FRONT PAGE NEWS
15 Dec 2020
FARMERS' LEADERS UP THE ANTE WITH DAYLONG HUNGER STRIKE
Intensifying their agitation against the Centre's controversial agriculture
laws, leaders of around 32 farmer unions observed a day-long hunger strike
at Delhi's Singhu border Monday. The hunger strike began at 8 am and ended
at 5 pm even as talks with the government remained inconclusive.
The unions claimed that more people are expected to join the ongoing
agitation, which has now entered its third week. United Farmers' Front said
leaders also observed a two minute-silence over the alleged deaths of over
20 protesters at Delhi borders in last 18 days. Several borders of the
national capital remained closed due to the ongoing agitation. Undeterred by
the harsh winter weather, protesters at Tikri, Ghazipur and Singhu said they
are determined not to yield until their demand is met.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, meanwhile, said that the
government is engaging with farmer leaders to decide on the next date of
talks. "The meeting will definitely happen. We are engaging with farmers,"
Tomar said. Reiterating that the government is ready for discussion anytime,
Tomar said farmer leaders have to "decide and convey" when they are ready
for the next meeting.
Tomar, who is leading the negotiations with 40 farmer unions, along with
Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce and Industries
Som Parkash also met with a delegation of Haryana BJP MPs and MLAs which
extended its support to the three new farm laws.
Following a nationwide call given by their unions against the new central
laws, farmers also raised slogans outside the offices of district
commissioners and took out protest marches in Punjab and Haryana.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who along with other AAP leaders, MLAs
and volunteers observed a day-long fast in support of the protesting
farmers, said that the new farm laws will lead to immense inflation and will
only favour a few capitalists.
With some key roads blocked for several days now due to their protests, an
umbrella body of farmers Monday apologised with "folded hands" to people for
the inconvenience caused to them, but said they were carrying out the
demonstration "out of compulsion".
Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, which is spearheading the protests at Delhi border
points, distributed handbills in Hindi to commuters on the Jaipur-Delhi
Highway near Haryana-Rajasthan borders, where hundreds of farmers have been
camping for almost past three weeks now, to convey their apology, and also
reiterate their demand for legal guarantee for Minimum Support Price.
The morcha also said that any elderly person, patient or ambulance stuck due
to the blocked roads may contact the volunteers, who will immediately
The farmers also accused the Centre of "pretending" to be talking to them
but not listening to their grievances.
GOVT: NO WINTER SESSION DUE TO PANDEMIC, BUDGET SESSION IN JANUARY
Days after Congress leader in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, sent a
letter to Speaker Om Birla, urging him to convene a short winter session of
Parliament to discuss issues such as the farmers' agitation, the government
on Monday informed him that floor leaders of various parties, whom it had
consulted, were in favour of doing away with the session due to the pandemic
In a letter to Chowdhury, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi
stated that the government is willing to have the next session of Parliament
at the "earliest", and that it would be appropriate to have the Budget
session in January.
Chowdhury confirmed receiving the letter but said he never suggested that
the winter session should not be held. "Rather," he said, "I suggested that
the session should be held." The Congress leader alleged that the government
is running away from Parliament to evade questions on issues such as the
He maintained that the government is "dithering" on several issues,
including farmers' agitation, and therefore "they don't want to convene the
winter session of Parliament".
TRUDEAU'S PROTEST REMARKS MADE TO FAN FLAMES. SAY EX-DIPLOMATS
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's comments on farmers' agitation in
India were "uncalled for", "disconnected with ground realities", and "served
merely to fan the flames", said a group of former Indian ambassadors on
Monday in a sharply worded open letter condemning what they called "vote
bank politics in Canada".
Interacting with the Sikh community last week on the birth anniversary of
Guru Nanak Dev, Trudeau had said that the "situation is concerning, and
we're all very worried about family and friends."
