14 December 2020

Farm Laws: Protesters Go on Hunger Strike; SC to Hear Plea Seeking Border Opening; Can Discuss Farm Laws Clause By Clause: Centre Amid Protest . Child Nutrition Levels in India Worsened Over Last Five Years: NHFS Survey



14-12-2020,19:42 IST


·        Farm Laws: Protesters Go on Hunger Strike; SC to Hear Plea Seeking Border Opening

·        Can Discuss Farm Laws Clause By Clause: Centre Amid Protest

·        Hindutva leader warns of repeat of 'Jaffrabad' to clear farmers' protests

·        Assam Cabinet approves proposal to shut down state-run madrasas, Sanskrit schools

·        Facebook Gave Bajrang Dal A Free Hand To Protect Its Business Interests In India: Report

·        ‘Shudras Don’t Understand’: BJP MP Pragya Thakur’s Casteist Remarks against Lower Caste

·        Child Nutrition Levels in India Worsened Over Last Five Years: NHFS Survey

·        Govt issues guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination drive

·        Israel settlers escalate their attacks against Palestinians in West Bank

·        US removes Sudan from ‘state sponsors of terror’ list: Embassy




Farm Laws: Protesters Go on Hunger Strike; SC to Hear Plea Seeking Border Opening

New Delhi: Farmers’ protesting against the Centre’s contentious new laws have intensified their protests over the last few days, blocking the major Delhi-Jaipur highway and going on hunger strike.At least five rounds of formal talks have taken place between the Centre and the representatives of thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, but the deadlock has continued, with the unions sticking to their main demand for a repeal of the 3 contentious laws and repeatedly rejecting the govt’s offer to make certain changes in the legislations and give written assurances or clarifications on a few issues such as MSP and the “mandi” (wholesale market) system.The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a plea seeking direction to authorities to immediately remove the farmers who are protesting at several border points of Delhi against three new farm laws, on Dec.16. The plea says that commuters are facing hardships due to the road blockades and the gatherings might lead to an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. Meanwhile, Monday saw farmer leaders start their day-long hunger strike against the Centre’s new farm laws. They said that protests will be held at all district headquarters later in the day, even as more people are expected to join the on-going agitation at Delhi border points. Farmer leader Baldev Singh said, “Representatives of farmer unions have started their hunger strike at Singhu Border.”


Can Discuss Farm Laws Clause By Clause: Centre Amid Protest

New Delhi: Home Minister Amit Shah met Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar this afternoon amid a nationwide hunger strike by farmer leaders as they step up protests against the new agricultural laws. With thousands of protesters camping near Delhi borders since late November, this is the second nationwide protest in less than a week after highways were blocked last Tuesday as a part of shutdown backed by opposition parties and trade unions. Despite several round of talks with the centre, farmers have said the agitation will continue till the new laws are scrapped. "There is no question of taking retrograde steps against our agricultural sector. Reforms have been brought with the best interests of farmers in mind," Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said today.Agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar today suggested the laws won't be repealed. "We are ready for a discussion with protesting farmers, and we're waiting for a response. We've made it clear we're ready for clause by clause discussion," he said after a meet with 10 farmer bodies from several states that expressed support on the three farm laws.


