FRONT PAGE NEWS
28 Oct 2020
WASHINGTON SIGNS KEY DEFENCE PACT WITH DELHI, CALLS OUT BEIJING
As India and the United States announced Tuesday signing of the crucial
military pact, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), visiting US
Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo recalled the Galwan valley incident in
June and said that the US would "stand with the people of India to confront
threats to their sovereignty and to their liberty".
From the Hyderabad House lawns and with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar by their side, the visiting US
ministers, Pompei and Defence Secretary Mark T Esper, launched a sharply
worded attack on China. The four of them were addressing the media after
meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
While Pompeo said that Indian and US leaders and citizens see with
"increasing clarity" that the Communist Party of China is "no friend to
democracy and rule of law", Esper set his sights at Beijing as he flagged
the "increasing aggression and destabilising activities by China".
Singh and Jaishankar, however, did not name China, but talked about
"respecting" and "upholding" the "territorial integrity and sovereignty" of
all states - a not-so veiled reference to Beijing's belligerence along the
BECA will help New Delhi get real-time access to US geospatial intelligence
that will enhance accuracy of automated systems and weapons like missiles
and armed drones. It will also help access topographical and aeronautical
data and advanced products which will aid navigation and targeting. This
could be key to Air Force-to-Air Force cooperation between India and the US.
Besides BECA, four more pacts were signed on earth sciences, nuclear energy,
Customs data, Ayurveda and cancer research.
CENTRE THROWS OPEN J&K FOR LAND SALE, GUPKAR PARTIES TERM IT BETRAYAL
In a decision that mainstream political parties in Kashmir said stokes fears
of demographic change, the Centre on Monday amended and notified land laws
for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and explicitly omitted the
protection earlier available to its 'permanent residents'.
The amended laws open up urban or non-agricultural land for purchase by
outsiders, permit contract farming on agricultural lands, provide for
setting up of an industrial development corporation, and also insulate zones
identified for development from application of various laws that earlier
ensured ownership remained with 'permanent residents'.
The laws, as amended, do not place any restrictions on purchase of farm land
by non-J&K agriculturists, and also do not impose limits on the quantum of
area for building a residence or a shop, as it exists in certain hilly
states including Himachal Pradesh.
These new amendments are, however, not applicable to the Union Territory of
National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah said, "J&K has been put up
for sale and left bereft of any basic protections. The amendments add to the
fear of demographic changes. They want to alter the character of this
The People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (an alliance of political
parties including National Conference, PDP, CPI, CPM and People's
Conference) described the Centre's action as a "huge betrayal". "It is a
massive assault on the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and is
grossly unconstitutional," said the alliance's spokesperson Sajad Lone, who
is also the President of People's Conference.
BIHAR BEGINS VOTING TODAY
As Bihar begins voting today, the figure of Nitish Kumar looms, bruised and
diminished - and alone.
In 2010, Nitish was alone, too, but as the conquering bijli-sadak-paani
hero, the centre of the NDA campaign, with the BJP taking a quiescent second
place. "Kaam kiye hain", was the approving refrain, as voters counted out
the list of public goods and subsidies his government delivered, most
spectacularly cycles for schoolgirls.
In 2015, he shared the stage with rival-turned-friend Lalu Prasad Yadav with
the BJP his aggressive challenger.
This time Nitish looks alone and embattled in the Election 2020 frame, as
voters ask: "Road aur bijli se pet bhar jaayega (is road and electricity
That the three-term Chief Minister looks alone with the people's anger
points to a formless opponent, and an ally receding from the stage.
In this election amid a full-blown pandemic of distress, disillusion, and
coronavirus, in that order, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav draws crowds, and his
promise of 10 lakh jobs is commanding attention. Being his father's son
brings him a large part of the traditional RJD Muslim-Yadav base, but also
stokes spectres of "jungle raj" for the upper castes, and of "Yadav raj" for
sections of the non-Yadav backward castes. In an intensely politically
self-conscious state, how many will be driven to cast a purely negative vote
- that is the question.
