FRONT PAGE NEWS
14 Dec 2020
FARMERS PROTEST: HEADS OF ALL FARMER UNIONS ON HUNGER STRIKE TODAY
Amid the deadlock between farmers and the Centre, farmer leader Gurnam Singh
Chaduni Sunday announced that the heads of all farmer unions will observe a
one-day hunger strike on Monday. The hunger strike, between 8 am to 5 pm, is
part of the farmers plan to intensify their agitation.
Addressing a press conference at Singhu border, where the farmers have been
camping for the past 18 days now, Chaduni said the leaders will observe the
hunger strike at their respective places. Farmer leader Shiv Kumar
Kakkasaid, Government agencies have been stopping farmers from reaching
Delhi, but the protest will continue till their demands are met. Our stand
is clear, we want the three farm laws repealed. All farmer unions
participating in this movement are together.
Another farmer leader, Rakesh Tikait, said, If the government gives another
proposal for talks, our committee will decide on it. We appeal to all to
maintain peace during the protest.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Sunday accused Opposition
parties of running a propaganda against the new farm laws and asserted that
these legislations may cause difficulty for some in the short term but
will be beneficial to farmers in the long run.
Tomar, who is leading negotiations with the 40 protesting farmer unions to
break the deadlock, was addressing a delegation of over 100 farmers from
Uttarakhand who came to extend their support to the laws.
Addressing the delegation, Tomar said the government faced opposition when
it revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. It also faced opposition
when it brought the amended citizenship law as well as over the Ram temple
When the agricultural reforms were brought, there was opposition to this
too.... There are some people who just oppose and weaken the country. This
has become their nature, the agriculture minister said.
On agricultural sector reforms, the discussion has been going on for last
many years, Tomar said. Unfortunately the previous governments who wanted
to reform were not able to it..., he added.
WHY GOVT TALKING IF FARMERS HAVE MAOIST AND KHALISTAN LINKS: CHIDAMBARAM
Former Union Home Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram has
slammed the Centre on the linking of farmers' protest with Khalistan and
Maoist elements and questioned that if it were so why was the government
holding talks with protesters.
"Ministers have described the protesters against the farm laws as
Khalistanis, agents of Pakistan and China, Maoists, and 'tukde-tukde' gang.
If you exhaust all these categories, it means there are no farmers among the
thousands of protesters. If there are no farmers, why is the government
talking to them?" he tweeted.
GANDHIS STATUE VANDALISED IN US, EMBASSY FOR ACTION
The Indian Embassy in Washington has lodged a strong protest with US law
enforcement agencies over the draping of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi with a
flag purportedly to be that of Khalistan.
In a statement, the embassy said, The statue at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial
Plaza in front of the embassy was defaced by Khalistani elements by
hooligans masquerading as protesters against the universally respected icon
of peace and justice.
The embassy has taken up the matter with the US Department of State for an
early investigation and action against the culprits.
IRCTC SENDS OUT NEARLY 2 CRORE EMAILS HIGHLIGHTING MODIS RELATIONSHIP WITH
IRCTC, a railway PSU sent out nearly two crore emails between December 8 and
December 12 to its customers listing 13 decisions taken by Prime Minister
Narendra Modi to support the Sikh community, amidst farmers protest against
the Centres three farm laws.
The emails were sent to the entire database of IRCTC, where passengers key
in their details while booking tickets, the officials said.
Officials said that the move to send out the emails was a conscious choice
as part of a communication strategy for public interest.
The booklet speaks of the justice given to the 1984 riot victims, FCRA
registration granted to Sri Harmandir Sahib, Jallianwala Bagh Memorial, no
taxes on langar, the Kartarpur corridor among other things under 13 heads.
ASSAM CABINET NOD TO REPEAL PROVISIONS FOR MADRASAS, SANSKRIT SCHOOLS
The Assam government on Sunday approved a proposal to repeal provisions for
madrasas and Sanskrit tolls (schools), a Cabinet note said. Legislation to
this effect will be introduced in the coming session of the Assembly.