Hindutva leader warns of repeat of 'Jaffrabad' to clear farmers' protests

A video by Hindutva ideologue Ragini Tiwari, who became infamous during the Delhi riots , went viral over the weekend.In the video, Ragini Tiwari, who is also known as Janaki Behen, warned that the farmers’ protests blocking Delhi's borders would have to be cleared by December 16.In the video, Ragini Tiwari said, "Farmers’ protests participants are demanding release of traitors like Umar Khalid and Sharjeel Imam. They are supporting traitors... we will not close our eyes to such conspiracy.""Chhatt Puja was stopped citing coronavirus... but is not coronavirus present during farmers' protests?" Ragini Tiwari asked."If government does not clear farmers' protests by [Dec] 16, then on 17, Jaffrabad will happen again... Ragini Tiwari will again clear the road and end the protest," she declared. Tiwari was referring to her participation in clearing a protest against CAA at Jaffrabad Metro Station in Delhi, an incident that was cited as a factor precipitating Delhi riots.Ragini Tiwari declared that the "Centre, Delhi government and Delhi Police" would be responsible for whatever happens. Ragini Tiwari exhorted members of her organisation, the Janaki Dham, to join her. Multiple social media users shared the video of Ragini Tiwari and tagged Delhi Police. In response to these posts, DCP of North-East Delhi tweeted on Sunday, "SHO/Jaffrabad has been directed to take necessary action." Ragini Tiwari has been accused of participating in and inciting violence in Delhi riots.In an interview to The Quint, which was published on Monday, Ragini Tiwari boasted she had emptied the roads at the Jaffrabad Metro Station."Yes I did that, there should be no doubts about it. I am the one who ensured the roads were emptied through several displays. We said that we will not move from this side of the road, until they (anti-CAA protesters) do not move from the other side," Tiwari told The Quint.


Farmers’ protests: Govt alleges hand of ‘tukde tukde’ gang, keeps talks door open

With talks deadlocked and farmers announcing a hunger-strike on Monday, more voices in the Government came out Sunday to allege that riding the protests were ideological forces opposed to the government and the “nation’s progress and integrity”. At the same time, the negotiation door was kept open with Union Minister of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary telling PTI that the government would soon “decide a date” and call farmer leaders for the sixth round of talks. In an address to farmers in Bihar, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad invoked the “tukde tukde gang”, warning of “stern action”. And, in the capital, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that those opposed to the farm Bills were the same cast of “Leftist” characters opposed to the abrogation of Article 370, CAA and the Ram temple.


Farm law protests: It’s not Indian culture to call farmers anti-national: CM Uddhav Thackeray

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday criticised the Centre for trying to defame the farmers’ protests against the government’s agricultural laws and said that labelling the protestors anti-national was “not our culture”, India Today reported. “One thing you [the government] need to understand is that you are doing injustice to our farmers and then you call them anti-national,” he said. “This is not our culture. Instead of talking to our farmers, BJP is calling them Pakistani, anti-national.”


‘We’re with Farmers’: Indian Americans March in Cities Across US

Indian Americans held rallies in many cities in the United States on the weekend in solidarity with farmers and Sikhs who have launched an agitation against the controversial farm Bills passed by the Narendra Modi government.The protests were reported from at least seven major US cities on Saturday and Sunday, including in Washington DC, Denever, North Carolina, Dallas, Boston, New York and Chicago.The biggest rally took place in Denver where hundreds of cars assembled at a parking lot close to Denver South High School and proceeded to North Lincoln and passed by the news stations and The Capitol. The convoy caused a grid-lock as the demonstrators chanted slogans in support of the Indian farmers.According to participants, a convoy of 400 cars carrying nearly 1,000 protesters marched down the streets on Saturday afternoon. “The convoy was organised to show solidarity with farmers and our concern over the new laws,” said Hadi Abdul Mateen, a Denver-based volunteer with North American Indian Muslim Association. “We urge that the government should enter into negotiations in good faith with farmers and accept their demands,” Mateen informed the participants who included Indian diaspora as well as some locals. “Majority of protesters were Sikhs but there were also a significant number of Muslims and Hindus of the Indian diasporic community.”Clarion India



IRCTC Sends Out Nearly 2 Crore Emails Highlighting Modi's Relationship with Sikh Community

Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) sent out nearly two crore emails between December 8 and December 12 to its customers, listing 13 decisions taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to support the Sikh community, amidst the farmers’ protest against the Centre’s three farm laws.IRCTC, a railway Public Sector Undertaking (PSU), emailed the 47-page booklet – ‘PM Modi and his government’s special relationship with Sikhs’ – to its customers as part of the government’s ‘public interest’ outreach to make people aware of the bills and to also squash myths about them, officials said.The booklets are in Hindi, English and Punjabi.PTI