8 DAYS TO POLLS, BARRETT SWORN IN AS SC JUDGE
Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative appeals court judge, was confirmed
on Monday to the Supreme Court, capping a lightningfast Senate approval that
handed President Donald Trump a victory before the election and promised to
tip the court to the right for years to come.
Barrett, 48, was formally sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts for the
lifetime job in a private ceremony at the court on Tuesday. Barrett joins
the court with two poll issues already awaiting her from hotly contested
battleground states North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Both concern the date
by which absentee ballots may be accepted. The court would be expected to
act on both before Election Day with Barrett as part of its expanded 6-3
At the White House ceremony on Monday night in which conservative Supreme
Court Justice Clarence Thomas administered to her one of the two oaths of
office that justices must take, Barrett pledged her independence from
politics. "This separation of duty from political preference is what makes
the judiciary distinct," she said.
A blatant Trump has however said he wanted Barrett to be confirmed before
Election Day so she could cast a decisive vote in any poll-related dispute,
potentially in his favour.
Meanwhile, Trump's exhortation to voters who have already cast their ballots
in early voting to revise their choice - an option some states offer - in
his favour is adding to growing apprehensions of a messy, and possibly
inconclusive and violent finale to the November 3 election.
Over 66 million Americans - about 50% of the 2016 turnout - have already
voted; 44 million through mail-in ballots and 22 million in person. With
surveys indicating a big lead for Democrats in early voting, Trump opened a
can of worms on Tuesday by tweeting: "Strongly Trending (Google) since
immediately after the second debate is CAN I CHANGE MY VOTE? This refers
changing it to me. The answer in most states is YES. Go do it. Most
important Election of your life!"
There are questionable assumptions and assertions in the tweet about a brief
trend from a week ago, including a shift in preference for him. But more
pertinently, only some states - including battlegrounds Wisconsin and
Michigan that Trump won narrowly in 2016 - allow a vote change, while some
others like Florida, Arizona, do not.
FRANCE, EMMANUEL MACRON AND ISLAM
On October 16, when an 18-year-old Chechen refugee in France beheaded
schoolteacher Samuel Paty, 47, days after he had shown caricatures of
Prophet Mohammed to his students, President Emmanuel Macron said: "We will
continue. We will defend the freedom that you taught so well and we will
bring secularism." He said France would "not give up cartoons, drawings,
even if others back down".
Days before Paty's killing, Macron had made a controversial speech. He
declared that "Islam is a religion that is in crisis today all over the
world", "plagued by radical temptations and by a yearning for a reinvented
jihad which is the destruction of the other".
He spoke of an "Islamist separatism" within the country, and the need to
counter it through the rules and values of the Republic, to build a French
version of Islam, an "Islam of Enlightenment" that would integrate French
Muslim citizens better with the French way of life.
The speech, and Macron's pronouncements after the killing of Paty, have
infuriated many Islamic countries, with Turkey and Pakistan taking the lead
in denouncing the French President of Islamophobia. Turkish President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan, who has long-standing rows with France and Marcron - over
gas reserves off Cyprus, over Nagarno Karabakh, and over the wars in Libya
and Syria - questioned Macron's mental health after the speech.
French secularism, or laicite, sees no place for religion in the public
sphere. In this way, it is the opposite of how India has practised its
So even though there is a real constitutional basis to Macron's positioning
on Islam - as necessitated by laicite - it is also a political necessity. No
French politician at this point believes s/he can afford to ignore the
impact of these events on French national life.
ELECTORAL BONDS: ADR MOVES SC FOR URGENT HEARING IN VIEW OF BIHAR POLLS
Citing ensuing Bihar Assembly polls, Association for Democratic Reforms has
moved the Supreme Court seeking urgent hearing of its PIL challenging the
Electoral Bonds Scheme for funding political parties.
Right before the Bihar Legislative Assembly elections, the State Bank of
India, in the XIV Phase of sale, has been authorised to issue and encash
Electoral Bonds through its 29 authorised branches with effect from October
19 to October 28, 2020," stated the plea filed through advocate Prashant
The NGO's petition against the 2018 Electoral Bonds Scheme is already
pending before the top court which had earlier refused to stay it ahead of
Delhi Assembly polls earlier this year. However, it had asked the Centre and
the Election Commission to respond to the NGO's plea which has not been
listed for hearing since then.