So, we have decided to convert these institutes into seats for general
education. Now, 600 madrasas will be closed (down). In these madrasas, we
are going to impart modern education. This (is not to) save any finance. We
will keep spending Rs 300 crore because we are not going to take anybody out
of service The madrasa education is opposed by the students themselves,
said Assams Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
According to Sarma, in the high madrasas in Assam a student has the chance
to score 200 marks studying a subject based on Islam and Quran. An
opportunity was given only to a class of citizens to study their holy
scripture and then score marks. So, my opposition is because you have to
establish parity. Either you allow the Bhagavad Gita or Bible so that other
students also score 200 marks, or remove the Quran, Sarma said.
He added, I think introducing the Bible or Bhagavad Gita will not be easy
because Assam has a composite culture and there are many small religions. So
the best way to establish parity is to remove the subject on the Quran.
IRAN EXECUTES JOURNALIST RUHOLLAH ZAM
Iranian dissident and journalist Ruhollah Zam was executed on Saturday for
his role in sparking nationwide anti-government protests in 2017, Irans
state television reported. Zams execution comes four days after the Iranian
Supreme Court upheld his death sentence, despite facing widespread
Earlier this year, a court sentenced Zam to death after he was found guilty
of corruption on earth a charge that is often invoked for cases that
involve espionage or an attempt to overthrow the Iranian government.
Ruhollah Zam was an Iranian activist and journalist who was best known for
running an online opposition news website, called AmadNews, as well as a
thriving channel on messaging app Telegram, where he had garnered over a
Zams website and Telegram feed played a central role in the anti-government
protests that broke out across Iran in 2017 in response to a flailing
economy, soaring inflation and an overall lack of opportunity for thousands
of the countrys citizens.
The 2017 protests grew to become the biggest political challenge faced by
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and even Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei since the pro-democracy Green Movement protests that spread through
the country in 2009.
Several activists and advocacy groups across the world have condemned Zams
execution. According to Reporters Without Borders, Iran has been one of the
worlds most repressive countries for journalists for the past 40 years.
BREXIT: LEADERS TO GO EXTRA MILE AS DEADLINE IS EXTENDED
Britains grinding negotiations with the European Union for a post-Brexit
trade agreement won a reprieve on Sunday, as PM Boris Johnson and the
president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, agreed to extend
the talks despite divisions between the two sides that had looked impossible
In a joint statement issued after a midday phone call, Johnson and von der
Leyen said, We think it is responsible at this point to go the extra mile.
They characterised the call as useful, the first glimmer of hope after
days in which the negotiations appeared to be heading for the rocks.
Johnson and von der Leyen did not set a new deadline for the negotiations,
though as a practical matter, the two sides have until December 31, when the
transition period to hammer out a long-term trade deal expires and Britain
and the EU would impose tariffs on each others goods.
A failure to come to terms would thrust the United Kingdom into uncharted
waters with its largest trading partner. It could lead to disruptions of
food shipments, threaten British manufacturing industries, and ignite ugly
squabbles between British and French fishing boats over coastal fishing
CHINESE DEBT DEFAULTS SEND INVESTORS INTO A TIZZY
Despite claims of an economic recovery, Chinese state-owned companies are
defaulting on their debts. A string of missed debt repayments by major firms
has shaken local as well as global markets. State firms defaulted on a
record $6.1 billion worth of bonds between January and October, according to
Fitch Ratings. Thats about as much as the last two years combined. The
development has rattled Chinas nearly $4 trillion corporate debt market, of
which state-owned enterprises are estimated to account for more than half.
At least 20 firms suspended plans for new debt issues totalling $2.4
billion, all citing recent market turmoil.
The mounting non-payment of debt payments is getting worse in recent weeks.
A slew of major companies, including German automaker BMWs Chinese partner
Brilliance Auto Group, top smartphone chipmaker Tsinghua Unigroup, and
Yongcheng Coal and Electricity declared bankruptcy or defaulted on their
loans in November. This was enough to send shock waves through debt market.
