India’s ban on Chinese applications – the legal and policy process that follow
A large part of the Indian population would access the service provided by the Chinese apps before the decision was made to block them and there have been some important consequences ever since. TikTok alone had over 100 million users active in India. Several reports showcased TikTok to have given a voice to small time individual entrepreneurs especially in rural India. We Chat app was used by Tibetan refugees in Delhi to not only contact and connect with their families but also as their source of news and information. The ban seems to cause more harm than good especially to the already marginalized communities in India and a constitutional challenge to the ban is said to be in motion.
In the recent case in Kerala, Faheema Shirin vs. State of Kerala recognized that meddling with one’s right to the access of the internet is a violation of their fundamental right to privacy. Under article 19 it is assumed that there does exist freedom of access to the internet, it becomes rather significant to examine the effect it might have on banning the Chinese apps. The right must be inclusive and should be made available to everyone in order for the freedom of speech and expression to be meaningful.
US troubled by India’s acquisition of Russian Jets, CAATSA may be invoked
In order to quickly meet the military requirements, India has purchased Russian material which may provoke the US to sanction India under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). New Delhi recently had announced its procurement of 33 Russian combat aircrafts for the Indian Air Force (IAF) to which a senior US State Department official stated that India was not shielded from the sanctions under CAATSA.
The CAATSA was imposed back in January, 2017 in Washington against the Russian defence, gas and oil products and the security in an attempt to strike back at Moscow’s military involvement in Ukraine and its assumed intervention in the 2016 US presidential elections. An unnamed official stated to the British publication- “I can confirm that we urge all of our allies and partners to forego (defence) transactions with Russia that risk triggering sanctions under CAATSA,” and that Washington could not “prejudge whether a specific transaction would result in sanctions, it was important to note that CAATSA did not have any blanket or country specific waiver provision.” The procurement of F-21 in particular has been troublesome for Washington and could very well be the trigger that sets of the sanctions against India for opting to acquire the Russian fighter jets.
UP Gangster shot dead in a controversial police encounter
8 policemen were mercilessly gunned down when they were on their way to make the arrest of the prominent Uttar Pradesh gangster Vikas Dubey. It was only a week later that Vikas was killed in an encounter with the police officials near Kanpur. He had been arrested from the popular ‘Mahakal’ temple in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday (9th July, 2020) and was on his way to Kanpur by the Special Task Force (STF) of the UP police. Prashant Kumar, director general of police UP claimed that due to heavy rains, the SUV carrying him overturned and Vikas made an attempt to escape. Vikas had managed to snatch a policeman’s pistol and fired at the jawans as he tried to evade them. The STF jawans traveling close behind in another vehicle tried to stop him from fleeing to which Vikas opened fire. The policemen in self-defense fired back and there was a shootout wherein Vikas Dubey suffered bullet injuries. Four STF jawans were also injured in the process.
Dubey was rushed to the hospital where he was declared brought dead and according to the post mortem Dubey had 4 gun shot wounds to which he succumbed. However, earlier conflicting reports emerged of the gangster’s death. Some reports claimed that Dubey was seriously injured when the SUV skidded and overturned and it was due to these severe injuries that he died. Members of his family claimed that they were not given any news of the death of Vikas Dubey and they claim to have found out via the media outlets.
Critical human error led to the downing of Ukrainian jet crash, says Iran
Iran claimed that wrong alignment of an air defense’s radar system was the critical human error that resulted in the unfortunate crash of a Ukraine passenger plane back in January. The Iranian Civil Aviation Organization (CAO) said in a report that "a failure occurred due to a human error in following the procedure" which caused a “107 degree error” in the system. The Ukraine International Airlines plane, Flight 752, crashed almost immediately after takeoff from Tehran on 8th January after being hit by two missiles. US-Iran tensions have already been heightened off late.
Iran after several days acknowledged that it’s units shot down the plane accidentally, killing all the 176 people aboard. CAO stated that due to the misidentification of the target by the operator, which happened to be a commercial airliner, it was brought down. The report also mentioned that the defense unit operator had fired the first of the two missiles without having received any information from the Coordination center from which he receives his orders. The air defenses had already been on high alert at the given time due to the fear of US retaliating against the strike called upon the US troops positioned in Iraq by the Islamic republic
US Lawmakers urge Trump to revoke his decision barring foreign students
A group of 136 US Democratic congressmen and 30 senatores said the latest guidelines issued by the Trump administration seems to be motivated by "animus towards non-citizens and immigrants". It forces the universities and schools to reopen even as the cases due to the corona virus are constantly on the rise.
In the report, the lawmakers stated – “The Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s announcement of their plans to force out or deport international students who remain at US colleges and universities and who are taking a full online course load is cruel and unconscionable. These students are already in the United States, are established members of educational communities, and have been determined through the visa screening process to pose no danger to the United States."
However supporters of the Trump administration argue that “American jobs” are taken away by the incoming foreign students. This argument has found a strong voice and has also gained the support of the administration. Students coming from overseas contribute around $45 billion to the American education industry and bring with them countless value to the US economy. The US Chamber of Commerce has requested the administration to rethink their decision.
CBI probe into the cop that tipped off Vikas Dubey moves to SC for security
2 police officials have been arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police for tipping off Vikas Dubey which led to the death of 8 policemen. Sub-inspector KK Sharma is one of the two policemen arrested and moved the Supreme court claiming the chance of a police encounter against him and is seeking protection. A petition was filed by Sharma and his wife Vinita Sirohi that sought a CBI probe in the killings of Vikas Dubey and 5 of his accomplices. “Extra-judicial killings of other accused shows volumes about the conduct of Uttar Pradesh police department….It is clearly evident that the institutions tasked with the protection of law and order in the state have taken the law into their own hands and have been killing the accused as soon as arresting such people,” the petition said.