Farmers’ Protest: 15 farmers lost their life since Nov. 26: National Herald India

Even as the farmers’ agitation against the three contentious farm laws gained momentum and entered day 17, it has come to the fore that at least 15 farmers have died since November 26 due to various reasons while protesting against the laws. According to the media reports, in the past two weeks, on average, one dead body is coming back every day to Punjab from the Singhu and Tikri borders of Delhi, but the government is not taking this issue seriously.Four of these farmers have died due to accidents, 10 due to heart attack, and one due to cold. The casualties started with the onset of the preparation for the Delhi march of November 26 and 27. The first such casualty took place on November 24 when a large group of farmers was covering tractor-trailers with waterproof sheets in Mehalkalan town of Barnala district.Kahan Singh, a BKU (Dakaunda) activist from Dhaner village was hit by a car and he died on the spot. Later, BKU declared him “the first martyr of the Delhi morcha”.



Delhi Riots-Merely Because He Is Tahir Hussain's Brother, He Can't Be Jailed For Infinity: Delhi Court Grants Bail To Shah Alam

While questioning the credibility of the witness in the case, the Karkardooma Court (Delhi) on Wednesday granted bail to Shah Alam, the younger brother of former AAP councillor and Prime Accused in NE Delhi Riots Case, Tahir Hussain, in one of the cases related to the riots. Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav disposed of the bail plea of Shah Alam, while questioning the beat constables as to why they waited till 06.03.2020 (when their statements U/s 161 Cr.P.C was recorded by the IO) to name the applicant (Shah Alam), when they had categorically seen and identified the applicant indulging in riots on the date of incident, i.e 25.02.2020. The Court said,"Being police official(s), what stopped them from reporting the matter then and there in the PS or to bring the same in the knowledge of higher police officers. This casts a serious doubt on the credibility of these witnesses." Importantly, the Court said,"The prosecution has not been able to point out the role of applicant being different/distinct to the aforesaid co-accused persons, except for the fact that applicant is younger brother of principal accused Tahir Hussain."


Assam Cabinet approves proposal to shut down state-run madrasas, Sanskrit schools

Assam Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said the Cabinet on Sunday approved a proposal to shut down all state-run madrasas and Sankrit tols, or schools, reported PTI.“Existing laws related to madrasas and Sanskrit tols will be repealed,” Patowary said. “A bill will be introduced in the next session of the Assembly.” The winter session of the state Legislative Assembly will be held on December 28. Assam’s Education and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had in October said that the government was shutting down the state-run madrasas and tols as it cannot allow teaching religious education with public money. Assam has 610 government-run madrasas, Sarma had said, according to Indian Express. Similarly, there are about 1,000 recognised Sanskrit tols and nearly 100 are aided by government funds. “So, we have decided to convert these institutes into seats for general education. Now, 600 madrasas will be closed [down[,” the minister had said during The Indian Express’ Idea Exchange event in November. “In these madrasas, we are going to impart modern education. This [is not to] save any finance. We will keep spending Rs 300 crore because we are not going to take anybody out of service… The madrasa education is opposed by the students themselves.”During a discussion on the budgetary allocation for the state education department, Sarma had said that the madrasas could not be provincialised as the state was adopting a modern education system. He added that people can run the religious institutions on their own if they want.


Assam epitome of Hindu-Muslim unity: CM Sonowal on new book ‘The Identity Quotient: The Story of the Assamese Muslims’

Assam has over the years set a perfect example of harmonious coexistence and is an “epitome of unity” between Hindus and Muslims, which is reflected in the Zikir devotional songs popularised by Muslim mystic Azan Pir and inspired by Vaishnavite saint Srimanta Sankaradeva, says Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.He makes these remarks in the foreword to a new book “The Identity Quotient: The Story of the Assamese Muslims” written by journalist Zafri Mudasser Nofil and brought out by Har-Anand Publications.“Assam has over the years set a perfect example of harmonious coexistence of Hindus and Muslims. The state has been an epitome of Hindu-Muslim unity which becomes evident from the symbiosis of Hindu-Muslim friendship,” Sonowal says.“Zikir and Zari of Azan Pir inspired by Srimanta Sankaradeva essentially preach the secular message, the same way as to how Dr. Bhupen Hazarika’s songs reverberate the message of equality, peace and unity between religions and humanism,” he


