conference on Friday after release from 14-month detention, Mehbooba Mufti had said her party would not hoist the Indian Tricolour unless allowed to raise the flag of Jammu and Kashmir also.

Before the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5 last year, Jammu and Kashmir had a separate flag and a separate Constitution applicable concomitantly with the country’s Constitution and the national flag.





Retaining power, the BJP on Monday won the election to the 26-member Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC)-Leh by bagging 15 seats, while the Congress got nine seats.

Independents won two seats in the election, the first since Ladakh was made a Union Territory in August last year.

BJP had won 17 seats in the 2015 election. The Congress had won four, the National Conference had two seats and the Independents had three.

A turnout of 65.07 per cent had been recorded in Thursday’s election. The Aam Aadmi Party, which had contested for the first time, failed to open its account. The National Conference and the PDP had stayed away.

the fray and over 65 per cent electorate had exercised their franchise.





Expressing concern over the misuse of UP’s Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act “against innocent persons”, and questioning the credibility of evidence submitted by police in such cases, the Allahabad High Court said that measures have to be taken to protect abandoned cattle for the law to be implemented in “letter and spirit”.

Granting bail to an accused held under the Act in a judgment delivered on October 19 and made available now, Justice Siddharth stated that the “Act is being misused against innocent persons”.

The order was filed on a plea by Rahmuddin, who was arrested under the Act by police in Shamli and jailed on August 5. Rahmuddin’s lawyer had claimed in court that he was not arrested from the spot.

According to UP government data, more than half (76) of the 139 arrests recorded in the state under the stringent National Security Act this year, till August 19, were on charges of cow slaughter.





In a significant relief for importers, customs clearance saw a dramatic improvement over the weekend with about three-fourths of sea consignments getting the nod in less than 48 hours on Sunday.

This comes after the government swung into action to address complaints from industry over undue delays in clearances since the introduction of faceless assessment by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC).

About 74 per cent of the sea consignments were cleared in less than 48 hours on Sunday compared with just 27 per cent in the same duration as of Friday, the government data showed.

Air cargo also reported improvement with 81 per cent of it getting cleared in less than 48 hours, compared with 71 per cent as of Friday.

According to World Bank standards, sea consignments must get cleared within 48 hours and air consignments within 24 hours. India, on average, takes 105 hours for cargo clearance.





The first leg of the festive period, which ended with Vijayadashami on Sunday, left a trail of contrarian tales: even as cars zoomed past their sales goalposts, two-wheelers trudged along the rocky road. Car deliveries during the nine-day period saw sharp year-on-year (YoY) double-digit increase for most automobile companies, said executives at carmakers and dealerships. In sharp contrast, the mood at two-wheeler firms and dealerships was sombre.

The cumulative retail sales of two-wheelers are estimated to have plunged 10 per cent YoY, said dealers. They attributed the lacklustre sales to shuttered schools, colleges, and other commercial establishments accounting for a big share in urban markets.

Sanjay Thakker, chairman and founder of Landmark Group — one of the largest chains of car dealerships in the country — said if his dealerships had more cars, they would have delivered more. “The demand was more than what we could deliver for most brands we represent,” said Thakker. Landmark retails cars from Honda Cars India, Volkswagen India, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V., Mercedes-Benz India, Nissan India, and Renault India.

It is not surprising that two-wheelers sales are sputtering. Two-wheeler makers were able to ramp up and deliver in record time. That has started for passenger vehicles makers only now. They, too, will run out of steam soon, warned an industry expert.





Male government employees raising a child alone are now entitled to child care leave, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said Monday. ‘Single male parent’ includes unmarried employees, widowers and divorcees, who may be expected to take up the responsibility of caring for a child single-handedly, said Singh, who is the Minister of State (Personnel).

Describing it as a path-breaking and progressive reform to bring ease of living for government employees, Singh said orders regarding the decision were issued some time ago but somehow did not get enough traction in the public domain.

Child care leave can be granted at 100 per cent of leave salary for the first 365 days and 80 per cent of leave salary for the next 365 days, Singh said, according to the statement.

Another welfare measure introduced in this regard is that in case of a disabled child, the condition that child care leave can be availed by the parents only till the child is 22 years of age has been removed.





India's limited-over vice-captain and senior opener Rohit Sharma was on Monday left out of all three squads for the tour of Australia due to a recurring hamstring injury which is set to keep him out of the remainder of the Indian Premier League as well.

In Rohit's absence, the in-form KL Rahul will be Virat Kohli's deputy in the white ball teams. He has also made it to the Test squad after a considerable period of time.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant failed to make the cut for the limited overs even though he retained his place in the Test squad.

"The BCCI medical team will continue to monitor the progress of Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma," BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a press release announcing the squads.

The tour of Australia comprises three T20 Internationals, three ODIs and four Test matches. It is set to get underway from November 27.


T20I: Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul (vice-captain and wicketkeeper), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Sanju Samson (wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Varun Chakravarthy

ODI: Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul (vice-captain and wicketkeeper), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur

Test: Virat Kohli (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Mohammad Siraj. PTI





Kings XI, battered at one stage with five consecutive defeats, registered their fifth win on the trot as they thrashed Kolkata Knight Riders by eight wickets in Sharjah on Monday. And it was Mandeep Singh, who lost his father three days ago, who played a key role with an innings of 66 not out off 56 balls. Chasing a 150-run target, Kings XI won with seven balls to spare.

Courtesy the win, their sixth overall in their 12 matches so far, Kings XI displaced Knight Riders from the fourth spot in the IPL standings.

KKR also have 6 wins from 12 matches so far, byt have a poorer run rate.

Besides Mandeep, Chris Gayle played yet another sparkling knock, making 51 off 29 balls, and also walked away with the Man of the Match award for his effort.





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Success is where preparation and opportunity meet. - Bobby Unser





The manager of a large office noticed a new man one day and told him to come into his office. “What’s your name?” he asked the new guy. “John,” the new guy replied.

The manager scowled, “Look… I don’t know what kind of a namby-pamby place you worked before, but I don’t call anyone by their first name. I refer to my employees by their last names only. Now that we’ve got that straight, what is your last name?”

The new guy sighed, “Darling. My name is John Darling.”

“Ok John, the next thing I want to tell you is…..”

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