8 policemen were ambushed and killed by Vikas’ men on July 3rd, before their attempt of fleeing Kanpur. Exactly a week later, Vikas was killed in an encounter with the Uttar Pradesh police when he was being transported from his arrest site, Ujjain in MP to Kanpur. The SUV carrying Vikas Dubey skidded off the road and had overturned. Trying to make the most of the opportunity, Vikas tried to flee but was killed in an encounter with the police. “After being chased by the police team, he was asked to surrender but he did not and started firing with the intention of killing them. The police team fired back in self-defence after which Vikas Dubey was injured” Kanpur Police said in a statement.
Gehlot – Pilot crisis
The cracks in the ruling Congress party in Rajasthan seems to be widening as reports emerged that Sachin Pilot went to Delhi to talk about the party leadership. Simultaneously, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot called for an immediate meeting with party MLA on Sunday. Pilot had come under the scrutiny of the Rajasthan police for his alleged attempts at destabilizing the Rajasthan government. He said, “It is unacceptable that media is trying to give this matter a different spin.” Gehlot too was called by the Rajasthan police for questioning, according to reports. The police unit comes directly under the Rajasthan state government’s jurisdiction.
Previously, both Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot had accused the BJP government for its attempts at trying to destabilize the Rajasthan government just before the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections on June 19. At a press conference which was attended by Pilot and several other leaders from the Congress party, Gehlot said, “At this time, we have to decide who is distributing dard (pain) and who is distributing davaa (medicine)." These comments made were under the pretense that the BJP had summoned the Congress MLAs and other independent MLAs to a resort in Jaipur in an attempt to lure them over to switch sides.
HM Amit Shah: successful battling of Corona virus in India is being seen by the world
Home Minister Amit Shah complimented the efforts of the security forces in their battle against the Corona virus in the country. He claimed that the world is witnessing India’s successful battle against the pandemic. He stated “India is one of the most populous countries. Everyone thought how will a country like India battle Covid – 19, there were apprehensions but today the whole world is witnessing how one of the most successful battles against Covid – 19 has been fought here… In India’s battle against Covid – 19, all of our security forces are playing a huge role, nobody can deny it. Today, I salute these Corona warriors. They have proved that they not only know how to fight terrorism but also against Covid with the help of people.”
Several jawans have lost their lives in the battle against the pandemic and to those the Union Home Minister has paid his tributes. At a plantation drive he stated that along with the help of the Central Armed Police Forces, they planned on planting over 10 lakh tree saplings across the country in a single day. The saplings chosen were to be taken care till maturity by the jawans so that the nation could reap the benefits of their magnanimity.
Resolution to convert the Hagia Sophia Museum into Mosque condemned by Pope Francis
Turkey’s decision to convert Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Museum into a mosque has been publicly condemned by Pope Francis. At a blessing in St. Peter’s Square he said "My thoughts go to Istanbul. I think of Santa Sophia and I am very pained.” Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President declared that the ancient structure was once again a mosque after following a court ruling that officially cancelled the Hagia Sophia’s status as a museum. The move to convert the museum has been criticized by many and the World Council of Churches has urged the Turkish President to reverse his decision. To which the President stated that Turkey is only exercising its sovereign rights while converting the 1,500 year old Hagia Sophia, which was once Christian cathedral, into a mosque. He claimed it would remain open to Muslims, Christians and foreigners and criticism of the move to convert the museum would be interpreted as an attack on its independence. Istanbul’s spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, Patriarch Bartholomew stated that the decision was rather disappointing. UNESCO stated that its World Heritage Committee would evaluate the status of the Hagia Sophia as Turkey’s decision has an impact that is not confined within the borders of Turkey, rather affecting people from all over the world and of different generations and communities.
Permits alcohol consumption, decriminalizes leaving Islam – Sudan
For the first time in decades Sudan is to permit the consumption of alcohol by non – Muslims and has done away with laws that made leaving Islam a punishable offence. Justice Minister, Nasredeen Abdulbari said in an interview on state television that Sudan now "allows non-Muslims to consume alcohol on the condition it doesn't disturb the peace and they don't do so in public." Although the Islamic traditionally prohibits their believers from the consumption of alcohol, Sudan has a notable Christian minority. Abdulbari is part of a transitional government that took control after Bashir’s dismissal. He said “No one has the right to accuse any person or group of being an infidel... this threatens the safety and security of society and leads to revenge killings."
Human rights groups constantly criticized Bashir’s treatment of non – muslims, the Christian minority especially. Official figures indicate that Christians represent only 3% of Sudan’s population but several other Christian leaders claim the real figure to be much higher. Back in 2014, a woman was given the death penalty for converting out of Islam and into Christianity and sparked a worldwide uproar.
Qualcom – will invest $97 million in India’s Jio Platforms
The latest high profile investor, Qualcomm Ventures, has said it will invest $97 million in Jio platforms to acquire a 0.15% equity stake. In the last 12 weeks, Jio has raised over $15.7 billion from many different investors. Qualcomm has claimed that it will help the platform with advanced 5G infrastructure and services for its Indian customers. Reliance Jio platforms have disrupted the Indian telecommunications market by offering voice and data plans far cheaper than competitors. It has gained over 400 million subscribers and has become the top carrier in the world’s second largest internet market in less than 4 years. The most recent addition to its many different features which include calling, data plans, streaming etc, has been its video conferencing service. Companies like – Facebook, Intel, General Atlantic and Silver Lake have invested in the Jio platform amidst the global pandemic. Jio has managed to sell 25.24% stake in the company during this period. Chief executive of Qualcomm stated that it believes Reliance Jio platforms will be able to set new standards of services and experiences to its Indian consumer in the coming years - “With unmatched speeds and emerging use cases, 5G is expected to transform every industry in the coming years. Jio Platforms has led the digital revolution in India through its extensive digital and technological capabilities. As an enabler and investor with a longstanding presence in India, we look forward to playing a role in Jio’s vision to further revolutionize India’s digital economy”
Newly constructed bridge washed away by floods in Bihar
The NDA government headed by Nitish Kumar was under severe criticism by the Opposition in Bihar regarding the newly – constructed Sattarghat bridge. The approach road that led to the bridge over River Gandak was washed away by the floods, exactly 29 days after its inauguration by the Chief Minister on the 16th of June. The bridge construction had started back on the 5th of April, 2012 and was long pending its completion. The Rs. 263.47 crore project as to reduce distance between districts by 45 km.
