FRONT PAGE NEWS
18 Nov 2020
PM AND BIDEN TALK; FLAG COVID, CLIMATE CHANGE AND INDO-PACIFIC
In their first conversation since the results of the US election earlier
this month, US President-elect Joe Biden called Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Tuesday night, during which the PM congratulated Biden and reiterated New
Delhi's commitment to the Indo-US strategic partnership and discussed their
"shared priorities and concerns".
After the phone call, Modi tweeted, "Spoke to US President-elect @JoeBiden
on phone to congratulate him. We reiterated our firm commitment to the
Indo-US strategic partnership and discussed our shared priorities and
concerns - Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, and cooperation in the
"I also conveyed warm congratulations for VP-elect @KamalaHarris. Her
success is a matter of great pride and inspiration for members of the
vibrant Indian-American community, who are a tremendous source of strength
for Indo-US relations."
Of the three issues that Modi flagged, the first two, Indo-Pacific and
Covid-19, are areas of continuity between the Trump and Biden presidencies,
while climate change is an old favourite of the Democratic administration.
PM MODI AT BRICS SUMMIT
Addressing the 12th BRICS summit hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin,
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday exuded confidence in India's vaccine
production and delivery capabilities in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.
"We have started a comprehensive reform process under the 'Self-reliant
India' campaign. The campaign is based on the belief that a self-reliant and
resilient India post-Covid can be a force multiplier for the global economy
and make a strong contribution to the global value chains," PM Modi said
while addressing the summit of the five-nation grouping via
Emphasising his point, PM Modi said, "We also saw an example during Covid,
when we were able to send essential medicines to more than 150 countries due
to the capability of the Indian pharma industry. Our vaccine production and
delivery capacity will also work in the interest of humanity like this."
The Prime Minister also identified terrorism as the "biggest problem" facing
the world and asserted that there was a need to tackle the menace in an
The 12th BRICS summit was also attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping,
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, and South African President Cyril
PAKISTAN BECOMES 'PAVLOVIAN' WHENEVER INDIA IS MENTIONED: INDIA AT UN
India has slammed Pakistan for making "irrelevant and irresponsible" remarks
in the UN, saying the General Assembly is a forum for serious debate, not
India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti said
this on Monday while speaking in the UN General Assembly on 'question of
equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security
Pakistan's Ambassador to the UN Munir Akram, in his speech, made references
to the Line of Control as he voiced opposition to India's UNSC membership.
"I do not wish to waste the time of this Assembly by responding to the
irrelevant and irresponsible remarks made by the representative of Pakistan,
which becomes 'Pavlovian' whenever India is mentioned," the Indian envoy
said, referring to Islamabad's automatic or predictable reactions in the
CONGRESS RESPONDS AS BJP CONTINUES ITS ATTACK OVER GUPKAR ALLIANCE
Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday slammed the Gupkar alliance, alleging
that it wanted foreign forces to intervene in Jammu and Kashmir and asked
Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi to respond whether they
supported the "moves of Gupkar Gang".
In a series of tweets, Shah said: "The Gupkar Gang is going global! They
want foreign forces to intervene in Jammu and Kashmir. The Gupkar Gang also
insults India's Tricolour. Do Sonia Ji and Rahul Ji support such moves of
the Gupkar Gang? They should make their stand crystal clear to the people of
"Congress and the Gupkar Gang want to take J&K back to the era of terror and
turmoil. They want to take away rights of Dalits, women and tribals that we
have ensured by removing Article 370. This is why they're being rejected by
the people everywhere," he wrote in another tweet.
"The Congress is not part of the Gupkar Alliance or the People's Alliance
for Gupkar Declaration," Congress communication department head Randeep
Surjewala said in a statement.
At its meeting on August 6, 2019, the CWC had attacked the government over
the manner in which Article 370 was abrogated and J&K was split, but shied
away from demanding restoration of Article 370. Responding to a question,
Surjewala said the party's position on Article 370 had been made clear by
the CWC. "I am not authorised to add or subtract from the CWC statement. The
CWC resolution is the party's stand," he said.
