FRONT PAGE NEWS
9 Dec 2020
FARM TALKS WITH AMIT SHAH FAILS TO RESOLVE STANDOFF
On a day when the Bharat Bandh called by farmer unions saw a mixed response
across the country, Home Minister Amit Shah stepped in to resolve the crisis
on Tuesday as he met a delegation of 13 farmer leaders, but could not break
the deadlock. While the government offered to send a proposal regarding the
amendments that it was willing to make in the new farm laws, the farmers
stuck to their demand for repeal of the laws.
While the sixth round of talks with the Centre was scheduled to be held on
Wednesday, farmer leaders said they would "not participate" and would first
meet to discuss the government's proposal. The Union Cabinet is set to meet
on Wednesday morning.
Farmer leaders said the government's offer to send a proposal on the
amendments indicated that it was not ready to repeal the laws.
Speaking to reporters after the nearly three-hour-long meeting, Hannan
Mollah, CPI(M) leader and general secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha,
said: "In today's meeting, the Home Minister made it clear that the
government will not repeal the laws... There is no scope for amendments, we
want repeal of the laws. We don't accept amendments, we want repeal."
"We will let you know about the next round of talks after our meeting at
Singhu border tomorrow," he said. "There is no chance of a meeting again.
There was no outcome in today's meeting. we will not participate in
tomorrow's meeting. They will give a letter tomorrow. But whatever they have
decided to give us in writing tomorrow, we will not accept. There is no
question of meeting again," Mollah said.
Haryana Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) president Gurnam Singh Chaduni also sais
the same as Mollah.
Meanwhile, the Bharat Bandh called by the farmers' unions affected normal
life on Tuesday in large parts of northern India, especially Punjab, as well
as Odisha, West Bengal, Assam , Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
WE ARE TOO MUCH OF A DEMOCRACY. TOUGH REFORMS HARD: NITI AAYOG CHIEF
In his remarks, coming amid talks between the government and protesting
farmers over the new agricultural laws, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said the
changes in the legislation provide alternatives to farmers to sell their
crops without doing away with the system of MSP and mandis.
Speaking at an online event, 'The Road to Atmanirbhar Bharat', organised by
Swarajya magazine, Kant said these reforms need to be implemented and more
are needed in logistics and power sectors to make India a manufacturing
powerhouse competing with China.
Responding to a query on whether the Covid-19 pandemic presents an
opportunity for India to take the lead in manufacturing, given that similar
attempts in the past had not taken off", the NITI Aayog CEO said, "So tough
reforms are very difficult in the Indian context, we are too much of a
democracy. For the first time, the government has had the courage and the
determination to carry out very hard-headed reforms across sectors. mining,
coal, labour, agriculture. these are very, very difficult reforms. You
needed a huge amount of political determination and administrative will to
carry out these reforms which are being done."
"And many more reforms still need to be done, as I mentioned to you, across
logistics, across power," the NITI Aayog CEO said. "But. this government has
at least demonstrated its political will to do hard-headed reforms. And we
need to see them through to become a major manufacturing nation. It is not
easy to compete with China. It is not easy to become a manufacturing nation.
It doesn't happen out of holding seminars and webinars. It requires a very
hard-headed, ground-level approach, which is being attempted for the first
time in India."
TIMELY 5G ROLLOUT IS NEEDED, SAY PM MODI; AMBANI SAYS WE'RE ALL SET
Underlining the need for "timely rollout of 5G to leapfrog into the future
and empower millions of Indians", Prime Minister Narendra Modi told captains
of the telecom industry Tuesday that the country "will embark on one of the
world's largest Covid-19 vaccination drive" with the help of mobile
Addressing the inaugural session of the India Mobile Congress, the Prime
Minister said: "India is emerging as one of the most preferred destinations
for mobile manufacturing. We have also come up with the production linked
incentive scheme to promote telecom equipment manufacturing in India."
