India Newsletter

INDIA NEWS
12 Nov 2020


INDIA, CHINA ON VERGE OF REACHING AGREEMENT TO RESOLVE BORDER STANDOFF

India and China may be on the verge of a breakthrough in resolving the over
six-month-long tense border standoff in eastern Ladakh with both sides
broadly agreeing on a three-step process on disengagement of troops and
withdrawal of weaponry from all major friction points in a time-bound
manner, suggest several media reports.
The broad contours of the proposal include removal of armoured personnel
carriers within one day of inking an agreement, withdrawal of troops from
specific areas on the north and south banks of the Pangong lake in eastern
Ladakh and carrying out verification of the disengagement process by both
the sides, they said.
The specific proposals for the disengagement and restoration of the status
quo ante as existed in April were finalised during the eighth round of
high-level military talks between the Indian and Chinese armies on November
6.
The sources said both the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation
Army (PLA) are looking at sealing the pact in the next round of Corps
Commander-level talks as the proposals were agreed to by the two sides.
The ninth round of military talks is likely to take place in the next few
days.


MODI ENDS SPECULATION, ENDORSES NITISH KUMAR AS BIHAR CM

Ending all speculations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi again endorsed Janata
Dal (United) supremo Nitish Kumar as NDA’s leader in Bihar on Wednesday.
Taking a bow at a ‘dhanyawaad karyakram’ (thanksgiving celebrations) at the
BJP headquarters, the PM said the NDA will work for people of Bihar under
the leadership of Nitish Kumar.
“Under the leadership of Nitish Kumarji we will leave no stone unturned to
fulfil our commitment for development of the State,” he said, ending
speculations whether Nitish Kumar, whose party under-performed in comparison
to the BJP in the Bihar elections that are largely credited to PM Modi, had
the ‘moral right’ to occupy the top spot.
The government forming process is expected to be initiated after Diwali.
Addressing jubilant cadres the PM also set the tone for upcoming elections
in West Bengal and Kerala, proving that the BJP is not called an ‘election
machine’ for nothing.
He also thanked women voters, the ‘silent naari shakti’, who contributed to
NDA’s success in Bihar. “We have the backing of strong ‘silent’ voters…they
are the country’s mothers, sisters and daughters…they have become the ‘naari
shakti’ for the party which cares for their safety and respect,” he said.
While speaking about “trust that people have in the BJP” and attacking
“dynasty politics” (but without naming any political party) the PM said
“internal democracy has to be maintained which is one reason why I can say
Nadda ji age bado hum tumhare saath hain (Naddaji(BJP president) move
forward we are with you… The BJP is winning elections because the country’s
blessings are with it… we have to fulfil the responsibilities”


GOVT GIFTS RS 1.46-TRILLION INCENTIVE FOR 10 MANUFACTURING SECTORS

The Union Cabinet Wednesday approved Production Linked Incentive (PLI)
scheme worth up to Rs 1.46 lakh crore for 10 key sectors in a bid to boost
India’s manufacturing capabilities and enhancing exports. The scheme will
make Indian manufacturers globally competitive, attract investment and
enhance exports.
The Cabinet decision was announced by I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar and
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Briefing the press after the Cabinet meeting, Javadekar said that the
production-linked incentives will be offered for the sectors such as white
goods manufacturing, pharmaceutical, specialised steel, automobiles,
telecom, textile, food products, solar photovoltic and cell battery.
“…the policy that we are taking in the PLI, through which we want the
manufacturers to come into India, is clearly to say we want to build our
strength but yet link with the global value chains. India should become a
manufacturing hub is always been the call by our honorable prime minister,”
Sitharaman said while addressing the briefing.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also hailed the Union Cabinet’s approval to the
Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme, saying it is an important step
towards improving India’s competitiveness and realising an ‘Atmanirbhar
Bharat’.