Dr. Kafeel Khan Expresses Faith in Judiciary as UP Govt Moves SC

Uttar Pradesh government has knocked at the doors of the Supreme Court against the Allahabad High Court verdict quashing the charges slapped on suspended Gorakhpur paediatrician Dr. Kafeel Khan under NSA but the benevolent doctor has expressed his faith in the judiciary. On Sunday, Dr. Kafeel Khan told Clarion India he had full faith in the judiciary. “But I believe there should be measures to compensate and penalise those authorities who misuse their powers”, he added. Despite quashing of NSA charges and his subsequent release, UP government approached the apex court on Saturday against the High Court’s decision.


SC to Hear the Plea of KUWJ in January Regarding the Arrest of Siddique Kappan

New Delhi: The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear, in the third week of January, the plea of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) questioning the arrest of scribe Siddique Kappan on his way to Hathras where a young Dalit woman had died after allegedly being gang-raped.A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde on Monday granted an opportunity to the journalists’ body to file its response to the additional affidavit of the Uttar Pradesh government in the case and fixed the plea for hearing next year.The bench, also comprising justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, did not agree to the submission of senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the KUWJ, that stated the case be listed in the first week of January instead of third on reopening of courts after the winter break. “First two weeks (in January) are miscellaneous (weeks when fresh matters will be heard),” the bench said in a hearing conducted through video conferencing.PTI



NIA Cites Kabir Kala Manch's Songs That Parody Modi, BJP to Justify Arrest of Singers

Mumbai: Singing parodical songs against BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been presented as one of the grounds for arresting singers and activists of the cultural troupe Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) in the Elgar Parishad case. In its response to a petition filed in the Bombay high court by the vocalists of KKM, Sagar Gorkhe (32) and Ramesh Gaichor (38) challenging their arrest, NIA has cited their songs which critique Narendra Modi and certain BJP policies as one of the grounds for arrest. NIA produced a translated version of their songs in its response. The songs, apart from mocking Modi also deliver a stinging commentary on so-called ‘cow vigilante’ groups, BJP’s political agenda around Ram Mandir and the Brahmanical order.“…My name is Bhaktendra Modi. My speech is simple. My living is simple. And the coat is also one in lakhs. Hey, who is here? Don’t pay attention to the opposition… So, my speech is simple, my living is simple, but, if anybody comes after me, his elimination is certain,” NIA translates one of KKM’s songs. In another song, taking a dig at Modi’s monthly radio programme “Mann ki Baat”, the cultural troupe asks those following Modi to drink gaumutra (cow urine) when thirsty and cow dung to satiate hunger. “Be vegetarian… vegetarian meal is the best meal. You will have achche din, achche din, achche din,” the song concludes.


Facebook Gave Bajrang Dal A Free Hand To Protect Its Business Interests In India: Report

Facebook’s safety team earlier this year, flagged Bajrang Dal as a “dangerous organisation” which incites violence against minorities through its posts and urged Facebook to ban the group from its platform, reports claimed.But the group was allowed to thrive on the social media platform because Facebook Inc allegedly feared that banning the group might hurt its business prospects in the country and the network also feared for the safety of its staff, Wall Street Journal (WSJ) claimed.“In many countries where Facebook is available, the company doesn’t have staff. But it has a significant presence in India, with five offices including in New Delhi and Mumbai. Those facilities and their people are what the company’s security team zeroed in on as potential risks of retaliation from extremists,” the news report noted.Earlier, in August WSJ had published a similar report about an alleged bias in Facebook’s policies that favoured the ruling-BJP government adding that former Facebook India executive Ankhi Das had lobbied in favour of a BJP politician who made anti-Muslim comments. Das was forced to step down from the company soon after.outlook