Now, demanding urgent hearing, ADR said even though notification of January
2, 2018, stipulated the sale of electoral bonds in months of January, April,
July and October months of each year and the "window was not opened in April
and July but has been opened in October (this year) right before the Bihar
It said in view of the passing of more than nine months since the last date
of hearing of the PIL and new developments relating to Bihar legislative
election having taken place, the instant plea required an urgent hearing.
MUSLIM ACTIVISTS CONDEMN PARIS BEHEADING
A group of Muslim intellectuals and activists has condemned the the recent
Paris beheading of a schoolteacher, Samuel Paty, by an 18-year-old Muslim
fanatic, Abdullakh Anzorov. The teacher had shown cotroversial cartoon of
the Prophet to his pupils. At a webinar, activists demanded abolition of
apostasy and blasphemy laws.
Organised by Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy and moderated by its
convener, Javed Anand, the panellists said the abhorrent act must be
condemned strongly by all law-abiding citizens of the world. "We are here to
condemn in unequivocal terms, no ifs and buts, not only the man responsible
for this barbaric act but all those who had any role in the instigation of
the crime as also all those who seek to justify it. We are here not just to
condemn the slaying of Mr Paty, but also to demand the abolition of apostasy
and banishing of blasphemy anywhere and everywhere across the world," said
"The Paris beheading is a wakeup call to the ulema and leaders of the Muslim
world. It is time for both the clergy and parents to instruct children that
such acts of violence are not only detested and abhorred by Islam, but are
in total contradiction to Islam's reverence for peace, explicit recognition
of tolerance, compassion, social equality, high moral order and spiritual
depth," Ali added.
At the same time, some clerics in Mumbai met in Saki Naka in Monday and
condemned the French government for allowing the release of controversial
cartoons. Mufti Manzar Hasan Khan Misbahi also issued a fatwa against the
cartoonists and the French government.
ANTI-CAA STIR MEANT TO PROVOKE DISAFFECTION AGAINST INDIA: DELHI COURT
A Delhi court on Tuesday refused bail to a 27-year-old university student,
saying "vociferous agitation in the guise of Citizen Amendment Bill coupled
with other activities of violence would show it was meant to cause or
intended to cause disaffection against India".
This is the second time that Asif Iqbal Tanha of Jamia Millia Islamia, who
has been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in
the Northeast Delhi riots conspiracy case, has been refused bail.
Police have accused Tanha of conspiring with former JNU student Umar Khalid
and JNU student Sharjeel Imam to "overthrow the Government" by setting up a
chakka jam (road blockade) in Muslim-dominated areas. Police have alleged
that Tanha used fake documents to buy a mobile phone SIM to use in the
riots. This SIM was subsequently provided to another Jamia student and
co-accused Safoora Zargar to organise further protests, police have said.
KERALA FIXES FLOOR PRICE FOR VEGETABLES
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said Kerala had become the first
state in the country to fix the floor price for vegetables. The floor price
will be 20 per cent above the production cost of the vegetable. Even if the
market price goes below the floor price, the produce will be procured at the
floor price from the farmers. He said this while launching the scheme
announcing the floor price for 16 varieties of vegetables, which would come
into effect from November 1, often referred to Kerala Formation Day.
"This is the first time in the country that the floor price is being fixed
for vegetables produced in the state. This is going to provide relief as
well as support for the farmers. The produce will be graded and the floor
price will be fixed based on the quality. Sixteen varieties of vegetables
would be covered in the first phase and there is a provision to revise the
floor price on a regular basis," said Vijayan.
DON'T CANCEL FIR FOR SUSHANT RAJPUT'S SISTERS: RHEA CHAKRABORTY TO COURT
Rhea Chakraborty -- who is facing multiple investigations over the death of
actor Sushant Rajput -- has asked the Bombay high Court not to dismiss the
case against his two sisters, who have been accused of getting a fake
medical prescription for him. The sisters had asked the court to dismiss the
The case against Priyanka Singh and Meetu Singh was filed following a
complaint by Rhea Chakraborty, whom Sushant Singh Rajput's family has
accused of exploiting him for money and having a role in his death.
