India Newsletter

19 Nov 2020



Congress Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Wednesday slammed party

colleague Kapil Sibal over his Bihar poll debacle introspection remark,

saying those unhappy with the party's functioning are free to leave instead

of embarrassing it in public. Chowdhury stung Sibal for "giving sermons from

AC rooms" and said disgruntled members may join other parties or float their

own outfits.

Wondering why Sibal was not seen campaigning for the Congress during the

Bihar elections, the party's West Bengal chief said, "Speaking without doing

anything doesn't mean introspection."

"Kapil Sibal could have raised the issues inside a party forum instead of

making such embarrassing remarks in public. He is a senior leader and has

access to the party's top brass. Those who are unhappy with the functioning

of the party have the freedom to form a new party or join one if they feel

that the Congress is not the right place for them," Chowdhury, a member of

the Congress Working Committee, told reporters in Kolkata.

Sibal was part of a group of 23 senior Congress leaders who had written to

party chief Sonia Gandhi in August, giving suggestions on ways to revive the

grand old party.

Apart from Chowdhury, other senior Congress leaders have also lashed out at

those calling for introspection.

And now, P Chidambaram has also hit out at the party over its recent poll

performances, opining in a recent interview with Dainik Bhaskar that the

party should have contested far less than 70 seats in Bihar.

Chidambaram has also expressed concern about the by-poll results in Gujarat,

Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka. "These results show that the

party either has no organisational presence on the ground or has been

weakened considerably," he opined.





Social media giant Twitter has apologised in writing to a key parliamentary

panel for wrongly showing Ladakh in China and has promised to correct the

error by the month-end, the committee's chairperson Meenakshi Lekhi said on

Wednesday. The Indian government on October 22 had warned Twitter about its

location setting that showed Leh in China, saying any disrespect towards the

country's sovereignty and integrity is totally unacceptable.

Twitter's deposition has come in form of an affidavit signed by Damien

Karien, Chief Privacy Officer of Twitter Inc, for wrong geo-tagging of

India's map, Lekhi said.

Last month, the Joint Committee of Parliament on Data Protection Bill had

come down heavily on Twitter for showing Ladakh as part of China, saying it

amounted to treason and had sought an explanation by the US-based parent of

the social media platform in form of an affidavit.

Appearing before the panel, chaired by Lekhi, representatives of Twitter

India had "begged apology", but they were told by the members that it was a

criminal offence that questioned the sovereignty of the country and an

affidavit must be submitted by Twitter Inc, not by its 'marketing arm'

Twitter India.

"They have apologised for hurting Indian sentiments and have sworn to

correct the error by November 30, 2020," Lekhi said, adding that people of

India and the government remain committed to the national integrity and


Taking a dig at the BJP's rival parties in Jammu and Kashmir, Lekhi said,

"Physical to digital resources of India will always be protected by its

people while members from Gupkar alliance may be holding meetings in havelis

and nurturing different dreams against the national interest."





US pharma giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech on Wednesday

announced that their vaccine candidate, after the final efficacy analysis in

their ongoing phase-3 clinical trial, indicates an efficacy rate of 95 per

cent in volunteers without prior Covid-19 infection.

The company, for the first time, released promising data on incidence of

severe disease: 10 severe cases of Covid-19 observed in the trial, with nine

cases occurring in the placebo group and only one in the group that received

the two-dose mRNA vaccine.

"Efficacy was consistent across age, gender, race and ethnicity



World-wide numbers

The total no. of cases identified world-wide since the start of pandemic

stands at over 56.5 million while the current active cases are at over 15.8

million. The total no. of deaths so far stands at over 1.35 million.

The last 7 days have seen an average of about 5.88 lakhs new cases a day

while the recoveries have averaged at about 3.81 lakhs a day. The deaths by

Covid-19 have averaged 9000 a day, over the last 7 days.


In the US

The total no. of cases identified in U.S. since the start of pandemic stands

at over 11.8 million while the current active cases are at over 4.4 million.

