FRONT PAGE NEWS
17 Dec 2020
FARMERS' PROTEST, DAY 21: NO MEETING GROUND BETWEEN THE TWO SIDES
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar Wednesday said that the
ongoing protest by farmers at Delhi borders was an "exception" and "limited
to one state".
"The ongoing protest is an exception and the agitation is limited to one
state. We are holding discussions and talks. I believe there will be an
early solution," Tomar said while addressing a virtual conference organised
by industry body Assocham.
Tomar also noted that while there is an agitation going on on one side,
there are also lakhs of farmers coming in support of these laws. He
highlighted the measures taken by the Narendra Modi-led central government
in the last six years to boost farmers' income and make agriculture sector
The ongoing protests, which is now in its third week, have seen thousands of
farmers, primarily from Punjab and Haryana, gathering at the capital's
In a letter to Centre, an umbrella body of 40 farmer unions of protesting
farmers urged the govt to stop holding "parallel talks" with other farmer
The letter, by 'Sanyukt Kisan Morcha', which represents farmer bodies mostly
from Punjab, comes against the backdrop of the government holding talks with
several farmers organisations from different states who the Centre claimed
have extended their support to the new agriculture laws. "We want the
government to stop defaming farmers' agitation and holding parallel talks
with other farmers' organisations," said Darshan Pal, a member of the
'Sankyukt Kisan Morcha', in his letter written in Hindi.
Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan alleged that an anti-Indian and
feudalistic force was behind the ongoing farmers' agitation against the new
agricultural laws. He said that this force was also against the concepts of
'Bharatiyata' (Indianness) and India's self-reliance. "Who stood with China
against its invasion (on India)? Who imposed the Emergency in India? Who ran
nepotism in the country between 2004 and 2014? Those involved in these works
are now engaged in instigating the farmers' agitation," he alleged.
SC PROPOSES SETTING UP PANEL TO END FARMERS' STIR
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court took up petitions seeking directions to
authorities to remove the protesting farmers from the national capital's
borders. A 3-judge bench of the top court, headed by chief justice SA Bobde,
issued notice to the Centre in this regard and will resume the hearing on
In its observations, the CJI-headed bench noted that if urgent measures are
not taken, the protests may "soon become a national issue." The apex court
suggested formation of a committee comprising govt representatives, farm
union members and members of farm unions from the rest of India.
The bench also observed that the Centre's negotiations have not worked
properly and are "bound to fail again." On comparison with the Shaheen Bangh
protests, it said, there can't be a precedent in a law and order situation.
Union commerce minister of state Som Prakash welcomed the decision of the
apex court and said the Centre wants to resolve farmers' issue quickly.
"Farmers and government will express their views in the committee which is
good. Whatever final decision SC takes tomorrow on the issue, we will act
accordingly," the minister said.
The protesting farmer unions said constituting a new panel to break the
stalemate is not a solution as they want a complete withdrawal of the
legislations. They also said the government should have formed a committee
of farmers and others before the laws were enacted by Parliament.
Taking to Twitter, Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav, who is also a member
'Sankyukt Kisan Morcha', said, "The SC can and must decide on the
constitutionality of the 3 farm acts. But it is not for the judiciary to
decide on the feasibility and desirability of these laws. That's between the
farmers and their elected leaders. SC monitored negotiation would be a wrong
RAHUL GANDHI, CONG MEMBERS WALK OUT OF DEFENCE PARL PANEL MEETING
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and other members of his party on Wednesday
reportedly walked out of a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on
Defence, alleging that the panel's time was being wasted in discussing armed
forces' uniform instead of the crucial issue of national security.