In her petition, Rhea Chakraborty said the fabricated prescription was meant
to help Sushant Rajput procure medicines that are banned under the Narcotic
Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.
Her complaint was based on WhatsApp texts between Sushant Rajput and his
sister on June 8 -- six days before the 34-year-old was found dead in his
Mumbai apartment. The chats, which surfaced in the media days before,
indicated that contrary to their claims, his family was aware of his mental
Priyanka Singh had advised her brother to take three medicines -- Librium,
Mexito and Lonazep -- which are prescribed for depression and anxiety. She
had sent a prescription since these drugs were not sold over the counter and
said she could help him connect with the "best doctor in Mumbai, all
FACEBOOK'S ANKHI DAS QUITS
Facebook's policy director for India, South and Central Asia Ankhi Das is
leaving the firm, a statement issued by the company Tuesday said.
This comes four days after Das had appeared before Parliament's Joint
Committee on the Personal Data Protection Bill which had questioned her on
Facebook's advertisement model, its targeting of audiences, earnings and
taxes and its models for data storage and transfer.
In August, The Wall Street Journal had reported that citing business
imperatives, Das had "opposed applying hate-speech rules" to at least four
individuals and groups linked with BJP despite the fact that they were
"flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence."
Following this report, the Parliamentary standing committee on information
technology, headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, sought an explanation
from the company.
Days later, Das filed a complaint to the Delhi Police Cyber Cell alleging
"relentless harassment," and "violent threats" against her including
"cyber-bullying and eve-teasing online." Demanding police protection, she
alleged that the WSJ article was published in a "mischaracterized and
On September 1, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad wrote to Facebook CEO Mark
Zuckerberg alleging political bias and raising "serious concerns" that
Facebook India management had deleted pages and "reduced" the reach of
"right-of-centre ideology" supporters before the 2019 general elections.
IPL: SRH HAMMER DC
Wriddhiman Saha scored a 45-ball 87 before Rashid Khan dished out a clinical
bowling performance as Sunrisers Hyderabad kept themselves alive in the race
for the IPL playoffs with an 88-run win over Delhi Capital in Dubai
Splendid knocks by Saha (87) and skipper David Warner (66) powered Sunrisers
Star spinner Rashid then led a fine bowling display to end with impressive
figures of 3/7, his best this season. The Afghan bowled 17 dot balls in his
quota of four overs, helping his side bowl out Delhi Capitals for 131 in 19
Delhi Capitals: Placed 3rd, Played 12, Won 7, Points 14, NRR 0.030
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Placed 6th, Played 12, Won 5, Points 10, NRR 0.396
Sensex 40,522 (+377), Nifty 11,889 (+122), Trading Value NSE ,(Rs.crores)
Nasdaq 11,431 (+72) Dow 27,463 (-222), S&P 3,391 (-10)
US$-Rs. 73.66 GBP-Rs. 96.04, Euro-Rs. 87,04, UAE Dhm-Rs.20.05, Can$-Rs.
55.89, Aus$- Rs. 52.52
GBP 0.76 /US$, Euro 0.84 /US$, Jap.Yen 104.81 /US$, Aus$ 1.40 /US$, Sing
1.35 /US$, Bang Taka 83.28 /US$, Can$ 1.31 /US$, Mal Ring 4.16 /US$,
Pak Re 160.97 /US$, Phil Peso 48.31 /US$, Russian Rouble 76.72 /US$, NZ$
1.49 /US$, Thai Baht 31.19 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 28.09 /US$, Norway NOK 9.19
Bitcoin - USD 13,774
Dollar Index 93.11 Brent Crude 40.49 BDI 1,402
Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,906 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 5,090 / 4,990
Silver (Rs. Per KG) 62,000
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would
not miss. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
A little girl walks into a pet shop and asks in the sweetest little lisp:
"Excuthe me, mithter, do you keep wittle wabiths?"
And the shopkeeper gets down on his knees, so that he's on her level, and
asks: "Do you want a wittle white wabby or a soft and fuwwy bwack wabby?"
She in turn puts her hands on her knees, bends forward and says, "I don't
fink my pyfon cares a damn!"