FRONT PAGE NEWS
20 Nov 2020
WILL CONTINUE DIALOGUE: MEA ON LADAKH BORDER STANDOFF WITH CHINA
India on Thursday said it will continue dialogue and communication through
military and diplomatic channels with China on the border standoff in
eastern Ladakh and that both sides have agreed to hold another round of
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava while referring to
the ongoing military talks between the two countries also rejected as
"baseless" a report in a British daily 'The Times', which quoted a Chinese
professor to claim that the Chinese PLA had used "microwave weapons" to
force Indian soldiers to leave positions in eastern Ladakh.
He said the objective of the military talks is to ensure complete
disengagement and full restoration of peace and tranquillity along the LAC
in the western sector.
At an online media briefing, he also recalled the eighth round of talks
between senior military commanders of India and China in Chushul on November
6. These discussions were candid, in-depth and constructive and both sides
exchanged views on disengagement at all friction points along the LAC in the
western sector of the India-China border areas, he said "The objective of
these discussions is to ensure complete disengagement and full restoration
of peace and tranquillity along the LAC in the western sector.
"We will continue our dialogue and communication through military and
diplomatic channels and have also agreed to have another round of talks soon
with a view to achieve this objective," the spokesperson said.
HC RAPS DELHI GOVT ON COVID SITUATION
Facing a sharp surge in Covid cases, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal
said Thursday that all private hospitals in the capital will have to reserve
80 per cent of their ICU beds and up to 60 per cent of normal beds for
coronavirus patients, and defer non-critical surgeries. Kejriwal also said
that the penalty for not wearing masks has been increased four-fold, from Rs
500 to Rs 2,000.
The government has also decided to increase the number of daily RT-PCR tests
in Delhi to 60,000 by the end of November.
The total no. of cases identified in Delhi since the start of pandemic
stands at over 5.1 lakhs while the current active cases are at over 43,000.
The total no. of Covid deaths in Delhi so far is 8,041
The last 7 days have seen an average of about 6,200 new cases a day while
the recoveries have averaged at about 6,100 a day. The deaths by Covid-19
have averaged 101 a day, over the last 7 days. Also, over the last 7 days
Delhi has recorded 21% of Covid deaths in the country.
The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the AAP government if it could
explain to those who had lost their near and dear ones to COVID-19 in the
last 18 days why the administration did not take steps when cases were
spiralling in the national capital.
"You (Delhi government) saw from November 1 which way the wind was blowing.
But you turn turtle now because we asked you some questions. The bell should
have rung loud and clear when the numbers were spiralling. Why did you not
wake up when you saw the situation was deteriorating? "Why did we have to
shake you out of your slumber on November 11? What did you do from November
1 till November 11? Why did you wait 18 days (till November 18) to take a
decision? Do you know how many lives were lost during this period? Can you
explain it to those who lost their near and dear ones," the bench asked.
It also noted that Delhi government statements, about the rising COVID
cases, to the press appear to be contrary to the submissions made in court.
The bench also noted during the hearing that the crematoriums are
"overflowing" and the "funeral pyres are burning throughout the night" and
asked the Delhi government whether adequate arrangements are in place to
cremate or bury the rising number of people succumbing to COVID-19.
PAKISTAN COURT SENTENCES HAFIZ SAEED TO 10 YEARS IN JAIL IN TWO MORE CASES
Mumbai terror attack mastermind and Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed
was on Thursday sentenced to 10 years in jail by an anti-terrorism court in
Pakistan in two more terror cases.
Saeed, a UN designated terrorist whom the US has placed a USD 10 million
bounty on, was arrested on July 17 last year in the terror financing cases.
He was sentenced to 11 years in jail by an anti-terrorism court in February
this year in two terror financing cases.