"Such blatant interference in India's internal affairs to appease a section
of the Liberal Party's voter base is completely unacceptable and cannot but
cast a long shadow on bilateral relations," the former diplomats wrote.
The letter, signed by at least 22 retired diplomats, including former Indian
High Commissioner to Canada Vishnu Prakash, underlined that Trudeau's
support to Indian farmers' demand for MSP contradicts the stance it took in
the WTO, where Canada was one of the most strident critics of India's MSP
The former diplomats said that Ottawa conveniently ignored that the Indian
government has, in good faith, been holding talks at ministerial level with
the representatives of agitating farmers. They wrote that while Canadian
investment in India is well-positioned to scale up, "yet the fact remains
that not unoften, bilateral political equations develop stress, due to the
propensity of certain Canadian political parties and leaders to engage in
vote bank politics."
The letter also condemned Canada's indifference towards separatist
Khalistani elements who "carry out anti-India activities, from the safety of
Canadian soil." "They (Khalistanis) are also radicalising the Canadian youth
with far-reaching consequences, which is being ignored at the altar of
short-term political expediency," the ex-diplomats wrote.
ELECTORS AFFIRM JOE BIDEN VICTORY
The Electoral College gave Joe Biden a majority of its votes Monday,
confirming his victory in last month's election in state-by-state voting
that took on added importance this year because of President Donald Trump's
refusal to concede he lost.
Electors cast paper ballots in gatherings that took place in all 50 states
and the District of Columbia.
There was little suspense and no surprises as all the electoral votes
allocated to Biden and Trump in last month's popular vote went to each man.
"In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed," Biden said in
remarks prepared for an evening speech.
There have been concerns about safety for the electors, virtually unheard of
in previous years. In Michigan, lawmakers from both parties reported
receiving threats, and legislative offices were closed over threats of
violence. Biden won the state by some 2.8 percentage points.
Even with the Electoral College's confirmation of Biden's victory, some
Republicans continued to refuse to acknowledge that reality. Despite Biden's
wins in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Republicans who would
have been Trump electors met anyway.
DATA LEAK SHOWS MASSIVE INFILTRATION BY CHINA'S COMMUNIST PARTY
Amid simmering tensions between Australia and China, the media on Monday
reported a major data leak containing official records like party position,
birthdate, national ID number and ethnicity of nearly two million alleged
members of the Communist Party of China living and working across the world.
The data leak obtained by 'The Australian' newspaper has revealed how the
alleged CPC members are employed with some of the world's biggest
corporations in the areas of defence, banks and pharmaceutical giants
manufacturing coronavirus vaccines.
The leak has exposed details of 1.95 million CPC members after being
extracted from a Shanghai server by whistleblowers.
An investigation by 'The Australian' has found that at least 10 consulates
in the eastern Chinese metropolis Shanghai have CPC members employed as
senior political and government affairs specialists, clerks, economic
advisers and executive assistants.
It has further revealed 79,000 branches, many of them inside companies,
universities and even government agencies.
The leak has alleged that the ruling CPC has infiltrated the Australian,
British and United States consulates in Shanghai, with the Department of
Foreign Affairs and Trade using a Chinese government agency, the Shanghai
Foreign Agency Service Department, to hire local staff.
US VACCINE ROLLOUT BEGINS
New York on Monday inoculated its first healthcare worker, an intensive care
unit nurse in Queens, with the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, marking a
pivotal turn in the US effort to control the deadly virus.
The first 2.9 million doses began to be shipped to distribution centers
around the country on Sunday, just 11 months after the United States
documented its first Covid-19 infections. As of Monday, the United States
had registered 16,286,343 cases and 299,489 deaths from the virus.
KEJRIWAL, AMARINDER IN TWITTER SPAT OVER FARMERS' PROTEST
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Punjab counterpart Amarinder
Singh engaged in a Twitter spat on Monday over the ongoing farmers' protest.
