FRONT PAGE NEWS
17 Nov 2020
NITISH KUMAR TAKES OATH AS BIHAR CM FOR FOURTH STRAIGHT TERM
Nitish Kumar was sworn in as Bihar chief minister for a fourth straight term
on Monday at a ceremony in Patna in presence of Union Home minister Amit
Shah and BJP chief Jagat Prakash Nadda even as RJD decided to boycott the
event. Replacing Sushil Modi, who had been Kumar's deputy for 15 years, BJP
leaders Tarkishore Prasad and Renu Devi took oath as the Deputy Chief
Ministers of Bihar.
Kumar, along with a 14-member council of ministers, was administered the
oath of office at Raj Bhavan by Governor Phagu Chauhan.
After taking oath, Nitish said, "Based on the public's decision, NDA has
once again formed the government in the state. We will work together and
serve the people". On Sushil Modi not returning as his deputy, Kumar told
ANI, "It is the decision of the BJP to not field Sushil Modi as the Deputy
Chief Minister. They should be asked about this."
There was no official word from the BJP, though sources said Sushil Modi
might be accommodated in the Rajya Sabha in the seat that has fallen vacant
with Ram Vilas Paswan's death, and made a minister at the Centre, or named
the Governor of a state.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: "Congratulations to Nitish Kumar on
taking oath as Bihar's CM. I also congratulate all those who took oath as
Ministers in Bihar Government. NDA family will work together for progress of
Bihar. I assure all possible support from Centre for the welfare of Bihar."
Congratulating Nitish Kumar on being "nominated" as CM, RJD leader Tejashwi
Yadav said, "I hope that instead of his desire for the chair, he will focus
on the aspirations of Bihar's people, and make the NDA's promises of 19 lakh
jobs, providing education opportunities, health and irrigation facilities
Earlier in the day, RJD had put out a statement on its twitter handle
announcing that they would boycott the ceremony as "the public gave the
mandate to change which is against the NDA."
Chirag Paswan, whose party LJP left the NDA just ahead of the elections
owing to "ideological differences" with JD(U), said: "Congratulations to
Nitish Kumar on becoming the chief minister again. I hope the government
completes its term and you continue to remain an NDA chief minister," Paswan
tweeted. "Once again I congratulate you on becoming chief minister and the
BJP on making you one."
NOT ALL PACTS GOOD FOR INDIA, JAISHANKAR DEFENDS RCEP STEP
A day after the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was
signed by 15 nations - without India - foreign minister S Jaishankar mounted
a spirited defence of the government's decision to stay away from trading
arrangements that could end up de-industrialising India.
Addressing the Deccan Dialogue at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad,
Jaishankar said the external world was not all free and fair trade, but full
of "nontariff barriers and state capitalism". "The effect of past trade
agreements has been to de-industrialise some sectors. The consequences of
future ones would lock us into global commitments, many of them not to our
advantage. Those who argue stressing openness and efficiency do not present
the full picture," he said.
It was a direct hit at China, whose policy of subsidies to its state-owned
enterprises led to Chinese products deeply undercutting those from other
countries, and hitting their manufacturing capabilities. China came in for
additional indirect criticism as well. Jaishankar reminded his audience that
it was India that had called out China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and
shaped the international discourse on connectivity projects, that they
should be transparent, environment friendly and respectful of sovereignty.
"In the name of openness, we have allowed subsidised products and unfair
production advantages from abroad to prevail. And all the while, this was
justified by the mantra of an open and globalised economy," he added.
CONGRESS AGAIN IN WAR OF WORDS, WITHIN
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal's criticism of the state of affairs in
the Congress in the wake of the party's poor show in the Bihar polls and
Assembly bye-elections, in an interview to The Indian Express, triggered a
war of words in the grand old party on Monday bringing focus back on the
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot hit out at Sibal for airing his views
in public, while some leaders like Vivek Tankha and Karti Chidambaram
reiterated what Sibal said.