The total no. of deaths so far stands at over 2.56 lakhs

The last 7 days have seen an average of about 1.66 lakhs new cases a day

while the recoveries have averaged at about 74,000 a day. The deaths by

Covid-19 have averaged 1265 a day, over the last 7 days.









Calling Emmanuel Macron a "blasphemer", the UN-designated terror group

Jaish-e-Mohammed has warned the French President and "others like him" that

they will be targeted by those ready to be "sacrificed for the honour of the


In an unsigned article on the website of its online journal Al Qalam, the

Jaish said "if not today then tomorrow, if not tomorrow then day after"

there will be "some Abdullah Checheni (the Chechen youth who killed a

teacher in Paris last month), Mumtaz Qadri (who killed Pakistani politician

Salman Taseer in 2011), and Ghazi Khalid (who shot dead Tahir Ahmed Naseem,

an Ahmedi, in a Pakistan courtroom where Naseem was being tried for alleged

blasphemy in July this year)."

Headlined 'Muslims: Sacrifice for the Honour of the Prophet', the article

stated that "if someone commits the sin of blasphemy, it gives birth to the

Abdullah type of young men. no Muslim will allow you to burn the Koran or

blaspheme against the Prophet".

Macron's strong expression of support for the publication of the Prophet

cartoons has triggered protests in Pakistan, with huge crowds gathering in

Rawalpindi under the leadership of Barelvi Sunni preacher Khadim Hussain

Rizvi, and have laid siege to the main highway to Islamabad.

The Deobandi JeM and its leader Masood Azhar are designated terrorist

entities by the UN Security Council, under its Resolution 1267. Pakistan's

National Counter Terrorism Authority lists JeM as a proscribed organisation.

However, Al Qalam, the online website of its publication of the same name,

continues to be available.





Humiliated in courts and forsaken by key Republican officials, defeated US

President Trump continued to thrash about on Twitter, insisting he has won

the election while firing a government official who maintained there was no

large scale fraud in the polls.

"The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 Election

was highly inaccurate, in that there were massive improprieties and fraud -

including dead people voting, Poll Watchers not allowed into polling

locations, "glitches" in the voting machines which changed votes from Trump

to Biden, late voting, and many more. Therefore, effective immediately,

Chris Krebs has been terminated as director of cybersecurity and

infrastructure security Agency," he tweeted, firing the official in his own


Trump and his supporters continued to push bogus claims that courts and even

Republican officials are now rejecting. In one particularly egregious case,

Georgia's Republican secretary of state Brad Raffensperger revealed that GOP

leaders are pressuring him to exclude valid ballots with the aim of

overturning the results that turned the state blue.

In Michigan, a 2-2 deadlock between Republican and Democrat officials over

certifying election results was broken after GOP officials backed down,

ending Trump's joy over the impasse and hopes of snatching back the state's

electoral votes.

But the most striking sign that Republican veterans are reconciled to losing

the White House came on the floor of the Senate where several GOP senators

walked up to vice-president elect Kamala Harris to congratulate her, in one

instance Trump acolyte Lindsey Graham giving her a fist bump and a pat on

the back. Harris cast one of her last votes as a Senator (she will have a

tie-breaker vote in the Senate as vice-president) to defeat Trump's nominee

to the Federal Reserve on Tuesday in a roll call that also saw three

Republicans join Democrats.

Most Republicans have indicated they are just waiting for the legal

challenges to conclude so that a formal transition can begin. "We're going

to have an orderly transfer from this administration to the next one,"

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said.

But Trump continued to rage. "I WON THE ELECTION. VOTER FRAUD ALL OVER THE

COUNTRY!" he tweeted.









Punjab's protesting farmers have decided to continue with their agitation

against the Centre's farm laws, and said they will not allow movement of

passenger trains in the state until Railways allows goods trains to run.

The farmers said that in case the Centre agreed to run goods trains in the

state they will immediately hold an emergency meeting and consider the

possibility of allowing passenger trains to run too.