The war of words between the two leaders began after Singh, addressing a
press conference at Chandigarh on Sunday, described as "theatrics"
Kejriwal's announcement earlier during that day that he will observe a
one-day fast on Monday in support of the protesting farmers.
Responding to Singh's comments, Kejriwal tweeted: "I have been with the
farmers since beginning. I did not let Delhi's stadiums being turned into
jails. I fought with the Centre. I am serving the farmers by becoming their
sewadaar. You have done a deal with the Centre to save your son from the ED.
You disowned the farmers' movement. Why?"
Punjab CM responded thus: "Just as every Punjabi knows, I am not one to be
cowed down by ED or other cases, you Mr @ArvindKejriwal will even sell your
soul if it serves your political purposes. If you think farmers are going to
be taken in by your dramatics then you are totally mistaken."
"Farmers of India and particularly Punjab know that you Mr @ArvindKejriwal
have sold off the interest of farmers by notifying one of the draconian farm
bills in Delhi on November 23. What pressure did the Centre have on you,"
Singh said in another tweet.
Kejriwal responded: "You were part of the committee which drafted these
bills. These bills are your 'gift' to the nation. Captain sahib, why do BJP
leaders never accuse you of double standards the way they accuse all other
Amrinder's turn: "These farm laws were not discussed at any meeting & your
repeated lies will not change that Mr @ArvindKejriwal. And naturally BJP
can't accuse me of double standards as I don't have any nexus with them like
you have. They after all have to cover up their collusion with you!"
Kejriwal: "It's a part of record that your committee drafted these laws. You
had the power to stop these laws, tell the people of this country that such
laws were being contemplated by the centre. Why did u go along with the
GOVT RECEIVES 'MULTIPLE BIDS' FOR AIR INDIA
After years of waiting and a couple of failed attempts, the government has
finally managed to make substantial headway in its attempt to sell off Air
India, the loss-making national carrier.
Tuhin Kanta Pandey, secretary of the Department of Investment and Public
Asset Management, tweeted that the government has received multiple
expressions of interest for the strategic disinvestment of Air India. "The
transaction will now move to the second stage," he said.
The two bidders who have announced they are in the running are the Tata
group as well as a consortium of Air India employees and US-based Interups
However, the total number of bids for Air India and the identities of the
other bidders haven't yet been revealed.
INDIA IS THE WORLD'S BEST MARKET FOR PORTFOLIO DISCLOSURE, FINDS STUDY
India and the U.S. are the two most investor-friendly markets in the world
in terms of best practice for portfolio disclosure, while Australia ranks at
the bottom, according to a global study by Morningstar Inc.
The two countries earned top grades for their robust disclosure regimes
across six categories including fees, transparency of fund holdings and
issues such as conflicts of interest. The report covered 26 markets across
North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
RELIANCE JIO ACCUSES AIRTEL, VODAFONE OF 'CAPITALISING' ON FARMERS PROTESTS
Reliance Jio has written to TRAI seeking strict action against Bharti Airtel
and Vodafone Idea for "unethical practices" and "unscrupulous violations"
and to stop campaigns under which "false propaganda is being spread across
the country to get some additional MNP port-ins" by "capitalising on the
ongoing farmer protest in the northern parts of the country".
"They are inciting the public by making preposterous claims that migrating
Jio mobile numbers to their networks would be an act of support to farmers'
protests," say the letter by Jio. The letter was accompanied by pictures of
"misleading and inciteful campaign" across Punjab and other northern states.
VIOLENCE AT KARNATAKA iPHONE PLANT VIOLENCE: COMPANY COUNTS A HUGE LOSS
Wistron Infocomm Manufacturing India Pvt Ltd has said it suffered losses
worth Rs 438 crore in the violence where a section of workers went on a
rampage at its facility manufacturing Apple iPhones and other products in
Bengaluru's Narasapura area over non-payment of promised wages.