In a counter attack, Surjewala asked Amit Shah to explain why the BJP had
formed a coalition government with the PDP. He said Shah and the Modi
government needed new lessons in patriotism, and argued that the RSS had not
hoisted the Tricolour at its headquarters for 52 years.
IN ITS LAST DAYS, TRUMP ADMIN REDUCES TROOPS IN AF AND IRAQ
In his final, chaotic days in the White House, US President Donald Trump,
while resisting calls to bow out gracefully after losing the presidency, is
cutting troops in Afghanistan and Iraq while also exploring the possibility
of bombing Iran's nuclear facilities, according to US lawmakers and foreign
Announcing the American drawdown, acting defence secretary Christopher
Miller said US forces will be cut by roughly half in Afghanistan - from more
than 4,500 to 2,500 - and in Iraq from about 3,000 to 2,500, by January 15,
2021, just days before President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on January
20. Trump's NSA Robert O'Brien said the president is keeping his promise to
the American people to get US troops out of war zones: "By May, it is
President Trump's hope that they will all come home safely and in their
Although withdrawing US forces from war theatres he believes Washington has
no business to be in was part of Trump's election pledges, the plan is
sundering the Republican Party. "A rapid withdrawal of US forces from
Afghanistan now would hurt our allies and delight the people who wish us
harm," Senator Majority leader Mitch McConnell, a Trump ally in all things
domestic said, while warning, "The consequences of a premature American exit
would likely be even worse than President Obama's withdrawal from Iraq back
in 2011, which fuelled the rise of ISIS and a new round of global
terrorism... The spectacle of US troops abandoning facilities and equipment,
leaving the field in Afghanistan to the Taliban and ISIS, would be broadcast
around the world as a symbol of US defeat and humiliation and of victory for
Islamic extremism. It would be reminiscent of the humiliating America
departure from Saigon in 1975... ." But other GOP lawmakers backed the
president. "In the longterm, our biggest threat in the world isn't in the
Middle East - it's China. We need to take steps necessary around the world
to posture our forces so they can deter Chinese Communist aggression,"
Senator Tom Cotton said.
The sizing down in Afghanistan and Iraq came amid reports that Trump is also
considering a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities because of a
significant increase in the country's stockpile of nuclear material.
According to the New York Times, which first reported the story, a range of
senior advisers, including Vice President Mike Pence and secretary of state
Mike Pompeo, dissuaded the president from moving ahead with a military
strike, warning that it could easily escalate into a broader conflict.
COVID-19: DELHI CM SEEKS TO IMPOSE SELECTIVE LOCKDOWNS
The Union Health Ministry Tuesday reiterated the need to be careful and
properly implement "Covid appropriate behaviour". Keeping in mind the
festive season complacencies, the health ministry highlighted that the
"effects of polls, Durga Puja, Diwali may be seen in coming weeks. We have
to keep watching new cases very carefully." Strictly following all the
precautionary measures like not visiting crowded places, taking extra care
of vulnerable sections of the society and maintaining "2-feet" distance are
still very important. "Don't be hesitant to get yourself tested" in case of
symptoms, the health ministry secretary said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Tuesday sent a proposal to the central
government seeking permission to impose lockdowns in market areas, which he
said may emerge Covid-19 hotspots. He appealed to the people of the city,
"with folded hands", to wear masks and follow social distancing norms. He
said his government, the Centre and other agencies were doubling efforts to
control the situation in the national capital.
Due to Delhi's rising numbers, people travelling from Delhi to Noida will
randomly tested for Covid-19 starting tomorrow, the administration of Gautam
Buddh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh said Tuesday.
The total no. of cases identified in Delhi since the start of pandemic
stands at over 4.95 lakhs while the current active cases are at around
41,000. The total no. of Covid deaths in Delhi so far stands at 7812.