Train services to Punjab have been suspended since 3 October when the

agitating farmers started the 'rail roko' agitation against the Centre's

three farm laws.

In a statement issued Wednesday evening, the CM said in light of their

discussions held last week with the central government he had expected the

farmers to back down from their unyielding approach in the interest of

Punjab, especially in view of the state government's absolute support to

their cause, and also in the light of the Centre's decision to engage with

them on the issue of the farm laws.

Industries in Ludhiana and Jalandhar alone had suffered Rs 22,000 crore in

losses, while more than 13,500 containers were lying at Dhandari Dry Port

from where they could not be sent to other parts of the country due to the

rail transport suspension, he added.





Stoking the 70-year-long border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka

over areas like Belgaum, Karwar and Nipani, Mahrashtra Dy CM and Karnataka

CM locked horns on Wednesday. Maharashtra Dy CM Ajit Pawar was first to

begin as he broached the issue, paying tributes to Balasaheb Thackeray.

Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa slammed Pawar's statement and said

those are meant for "unwanted controversy".

"Late Balasaheb had struggled his entire life for rights of common man. He

always dreamt about the overall development of Maharashtra and make a united

Maharashtra including Belgaum, Karwar and Nipani. So let us decide to fulfil

this dream," the statement from Ajit Pawar's office read. It was issued on

the occasion of Balasaheb's death anniversary on November 17.

Urging Pawar to not make such statements, Karnataka chief minister said,

"Marathi speaking people are just like Kannadigas. They too belong to us.

Maratha Development Authority has been formed for their development.

Statement is just to trigger unwanted controversy. I urge him not to make

such statements."

Maharashtra claims Belgaum and the other areas which are part of Karnataka

as they were part of Bombay Presidency.





A fine of over Rs 10 crore imposed on late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's

aide VK Sasikala in a disproportionate assets case was on Wednesday

deposited in a Bengaluru court and her release is expected soon, her lawyer


Chief Minister K Palaniswami, meanwhile, asserted that the anticipated

release of Sasikala would not alter the stand of AIADMK to keep her and her

kin at bay, both from the party and the government. There shall be no change

in the party stand as regards Sasikala, he told reporters at Coimbatore.





The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh has decided to set up a "gau cabinet"

for the protection and promotion of the cow, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh

Chouhan announced on Wednesday.

"It has been decided to constitute a 'gau cabinet' for the protection and

fostering of godhan (cow and its progeny) in the state," Chouhan tweeted in

Hindi. Ministers of Animal Husbandry, Forest, Panchayat and Rural

Development, Revenue, Home and Farmers' Welfare departments will be part of

this cabinet, he said.

"The first meeting will be held at 12 noon on November 22 to mark Gopashtami

at Gau Sanctuary in Agar Malwa," he added.

Opposition Congress had criticised the BJP for having forgotten its election

promise of creating a separate cow ministry.





The advisory, which was issued on Tuesday, said plasma therapy should be

used only in certain suitable cases that have already been specified by the


IN VIEW of the continued "inappropriate use of convalescent plasma therapy"

for Covid-19 patients, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has

advised all state governments and health authorities to "avoid

indiscriminate use" of this therapy considering that it is beneficial only

in some specific cases.

Convalescent plasma therapy, or CPT, is a procedure in which Covid-19

antibodies in the blood of a patient who has recovered is extracted, and

injected into a patient who is still sick. This procedure has been found, in

some cases, to help the patient build immunity against the disease. This

method has been tried for the treatment of other viral diseases as well,

such as H1N1, Ebola and SARS.

However, an extensive study by the ICMR in September on Covid-19 patients

had found that CPT neither reduced the severity of the illness nor prevented

mortality. It was the world's largest such study, and reinforced similar

evidence from other studies done in countries such as China and the


"Despite all this evidence, inappropriate use of convalescent plasma is

taking place, and we thought the right way to address this issue was through

this advisory," Dr Samiran Panda, head of epidemiology and communicable

diseases division at ICMR, said.