Hitting out at Sibal, Gehlot tweeted, "There was no need for Mr Kapil Sibal
to (have) mentioned our internal issue in the media. This has hurt the
sentiments of party workers across the country. Congress has seen various
crises including 1969, 1977, 1989 and later in 1996 - but every-time we came
out stronger due to our ideology, programmes, policies and firm belief in
party leadership." He said the Congress has "improved with each and every
crisis and also formed the UPA government in 2004 under the able leadership
of Soniaji. We shall overcome this time too.".
Tankha, a Rajya Sabha MP and the head of the Congress's legal department,
supported Sibal's stand. Speaking to The Indian Express, he said, "We can't
see the party sliding. We are not able to see it sliding. Others may not
speak because they have their own issues. I and Kapil have no other issues.
Our issue is the revival of the Congress. And if people like us don't come
forward and speak about it, history will not forgive us."
Youth Congress president Srinivas B V also attacked Sibal, tweeting, "When
the Congress party wins elections, the credit is never given to Rahulji. And
when the Congress loses elections somewhere, then Rahul Gandhi is made
responsible. Whosoever is raising questions today, I want to ask them what
contribution you have made for strengthening the organisation?" Delhi
Congress chief Anil Chaudhary invited Sibal, who has represented Chandni
Chowk in Lok Sabha, to come forward to fight against Modi and Delhi CM
Arvind Kejriwal. "I urge you to spend some time every day in the DPCC. In
whatever post or department you want to work. it will be our pleasure," he
SC REFUSES TO DEBAR TAINTED POLITICIANS FROM CONTESTING POLLS
The Supreme Court on Monday refused to debar tainted politicians from
contesting polls, saying it was for Parliament to take a call on such
A Bench headed by Justice LN Rao also refused to declare as null and void
the elections of MLAs and MPs charge-sheeted for over a year for offences
punishable with a minimum five-year imprisonment.
"We agree that what you are saying is correct. But we cannot pass such
orders. This is under the domain of the Parliament," the Bench told SN
Shukla, a retired civil servant, who represented petitioner Lok Prahari. The
petitioner NGO wanted the top court to debar politicians against whom
charges have been framed to be disqualified from contesting polls.
On behalf of the NGO, its office-bearer Shukla submitted that such a law
will never be passed by Parliament. Criminals were getting into the
legislatures and they had already crossed the 33% mark.
MODERNA SAYS ITS COVID-19 VACCINE APPEARS TO BE 94.5% EFFECTIVE
There's promising news from a second Covid-19 vaccine candidate: Moderna
said Monday its shots provide strong protection, a dash of hope against the
grim backdrop of coronavirus surges in the US and around the world.
Moderna said its vaccine appears to be 94.5 per cent effective, according to
preliminary data from the company's still ongoing study.
A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc. announced its own Covid-19 vaccine
appeared similarly effective - news that puts both companies on track to
seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the US.
A vaccine can't come fast enough, as virus cases topped 11 million in the US
over the weekend - 1 million of them recorded in just the past week. The
pandemic has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide, more than
245,000 of them in the US.
Still, if the US FDA allows emergency use of Moderna's or Pfizer's
candidates, there will be limited, rationed supplies before the end of the
year. Both require people to get two shots, several weeks apart. Moderna
expects to have about 20 million doses, earmarked for the US, by the end of
2020. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech expect to have about 50 million
doses globally by year's end.
Moderna's vaccine, created with the National Institutes of Health, is being
studied in 30,000 volunteers who received either the real vaccination or a
dummy shot. On Sunday, an independent monitoring board broke the code to
examine 95 infections that were recorded starting two weeks after
volunteers' second dose - and discovered all but five illnesses occurred in
participants who got the placebo.
The study is continuing, and Moderna acknowledged the protection rate might
change as more Covid-19 infections are detected and added to the
calculations. Also, it's too soon to know how long protection lasts. Both
cautions apply to Pfizer's vaccine as well.
But Moderna's independent monitors reported some additional, promising
tidbits: All 11 severe coronavirus cases were among placebo recipients, and
there were no significant safety concerns.