The last 7 days have seen an average of about 6,300 new cases a day in Delhi
while the recoveries have averaged at about 6,100 a day. The deaths by
Covid-19 have averaged 95 a day over the last 7 days.
SC SLAMS CENTRE AFFIDAVIT ON TABLIGHI JAMAAT REPORTING
The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed its displeasure over the Centre's
affidavit in a case related to the media's reporting of the Tablighi Jamaat
attendees in Delhi testing positive for Covid-19, and asked it to evolve a
mechanism to deal with complaints against the electronic media.
In its latest affidavit filed before the Supreme Court - it had filed an
earlier one in October - the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry
said news reports and articles in print and online publications on the issue
have largely been "balanced and neutral" and not communal. It mentioned The
Indian Express, The Times of India and the Hindustan Times to say that they
"have carried largely factual reports in this context" and that "online such
as The Print and The Wire have also undertaken objective reporting, through
news reports, and analysis, through opinion and editorial articles, of
events concerning the Tablighi Jamaat".
The bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde said the Centre's
affidavit had not addressed two important questions: the applicability of
the Cable Television Networks Act upon electronic media and legal regime on
this issue. "We are not satisfied with your affidavit.We had asked you to
specify how the Cable TV Act can be used to control the content. The
affidavit is silent on this. What steps can you take to deal with such
complaints?" the bench asked the Centre.
The CJI's observations came during the hearing of PILs filed by the Jamiat
Ulema-e-Hind and Peace Party seeking directions to the Centre to stop
certain sections of the media from disseminating fake news.
'LOVE JIHAD' BILL IN MADHYA PRADESH ASSEMBLY SOON
Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra Tuesday said the "love jihad"
bill will soon be introduced in the state assembly and it includes five
years rigorous imprisonment for violators. The charge will be cognizable and
non-bailable, Mishra told reporters.
"There will be provision to declare marriages taking place forcefully, out
of fraud or by tempting someone, for religious conversion, null and void.
Those assisting in committing this crime will also be considered a party to
the crime," Mishra said.
Other provisions of the Bill include notifying the district collector a
month in advance before formalising an inter-faith marriage.
The BJP governments in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are also contemplating
legal provisions against "love jihad".
Earlier this year, the Government informed Parliament that no cases of 'love
jihad' have been reported by any of the central agencies and the term is not
defined under any existing law. Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan
Reddy said Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees the freedom to profess,
practice and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and
health. Various courts, including the Kerala High Court, have upheld this
BARACK OBAMA'S BOOK: MORE FODDER FOR RAHUL BAITERS
Former US president Barack Obama's comments on Indian leaders, including
Rahul Gandhi, in his memoir "A Promised Land", grabbed headlines last week,
with the BJP highlighting the critical observations made by Obama about the
More has been revealed now. Obama also wrote that Dr Manmohan Singh's
elevation as prime minister, which was also called as a hallmark of the
country's progress in overcoming sectarian divides, was not actually true.
"... More than one political observer believed that she'd (Sonia Gandhi) had
chosen Singh precisely because as an elderly Sikh with no national political
base, he posed no threat to her forty year-old son, Rahul, whom she was
grooming to take over the Congress Party," mentions Obama.
BHARAT BIOTECH BEGINS COVAXIN PHASE III TRIALS
Bharat Biotech has announced the commencement of Phase III trials of
COVAXIN. The Phase III trials will involve 26,000 volunteers across India
and will be conducted in partnership with ICMR.
This is India's first phase III efficacy study for a Covid-19 vaccine. Trial
volunteers will receive two intramuscular injections approximately 28 days
apart. Participants will be randomly assigned to receive COVAXIN or placebo.
The trial is double blinded - the investigators, participants and the
company will not be aware of who is assigned to which group.
COVAXIN has been evaluated in approximately 1,000 subjects in Phase I and
Phase II clinical trials, with promising safety and immunogenicity data.