He is lodged at the Lahore's high-security Kot Lakhpat jail. "The
Anti-Terrorism Court of Lahore on Thursday sentenced four leaders of
Jamat-ud-Dawa, including its chief Hafiz Saeed, in two more cases," a court
Saeed and his two close aides - Zafar Iqbal and Yahya Mujahid - have been
sentenced to 10 and a half years each, while JuD chief's brother-in-law
Abdul Rehman Makki was sentenced to six months imprisonment.
While there was no official reaction from India, sources said the sentencing
was another "high on optics" move meant to score points with the Financial
Action Task Force (FATF), the global terror financing and money laundering
watchdog, which will review Pakistan's case early next year and decide
whether or not to blacklist it.
PARLIAMENTARY PANEL GRILLS TWITTER OVER 'OBSCENE' TWEETS BY KUNAL KAMRA
A parliamentary committee questioned Twitter on Thursday over the recent
"obscene" tweets by stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra targeting the Supreme
Court and the chief justice of India (CJI), and sought reply from the social
media giant over the matter within seven days, said the panel's chairperson
This came close on the heels of Twitter apologising in writing to the same
parliamentary panel for wrongly showing Ladakh in China and promising to
correct the error by the month-end. Twitter India representatives deposed
before the Joint Committee of Parliament on Data Protection Bill on
"It is shameful that Twitter is allowing its platform for obscene remarks
like the one by stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra against the Supreme Court and
the CJI," Lekhi told reporters.
The panel's move was questioned by Shashi Tharoor, head of the Parliamentary
Standing Committee on Information Technology. "Dear @M_Lekhi, as far as I am
aware your Committee was formed for consultations on the Data Protection
Bill & its mandate is to report on the statutory provisions continued in the
draft Bill. Could you clarify if you have taken on additional
responsibilities & on whose authority?," he tweeted.
Hitting back, Lekhi tweeted: "Travesty that I have to respond to people who
are busy exhibiting their lack of understanding. I refuse to run law
tutorials specifically when Sr Advocate from Congress Party Mr Vivek Tankha
was present in the committee & has already concurred with me."
Interestingly, Tankha grilled Twitter officials the most at Thursday's
DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN DROPS MICHIGAN LAWSUIT
President Donald Trump's re-election campaign said on Thursday it was
withdrawing its lawsuit disputing vote results in Michigan, in another
faltering legal attempt to challenge the Nov. 3 victory of US
President-elect Joe Biden.
"This morning we are withdrawing our lawsuit in Michigan as a direct result
of achieving the relief we sought: to stop the election in Wayne County from
being prematurely certified before residents can be assured that every legal
vote has been counted and every illegal vote has not been counted," Trump
lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in a statement.
Trump's refusal to concede has put Biden's transition to the White House in
limbo, complicating his efforts to tackle a COVID-19 pandemic that has
killed more than 247,000 people in the United States and shows no sign of
In a call with reporters, former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who
co-chairs Biden's COVID-19 task force, said blocking Biden transition
advisers from meeting with government experts could harm their ability to
confront the pandemic next year.
Several doctors and nurses associations have published a letter urging the
Trump administration to share critical COVID-19 data, such as equipment
inventories, medical supplies and hospital bed capacity, with Biden's team.
Biden, a Democratic former vice president who will take office on Jan. 20,
has also not been able to receive the classified intelligence briefings
normally afforded a president-elect.
UAE SUSPENDS ISSUANCE OF VISIT VISAS TO PAKISTAN, 11 OTHER COUNTRIES
The United Arab Emirates on Wednesday temporarily suspended the issuance of
new visas to visitors from Pakistan and 11 other countries until further
notice, the Foreign Office said.
The decision by the UAE authorities is "believed to be related to the second
wave of COVID-19," Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said in
However, the suspension would not apply on already issued visas, the Foreign
The other countries hit by the UAE government's fresh visa directives
include Turkey, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Kenya and
On Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan had urged the people to "act as a
nation" in order to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has so
far infected 363,380 people and claimed 7,230 lives in the country.