AFTER PFIZER, SPUTNIK V: RUSSIA SAYS COVID-19 VACCINE SHOWS 92% EFFICACY

The Sputnik V vaccine candidate has demonstrated “high efficacy” in interim
data, reducing by 92 per cent the possibility that those inoculated would be
clinically diagnosed with symptomatic Covid-19, Russian authorities have
said. The Sputnik V announcement has come two days after American drug major
Pfizer released interim information that showed its Covid-19 vaccine with
German biotech firm BioNTech was over 90 per cent effective.
The findings of the trial are not yet peer-reviewed. But they are crucial
for India, where the vaccine is being tested on humans in mid- to late-stage
trials by Hyderabad-based Dr Reddy’s Laboratories.
The Russian sovereign wealth fund has partnered with Dr Reddy’s to test the
vaccine in India for approvals here.
The promising interim findings from phase 3 trials of Pfizer’s vaccine
candidate excited stock markets in the United States and Europe this week.
However, questions remain over the feasibility of introducing this vaccine
in Asian and African settings, including in India – given that it is an mRNA
vaccine that requires to be stored at minus 70°C, which will involve
associated costs of building freezer capacity and maintaining uninterrupted
power supply.
Sputnik V is able to work around this issue, the RDIF spokesperson said.
“There are two forms of the Sputnik V vaccine – liquid, which would have to
be stored at minus 18°C and lyophilised (freeze dried), which can be stored
at 2°C to 8°C. The lyophilised form was developed especially for the
transportation of the vaccine to remote places, as Russia is a very big
country,” the spokesperson said.


INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
======================


CONCERNS ABOUT COUP ATTEMPT AS TRUMP REPLACES PENTAGON BRASS

Talk of a coup in the world’s premier democracy is ticking up after US
President Trump fired the top Pentagon leadership and replaced them on
Tuesday with loyalists, including Indian-American aide Kash Patel, while
refusing to concede the election. In a related development, secretary of
state Mike Pompeo dismissed talk of a transition into a new Biden
administration and maintained “there will be a smooth transition to a second
Trump administration”, even though many world leaders, including PM Narendra
Modi, have congratulated the Biden-Harris team on its victory.
The twin developments came even as Trump continued to dig in and insist he
has won the election — or will win after recounts — and any other verdict
would be a result of rigging, even though polling officials throughout the
country say there no evidence of large scale fraud.
Even key Republican officials at the state level involved in the election
process say there is no evidence of any significant fraud that would change
the results of the election, a rebuff that irked the president. “A guy named
Al Schmidt, a Philadelphia Commissioner and so-called Republican (RINO), is
being used big time by the Fake News Media to explain how honest things were
with respect to the election in Philadelphia. He refuses to look at a
mountain of corruption & dishonesty. We win!” Trump said on Wednesday.
Concerns about a coup amplified after Trump initiated a shake-up in the
Pentagon after firing defence secretary Mark Esper and three other top
officials and replaced them with close aides. After appointing Christopher
Miller as the new acting defence secretary, Trump drafted Patel, a former
national security council aide, to be Miller’s chief of staff. He also named
Anthony Tata, a Senate-rejected former general, as undersecretary for
policy, following the resignation of James Anderson, a former Marine
intelligence officer. All three are known for trafficking in conspiracy
theories, with Tata going out on a limb calling former President Obama a
“terrorist”.
Biden, meanwhile, continued to prepare for the White House and installing a
new administration. His team released a list of foreign leaders who have had
conversations with the winning candidate — without help from the state
department, due as per transition protocol. They included French President
Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK PM Boris Johnson. Several
other leaders, including Modi and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, have tweeted
congratulatory messages.


ARMENIAN PROTESTERS MARCH ON PARLIAMENT TO DEMAND PM’S RESIGNATION

Thousands of Armenian demonstrators, chanting “Nikol is a traitor”, demanded
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan resign on Wednesday over a ceasefire that
secured territorial advances for Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh after six
weeks of fighting.
The ceasefire, announced on Tuesday, ended the worst fighting in the region
in decades and has been celebrated as a victory in Azerbaijan. Pashinyan has
called it a disaster but said he had no choice but to sign it to stave off a
defeat. Pashinyan said he concluded the peace deal under pressure from his
army.


US EMBASSY IN SOUP OVER RETWEET OF PAK LEADER’S POST TARGETING IMRAN KHAN

Tensions are brewing between the Pakistan government and the US embassy in
Islamabad after the latter retweeted a post by an opposition lawmaker,
alluding to Prime Minister Imran Khan as a dictator and demagogue.
Ahsan Iqbal, a former minister and a leader of the opposition PML-N party,
had commented on a post by the Washington Post that said “Trump’s defeat is
a blow to the world’s demagogues and dictators.” “We have one in Pakistan
too. He shall be shown the way out soon Inshallah (God willing),” Iqbal had
tweeted, without directly mentioning Khan.
The US embassy account on Tuesday evening retweeted this, causing an uproar
among the local Twitterati. On Tuesday, #ApologiseUS_Embassy trended on
Twitter.
The embassy clarified on Wednesday that the tweet from its handle was
unauthorised.
Human rights minister Shireen Mazari and Sindh governor Imran Ismael
demanded an apology from the US embassy on Wednesday.


