India Newsletter

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

technology.

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

towards".

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.

 

 

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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

 

 

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

government.

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

said.

 

 

THE REST

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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

of law".

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

chargesheet".

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

authorised users.

 

 

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

official said.

 

 

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

half.

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

than 2021.

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.

 

 

INDICATORS

 

Sensex 45,609 (+182), Nifty 13,393 (+37), Trading Value NSE ,(Rs.crores)

69376.1

Nasdaq 12,583 (+63) Dow 30,174 (+104), S&P 3,702 (+10)

US$-Rs. 73.63 GBP-Rs. 98.45, Euro-Rs. 89.19, UAE Dhm-Rs.20.04, Can$-Rs.

57.52, Aus$- Rs. 54.60

GBP 0.74 /US$, Euro 0.82 /US$, Jap.Yen 104.09 /US$, Aus$ 1.34 /US$, Sing

1.33 /US$, Bang Taka 83.23 /US$, Can$ 1.28 /US$, Mal Ring 4.06 /US$,

Pak Re 159.83 /US$, Phil Peso 48.14 /US$, Russian Rouble 73.47 /US$, NZ$

1.42 /US$, Thai Baht 30.03 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 27.90 /US$, Norway NOK 8.75

/US$

Bitcoin - USD 18,287

Dollar Index 90.86 Brent Crude 48.63 BDI 1,162

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,866 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 4,935 / 4,835

Silver (Rs. Per KG) 69,500

 

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

When our memories outweigh our dreams, we have grown old. - Bill Clinton

 

 

OFF TRACK

 

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

him.

"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

any good."

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