The advisory, which was issued on Tuesday, said plasma therapy should be

used only in certain suitable cases that have already been specified by the







The Centre has indicted Sudarshan TV for violation of Programme Code and

cautioned it for telecasting 'UPSC Jihad' which was not in "good taste" and

"offensive" but allowed the channel to telecast remaining episodes of the

controversial programme after suitable modification and moderation.

In an affidavit filed in the top court, the Information and Broadcasting

Ministry noted that the episodes telecast by the channel "has likelihood of

promoting communal attitudes". "If any violation of the Programme Code is

found in future, stricter penal action would be taken," the ministry said.

Cautioning the channel, the I&B Ministry said, "The channel should review

the contents of the future episodes of the programme 'Bindas Bol - UPSC

Jihad, and the audio-visual content should be suitably moderated and

modified, so as to ensure that there is no violation of the Programme Code."





The administrator for Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB), appointed by the Reserve

Bank of India (RBI), assured depositors on Wednesday that the bank had

enough liquidity and that he was confident the moratorium would be lifted by

December 16 and that withdrawal limits would also go away by then.

"There is no need to panic, every single rupee of customers is safe,"

administrator T N Manoharan said a day after the 94-year old private sector

lender was put under moratorium and the RBI proposed to merge it with DBS

Bank's less than two-year-old India subsidiary.

"There is no cash crunch. ATMs will be operational from Thursday. Gradually

everything is getting relaxed, the system is getting re-calibrated in order

for customers to be able to withdraw by factoring in the cap, and is

expected to be operational by Thursday," said Manoharan. Priority was to

help customers to be able to withdraw within the permissible limits of Rs

25,000 per month, he said.

Meanwhile, LVB shareholders are to make a representation to the RBI today,

seeking that their interests be looked at sympathetically. A bad precedent

was set when shareholders of Global Trust Bank got nothing after it was

merged with the Oriental Bank of Commerce in 2004.





Morgan Stanley expects the benchmark Sensex top the 50,000 milestone by the

end of next year. The brokerage believes the economic growth cycle is not

fully priced in. It has revised upwards the earnings per share (EPS)

estimate for Sensex.

At 50,000, the Sensex would trade at 16 times its estimated FY21 earnings --

which the brokerage projects will be 15 per cent higher than FY20.

"We remain in a bull market that started in March, and even though one

should expect corrections along the way, the equity market may have more

legs before it tops out. We raise EPS estimates and index target," said

Morgan Stanley equity strategist Ridham Desai and Sheela Rathi in a note.

The brokerage believes a 'bottom-up' approach will be more rewarding for






Sensex 44,180 (+227), Nifty 12,938 (+64), Trading Value NSE ,(Rs.crores)


Nasdaq 11,802 (-98) Dow 29,438 (-345), S&P 3,568 (-42)

US$-Rs. 74.13 GBP-Rs. 98.40, Euro-Rs. 87.96, UAE Dhm-Rs.20.17, Can$-Rs.

56.67, Aus$- Rs. 54.15

GBP 0.75 /US$, Euro 0.84 /US$, Jap.Yen 103.91 /US$, Aus$ 1.36 /US$, Sing

1.34 /US$, Bang Taka 83.30 /US$, Can$ 1.30 /US$, Mal Ring 4.08 /US$,

Pak Re 158.08 /US$, Phil Peso 48.20 /US$, Russian Rouble 75.96 /US$, NZ$

1.44 /US$, Thai Baht 30.23 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 27.94 /US$, Norway NOK 9.02


Bitcoin - USD 17,967

Dollar Index 92.44 Brent Crude 44.24 BDI 1,112

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,871 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 5,089 / 4,989

Silver (Rs. Per KG) 67,700





When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to

catch you. - Lolly Daskal





A job applicant was asked, "What would you consider to be your main

strengths and weaknesses?"

"Well," he began, "my main weakness would definitely be my issues with

reality--sometimes I have a little trouble telling what's real from what's


"Okay," said the interviewer. "And what are your strengths?"

"I'm Superman."

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