THE REST
========


SC ORDERS RELEASE OF ARNAB GOSWAMI ON INTERIM BAIL, SAYS HC ERRED

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered release of Republic TV’s
editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and other co-accused on interim bail on a bond
of Rs 50,000 each in an abetment to suicide case. Saying that the High Court
erred in rejecting the application for grant of interim bail to Goswami, the
top court said HCs were not doing enough in matters where personal liberty
is denied.
“SC is unhappy that HCs, which are constitutional courts, are not doing
enough in matters where personal liberty is denied…,” Justice D Y
Chandrachud said. “If this court were not to interfere today, we are
travelling on a path of destruction of personal liberty undeniably…Is this
what our state governments will do to those who have to be nailed…? Don’t
watch the channel of you don’t like… Left to myself I will not watch… If
state govt’s target individuals in this manner, let’s send out a message
that SC is there,” he added.
Justice Chandrachud asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for
Maharashtra, if there was any active encouragement or instigation in the
case to constitute an offence of abetment to suicide. “Otherwise look at the
drastic consequences. We are dealing with personal liberty,” said Justice
Chandrachud. He added that India’s democracy is extraordinarily resilient
and Maharashtra government must ignore all this (Arnab’s taunts on TV).
Soon after his release from Taloja jail at around 8.30 pm, Goswami drove to
the Lower Parel studio of the channel, of which he is the Editor-in-Chief.
“Uddhav Thackeray, listen to me. You lost. You have been defeated,” said
Goswami (47), while being surrounded by visibly relieved colleagues from his
Republic TV channel.
Goswami also singled out Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh for his
‘illegal’ arrest.


AXIS MY INDIA APOLOGISES FOR GOING WRONG IN EXIT POLL, ALSO EXPLAINS

Axis My India has issued an apology for wrongly predicting the results of
2020 Bihar Assembly Elections in its Exit Poll which favoured
Mahagathbandhan to form the government. The pollsters at Axis My India had
gained a reputation for correctly calling the elections in the recent past.
The India Today-Axis My India Exit Poll had claimed that the Mahagathbandhan
would defeat the NDA by bagging 139-161 seats in the Bihar assembly. The
alliance ended up with just 110 seats.
Pradeep Gupta, Chairman & Managing Director of Axis My India, shared the
company’s statement from his Twitter handle, which said that its time to
“learn more and hone our technique.” “Sorry friends, Axis My India couldn’t
call Bihar election correctly. No excuses, time to learn more and hone our
technique,” the statement read.
Elaborating on its initial takeaways from the analysis on what went wrong,
Axis My India said that the overall female voter turnout was 5 per cent more
than male, which apparently swing the polls in NDA’s favour. The company
said that the data became available in the public domain only post Exit
Poll. “Axis My India predictions are exactly in line with results of the
First phase but went amiss for the Second and Third phase. Covid-19
restrictions limited our numbers of women voter interviews,” the company
added.


WITH FIVE SEATS IN BIHAR, AIMIM SAYS WEST BENGAL IS NEXT

The Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM has exceeded expectations and won five seats
in the Bihar Assembly elections.
Owaisi made it clear that he will contest in West Bengal elections in the
future. “This election result is a message for everyone who thinks that
AIMIM should not contest in elections. Are we NGOs that we will only hold
seminars and present papers? We are a political party and we will contest in
all elections.”
He was responding to insinuations that his party is a B-team of BJP, and had
entered the fray only to cut Cong- RJD votes.