NEWLY INDUCTED BIHAR MINISTER RESIGNS OVER CORRUPTION CASE
Bihar Education Minister Mewalal Choudhary Thursday resigned three days
after taking oath amid allegations of corruption. He submitted his
resignation after meeting Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
"An accusation is proven only when a chargesheet is filed or a court gives
an order and neither of the two is there to prove the allegations against
me," Choudhary said.
Bihar's main Opposition RJD has been attacking the CM for appointing
Choudhary, who belongs to the JD(U), as the Education Minister. Targeting CM
Nitish over the development, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said, "You are the
real culprit. Why did you make (him) a minister? Your duplicity and gimmick
will no longer be tolerated."
The case pertains to Choudhary's tenure as vice-chancellor of Bihar
Agriculture University at Sabaur in Bhagalpur. He and about 50 others had
been first booked in 2017 under IPC sections 409, 420, 467, 468, 471 and
120B. The matter pertained to alleged discrepancies in the appointment of
167 assistant-cum-junior scientists at the newly-opened agriculture
university during Choudhary's tenure as V-C between 2010 and 2015. He
declared it in his 2020 election affidavit and was elected MLA from Tarapur
COVID-19 CASES RISING, TOTAL CURFEW IN AHMEDABAD FROM TONIGHT TILL MONDAY
Ahmedabad city will go under "complete curfew" from Friday night till Monday
morning with only shops selling milk and medicines remaining open, in view
of the steep surge in Covid-19 cases after Diwali, and night curfew will
The Gujarat government also decided to put on hold the reopening of schools
and colleges from November 23.
The state government also sanctioned 300 doctors and 300 medical students
for Ahmedabad city on Thursday. For areas around Ahmedabad, such as
Sabarmati, Chandkehda and Motera, 100 additional beds are being reserved for
Covid patients at Gandhinagar Civil Hospital.
AFTER UP, EDITORS GUILD WRITES TO ASSAM CM ON SAFETY OF JOURNALISTS
Nearly ten days after the Editors Guild wrote a letter to the Chief Minister
of Uttar Pradesh on protection of press freedom, the Guild on Thursday wrote
a similar letter to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on the "safety
and protection of working journalists" in the state.
It said in the letter that there has been "growing incidence of violence
against journalists" in the state and that "they have been subjected to mob
attacks, intimidation, and threats, which is vitiating the environment
necessary for the functioning of an independent and vibrant media".
The letter mentioned that Sonowal's "firm condemnation of these incidents"
was appreciated, but "the situation demands your urgent intervention to
assure the media that they are safe to report without fearing retribution
from the criminal mafia" and in its absence "a sense of impunity could
embolden attackers who may believe that they are above the law".
The letter mentioned journalist Milan Mahanta who "was tied to a pole by
five criminals and beaten mercilessly". The Guild said it was a "testament
of the difficult environment in which the journalists work in Assam". It
also cited another incident where Parag Bhuyam, another journalist was
overrun by a car and died close to his home.
SENA LEADER FORCES A MUMBAI SHOP TO COVER 'KARACHI' IN ITS NAME
A sweet shop owner in Mumbai's Bandra West was forced to cover his shop sign
after Shiv Sena leader Nitin Nandgaokar wanted Karachi dropped from its
A video of the exchange between the two was caught on camera in which
Nandgaokar is heard asking the owner to change the word 'Karachi' to
"something in Marathi". "You have to do it, we're giving you time. Change
'Karachi' to something in Marathi," Nandgaokar is heard saying.
Subsequently, Shiv Sena's Rajya Sabha MP, Sanjay Raut, clarified that the
demand for changing the shop's name is not the party's official stance. Raut
took to Twitter and said, "Karachi bakery and karachi sweets have been in
mumbai since last 60 years. They have nothing to do with Pakistan. It makes
no sense to ask for changing their names now. Demand for changing their name
is not Shiv Sena's official stance."
DOMESTIC EQUIPMENT VENDORS CHARGE UP TO 89% MORE, BSNL TELLS DOT
State-owned BSNL has listed out the major reasons why domestic equipment
vendors have not been good news for the telecom company.