The main side effects were fatigue, muscle aches and injection-site pain
after the vaccine's second dose, at rates more common than with flu shots
but on par with others such as shingles vaccine.
Moderna's vaccine is stable for up to six months at a temperature of minus
20 degrees Celsius, about home freezer levels, when shipped and stored. The
company said it expects the vaccine to be stable when kept at standard
refrigerator temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius for 30 days, up from an
initial projection of 7 days. The vaccine will be distributed in 10-dose
vials and can be kept at room temperature for up to 12 hours after thawing.
By comparison, Pfizer's vaccine can be transported and stored for up to 6
months at minus 70 degrees Celsius (-94 F). It can be stored at standard
refrigerator temperatures for up to five days.
TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER O'BRIEN SAYS LOOKS NOW THAT BIDEN HAS WON
US President Donald Trump's national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, said
on Monday he will ensure a professional transition to the team led by
Democrat Joe Biden if Biden is deemed the winner of the 2020 presidential
election and "obviously things look like that now."
Speaking to the Global Security Forum, O'Brien said while he hoped Trump
would turn out to have won a second four-year term, he would work with a new
administration headed by Biden and his vice presidential running mate,
States face a December 8 "safe harbor" deadline to certify their elections
and choose electors who will officially select the new president on Dec 14.
OBAMA PRAISED MANMOHAN SINGH, NO MENTION OF PM MODI: SHASHI THAROOR
Former US President Barack Obama's memoirs have "huge praise for Manmohan
Singh" but Prime Minister Narendra Modi "is not mentioned by name at all",
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor says in a series of tweets. Mr Tharoor wrote
that he had an advance copy of the first of Obama's two-part memoir "A
Promised Land", releasing Tuesday and had read every bit on India flagged in
"Big news: There isn't much. Bigger news: in 902 pages, Narendra Modi is not
mentioned by name at all," tweeted the Congress MP and former union
"Huge praise for Dr ManMohan Singh who is warmly described as "wise,
thoughtful, &scrupulously honest", "a man of uncommon wisdom& decency" with
whom he enjoyed "a warm & productive relationship" though MMS was "cautious
in foreign policy". His regard & respect shine through."
President Obama "worries about impulses of violence, greed, corruption,
nationalism, racism and religious intolerance," wrote Mr Tharoor as he
quoted from the book: "They seemed to lie in wait everywhere, ready to
resurface whenever growth rates stalled or demographics changed or a
charismatic leader chose to ride the wave of people's fears and resentments.
And as much as I might have wished otherwise, there was no Mahatma Gandhi
In India, the book caused a flutter last week a less-than-flattering
description of Rahul Gandhi drawing comments from delighted BJP leaders.
Some Congress leaders have flagged longer excerpts from the book on a dinner
that President Obama had with the former Prime Minister, Congress president
Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Sonia Gandhi is described as a person of
"shrewd and forceful intelligence" who "listened more than she spoke" and
deferred to Dr Singh when policy matters came up. Rahul Gandhi, Obama
writes, "seemed smart and earnest".
The former US President also recalls wondering after the dinner what would
happen when he (Manmohan Singh) left office, "Would the baton be
successfully passed to Rahul, fulfilling the destiny laid out by his mother
and preserving the Congress Party's dominance over the divisive nationalism
touted by the BJP?"
Tharoor tweeted: "Difficult to imagine that the Sanghis who have been
rejoicing on social media about one sentence in the memoir will draw much
comfort from these reflections. They offer a foretaste of what Vol.2 is
likely to tell us about India in a post-Manmohan Singh era, when Obama
BJP COMES DOWN HARD ON GUPKAR ALLIANCE, CONGRESS
Ahead of the DDC elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP yesterday launched
a scathing attack on the Gupkar alliance, saying that its only agenda is to
bring back Article 370. Addressing a press conference, BJP spokesperson
Sambit Patra also asked Congress to make its stand clear over Article 370.