Bond prices nosedived sharply, interest rates soared and the turmoil even
spilt over into the stock market, with shares of state-owned firms
The defaults have angered global investors, who say their faith in the
firms top-notch ratings, seemingly sound finances and implicit state
backing has been violated. There is a panic among investors who believed
that the close relationships between these companies and Chinese governments
make them safe bets in times of trouble. But investors are a worried lot as
the state is no longer willing to support these companies; investments have
suddenly become much riskier propositions.
KEJRIWAL TO FAST TODAY, IN SOLIDARITY WITH PROTESTING FARMERS
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today said he will hold a
one-day fast Monday in support of the protesting farmers. He also urged all
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) workers and supporters to observe the one-day fast in
solidarity with the farmers. Addressing a virtual press briefing, the chief
minister said the Centre should immediately accept all demands of the
farmers. He also asked the BJP-ruled Centre to shun arrogance, and scrap
the three farm laws and bring in a Bill to guarantee minimum support price
(MSP) for agricultural produce.
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh on Sunday described Kejriwals announcement of
observing a fast on Monday as theatrics. Singh said the Kejriwal
government had backstabbed the farmers by shamelessly notifying one of
the farm laws on November 23.
And now, they are indulging in theatrics by announcing that they would be
sitting on a fast in support of the farmers hunger strike on Monday, he
said in a statement.
Instead of doing anything constructive to help the protesting farmers, who
are sitting outside your city for the past 17 days to seek justice, you and
your party are busy playing politics, the Congress leader said.
BRAHMINS DONT TAKE OFFENCE WHEN CASTE CALLED, WHY DO SHUDRAS, SAYS PRAGYA
Bhopal Member of Parliament (MP) Pragya Singh Thakur told a gathering in
Madhya Pradeshs Sehore on Saturday that shudras feel bad when they are
called shudras due to ignorance about the social system.
Addressing a gathering of the Kshatriya Mahasabha, Thakur said that society
has been divided into four categories in our dharmashastra (social
treatise). Kshatriya ko kshatriya keh do, bura nahin lagta. Brahmin ko
brahmin keh do, bura nahin lagta. Vaishya ko Vaishya keh do, bura nahin
lagta. Shudra ko shudra keh do, bura lag jata hai. Kaaran kya hai? Kyunki
na-samjhi, samajh nahi paate, she said.
(If you call a kshatriya a kshatriya, they dont feel bad; call a brahmin a
brahmin, they dont feel bad; call a vaishya a vaishya, they dont feel bad.
But if you call a shudra a shudra, they feel bad. Why is this so? Because of
ignorance, they are unable to understand.)
In other contentious remarks, Thakur said that a law to control population
growth should be for those who indulge in anti-national activities it
doesnt apply for those who live for the nation She also said that
reservation should be on the basis of economic background to benefit the
poor, enabling them to live a better life not on caste lines. Addressing
women at the gathering, she said: Todays kshatriya need to understand
their duties and produce more and more children to induct them into the
Armed Forces so that they can fight for the nation and strengthen its
EXPECT NORMAL LIFE TO RETURN BY OCT: ADAR POONAWALLA
Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla said the Covid-19
vaccination drive was likely to begin in India by January as his firm
which is testing and manufacturing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine candidate
was expecting to get emergency-use authorisation by month-end.
Speaking at The Economic Times Global Business Summit, Adar Poonawalla said
he expected everyone in India to be vaccinated by October 2021 following
which normal life could return.
Once 20% of India gets the coronavirus vaccine, we can hopefully see the
confidence and sentiments coming back, and by September-October next year
hopefully there will be enough vaccines for everyone and normal life can
return, the SII chief said.
The Oxford vaccine uses a chimpanzee viral vector that cant cause disease
in humans and expresses the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. This means the vaccine
delivers the spike protein genetic code into cells, which then produce the
protein, teaching the immune system to recognise and attack the virus.
The total no. of cases identified country-wide since the start of pandemic
stands at over 98.82 lakhs while the current active cases are at around 3.51
lakhs. The total no. of deaths so far stands at about 1.43 lakhs
The last 7 days have seen an average of 29,675 new cases a day while the
recoveries have averaged at about 35,634 a day. The deaths by Covid-19 have
averaged 400 a day over the last 7 days.