Declaring that "the future that lies ahead will make the present system
appear primitive", Modi said "it is important to think and plan how do we
improve lives with the upcoming technology revolution. Better healthcare,
better education, better information and opportunities for our farmers,
better market access for small businesses are some of the goals we can work
Speaking at the inaugural session, RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani called for
policy steps to accelerate the rollout of 5G service in the country. He said
Reliance Jio Infocomm would be ready to launch the service in the second
half of 2021.
Ambani's plans for launching 5G service by the second half of next year
comes even as the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and two other
private players, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone-Idea, have been non-committal
about their plans for 5G.
NO CLUE YET TO 'MYSTERY' ILLNESS IN ANDHRA TOWN
Eluru, a town in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh with a population
of over 3 lakhs, has been left shaken by a "mystery" illness that has
affected over 500 people since Saturday evening. In most cases, the symptoms
were the same: seizures, followed by loss of consciousness; and the recovery
was quick - they were ready to be discharged within a couple of hours.
State Health Minister A K Krishna Srinivas said of the 510 people who were
affected, 430 had been discharged. One death has been reported so far. "I am
appealing to people not to panic. The number of patients has come down; less
than 40 were reported today. I know people are scared. We are trying to
understand what caused it," he said.
Health officials suspect food or water contamination. A preliminary report
by a team from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New
Delhi, has found traces of lead and nickel in some blood samples.
"The seizures indicate neurological issues. The possibility of heavy metal
contamination will be investigated," said a scientist from the National
Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad.
What is worrying is that the illness is not confined to a particular area.
"If it was water or air-borne, people in a particular area would be
affected. However, almost the entire Eluru is affected in this case. In most
cases, only one member of the family was affected, which is also puzzling,"
said the NIN scientist.
COVID-19 VACCINE: JOE BIDEN VOWS 100 MILLION SHOTS IN FIRST 100 DAYS
US President-elect Joe Biden has promised to distribute a coronavirus
vaccine to 100 million people during the first three months of his incoming
administration, pledging 100 million shots in the first 100 days.
At an event from Delaware to introduce his pandemic response team on
Tuesday, Biden laid out his top three priorities for the start of his new
He repeated his previous calls for all Americans to wear masks for 100 days
to prevent the spread of the virus and said he'd mandate doing so in federal
buildings and on public transportation, while also making the new promise to
distribute 100 million vaccines shots over the same period.
Biden also said he believed that the virus can be brought under enough
control to reopen the majority of schools within his first 100 days.
BRITAIN, EU STRIKE DEAL ON IRELAND BORDER
Britain said on Tuesday it would drop clauses in draft domestic legislation
that breached the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement after it clinched a deal with
the European Union over how to manage the Ireland-Northern Ireland border.
Michael Gove, one of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's most senior Ministers,
announced an "agreement in principle on all issues, in particular with
regard to the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland".
The deal is separate to wider trade talks, which have yet to find a solution
on how to manage nearly $1 trillion of annual trade between Britain and the
EU, despite having just weeks until temporary arrangements expire.
But the agreement removes what was a major point of contention between
Britain and the EU, with Brussels warning that no wider trade deal would be
possible if London went through with its threat to unpick the exit treaty.
"I hope this may also provide some of the positive momentum necessary to
instil confidence and trust and allow progress in the wider context of the
future relationship negotiations," Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney
AAP SAYS CM KEJRIWAL UNDER HOUSE ARREST; DELHI POLICE DENY CLAIM
The Aam Aadmi Party on Tuesday alleged that the Delhi Police has put Chief
Minister Arvind Kejriwal under house arrest after he met protesting farmers
at the Singhu border, a claim denied by the city police.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that he was not allowed to enter
inside Kejriwal's residence. The AAP leader later addressed a press
conference outside the CM's residence.
Refuting the charge, Satish Golcha, Special Commissioner of Police (Law and
Order) North Zone said the situation in the national capital is peaceful.