Amul seeks removal of videos claiming they are cruel to cows; Delhi HC seeks reply of uploader, Google, Facebook

 Delhi High Court has sought the response of Google and Facebook on a plea moved by Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) Limited, which sells milk and dairy products under the Amul trademark, seeking removal of certain videos alleging that those are cruel to cows.Issuing notice to the two social media platforms and the person who uploaded the videos and seeking their replies to GCMMF’s suit, Justice Mukta Gupta refrained from passing any interim order directing removal of the videos, titled “Unholy Cattle of India: Exposing Cruelty in the Indian Dairy Industry”, from YouTube and Facebook. The court asked the person, who uploaded the video, to indicate in his reply how the GCMMF or its members were indulging in cruelty to cows and why Amul’s mascot was used in the video.PTI


Twitter's Failure to Enforce Policy Helps Many Suspended Pro-BJP Accounts Make a Comeback

A hashtag celebrating the revival of a suspended account took Twitter by storm on November 27. ‘#TrueIndologyIsBack’ was used to welcome a handle by the same name, permanently suspended by Twitter twice in the past. Among those delighted by his unapproved return were members and supporters of the BJP.TrueIndology is infamous for routinely sharing fictitious historical claims advocating Hindu supremacy over other faiths, especially Islam. He retained the pseudonym ‘TrueIndology’ upon his comeback for the third time but disclosed a photograph and surname. His previous account which was suspended by Twitter was @TIinExile. The propaganda account now goes by @BharadwajSpeaks. Twitter permanently suspends accounts that violate its rules in order to ensure that the platform provides a safe space for healthy discourse. Furthermore, it prohibits these users from reappearing on the platform using alternate accounts. According to its policy, accounts that promote violence, harassment, abuse, among a plethora of other red flags, are permanently removed.


‘Shudras Don’t Understand’: BJP MP Pragya Thakur’s Casteist Remarks against Lower Caste

SEHORE –In a controversial remark, BJP MP Pragya Thakur on Sunday cited dharmashastras (religious texts), claiming a ”shudra” feels bad for lack of understanding.“A kshatriya doesn’t feel bad if we call them kshatriya. A brahmin doesn’t feel bad if we call them brahmin. A vaishya doesn’t feel bad if we call them vaishya. But a shudra feels bad if we call them shudra, what is the reason? Because they don’t understand,”  A terror accused Thakur was quoted by PTI as saying. BJP MP is no stranger to courting controversies. The 2008 Malegaon blast accused, who defeated former MP chief minister Digvijaya Singh by over 3.64 lakh votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, has often stayed in the news for her provocative statements. Pragya Thakur referred to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse as a deshbhakt (patriot) during a debate in Lok Sabha, triggering a protest by opposition members.


Woes mount for separated interfaith couple in UP

BAREILLY: A 22-year-old woman, who was taken to a women’s shelter in Moradabad a week ago even as her husband, a Muslim, was sent to jail along with his brother after they were booked under UP’s new anti-conversion law, has been admitted to a government hospital and is being treated for "pregnancy-related complications, including internal bleeding and severe pain".At the time of their detention, police were either unaware or hadn't revealed that she was four months pregnant. The fact came to light on Sunday when she was taken to the hospital bleeding profusely, hours after she had been discharged. She was first admitted on Friday.Chief medical superintendent of the hospital, Dr Sunita Pandey, told TOI, "The baby was safe when we conducted an ultrasound on Saturday and we discharged her on Sunday. An hour later, she complained of spotting (bleeding) and abdominal pain and was brought back to the hospital. We will be able to verify the baby’s health on Monday as ultrasound was not possible on Sunday."TOI