Media reports say Gandhi was disallowed to speak at the meeting by the panel
chairman Jual Oram (BJP) when he sought to raise the issues of Chinese
aggression and better equipping the soldiers at the border in Ladakh. At
this, Rahul Gandhi decided to walk out, reports say, adding Congress members
Rajeev Satav and Revanth Reddy also left the meeting along with their
US SETS NEW 24-HOUR RECORD OF 248K+ COVID-19 INFECTIONS
The United States set a new daily record of Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, with
more than 248,000 infections registered in the past 24 hours, the Johns
Hopkins virus monitor reported. Coronavirus infections have increased
dramatically over the past month in the US - new daily cases have been
recorded at or above the 2,00,000 mark in 10 of the past 13 days.
The number of hospitalised Covid patients - 1,13,000 - is also at its
highest level since the beginning of the pandemic in March, according to
data from the US department of health and human services.
Daily US deaths from Covid-19 surpassed 3,000 for the third time in a week
as the country expanded its vaccination programme. The death toll of 3,102
on Tuesday, the third highest total since the pandemic began, increased the
cumulative number of US fatalities to 304,187.
Inoculations of the newly approved vaccine entered their third day on
14 CONVICTED FOR 2015 CHARLIE HEBDO ATTACKS
A French court on Wednesday convicted 14 people of crimes ranging from
financing terrorism to membership of a criminal gang in relation to Islamist
attacks in 2015 against the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and a Jewish
The trial has reopened one of modern France's darkest episodes, just as
another wave of Islamist attacks on home soil this autumn, including the
beheading of a schoolteacher, prompted the government to crack down on what
it calls Islamist separatism.
Brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi stormed Charlie Hebdo's offices in Paris,
spraying gunfire and killing 12, on Jan. 7, 2015, nearly a decade after the
weekly published cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad. A third attacker,
Amedy Coulibaly, killed a police woman and then four Jewish hostages in a
kosher supermarket in a Paris suburb. Like the Kouachis, Coulibaly was
killed in a shootout with police. Among the 14 accomplices sentenced on
Wednesday was Hayat Boumeddiene, the former partner of Coulibaly and one of
three defendants tried in absentia. Believed to be still alive and on the
run from an international arrest warrant, prosecutors referred to her as an
"Islamic State princess". The judges convicted Boumeddiene, 32, of financing
terrorism and belonging to a terror network, and sentenced 30 years of jail.
The attacks were claimed by al Qaida and Islamic State.
"The fact of choosing victims precisely because they were journalists, or a
member of the security forces, or of Jewish faith, clearly demonstrates in
itself their desire to sow terror in Western countries," the presiding judge
AHEAD OF STATE POLLS, LDF GETS BIG LOCAL-BODY BOOST IN KERALA
Only a few months before Assembly elections in Kerala, the ruling CPM-led
Left Democratic Front (LDF) received a shot in the arm on Wednesday, making
major gains in local body elections in the state.
The results delivered a stinging blow to the Congress, which had run an
aggressive campaign against the government over the gold smuggling case in
which Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's office had come under the scanner,
and the arrest of former CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan's son in
a drug-related money laundering case.
The LDF won five of the six Municipal Corporations; the Congress-led United
Democratic Front (UDF), which had won two the last time, won only one.
Of the 86 Municipalities, however, the UDF won 45, while the Left won 35.
The BJP-led NDA won two.
The Left made major advances in the District Panchayats, winning 10 out of
14; the score was 7-7 the last time. Of the 152 Block Panchayats, the Left
won 104, relegating the UDF to just 44.
And of the 941 Gram Panchayats, the LDF won 514 as against the UDF's 377.
The NDA won 22 Gram Panchayats.
BJP CALLING UP TMC LEADERS, TRYING TO COERCE THEM TO JOIN IT: MAMATA
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday called the deserters
of ruling TMC "opportunists and cowards" and accused BJP of trying to
coerce Trinamool Congress leaders to join the saffron party.
She also blamed BJP for trying to break TMC by using "moneybags".
Banerjee, who is also the TMC supremo, urged the people to give their andate
against the "outsider" BJP, which she said has come here to loot the
Bengalis and leave after the elections are over.
"Imagine the audacity of the BJP leaders ---they are calling up my (TMC)
state president Subrata Bakshi and asking him to join the party. The BJP
doesn't have any political courtesy or ideology. And, there are one or two
opportunists who only work for their own benefits," she told a rally here.