"It is claimed in certain sections on social media that there have been
restrictions on the movement of the Chief Minister of Delhi. I would like to
clarify in this regard that these claims are totally baseless. There are
absolutely no restrictions. The chief minister is doing his normal
engagements and there is normal movement. Further he is going out of his
residence for his engagements," he told reporters.
UP POLICE CHARGE AGAINST TABLIGHI REFLECTS ABUSE OF POWER OF LAW: HC
While hearing a petition of a juvenile Tablighi Jamaat member who had
challenged the police chargesheet filed against him, the Allahabad High
Court said charging a person with attempt to murder for attending Tablighi
Jamaat congregation in New Delhi "prima facie reflects an abuse of the power
According to Javed Habib, the counsel for the 15-year-old applicant, police
in their original chargesheet had charged his client under IPC sections 269
(negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and
270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life).
The initial chargesheet was recalled and a fresh chargesheet was submitted
under Section 307 of the IPC (attempt to murder) on orders passed by the
Circle Officer (CO), Habib told the High Court.
The court asked the CO to "justify the amendment directed by him to the
The High Court also stayed the criminal proceedings against the applicant
till further orders.
IMO RECOGNISES NAVIC AS A COMPONENT OF THE WORLD-WIDE NAVIGATION SYSTEM
The IMO has recognised India's NavIC as a component of the World-Wide Radio
Navigation System (WWRNS), the ISRO said yesterday.
The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), also called NavIC,
is an independent regional navigation satellite system developed by India.
It is designed to provide accurate position information service to users in
India as well as the region extending up to 1500 km from its boundary.
According to ISRO, the IRNSS will provide two types of services, namely,
Standard Positioning Service (SPS) which is provided to all users and
Restricted Service (RS), which is an encrypted service provided only to the
SUBSCRIBERS TO GET 8.5% EPF SAVINGS INTEREST AT ONE GO ON 'MARKET BOOST'
Working class will soon get the declared interest rate of 8.5 per cent on
their Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) savings for the financial year 2019-20
at one go. The current bull market prompted the EPFO to offload its equity
investments and gain higher-than-expected returns in December.
Following the development, the Union labour and employment ministry has
written to the finance ministry, seeking 8.5 per cent interest to be
credited into around 190 million EPF accounts for 2019-20.
"Though it has taken a bit longer to credit interest to subscribers, the
good news is that the EPFO has received higher income from the sale of
exchange traded funds (ETFs) now. With an interest rate of 8.5 per cent now,
we will be left with a huge surplus of around Rs 1,000 crore," the EPFO
MISTRY STAKE VALUED AT RS 80,000 CRORE AT MOST, SAYS TATA GROUP IN SC
About three months after the Shapoorji Pallonji (SP) Group had offered to
sell its 18.37 per cent stake back to Tata Sons at a valuation of Rs 1.75
trillion, the salt-to-software conglomerate has marked it down by more than
Tata Sons counsel Harish Salve, during a Supreme Court hearing on Tuesday,
put the value of the Cyrus Mistry family shares at Rs 70,000-80,000 crore -
a difference of Rs 1 trillion with the figure projected by the SP Group. The
case will come up for hearing again on Wednesday.
While stating that a member of Tata Sons cannot make allegations against
group firms, Salve argued that the Tata group was run amazingly by its
former chairman Ratan Tata. During his tenure between 1991 and 2012, the
market cap of Tatas rose by 500 times, he said. "When there is a growth
story of 500 times, there will be some winner projects and some losers,''
Salve told the court.
He was referring to the Mistry family's allegations that many Tata firms had
run into losses under Ratan Tata. "Just because some businesses make losses
does not imply that there is mismanagement in Tata Sons," Salve argued.
The Supreme Court is hearing an appeal filed by the Tata group against an
order by the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) last December.
The NCLAT order had reinstated Cyrus Mistry as Tata group chairman, while
terming his successor N Chandrasekaran's appointment as illegal.