Volunteers who wish to participate in this trial should be over 18 years of
RBI PUTS LAKSHMI VILAS BANK UNDER MORA.TORIUM
The RBI imposed a 30-day mora.torium Tuesday on struggling Lakshmi Vilas
Bank Ltd (LVB), superseded its board of directors and announced a draft
scheme for the amalgamation of the bank with DBS Bank India, a subsidiary of
DBS of Singapore, in the wake of "serious deterioration in the financial
position of the bank".
The RBI also restricted withdrawals by depositors at Rs 25,000 from savings
and current accounts, and expenditure on any item at Rs 50,000 per month.
The central bank said the financial position of Chennai-based Lakshmi Vilas
Bank, which has a network of 563 branches and deposits of Rs 20,973 crore,
has undergone a steady decline with the bank incurring continuous losses
over the last three years, eroding its net worth.
PM MODI'S PITCH TO GLOBAL INVESTORS - PUT YOUR MONEY IN INDIA'S URBANISATION
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday pitched India as an investment
destination for businesses looking to invest in urbanisation, mobility, and
Addressing the third annual Bloomberg New Economy Forum, Modi talked about
the rapid strides made by India in the urbanisation process, as well as the
many policies of the government aimed at affordable housing, mobility and
information technology infrastructure.
He said India offers exciting opportunities in the urban space with the
added advantage of being a "vibrant democracy" offering "business-friendly
environment and a huge market".
The PM said the "government shall not leave any stone unturned" to make
India a preferred investment destination.
ADANI GROUP OFFER CHANGES DYNAMICS OF DHFL BIDDING PROCESS
The Adani Group sprung a surprise last week by announcing it would buy all
the assets of debt-laden Dewan Housing Finance Limited (DHFL), for a little
over Rs 31,000 crore. The Adani Group's bid is now higher than other offers
for the company, which is undergoing a corporate insolvency resolution
process (CIRP). It is also likely to force the lenders to call for fresh
bids for the company.
On November 29 last year, the RBI filed an application for initiation of
insolvency against DHFL, which was a non-banking financial company (NBFC).
DHFL is the first NBFC to undergo insolvency resolution, which was triggered
after reports of funds mismanagement at the company surfaced.
This was followed by reports that the promoters of the company, Kapil
Wadhawan, the then chairman and managing director, and Dheeraj Wadhawan,
then a non-executive director, had transferred funds the company had
collected into shell companies, which then re-routed the monies back into
the accounts of the Wadhawans.
The Adani Group's unsolicited offer for the entire book of the company will
force lenders to call for new bids for DHFL. However, this is also likely to
face a legal challenge from existing bidders like Piramal Enterprises and
SHAKIB AL HASAN GETS DEATH THREAT FOR ATTENDING PUJA IN KOLKATA, APOLOGISES
Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan has issued a public apology after
receiving death threats on social media for attending a Kali Puja
inauguration in Kolkata.
A man named Mohsin Talukder, in a Facebook Live on Sunday, claimed that
Shakib's behaviour had "hurt Muslim sentiments". Talukder was apparently
enraged at the cricketer for inaugurating a Kali Puja in Kolkata on November
12 and threatened to "cut him to pieces with a chopper for blasphemy".
Shakib was reportedly present at the 59th Shyama Puja of "Amra Shobai Club"
at Kankurgachi in East Kolkata.
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THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
The more one belabors a point, the more skeptical I become; the louder one
talks, the further I back off. Repetition raises doubts in the minds of
those to whom you wish to make your point. - Robert J. Ringer
Some lines that didn't make the cut at hallmark cards:
"Looking back over the years that we've been together, I can't help but
wonder: What the hell was I thinking?"
"As the days go by, I think of how lucky I am that you're not here to ruin
it for me."
"I'm so miserable without you, it's almost like you're here."
"Congratulations on your new bundle of joy. Did you ever find out who the