8-member expert panel set up to supervise Ram temple foundation-laying work

 Ram temple construction committee has set up an eight-member panel of India’s top engineers and structural experts headed by IIT-Delhi’s former Director V S Raju to supervise the foundation laying work for the temple.The other members of the panel are CBRI-Rookie Director N Gopal Krishnan, NIT-Surat Director S R Gandhi, IIT-Guwahati Director T G Sitaram, IIT-Delhi’s professor emeritus B Bhattacharji, TCI advisor A P Mull besides Manu Santhanam of IIT-Madras and Pradipt Banerjee of IIT-Bombay.PTI


Aadhaar Continues to Trip Up Direct Benefit Transfer Schemes, Duping Thousands: Report

New Delhi: Even after rounds of clarifications from RBI and Unique Identification Authority of India, and five years after a Supreme Court order rendering the interlinking of Aadhaar and bank accounts voluntary, Aadhaar cards continue to pose a big roadblock when it comes to Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) schemes. Successive reports, especially in the severe financial crunch presented by the lockdown, have pointed out that not only has Aadhaar continued to trip people availing themselves of the Public Distribution System and MGNREGS, it is also the prime problem for disbursement of money for scholarships, the PM Kisan scheme, LPG subsidies and so on. A campaign called Rethink Aadhaar has published a report highlighting the ease with which Aadhaar has enabled scams to perpetuate in the form of DBTs.Calling the system a “direct benefit to scammers,” the report highlights how real beneficiaries are often duped by this system.the wire


Rajasthan: Congress wins majority of seats in local body elections, BJP comes third

The ruling Congress party in Rajasthan secured 619 of the total 1,775 ward councillor posts in 50 municipal bodies, whose election results were announced on Sunday. The Independents came second, winning 596 wards, and the BJP secured third place with 548 wards, according to The Indian Express. Among other winners are seven BSP leaders, two members each of the CPI, and the CPI (Marxist), and one Rashtriya Loktantrik Party candidate. Voting for 1,775 wards in 50 municipal bodies in 12 districts was held on December 11, and 79.90% of the electorate had showed up to vote, according to Hindustan Times.


AIMIM chief Owaisi supports BTP, fuels speculation of Rajasthan foray

Jaipur: Speculation about AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi planning to enter the political fray in Rajasthan has got stronger after the Hyderabad MP came out in support of Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP). BTP has two MLAs who supported the Congress government in the Rajya Sabha elections and in the trust vote in the assembly that was necessitated after former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot’s rebellion. However, the Congress joined hands with the BJP to scuttle chances of BTP candidate becoming zila pramukh in Dungarpur district. The Congress-BJP combine nudged out the BTP on three panchayat samiti seats as well.



Owaisi’s AIMIM May Join Hands With Kamal Haasan’s MNM for Tamil Nadu Polls, Likely to Contest At Least 25 Seats

After emerging as a force to reckon with in the Bihar assembly elections, Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM has set its sights on Tamil Nadu and is all set to contest in the assembly elections to be held next year. According to a source close to Owaisi, the AIMIM is likely to contest from not less than 25 seats in the assembly elections which are to be held in April or May 2021. The party, they said, may also join hands with actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan’s outfit Makkal Needhi Maiam. “Owaisi is holding a discussion today (Monday) with his party office-bearers of Tamil Nadu on the assembly elections. The discussions are happening in Hyderabad,” said the source, adding that the party is likely to have conferences in Trichy and Chennai in January to finalise the electoral plan. Haasan, meanwhile, on Monday also announced that he will "definitely contest the upcoming elections". "I will announce later about the constituency from which I will be contesting," MNM chief told reporters.


More Muslim Women Joining BJP Because Of Triple Talaq Bill claims Kerala BJP Chief K Surendran

As voting is under way for the third and final phase of Kerala local body elections, BJP state chief K Surendran expressed confidence that the party will make major gains. The polls are held in four districts –Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur, and Kasaragod today. In a significant move, the BJP has also fielded 500 Christian candidates and more than 100 Muslim candidates in the fray. Speaking to Outlook, Surendran said that the minority community has reposed faith in the Central government and its development programs. He said, "We have more than 100 Muslim candidates contesting in the polls. Another important factor is that Muslim women have come forward as candidates for BJP. BJP government’s passing of the Triple Talaq Bill has worked in favour of the party among Muslim women. There are many Muslim women coming forward to join BJP in North Indian states too. There is a feeling among the community that that only Prime Minister Modi can bring development. That’s the reason we have more candidates from minority communities."