In a tweet, leader of Opposition, Tejashwi Yadav said , “The Sattarghat bridge of Gopalganj built at a cost of Rs 263.47 crore in 8 years, was inaugurated by Nitish Ji on June 16. Today, 29 days later the bridge collapsed. Beware! If someone terms it corruption by Nitish ji. Rs 263 crore is for just a glimpse. Even their rats consume alcohol worth this amount.” This tweet comes as a response to one of the Bihar government’s minister who had blamed rats for the heavy floods in 2017. Coming to the governements defence a BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand said, “The bridge is completely safe only an approach road two kilometres ahead of bridge has been washed away. The minister of road construction department is an efficient minister who has brought revolution in road network.”
Congress MLA, P. Singh Lodhi from Madhya Pradesh joins BJP
Another Congress MLA has parted ways with former party and joined the ruling BJP on the 12th of July. This comes roughly about 4 months after the desertation of 22 Congress legislators and is a significant loss to the Opposition party just before the important by elections. P. Singh Lodhi turned in his resignation after criticizing the Congress government of neglecting the Bundelkhand region and rather diverting attention to Chhindwara. Lodhi was given a Cabinet Minister status and was announced as the Chairman of the Madhya Pradesh civil supplies corporation. V D Sharma, a BJP state president claimed that an angricultural college designed for Panna in the Bundelkhand region had been redirected to Chhindwara, the center for Kamal Nath. “The BJP has not offered him any allurement, he has joined us because he is driven by the urge to develop his constituency,” Sharma claimed. A Rs. 450 crore irrigation scheme has been sanctioned by Chouhan for the Bundelkhand region that would irrigate 1,700 hectares.
The Congress’s strength in the 230 - member House has now been brought down to 91. 22 Congress Members had resigned from their post in to join the BJP, reducing Congress’s strength from 114 to 92. This recent resignation is rather embarrassing for the Opposition party as it claimed that those who had to leave had already left all together at once, after its loss in power.
Hong Kong – over 600,000 people voice their concerns regarding new security law
Over 600,000 citizens in Hong Kong cast ballots over the weekend as a symbolic protest vote against the firm security laws put in motion by Beijing – claimed the opposition camp in Hong Kong. This unofficial poll is to decide the strongest pro-democracy contestants to stand for election in September to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. A young aspiring democrat, Sunny Cheung, 24 has been out lobbying and giving moving speeches, claimed "A high turnout will send a very strong signal to the international community, that we Hong Kongers never give up … "And that we still stand with the democratic camp, we still support democracy and freedom.”
Determined to see a change, young and old residents gathered around over 250 polling stations all over the city, guarded by thousands of volunteers. After standing in long queues and having their indetities verified, the people were able to vote via the mobile phones. After 2 full days, organizers claimed that 592,000 people had successfully voted online and an additional 21,000 had voted via paper ballots. Au Nok – hin, an organizer said, "You can see the courage of the Hong Kong people in this ... Hong Kongers have created another miracle.”
Russian citizen found guilty of hacking LinkedIn, Dropbox – US Court
One of the biggest data breaches in the history of the United States was witnessed back in 2012. A San Francisco jury has found the Russian citizen, Yevgeniy Nikulin guilty of the crime that resulted in the theft if 117 million usernames and passwords. He tried to sell that stolen information to other people and was found guilty of trafficking Formspring data. It was after this massive data breach that made Dropbox come out with the two – factor authentication and automated features to verify any suspicious activity. Yevgeniy Nikulin was charged with 9 felony counts when he was arrested in Czech Republic back in 2016 and was put in prison in many different jails.
The United States of America and Russia both put in requests to extradite him but the Czech Republic finally decided to extradite him to the US in 2018. Nikulin is looking at up to 10 years in prison for each count of selling the stolen usernames and passwords and installing malware. He is also looking at an additional 5 years for each count of hacking and conspiracy. His sentencing has been scheduled for the 29th of September.
Elon Musk, Obama and Bill Gates twitter account hacked in a crypto currency scam
The twitter accounts of Elon Musk and Bill Gates were hacked in a crypto – related scam. There were several other prominent figures who had their accounts hacked as well. Some of the other Twitter accounts hacked were of Barack Obama, Warren Buffet, Joe Biden, Kim Kardashian West, Jeff Bezos and more. The scam tweets posted through the accounts of Elon Musk and Bill Gates stated a Bitcoin wallet address link encouraging followers to send money to the wallet, promising to double the amount. The scam was conducted in two rounds after the first round of tweets were deleted.
The message posted from Musk’s profile read - “You know I living giving back to my community. I’m doubling all BTC payments sent to my address. You send $1,000 and I will send #$2,000 back! Tell your family & friends! Only going on for 30 minutes.”Such scams occur quite often but what is troubling is the ease with which the hackers gained access to these high profile Twitter accounts. An official statement is yet to be released regarding the hacking, but the structure of tweets along with the claims read on the tweets seem to be the doing of the same person/group.
Beijing a tad bit reluctant to move out of the Finger region completely
It seems that China is a bit reluctant to completely evacuate the Finger region and still wants to have some presence in the region. Sources claim that in the military – level talks China has agreed to completely withdraw from the Galwan valley, Hot springs and Gogra region in the East region of Ladakh. China has begun to withdraw its forces from the Finger 4 region from Blacktop to Greentop, however are showing some resistance from the complete withdrawal from the Finger 8 region, sources claimed. After a 15 hour long meeting between the Corps commander – level officers including Lt. Gen Harinder Singh, India made it very clear that it would not accept anything short of the withdrawal of troops from both sides back to what was previously designated.