PRIESTS’ BODY MOVES COURT, WANTS MATHURA MOSQUE TO STAY UNHARMED

A body of priests and a social organisation on Wednesday approached a
district court against the plea seeking the removal of a mosque near a
temple which the devouts believe marks the birthplace of Lord Krishna. The
Akhil Bharatiya Tirath Purohit Mahasabha and the Mathur Chaturved Parishad
pleaded to be made respondents in the case.
They said the suit for the removal of the mosque should not be allowed as it
is detrimental to communal harmony in the country, according to their
counsels.
In September, a group of people had filed a suit over the 17th century Shahi
Idgah mosque, which they claimed was built at the birthplace of Lord
Krishna, within the 13.37-acre premises of the Katra Keshav Dev temple. The
appellants had demanded the annulment of an earlier Mathura court ruling,
ratifying a land deal reached between the Shri Krishna Janmasthan Seva
Sansthan and the Shahi Idgah Management Committee.
The priests’ body, said that communal harmony of the country, especially
Mathura, may be adversely affected if the appeal against the mosque is
allowed.
The Mathura Chaturved Parishad said in their application that the plaintiffs
in the case are not residents of Mathura and are guided by some political
people. For the sake of publicity, they want to spoil the peace of Mathura
by presenting a concocted story, the application said.


OTT PLATFORMS COME UNDER GOVT PURVIEW

OTT platforms, like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, SonyLIV, ZEE5, Disney Plus
Hotstar among many others, and news websites, will now come under the
purview of the I&B Ministry, as per a notification issued on Wednesday.
OTT, or over-the-top platforms, are audio and video hosting and streaming
services which started out as content hosting platforms, but soon branched
out into the production and release of short movies, feature films,
documentaries and web-series themselves.
So far in India, there are no laws or rules regulating OTT platforms as it
is a relatively new medium of entertainment. Unlike television, print or
radio, which follow guidelines released by governments, OTT platforms,
classified as digital media or social media, had little to no regulation on
the choice of content they offered, the subscription rates, certification
for adult movies and others.


GOVT INCREASES DOMESTIC FLIGHTS’ CAP FROM 60-70% OF PRE-COVID LEVELS

The cap on the number of domestic flights that Indian airlines are permitted
to operate was increased from 60 per cent to 70 per cent of their pre-COVID
levels on Wednesday, said Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.
The Civil Aviation Ministry had said on on October 29 that the 60 per cent
cap would be in place till “February 24, 2021 or until further orders”.
Puri tweeted on Wednesday, “Domestic operations recommenced with 30K
passengers on 25 May and have reached 2.06 lakhs on 8 Nov 2020.” “The Civil
Aviation Ministry is now allowing domestic carriers to increase their
operations from existing 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the pre-COVID
approved capacity,” he stated.


STRONG FOREIGN INFLOWS TAKE SENSEX TO RECORD 43,594 PTS

Nearly a $3.4-billion net buying of stocks by foreign funds in eight
sessions of November lifted the sensex by almost 4,000 points or 10% to a
record high at 43,594 points at Wednesday’s close, with investors’ wealth
too at a new high at Rs 166 lakh crore.
In the US, the win by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, news about
a potent Covid-19 vaccine by pharma major Pfizer and better-than-expected
quarterly results by Indian corporates aided this surge in buying by foreign
fund managers during the last two weeks, market players said.


INDICATORS

Sensex 43,594 (+316), Nifty 12,749 (+118), Trading Value NSE ,(Rs.crores)
81743.31
Nasdaq 11,786 (+233) Dow 29,398 (-23), S&P 3,573 (+27)
US$-Rs. 74.25 GBP-Rs. 98.33, Euro-Rs. 87.54, UAE Dhm-Rs.20.21, Can$-Rs.
56.90, Aus$- Rs. 54.10
GBP 0.75 /US$, Euro 0.84 /US$, Jap.Yen 105.38 /US$, Aus$ 1.37 /US$, Sing
1.34 /US$, Bang Taka 83.29 /US$, Can$ 1.30 /US$, Mal Ring 4.12 /US$,
Pak Re 157.80 /US$, Phil Peso 48.41 /US$, Russian Rouble 76.58 /US$, NZ$
1.46 /US$, Thai Baht 30.25 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 28.03 /US$, Norway NOK 9.03
/US$
Bitcoin - USD 15,668
Dollar Index 92.97 Brent Crude 44.17 BDI 1,200
Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,871 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 5,065 / 4,965
Silver (Rs. Per KG) 62,800


THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

When Winston Churchill was asked to cut arts funding in favour of the war
effort, he simply replied, "then what are we fighting for?"

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