Her comments come in the backdrop of growing resentment in the TMC with
several senior leaders, ministers and MLAs openly speaking out against the
party leadership and the state government.
Senior TMC leader Suvendu Adhikari had recently quit the state cabinet and
has resigned as MLA on Wednesday evening fuelling speculations of his
possible switchover to the saffron camp later this month.
Reacting to Banerjee's allegation of BJP trying to poach TMC MLAs and
elected representatives, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said: "The
allegations are baseless. The truth is TMC leaders and members of Prashant
Kishor's team are calling up BJP leaders in various parts of the state".
Kishor is the poll strategist for TMC for the 2021 West Bengal assembly
SC COLLEGIUM TRANSFERS FOUR CHIEF JUSTICES INCLUDING ANDHRA PRADESH HC CJ
In a major reshuffle, the Supreme Court collegium has recommended to the
Centre the transfer of four Chief Justices of high courts including Andhra
Pradesh High Court's Chief Justice J K Maheshwari to the Sikkim High Court,
weeks after chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy had complained to the CJI about
the state's top judiciary.
In an unprecedented move, the Andhra Pradesh chief minister, on October 6,
had written to Chief Justice of India (CJI) S A Bobde alleging that the
state High Court was being used to "destabilise and topple' his
democratically elected government.
The collegium headed by the CJI, in its meeting held on December 14, also
recommended elevation of five high court judges as Chief Justices of
different High Courts including Justice Dr S Muralidhar whose notification
transferring him to Punjab and Haryana High Court close to mid night of
February 26 had created a huge controversy.
Justice Muralidhar has been recommended to be elevated as Chief Justice of
Orissa High Court. Justice Muralidhar's transfer from Delhi High Court to
Punjab and Haryana High Court was notified on the day a bench headed by him
had pulled up Delhi Police for failing to register FIRs against three BJP
leaders for their alleged hate speeches which purportedly led to the recent
violence in northeast Delhi.
NO ELEMENT IN BAJRANG DAL'S CONTENT THAT NECESSITATES BAN: FACEBOOK
Facebook's India head Ajit Mohan deposed before a parliamentary panel on
Wednesday and suggested that the social media company's fact-checking team
has so far found no such element that necessitates a ban on the Bajrang Dal,
Mohan deposed before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information
Technology, chaired by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor. The panel had called
him on the issue of the citizens' data safety. Mohan was accompanied by
Shivnath Thukral, the public policy director of Facebook.
A Wall Street Journal report had suggested that despite an internal
assessment calling for a ban on the Bajrang Dal, Facebook has not cracked
down on the Hindu nationalist group due to these reasons.
Replying to queries, Mohan suggested to the panel members that the Facebook
fact team consultant has so far not found any such element in the content
posted by the Bajrang Dal that is violative of its social media policies.
BJP MP Nishikant Dubey asked if the Bajrang Dal content was not found to be
violative of its social media policies, then why did the Facebook not deny
the WSJ report and termed it as fake.
MAN KILLS SELF NEAR SINGHU BORDER
A 65-year-old man, identified as a religious leader, killed himself near the
Singhu border, where farmers have been protesting for the past 20 days, on
In a purported suicide note, Sant Baba Ram Singh said he was pained by the
plight of farmers. "I am unable to bear the plight of the farmers.
Tolerating a crime is as bad as causing it. Several people have made
sacrifices for their cause," said the note.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, Shiromani Akali Dal
president Sukhbir Singh Badal, Delhi Chief Minsiter Arvind Kejriwal and
other political leaders attacked the central government over the Sikh
priest's death and reiterated their demand of repealing the newly-enacted
three farm laws.
JEE MAIN FROM FEBRUARY 23, RESULT IN MARCH
The Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Main 2021 will be held from February
23. Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal today announced the dates for
engineering entrance test, the first session of 2021 will end on February
26. The minister also informed that the JEE Main will be held four times
from next year - from February 23 to 26, March 15 to 18, April 27 to 30 and
May 24 to 28, 2021.