The withdrawal of troops is to be monitored closely by both sides for the next few days. The Chinese worry that post withdrawal India would have a strategic height advantage and may exploit it to gain control, in and around the Patrolling Point 17. China has gone back significantly from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the adjoining Patrol Points (14 and 15 respectively).
Asia’s largest solar power project – Rewa Solar inaugurated by PM Modi in Madhya Pradesh.
On the 10th of July, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the solar power project, the Rewa Solar Power Project in Madhya Pradesh, via video conferencing. The new 750 MW solar power project, set in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh is the largest in the continent. Claiming that India is one of the leading 5 nations in the world with regard to solar energy, PM Modi stated that harnessing solar energy is the method of energy moving forward in the 21st century.
The Solar Power project in Rewa comprises of three solar power generating units, each with the capacity of 250 MW and each of them located on a 500 hectare plot of land situated inside a Solar Park, claimed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Limited (RUMSL) has developed this enormous Solar Park over a total area of 1500 hectares.
A significant amount of Rs. 138 crore has been given by the Centre to the RUMSL for the construction and development of the Solar Park. Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and Madhy Pradesh Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (MPUVN) came together to form this joint venture, RUMSL. The Rewa Solar Power project, for its modernism and superiority, has received the World Bank Group President’s Award.
Plastic Waste used in the making of 1 lakh km of road – aims to double it, Govt.
Central Government has been implementing the use of plastic waste in the construction of roads in order to satisfactorily utilize plastic waste which otherwise would not have been recycled. One lakh kilometer of road has been built so far using the material. In order to build one kilometer of road, nine tonnes of bitumen and one tonne of plastic is required. Thereby saving one tonne of bitumen for every kilometer of the road constructed, saving approximately Rs. 30,000/km. Plastic roads comprise of 6 – 8% of recycled plastic, while 92 – 94 % is bitumen.
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari had introduced to the public about the usage of plastic waste in the construction of roads in 2016. Ever since then, plastic waste has been utilized in the construction of one lakh kilometer of road in 11 states. The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) has made it mandatory to use plastic waste in its construction of arterial roads.
India produces at least 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste daily. According to the Union environment ministry, only about 60% gets recycled, while the rest gets dumped into landfills, oceans or burnt, causing all sorts of various pollutions and complications to the environment. A proper waste management system enables the dirty plastics to get recycled efficiently and less water intensive.
Fresh Investments may see a fall with new labour dilutions.
As stated by the 2014 World Bank Enterprise Surveys (ES), on examining of 9,281 firms across the nation, less than 5% of the firms recognized labour regulations as the chief obstacle to their operations. The number has stayed the same ever since the 2010 ES survey. Recent surveys conducted by NITI Aayog and the IDFC Institute claim a number of different problems are identified more by companies in India as their primary concern. This includes permissions for setting up a business, obtaining of land and construction permits among many others. The ES survey data highlights labour regulation is not even part of the top 3 concerns faced by firms in UP and MP and is only the second most concern in Gujarat, India’s industrial powerhouse.
Keeping foreign investors’ interest in India in mind, the inflexible labour laws are ranked 5th among the 5 least attractive factors in the overall ease of doing business. No reform on its own, including the labour law reform, is a solution for economic progress and job creation. Investors value certainty more than specific reforms. However the latest reforms pose several uncertainty and are just 3 year changes. This is not a long enough time to attract long term investments that enable job creation. The state government may need to pursue reforms that are much deeper and can tackle the immediate constraints in order to make the firms feel safe and secure to further their investments in the country.
3 Disputed areas with India redrawn by Nepal in its political map
Nepal has completed the process of updating the country’s political map by incorporating three areas with strategic importance by making amends to its constitution. This move by the Nepal’s government could gravely shake the bilateral relations with its neighbor, India. India has already claimed the area as “untenable” after Nepal’s lower house of Parliament unanimously accepted the new political map of the country showing Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura (areas which India claims, belongs to it). Nepal’s President Bidya Devi Bhandari authenticated the second constitution amendment bill which was passed by both houses of Nepal’s Parliament.
When asked about the recent developments in Nepal, in New Delhi, spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs, Anurag Srivastava said that India has made its position on the matter clear: “This artificial enlargement of claims is not based on historical fact or evidence and is not tenable. It is also violative of our current understanding to hold talks on outstanding boundary issues.”
Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli said that the approval of the amendment bill was a milestone towards the reclaiming Nepal’s land. “Both the houses of parliament demonstrated un paralleled unity in endorsing the Bill. This is a historic achievement for Nepalis,” Oli was quoted as saying by reporters.
New Data Protection Law might act as a government surveillance tool
In the new age of digitization, safeguarding citizen’s privacy with respect to third party access has become of utmost importance. The Supreme Court of India, in regard to the K. S. Puttaswamy vs. UOI (2017), stated that a citizen’s right to privacy as a fundamental right protected under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. On 11th December, 2019, the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 was introduced in the parliament, is almost analogous to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. It is supposed to protect citizen’s data as well as cross border passage of data.
The bill however, has drawn a lot of criticism over the involvement of India’s central government and the exemptions given to it. Civil rights groups, focusing on clauses 12 and 35 of the bill raise concerns claiming that the central government is trying to prevent the protection of citizens’ data. Clause 12 of the bill supposedly gives the central government the ability to process individuals’ personal data without their consent. Several critics have raised their concerns about the subjectivity and broadness of the bill that can enable the government to manipulate the citizens’ data. Reasonable steps are required to get the consent of the individuals and their actions regarding the same are to be proportionate and rational.
