India Newsletter

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

Indo-Pacific Region."

"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

videoconferencing.

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

organised manner.

The 12th BRICS summit was also attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping,

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, and South African President Cyril

Ramaphosa.

 

 

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

frivolous allegations.

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

Council'.

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

past.

 

 

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

India."

"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.

 

 

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

======================

 

 

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

policy analysts.

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

entirety."

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.

 

 

THE REST

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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

view.

 

 

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

Gandhi scion.

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

age.

 

 

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

AND MOBILITY

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday pitched India as an investment

destination for businesses looking to invest in urbanisation, mobility, and

sustainable solutions.

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

Oaktree.

 

 

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.

 

 

INDICATORS

 

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56.81, Aus$- Rs. 54.35

GBP 0.75 /US$, Euro 0.84 /US$, Jap.Yen 104.31 /US$, Aus$ 1.36 /US$, Sing

1.34 /US$, Bang Taka 83.19 /US$, Can$ 1.30 /US$, Mal Ring 4.10 /US$,

Pak Re 157.51 /US$, Phil Peso 48.22 /US$, Russian Rouble 76.31 /US$, NZ$

1.45 /US$, Thai Baht 30.13 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 27.86 /US$, Norway NOK 9.05

/US$

Bitcoin - USD 17,744

Dollar Index 92.47 Brent Crude 43.61 BDI 1,111

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,878 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 5,094 / 4,994

Silver (Rs. Per KG) 63,610

 

 

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

 

 

OFF TRACK

 

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

father was?"

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