TELE PRODUCTS FROM CHINA TO FACE CURBS
Telecom equipment from China may face fresh curbs with the Cabinet on
Wednesday clearing a proposal to secure telecom infrastructure by
designating "trusted sources" for the purchase of equipment by service
Announcing the decision Union Law and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad
said the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), chaired by Prime Minister
Narendra Modi, had framed a National Security Directive in the
telecommunication sector, keeping in mind the country's security.
All service providers -- public and private -- would mandatorily be required
to source "trusted products" from "trusted sources". The move would have no
retrospective impact, Prasad said.
PROBE INTO VIOLENCE AT WISTRON IPHONE PLANT ON
Investigations into the recent violence at the Wistron's iPhone
manufacturing plant are on and a report was likely in a couple of days,
Karnataka Labour Minister Shivaram Hebbar said on Wednesday even as he
expressed hope about the factory restarting soon, with the Centre also
involved in addressing issues.
Asserting that the government was there to protect the interest of the
labourers, the minister, however, said such incidents may have an adverse
impact on investment and job creation prospects in the state.
Wistron Corp, a Taiwanese contract manufacturer for Apple, has informed the
Taiwan Stock Exchange that the December 12 violence at the iPhone
manufacturing facility at Narsapura in Kolar district, did not cause any
material damage to major manufacturing equipment and warehouses.
It put preliminary damage estimates in the range of about Rs 52 crore.
Earlier reports, quoting the complaint by company officials to the local
police station, had put the estimate at about Rs 437 crore.
"There is no employees union as yet.There was immaturity on part of the
labourers, also the company should have paid attention towards
contractors..we will get to know in a couple of days, the exact information
on how much amount was paid (towards workers) and when," Hebbar said.
INDIA DROPS ONE PACE TO 131 IN UN'S HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX
India dropped one spot to 131 among 189 countries in the 2020 human
development index, according to a report released by the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP).
Human Development Index is the measure of a nation's health, education and
standards of living.
India (131), Bhutan (129), Bangladesh (133), Nepal (142), and Pakistan (154)
were ranked among countries with medium human development, the report said.
Life expectancy of Indians at birth in 2019 was 69.7 years while Bangladesh
has a life expectancy of 72.6 years and Pakistan 67.3 years, the 2020 Human
Development Report said.
India had ranked 130 in 2018 in the index.
INDIA ANNOUNCE PLAYING XI A DAY AHEAD OF MATCH
India have kept faith with young opening batsman Prithvi Shaw for the
opening day-night Test against Australia in Adelaide, which starts on
Thursday, the BCCI said.
The 21-year-old has scored a hundred and two fifties in his four Tests so
far, but managed only 62 runs in four innings in warmup games in Australia
ahead of the four-Test series.
Shaw's place looked to be under threat after he got out to some rash shots,
while Shubman Gill pushed his claim for a Test debut with scores of 43 and
65 in the final tune-up game in Sydney.
However, the board confirmed the line-up on Wednesday with Shaw keeping his
place and partnering regular opener Mayank Agarwal, with Cheteshwar Pujara,
captain Virat Kohli and deputy Ajinkya Rahane to follow in the batting
Hanuma Vihari will be the number six batsman while Wriddhiman Saha will don
the wicketkeeping gloves for the touring side.
Ravichandran Ashwin has been chosen as the lone specialist spinner for
India, who will go with the frontline pace trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed
Shami and Umesh Yadav.
Kohli will fly home after the Adelaide Test for the birth of his first
child, leaving Rahane in charge for the three remaining matches.
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THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to
grow sharper. - Eden Phillpotts
When the boss returned to the office after a long vacation, he was told that
everyone had been looking for him. That set him off on a speech about how
indispensable he was to the company.
"Actually," interrupted his assistant, "you left with the key to the