Elon Musk’s stock surge, becomes the 7th richest man
Elon Musk has now surpassed Warren Buffett as Tesla Inc.’s chief executive officers fortunes rose by $6.1 billion on Friday with the carmaker’s stock increasing by 11%. Elon Musk has now become the seventh richest person in the world. The bulk of his fortune, $70.5 billion, is due to his 1/5th ownership in the Tesla’s outstanding stock. His majority ownership in SpaceX accounts for another $15 billion. Tesla’s increasing valuation enabled Musk to land a $595 million payday.
Indian businessman Mukesh Ambani surpassed Buffet as well. Overtaking Bufffett might be a personal victory for Elon Musk. In an interview back in May, to a comedian, Joe Rogan, he mentioned that he was not the “biggest fan” of his fellow billionaire and calling his work rather boring. Buffett was also found criticizing Musk wherein he mentioned Musk was a “remarkable guy” but he had “room for improvement” and should start acting more like a CEO. Buffet’s fortune decreased in July as he donated about $2.9 billion to charity. Since the year 2006, in total, the 89 year old billionaire has donated more than a total of $37 billion of Berkshire Hathaway shares. His company’s stock performance has also failed to impress off late.
US warns its citizens in China, could end up in jail
Due to the increased risk of arbitrary detention and exit bans preventing foreigners from leaving the country, the United States of America has warned its citizens in China to proceed with extreme caution. After Beijing passed a national security law for Hong Kong which affects people from different nations residing in China (including non-residents), the US had sent a warning in the form of an email to its citizens in China. Criticism of the Chinese government, even in personal private communications could be used against foreign citizens. “Security personnel may detain and/or deport United States citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government” was also mentioned in the email.
The email cautioned the US citizens might face detention “without access to US consular services or information about their alleged crime,” and with “prolonged interrogations and extended detention” for reasons that pertain to the security of the state. There has been tension developing between the two nations over things related to trade, the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s management of Hong Kong and the treatment dealt to minorities and the huge network of internment camps. Recently China has been accused of hostage diplomacy when 2 Canadians were charged with espionage.
Mexican Crime could see the worst this year
A shocking 117 murders were reported in under 24 hours on the 7th of June, making it the country’s most violent and gruesome day of the year so far. The record was held at 114 homicides back on the 20th of April. If this pattern continues, 2020 could by far become the bloodiest year in the history of the country. However it is the sheer boldness with which these attacks have been carried out that stands out more than the numbers.
The gangs’ targets include low level cartel foot soldiers to high profile politicians and there have been mass killings and cautiously planned assassinations both alike. A group of men disguised as construction workers, shot the city’s chief, Omar Garcia Harfuch 3 times. Three people, one a woman on her way to work, were killed amidst the fierce gun battle. Miraculously Omar Garcia survived the attack on his life.
In the state of Guanajuato, gunmen open fired on the staff and patients of a rehabilitation center after making them lie down on the ground killing 26 people. Falko Ernst, a senior analyst at the Crisis Group stated, "They (the cartels) have been very aggressive from the outset and have gotten away with killing federal forces, including lots and lots of police in Guanajuato, and the shooting down of military helicopters."
BJP President lashes out at Kerala CM for alleged involvement in gold smuggling case
The President of BJP, Mr. JP Nadda hinted at the Kerala Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan’s involvement in the recent gold smuggling case. He claimed that the Chief Minister and his office too were involved and even questioned the ties between the CM’s non – transferred personal secretary with a key accused. During a virtual address to Keral BJP workers these comments were made by JP Nadda as they virtually inaugurated the party’s newly constructed office building in Kasargod. To his fellow party members he said, "The colour of gold is yellow everywhere but in Kerala, it is red, red and red. What is the relationship between that IT officer and the personal secretary of the Chief Minister?"
The CM’s personal secretary, M Sivasankar had been transferred from his designation as the case surfaced. This was due to his involvement in the hiring of Swapna Suresh, one of the 4 main perpetrators. Furthermore the BJP chief remarked, "We can see the heat in CM's office also. He wrote to Prime Minister saying no stone should remain unturned as far as the investigation is concerned. We have a saying 'chor ki daadi mein tinka', it means the office of CM is also involved somewhere"
Mukesh Ambani sees future in tech, lucrative deals made with Facebook, Google etc
Having inherited an oil refining and petrochemical estate from his father, Mukesh Ambani is now placing his bets on technology for the future in a pivotal move away from the family’s legacy business. Mukesh Ambani has been able to secure over $20 billion in the form of investments from tech giants of the likes of Google and Facebook. In his recent virtual conference, wherein 300,000 plus people had logged in from 41 different countries, his outlining plans for Jio Platforms were majorly tech related. "I believe that the time has come for a truly global digital product and services company to emerge from India, and to be counted among the best in the world."
Google has partnered up with Jio to create an Operating System that could power a cheap 4G/5G smartphone. Jio Glass has also been introduced by the platform in an attempt to bridge the learning gaps with 3D virtual rooms and holographic classes. Jio Platforms is the primary focus of Ambani’s goals as it is a one stop market for over 1 billion people. Towards the end of the speech Ambani briefly mentioned that the transaction with Saudi Arabian Oil Company hadn’t made any progress.
US President Donald Trump makes highly speculative accusations against Joe Biden
Former Vice – President Joe Biden was heavily criticized by the US President Donald Trump claiming him to be incompetent to guide the country and ‘mentally shot’. Amid the challenges of the growing pandemic, racial unrest and the falling economy, Donald Trump claimed that Biden would ‘tripple your taxes… defund the police.’ He stated that Religion will be no more, referring to Binden’s officials that banned large church services in order to curb the growing virus. In recent polling results, Joe Biden has seemed to garner a substantial amount of support as several doubt the Trump’s administrations’ handling of the Covid – 19.