Worldwide, the total no. of cases stands at over 72 million while the
current active cases are at a little over 20 million lakhs. The total no. of
deaths so far stands at over 16 lakhs, The last 7 days have seen an average
of about 6.54 lakh new cases a day while the recoveries have averaged at
about 5.33 lakh a day. The deaths by Covid-19 have averaged about 10,900 a
day over the last 7 days.
WORRYING SEX RATIO TREND IN EIGHT STATES
In worrying signs for Indias gender parity goals, the latest round of
National Family Health Survey (NFHS) has revealed negative trends for sex
ratio at birth (SRB) in several states that had posted gains in the past.
States with decline in sex ratio at birth among kids born in last five years
are Kerala, HP, Bihar, Goa, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Dadra and
Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu
The highest decline of 166 points in SRB over five years has been reported
by Dadra and Nagar Haveli
Of the 22 states covered by NFHS-5 so far, eight have shown losses in sex
ratio at birth (SRB) defined as the number of female births per 1,000 male
births. The SRB is a key indicator of sons preference vis-à-vis daughters.
States with declines in sex ratio at birth among children born in the last
five years (between NFHS-4 conducted in 2015-16 and NFHS-5 conducted in
2019-2020) are Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Maharashtra, Meghalaya,
Nagaland, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
With a drop of 128 points in SRB over five years (966 in 2015 to 838 in
2020), Goa is the second worst performer, followed by Kerala, which has
posted a loss of 96 points down from 1,047 in 2015 to 951 in 2020.
Whats worrisome is Kerala was the second best performer on SRB after Punjab
in NFHS-4 and had posted a gain of 122 points improving its SRB from 925 in
NFHS-3 (2005-2006) to 1,047 in NFHS-4 (2015-2016).
REPUBLIC TV CEO HELD IN TRP CASE
The Mumbai Polices Crime Branch on Sunday arrested Republic TVs Chief
Executive Officer Vikas Khanchandani in the Television Rating Points
manipulation case, taking the total number of arrests to 13.
A senior police official said Khanchandanis statement was recorded twice
and his role was identified during the interrogation of the channels
distribution head Ghanshyam Singh, who was arrested earlier.
The investigators alleged that Khanchandani was part of an internal WhatsApp
group in which discussions on Logical Channel Number (LCN) would take place.
LCN is an identification number assigned to a TV channel, and the
allegations against Republic TV Republic TV CEO held in TRP case are that it
allegedly used dual LCN, which allowed it to show up in the genre of kids
channels, apart from the news channels category, thus showing up at two
places. Investigators have claimed that Khanchandani knew about these
alleged LCN manipulations.
The TRP manipulation scam came to light in October after an official of
Hansa Research Group the company tasked with installing barometers to
record viewership lodged a complaint with the Mumbai Police, following
which the owner of Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema were arrested.
Last week, the Supreme Court turned down a plea by ARG Outlier Media Private
Limited, which owns Republic Media Network, seeking protection for the group
and its employees from the cases filed against them in Maharashtra.
VERSTAPPEN WINS SEASON ENDING ABU DHABI GP
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen won the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in
dominant style on Sunday for his 2nd victory of the season and 10th of his
career. He finished 16 seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas and 18.4 clear of
world champion Lewis Hamilton as Red Bull enjoyed a rare and significant
success over both Mercedes cars. Alexander Albon completed a good race for
Red Bull by finishing fourth ahead of McLarens Lando Norris.
TOP DRIVERS THIS SEASON
POS DRIVER NATIONALITY CAR PTS
1 Lewis Hamilton GBR MERCEDES 347
2 Valtteri Bottas FIN MERCEDES 223
3 Max Verstappen NED RED BULL RACING HONDA 214
4 Sergio Perez MEX RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES 125
5 Daniel Ricciardo AUS RENAULT 119
6 Carlos Sainz ESP MCLAREN RENAULT 105
7 Alexander Albon THA RED BULL RACING HONDA 105
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor
to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider. - Francis Bacon
One office supervisor called a secretary in to give her the bad news that
she was being fired.
He started the conversation with: "Miss Symthe, I really don't know how
we're going to get along without you, but starting Monday, we're going to