Responding to a Department of Telecommunications (DoT) query on various
issues related to the make-in-India scheme, BSNL has blamed the
uncompetitive rates offered by domestic vendors for their lacklustre
performance in the past five years.
The rates offered by the local gear makers for some key BSNL contracts have
been 49 to 89 per cent higher than those from global players, the telco said
in a letter that was reviewed by Business Standard.
DoT had asked BSNL to identify and map local capacities and their
competiveness as part of a policy to provide preference to the make-in-India
BSNL has also stated that domestic vendors have not even participated in 20
of the 35 central tenders floated by the company in the last five years.
The BSNL letter has come at a time when the government wants domestic
vendors to play a key role in the upcoming tender for 4G equipment.
ANTI-COVID-19 NASAL SPRAY 'READY FOR USE IN HUMANS'
A nasal spray that can provide effective protection against the COVID-19
virus has been developed by researchers at the University of Birmingham,
using materials already cleared for use in humans, the varsity said on
Thursday. A team in the University's Healthcare Technologies Institute
formulated the spray using compounds already widely approved by regulatory
bodies in the UK, Europe and the US.
The spray works in two primary ways. Firstly, it catches and coats the virus
inside the nose, from where it can be eliminated via the usual routes -
either nose-blowing or swallowing.
Secondly, because the virus is encapsulated in the spray's viscous coating,
it is prevented from being uptaken by the body. That means it will reduce
the viral load in the body, but also even if virus particles are passed on
to another person via a sneeze or cough, that person is less likely to be
infected by active virus particles.
The team believe the spray could be particularly useful in areas where
crowding is less avoidable, such as aeroplanes or classrooms. Regular
application of the spray could significantly reduce disease transmission.
BOOKER PRIZE 2020: DOUGLAS STUART WINS FOR DEBUT NOVEL SHUGGIE BAIN
The Booker Prize of the 2020 has been announced and the coveted honour has
been bestowed on Douglas Stuart's Shuggie Bain. In his debut work, Stuart
presents a tightly-cut portrait of the working class during the 1980s in
Glasgow. But at its heart, it is about a family struggling to survive and
children loving damaged parents amidst all the struggle.
Apart from this, the shortlist consisted of five more titles which included:
Avni Doshi's book, Burnt Sugar - published in India as Girl In White Cotton,
The New Wilderness by Diane Cook, This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga,
The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste, and Real Life by Brandon Taylor.
AUSTRALIA DISPLACES INDIA, TAKES TOP SPOT IN ICC TEST RANKINGS
Australia has displaced India at the top of the World Test Championship
(WTC) due to a change in the calculation of points for the inaugural edition
of the Championship.
The ICC Board on Thursday accepted the recommendation of the Cricket
Committee and the Chief Executives' Committee to not put any team at a
disadvantage for being unable to participate in a WTC series due to the
The Cricket Committee chaired by former India captain and head coach Anil
Kumble recommended that the rankings be determined based on matches
completed in the WTC cycle instead of total points earned. It has resulted
in India, with percentile score of 75 despite having 360 points in its
kitty, being moved down to the second spot after Australia (82.2 percentile,
The top two teams at the end of the league stage in April, 2021, are
scheduled to face each other in the maiden WTC final at Lord's in June next
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THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
I think that only daring speculation can lead us further and not
accumulation of facts. - Albert Einstein
One day, Little Johnny's grandmother sent him to the water hole to get some
water for cooking dinner.
As he was dipping the bucket in, he saw two big eyes looking back at him. He
dropped the bucket and ran back to grandma's house as fast as he could.
"Where's my bucket and my water?" She asked.
"I can't get any water from that water hole, there's a mean ol' alligator
"Now don't you mind that ol' alligator, Johnny. He's been there for years,
and he's never hurt no one. Why, he's probably as scared of you as you are
"Well, Grandma," replied Johnny, "if he's as scared of me as I am of him,
then that water ain't fit to drink!"