Trump constantly questioned Joe Biden’s mental stability and on being asked directly if he though Biden was mentally acute he replied, “I don’t want to say that, I say he’s not competent to be president.” Defending his administration’s handling of the virus, Trump claimed that the world was envious of United States in terms of testing and hopes that the virus would someday just disappear. He opposed the idea of nationwide mandates for wearing a mask as he feels people should have a certain kind of freedom. He also feels the economy is ‘doing very well’ even as millions of Americans still continue to be jobless.
Assam’s Health Minister – preferential treatment to be given to plasma donors
The Assam state’s Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that preferential treatment for jobs and government facilities in the future may be given to those recovering Covid – 19 patients who donate plasma. Observations made in the US and in India revealed that there were no negative impacts of the plasma treatment and 90% of the patients recovered when given plasma in a moderate state of a patient’s sickness. Biswa Sarma told journalists, “The plasma donors will get a certificate. We will consider giving preferences to them in interviews, government schemes, etc in the future. Supposing two persons got equal marks in an interview. If one is a plasma donor, two extra marks will, probably, be added to his tally. Similarly, a plasma donor, who is a beneficiary of PMAY but his name is down there on the list, we will take his name upward.”
The Health Minister added, “We have taken a massive initiative for plasma. The Covid-19 recovered people can contact us and save humanity. Hospitals in several states are yet to have a plasma bank. The plasma of the Covid-19 recovered people there will go in waste. So, we will campaign beyond Assam and appeal to people to donate their plasma,”
Bill Gates – India’s pharma industry can produce vaccines for entire world
Philanthropist Bill Gates claimed that India’s pharmaceutical industry in the near future will be capable of producing Covid – 19 vaccines for not only the country but also for the whole world. The Microsoft co – founder believes that important things have been accomplished in the Indian pharmaceutical industry and they are contributing ‘to help make the coronavirus vaccine building on other great capacities that they have used for other diseases.” Bill Gates stated that India’s pharma industry has made significant progress in recent times and is doing all the right work in this pandemic. Due to the vastness of the country, extremely large population density in urban centers, he feels India is facing a major health crisis.
“India has a lot of capacity there -- with the drug and vaccine companies that are huge suppliers to the entire world. You know, more vaccines are made in India than anywhere-- starting with Serum Institute, that’s the largest. But (there are) also Bio E, Bharat (Biotech), many others. They are doing work to help make the coronavirus vaccine, building on other great capacities that they have used for other diseases.” said the co - chair and founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
US and India conduct joint naval exercise to send strong strategic message to China
A United State carrier strike group headed by aircraft carrier USS Nimitz carried out an exercise with the Indian warships near the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago. This comes after the military confrontation in the Eastern parts of Ladakh between the Chinese and Indian forces. The enormous USS Nimitz along with her other warships entered the Indian Ocean by passing the Malacca Strait. The carriers deployed by the US have just finished an operational deployment and the ‘freedom of navigation’ mission as a show of support for US allies. India is carrying out several important naval exercises near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. These Islands are part of the predominant sea trade routes used by China when passing though the Malacca Strait. Many of the Indian naval forces are to be a part of these exercise headed by eastern naval fleet commander Rear Admiral Sanjay Vatsayan. Aircrafts and warships from Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) along with the Eastern Naval Command (ENC) are to be a part of this exercise. Indian and Japanese warships were also reported to have been carrying out excersies near the Malacca Strait since last month.
Tata Group Chief stresses the need for mass scale testing for Covid -19
The Tata Group Chief N Chandrasekaran has claimed that the spreading of the pandemic would not be curbed unless there can be tests conducted ‘at scale’. In a group newsletter, the Chairman of Tata Sons was quoted saying, "The past few months have been very challenging, but they have also been a great demonstration of the value of collaboration. I am proud of how we have worked together to battle this disease… Now, as we navigate the uncertain journey into the post-pandemic future, we will need to respond according to our principles of simplicity, synergy and scale and, above all, to foster the mindset of 'One Tata'. Collaboration has been our watchword, and the pandemic has shown the importance of living by our principles."
Chandrasekaran also shared many of the steps incorporated by the company to help in the fight against the pandemic. He claims that the Tata group is trying to find more economical ways for testing. He claims that so far the Tata group has added or is in the process of adding over 2,000 beds and have been able to produce and distribute over 9,000 PPE kits in order to meet the immediate demands.
Chinese company with links to PLA under scrutiny by Indian Govt
Security forces are trying to figure out Chinese companies which may have had or still continue to have ties with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) that continue to function in India. Companies like Alibaba Group Holding Limited, Huawei Technologies Company Limited, Tencent Holding Limited, SAIC Motor Corporation Limited have been identified to have had links with the Chinese PLA. Reports claim that the companies with ties to the Chinese PLA would be assessed if their continued operation could pose risk to the security of the country. These actions undertaken by the government amidst the border tensions faced by the two countries.
In June 2018, a $46 million investment was made in a solar photo voltaic cell manufacturing factory in Andhra Pradesh by the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC). The United States of America had banned the exports from many of the CETC’s subsidiaries on the grounds of it being a threat to their national security. CETC has been involved in many cases of illegal exports by the US Department of Justice and some CETC workers have been declared guilty for military espionage in the United States. A case against CETC has been filed accusing the leading military electronics in China to have provided technology used for human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
Japan to give over $536 million to its companies to cut ties in China
The Japanese government is to sponsor a few companies to invest in factories in Japan and other South East Asian countries in order to reduce dependencies of manufacturing in China. Companies included in this $536 million grant include private companies like Iris Ohyama Inc. or Sharp Corp. A total of 57 companies are to be included in this exhaustive list. In addition, another 30 companies are to receive sponsorship to invest in countries like Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand and several other South – East Asian countries. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had declared the need to bring production of goods back to the nation or spread it across the South East Asian nations in an attempt to reduce the need for only one country like China.