"This Gupkar Alliance wants exactly what Pakistan and anti-India countries
want... I would like to ask Sonia and Rahul Ji if they stand by the comments
made by leaders in the Gupkar Alliance," he asked. Patra also slammed Rahul
Gandhi quoting ally RJD leader Shivanand Tiwari's remark that "Rahul Gandhi
is NPPP - Non-Performing Picnic-ing President".
"Rahul Gandhi, when you were with cycle (SP), it was punctured, when you
came together with lantern (RJD), it was extinguished, now it is the turn of
'guptchar' alliance," he said.
The Congress is part of the People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD),
an umbrella alliance of state parties seeking restoration of Article 370.
SC JUDGE U U LALIT RECUSES HIMSELF FROM HEARING PLEAS AGAINST ANDHRA CM
Supreme Court judge U U Lalit on Monday recused himself from hearing pleas
seeking action against Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jaganmohan Reddy
for levelling allegations against the judiciary.
"I have difficulties. As a lawyer, I had represented one of the parties,"
Justice Lalit said.
A bench comprising justices Lalit, Vineet Saran and S Ravindra Bhat was to
hear three petitions seeking various reliefs against Reddy. The pleas
alleged that Reddy not only wrote a letter to Chief Justice of India
levelling allegations against the judiciary but also held a press conference
in which false statements were made.
In an unprecedented move, AP CM had written to CJI S A Bobde, alleging that
Justice N V Ramana - next in line to be the CJI - "has been influencing the
sittings of the (Andhra Pradesh) High Court including the roster of a few
Meanwhile, the CBI has booked 16 individuals for allegedly posting
defamatory content against judges of the Supreme Court and the Andhra
Pradesh High Court on social media. The case was earlier being probed by the
Andhra Pradesh CID.
GOVT SEEKS COMPLIANCE OF 26 PER CENT FDI IN DIGITAL NEWS WITHIN A MONTH
The I&B Ministry on Monday issued a public notice asking entities involved
in streaming of news and current affairs through digital media to comply
with the Centre's earlier order permitting 26 per cent foreign direct
investment under the government approval route to such entities.
The notice comes exactly a month after the Supreme Court issued a notice to
the Centre seeking its response on a PIL for regulating over-the-top (OTT)
platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime by an autonomous body.
Recently, the Centre brought OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video
besides other online news and current affairs content, under the ambit of
the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, giving it powers to regulate
policies and rules for the digital space.
NOTED ARTISTES CRY FOUL AS GOVT ASKS TO VACATE ACCOMMODATION
Leading artistes who have been asked to vacate their government allotted
residences, including Padma Shri awardee Bharati Shivaji, on Monday said
they were feeling "harassed", "humiliated" and "pained" by the government's
In October this year, 27 eminent personalities, including artists, dancers
and musicians were sent notices from the Ministry of Housing and Urban
Affairs, to vacate their government allotted accommodations across Delhi by
December 31, "failing which eviction proceeding will be initiated."
Other major artistes who have been sent these notices are Jatin Das, Pt
Bhajan Sopori, Pt Birju Maharaj, Rita Ganguly, and Ustad F Wasifuddin Dagar.
BPCL DISINVESTMENT GETS GOING WITH MULTIPLE EOIs
The long-awaited privatisation process for Bharat Petroleum Corporation
(BPCL) is finally moving to its second stage with at least three to four
companies submitting expressions of interest. The government had to extend
the deadlines for submission of EoIs four times before setting the final
deadline on Monday.
The sale is crucial for the government in order to meet its disinvestment
target of Rs 2.1 trillion for the current fiscal year.
With this sale, the NDA government would be making its first privatisation
in the petroleum sector after the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government sold IPCL
to Reliance Industries.
(The Indian markets were shut yesterday on account of Diwali Balipratipada)
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Silver (Rs. Per KG) 63,610
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile,
nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to
one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to
trust you with a friendship. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
A little girl became restless as the preacher's sermon dragged on and on.
Finally, she leaned over to her mother and whispered, "Mommy, if we give him
the money now, will he let us go?"