According to the complaint by Wistron company executive Prashanth TD, office
equipment, mobile phones, production machinery and related gadgets worth Rs
412.5 crore was lost. Infrastructure worth Rs 10 crore, Rs 60 lakh worth
cars and golf carts, smartphones and other gadgets worth Rs 1.5 crore were
among those that were damaged, were stolen or lost.
He stated in his complaint that 5,000 contract labourers and about 2,000
unknown culprits carried out the vandalism in the facility. According to
police, a clear picture regarding the total loss will emerge only after
assessment by the insurance company.
Police said 160 people had been arrested so far.
Violence broke out during a change of shifts at the plant over the
non-payment of promised wages. Work has been suspended at the 43-acre plant
and police has beefed up security in the area. Most of the shop owners in
the industrial area have also shut shop fearing trouble.
GOOGLE SERVICES GLOBAL OUTAGE FOR 45 MINUTES
Google's services, including Gmail, YouTube, Google Docs and others, faced a
global outage earlier today. The company blamed an 'internal storage quota
issue' for the same. The outage lasted almost 45 minutes across all Google
services with users unable to login.
In an official statement, a Google spokesperson said, "Today, at 3.47AM PT
Google experienced an authentication system outage for approximately 45
minutes due to an internal storage quota issue. Services requiring users to
log in experienced high error rates during this period. The authentication
system issue was resolved at 4:32AM PT. All services are now restored. We
apologise to everyone affected, and we will conduct a thorough follow up
review to ensure this problem cannot recur in the future."
OLA PLANS WORLD'S LARGEST SCOOTER FACTORY IN TN
Ola Electric on Monday said it will make two million electric scooters a
year at a greenfield facility in Hosur, Tamil Nadu. This would displace
Honda's Vithalpur facility in Gujarat, which makes 1.2 million units of
petrol-powered scooters a year.
Ola has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state government
for the factory, which will entail an investment of Rs 2,354 crore. The Ola
investment will create nearly 2,200 jobs, the state government said. Ola's
pact was part of 18 MoUs signed by the TN government, worth a cumulative
investment of Rs 19,995 crore with the potential to create more than 26,500
The Ola factory will help "galvanise India's electric vehicle ecosystem and
establish India as a key player in the EV manufacturing space", Ola added.
"Ola's factory will cater to customers not only in India but in markets
around the world, including Europe, Asia, Latin America and more, and the
company is gearing up to launch the first of its range of electric scooters
in the coming months," the statement added.
BORDER, GAVASKAR PICK BETWEEN SHUBMAN GILL AND PRITHVI SHAW
As the Indian team management look to firm up their opening combination for
the Adelaide Test, Allan Border and Sunil Gavaskar, two greats after whom
the trophy for the series is named, both picked Shubman Gill over Prithvi
Shaw to partner Mayank Agarwal in the pink-ball Test starting in Adelaide on
Border was critical of incumbent opener Shaw's expansive stroke-play. "I
know you guys are big on Shaw. But it seems to me he plays a shot a ball,"
he told Gavaskar. "Against the new ball. it looks good on flat tracks but in
Australia you have got to be a little more watchful with your shot
selection. He seems to be a bit loose outside the off-stump."
Gavaskar too feels Shaw needs to change his approach. "He has to spend a
little more time assessing his batting. As an opening batsman, you have to
give yourself a little more time to see what the pitch and bowlers are
doing," he said. "The way he is batting at the moment is not going to make
him a very consistent player. Yes, he will score runs once in a while. But
he has got to tighten his defence. I agree with AB, he is playing far too
many shots at the start of his innings."
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THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Men of integrity, by their existence, rekindle the belief that as a people
we can live above the level of moral squalor. We need that belief; a cynical
community is a corrupt community. - John W. Gardner
A seven year old came home from school and said to her mother, "Mom, Guess
what? We learned how to make babies today."
The mother, more than a little surprised, asked fearfully, "That's
interesting. How do you make babies?"
"It's simple," replied the girl. "You just change 'y' to 'i' and add 'es'."