Sources say that the government is set to shell out a total of 70 billion yen this term. Amidst the rising US – China tensions, US has extended its belief that companies should move out of China and the Japanese government’s decision seems to be in tandem with it. Apart from Japan and Taiwan, no other company has made any solid decision to shift out of China.
Banerjee opts for major organizational changes amid growing BJP influence in North Bengal
The disastrous performance by the All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the Lok Sabha Polls of 2019 has led to the growth of the BJP influence, especially in the Northern parts of Bengal and seems to be spreading. In recent times there have been several cracks that seem to have appeared due to internal reasons, which is probably why Mamta Banerjee has decided to undergo a major organizational rearrangement for the upcoming 2021 Assembly Polls. TMC’s future in the region of Bengal will be decided by winning the North 24 – Parganas and Jungalmahal in North Bengal as claimed by the expert in politics, Kapil Thakur.
He said, “You must have noticed how Banerjee has already started playing her community cards over Rajbonshi or Kamtapuri community. Sometimes she plays the card of Anukulchandra (a spiritual leader born in Bangladesh) and sometimes she plays her Matua card. This is nothing new in Bengal as most of the political parties try to woo Rajbonshi, which is a deciding factor in North Bengal in any polls.” Rajbonshi is another deciding factor in the polls with over 30% vote share, which is leaning towards the BJP and were the result of TMC’s disastrous Lok Sabha Polls.
SC initiates a suo motu contempt case against activist – lawyer Prashant Bhushan’s tweets
On Tuesday the Supreme Court of India had started a suo motu contempt proceedings against Prashant Bhushan’s tweets. The Supreme Court has not specified the tweets it found demeaning to the judiciary. Not only has the Court initiated contempt proceedings against the activist – lawyer, but also has initiated proceedings against Twitter India, the social media platform used by Prashant Bhushan to post his comments. Justice Arun Mishra is to head the bench to hear the scheduled matter on Wednesday. Several topics regarding the judiciary have been questioned by Prashant Bhushan and lately he had actively criticized the Supreme Court of handling matters related to the migrant workers during the Corona virus pandemic.
From matters like the 2G scam to Rafale, the Birla – Sahara diaries to the medical college scam, over the last decade, P. Bhushan has played a pivotal role in raising awareness in the corruption in high places. Sources claim that the tweet most likely to have caught the attention of the Supreme Court was the one wherein he condemned the Chief Justice of India, S.A. Bobde for riding a motor cycle without a mask or a helmet during the lockdown.
PM Modi, 50 other VIPs invited to attend ceremony in Ram Temple amid pandemic
The temple trust of Ram Temple, Ayodhya has claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and bunch of prominent VIPs are going to attend a ceremony on the 5th of August. During the ceremony, a 40 kg silver brick is to be installed as the foundation stone, inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi. The grand ‘bhoomi pujan’ is to be performed as the silver brick is placed at the sanctum sanctorum which is to be preceded by the 3 day long Vedic rituals. The ceremony had been delayed by over 2 months due to the ongoing pandemic and is to include all senior BJP leaders that were associated with the temple. Uddhav Thackeray, Maharashtra Chief Minister and the Chief Minister of Bihar, Mr. Nitish Kumar are some of the other prominent figures likely to attend the event.
The Supreme Court had ordered the contested site in Ayodhya to be given to the government – run trust in order to build a temple in November, 2019. The Muslims of the region were to be given a reasonable 5 acre plot of land somewhere else in the district as ruled by the apex court of India.
Turkish Presidential Spokesperson – Mosaics hidden by curtains in Hagia Sophia prayers
The Hagia Sophia Museum has recently been declared to be converted to a Mosque by the Turkish President. Several mosaics within the Hagia Sophia depict Christian figures are to be covered up by curtains or lasers for the first prayer meet, said a Turkish Presidential spokesman Ibhrahim Kalin. The conversion of the ancient historical monument into a mosque by the Turkish President, Tayyip Erdoganhad had been heavily criticized by people all over the world. According to the court that ruled the verdict in favour of the conversion stated that the conversion of the monument in 1934 was against the law. Since the 6th century the Hagia Sophia has been a church and a mosque before being converted to a museum.
Ibhrahim Kalin in an interview claimed that the mosaics of Mary and Gabriel are situated in the direction of the Qiblah, the direction faced by the Muslims during their prayers is to be covered. Other Christian figures and mosaics of Jesus do not come in the way of the prayers as they are located in different directions. However he did not mention if they would remain covered at all times. The hagia Sophia is said to be open for all visitors from the world, outside prayers.
Disappeared tycoon’s companies worth 100s of billions of dollars seized by China
Once a reliable financier to China’s elite, Xiao Jianhua, vanished 3 years ago after being picked up from a luxury hotel in Hong Kong and taken into Chinese custody. The tycoon’s domain is now being taken apart by the authorities in Beijing in and attempt to send a powerful message showcasing the end of the debt – fueled era. During the takeovers, the top leadership in China is also coming into light, showing cases in which richer executives used their political influence to build big companies. The dismantling of the tycoon’s business empire also poses as a threat to the wealthy people in China’s ruling class as Xiao Jianhua might know their dirty secrets.
The Tommorow Group for the first time established that Xiao was in the country and was working with the government. Xiao Jianhua’s estimated fortune was said to be around the $5.8 billion mark and the Tomorrow Group became large enough to decide the stability of China’s financial system. Notwithstanding the recent takeovers, Tomorrow Group made a statement claiming to be confident of its future. “After three years of bumpy roads, the faith is still there,” it said. “We also believe that all efforts will be rewarded, and Tomorrow Group will get a fair, just and promised outcome.”