TOP GLOBAL INVESTORS ARE BETTING BIG ON OFFICE SPACE IN INDIA
Some of the world's biggest investors are snapping up office space in India
with plans to turn them into real estate investment trusts, betting that
demand will sustain and provide attractive yields in coming decades.
Brookfield Asset Management Inc. in October agreed to pay $2 billion for
12.5 million square feet of rent-yielding offices and co-working spaces in
India. That's the biggest real estate deal ever for India. Blackstone Group
Inc. bought $1.2 billion of malls and other commercial properties from a
local developer, set to further expand its 9.6 million square feet of
fully-owned real estate assets in India.
These assets will probably be folded into existing REITs or listed as new
ones. Blackstone is the backer of Embassy Office Parks REIT, which raised
$689 million in the country's first such listing in April 2019. That was
followed by another REIT that's also backed by Blackstone in August, while
Brookfield is looking to list one in Mumbai before the end of this year. At
least two more are in the pipeline for 2021.
High returns are luring investors to REITs amid low interest rates globally.
The REITs already listed in India provide yields of 7.5%-8%, compared with
3%-5% in cities such as Singapore, Beijing and Sydney, according to Ivanhoe
Cambridge, the realty unit of Canada's second-biggest public pension fund,
Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec.
BREAKDANCING IS NOW AN OLYMPICS SPORT!
The International Olympic Committee's (IOC) pursuit of urban events to lure
a younger audience saw street dance battles officially added to the medal
events program at the 2024 Paris Games.
Also confirmed for Paris by the IOC executive board were skateboarding,
sport climbing, and surfing. These three sports will make their Olympics
debuts at the Tokyo Games which were postponed because of the coronavirus
pandemic by one year to open on July 23, 2021.
Alongside the additions, the IOC made substraction: The slate of 329 medal
events in Paris is 10 fewer than in Tokyo, including four lost from
weightlifting, and the athlete quota in 2024 of 10,500 is around 600 less
Two sports with troubled governing bodies - boxing and weightlifting - saw
the biggest cuts to the number of athletes they can have in Paris.
Weightlifting should have 120 athletes in Paris, which is less than half of
its total at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. The sport could be dropped
entirely due to its doping problems and IOC concerns over the pace and depth
of reform at the International Weightlifting Federation. The IOC stressed
its future priorities for Paris, and beyond to the 2028 Los Angeles Games,
by claiming it will hit a long-term target of equal participation by men and
women athletes, and more urbanised events.
OZ WIN LAST T20I, DENY INDIA A CLEAN SWEEP
Australian bowlers held their nerve to stop the charge of Virat Kohli,
preventing an Indian clean sweep with a 12-run victory in the third and
final T20I here today.
With this, India won the T20I series 2-1. The loss ended India's 10-match
winning streak in the format.
Kohli was dropped three times and he cashed in on the reprieves to smash 85
off 61 balls but India could reach only 174/7 in their pursuit of 187. Kohli
finally fell in the 19th over. An over before that, Hardik Pandya fell to
Adam Zampa, trying to to hit against the turn. After Pandya was gone, with
43 runs still needed off 17 balls, Kohli was left with too much to on his
own, and this was one rare occasion when he failed to take the team home.
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THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
When our memories outweigh our dreams, we have grown old. - Bill Clinton
A Swiss guy on a Holiday in English countryside, looking for directions,
pulls up at a bus stop where two Englishmen are waiting. "Entschuldigung,
koennen Sie Deutsch sprechen?" he says. The two Englishmen just stare at
"Excusez-moi, parlez vous Francais?" The two continue to stare. "Parlare
Italiano?" No response, "Hablan ustedes Espanol?" Still nothing. the Swiss
guy drives off, extremely disgusted.
The first Englishman turns to the second and says, "Y'know, maybe we should
learn a foreign language...."
"Why?" says the other, "That bloke knew four languages, and it didn't do him