‘General consent’ for CBI probe withdrawn by Rajasthan Government
The Rajasthan government led by Ashok Gehlot has called back its ‘general consent’ for the CBI to conduct investigations and raids in Rajasthan. This move comes during the political crisis faced by the Rajasthan state government. A notification was ordered by the state government requiring the CBI to take consent of the state government before investigating offences under the section 3 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946. The ‘general consent’ of the state government will not be valid in the offences under this law, claim officials. The consent will be taken on a case – by – case basis. “Its administrative provisions were already there, it was notified yesterday.” said Rohit Kumar Singh, the additional chief secretary Home.
In June, 1990 the Rajasthan government back then had refused to give the ‘general consent’ to the Centre. The Rajasthan’s state government’s move to withdraw the ‘general consent’ has caught the attention of the BJP, who claim that there is an ‘indirect emergency’ in the state. The current ruling Congress is under immense pressure as it faces resistance offered by party leader Sachin Pilot and 18 other MLAs against the CM Ashok Gehlot. The situation has gotten worse after the police investigated taped conversations of some members.
India wins over Bhutan with trade relations and better connectivity amid border tensions
The Indian government has identified more border trade points in order to further their plans for a railway link between the Bhutan and India. These plans come amid the looming threat of China trying to influence Bhutan away from India. Last week India inaugurated a new trade route and is on track to give Bhutan the thumbs up for another permanent land customs station (LCS) in order to allow more Bhutan exports to India and Bangladesh. Sources claim that India is looking forward to opening one more integrated check post (ICP). Bhutan is the only neighbouring country that is yet to join Beijing’s BRI initiative and establish formal diplomatic ties with China. Bhutan’s relation with China is under pressure as China recently made new territorial claims in Bhutan’s eastern part of the country, close to Arunachal Pradesh border.
“The Bhutanese exporters are finding it difficult to export these products through the nearest permanent LCS due to high transportation costs and restriction on load capacity of river bridges en route. The idea is to positively engage Bhutan and boost trade through enhanced connectivity. These efforts will further have a positive effect on the trade growth with the North East states.” said a source while calling Bhutan, India’s closest partner.
Pakistan embraced a ‘farcical approach’ handling Kulbhushan’s case – MEA spokesperson
India has stated that Pakistan allegedly prevented the Indian death row convict Kulbhushan Jadhav from attaining any legal remedies. Anurag Srivastava, MEA spokesperson, claimed the approach to be farcical and added saying that India is looking into the matter and trying to come up with alternatives. He said, “In the absence of an unimpeded and unhindered consular access as well as of the relevant documents, as a last resort, India tried to file a petition on July 18. However our Pakistani lawyer informed that a review petition could not be filed in the absence of power of attorney and supporting documents related to the case of Jadhav.” The 20th of July was supposed to be the last date to file a review petition against the death sentence ruled out by the Pakistani Military court.
The 50 year old, former Indian Navy officer, was given the death sentence by the Pakistani military court on counts of espionage and terrorism in April, 2017. India went to the International Court of Justice claiming Pakistan for denying consular action to Jadhav and contesting the death sentence. The ICJ gave a verdict in July 2019, telling Pakistan to take an “effective review and reconsideration” of the sentence.
Haryana to pass new law to reserve 50% seats for women in Panchayats
The ruling BJP – JJP government in Haryana is all set to initiate a bill in the next Vidhan Sabha session to reserve 50% seats for women in the Panchayati Raj Institutions said Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala. He also claimed that the state government is trying all steps in order to maximize the participation of women in PRIs and other parts of society. He stated, “To give 50% reservation to women in Panchayats, we will bring in a Bill in the next Vidhan Sabha session… When the registration process is simpler, it will benefit the common people and that is why we are digitizing the entire process. Within 24 hours, they will get all details over their e-mail.” The Deputy Chief Minister also mentioned that a 100 women who have done exceptionally well in their villages will be rewarded a scooty; while the government looks to amend the law pertaining to the opening up of non – cultivable tracts of land which is spread over 500 acres at the disposal of the Gram Panchayat for industries to develop. Not only will the villages be able to generate an income but also the industries too would be able to succeed, generating more jobs for the village workers to be employed in.
Ratan Tata: a non - Tata person might one day lead the Tata Trust
In a recent proposal submitted, Ratan Tata, the head of the Trusts, has said that one day in the future, the chairman of the Tata trust could very well be a non – Tata. He said, “I happen to be the current chairman of these trusts. It could be somebody else, not necessarily with the surname ‘Tata’, in the future. An individual’s life is finite, whereas these organisations will continue.” No member of the Tata family has a ‘vested right’ to any position or even to the chairmanship of Tata Sons. These submissions were made during a time when Ratan Tata looks to evaluate plans to institutionalize the Tata Trusts management.
An official reported, “He (Ratan Tata) could seek to form a committee of high ranking individuals from various fields, especially (with a background) in philanthropy and humanities.” Tata Sons shares, owned by Cyrus Investments, has approached the Supreme Court’s help to get a ‘proportionate representation’ on the board of the company. Ratan Tata also mentioned that he and his family members have a less than 3% stake in the Tata Sons, highlighting the detachment between the two.
The delay in justice is a heavy price to pay
It took the court 35 years to give its verdict on the fake encounter case that resulted in the death of a member of former Rajasthan royalty who had rammed the helicopter of a sitting chief minister with his own vehicle, in a fit of rage. The very next day the unknowing ex – prince was shot dead by the police claiming it to be an encounter. After 35 years, the court has delivered a verdict guilty of murder. Over the course of these 3 and a half decades, the impunity with which police have functioned has grown exponentially.
The most infamous example is of that in Uttar Pradesh, where 122 people have shot dead in 6,237 encounters in the last 3 years. This is the result of crime going unpunished for so long in the country. People have lost faith in the judicial system and vigilantes and Robin Hood like figures rise and garner support of the locals. The democracy of the nation is being undermined and the rule of law has crumbled. India is in dire need of improving its criminal justice system and needs to cut down the time taken to rule out verdicts.