BJP looks to grow Kerala base with Christian outreach drive

After successfully launching the first leg of its campaign in Telangana and beginning the ground work in Tamil Nadu, BJP now wants to embark on its ambitious electoral project in Kerala – wooing Christian community. While its attempts in the past had not yielded much results, the party now wants to capitalise the increasing disenchantment among the Christian leaders over the growing influence of Muslims in Congress-led UDF in Kerala.Sources said Church leaders are expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon with their grievances, including concerns about Muslim students availing over 80 per cent of the minority scholarships and the “increasing number of Christian girls lured by Muslim boys” in the Kerala version of “love jihad”.


Arunachal: 24 arrested after protestors burn government offices over voter rights

 Arunachal Pradesh Police on Sunday arrested 24 persons after a group of protestors in Changlang district, bordering Myanmar, burnt a number of government offices and ransacked the local police station on December 11, North East Now reported.A police team led by IGP(law and order) Chuku Apa and Changlang Superintendent of Police Mihin Gambu raided the Hozulu village and arrested the 24 individuals. “The team also seized three muzzle-loaded guns and a .22 caliber air rifle during the raid,” an unidentified police official told the website. “The arrested individuals have been bought to Vijaynagar.”


SC notice to govt. on plea seeking declaration of Emergency as ‘unconstitutional’

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to examine whether a “simplictor declaration” that the Emergency of 1975 was unconstitutional will be feasible or desirable after the passage of 45 years.A Bench led by Justice S.K. Kaul reluctantly, and after much persuasion from senior advocate Harish Salve, agreed to consider the limited question on a request made by 94-year-old Veera Sarin, who said the “errors of history should be corrected and never happen again".


SC issues notice against ‘forced and mandatory’ confessions in Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice on a petition challenging the alleged practice of mandatory and forced confessions in Kerala’s Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Live Law reported.The petitioners, Mathew Mathachan and CV Jose, argued that the practice of undergoing “sacramental confession” before a priest affects human dignity and liberty of thought. They said believers have been forced to not speak against it out of fear of removal from parish membership and ostracisation.


Jammu and Kashmir: PDP leader’s security guard shot dead in Srinagar, say police

Suspected militants on Monday shot dead a personal security guard of Peoples Democratic Party leader Haji Parvaiz Ahmad in Natipora area of Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar city. 2 militants opened fire at constable Manzoor Ahmad and injured him as he was trying to protect PDP leader, HT reported. The constable was admitted to Bone and Joints Hospital, Srinagar, where he succumbed to his injuries, the police said.



China engaging in unprovoked aggression and projection of power: Rajnath Singh

New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Monday red-flagged what he termed China’s “unprovoked aggression and projection of power” in Ladakh and the Indo-Pacific, saying the future of the region can end up being uncertain as a result of it.“The unprovoked aggression on our Himalayan frontiers is a reminder of how the world is changing, how existing agreements are being challenged, how power is being asserted not just in the Himalayas but across the Indo-Pacific…and how uncertain the future of the region and world could be in this backdrop,” the defence minister said.Underlining that there is a huge build-up of forces by India and China at LAC in Ladakh, Singh said Indian forces have shown exemplary courage and remarkable fortitude in these testing times.Speaking at the annual convention meeting of FICCI, Singh said Indian forces fought China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “with utmost bravery and forced them to go back”.


Child Nutrition Levels in India Worsened Over Last 5 Years: NHFS Survey

New Delhi: The nutritional level among children in India worsened over the last five years, according to health data released earlier this week. 18 of the 22 states and UTs recorded a rise in the percentage of children under five years of age who are stunted, wasted and underweight compared with 2015-16, reversing decades of gains, showed the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS). States including Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Himachal Pradesh – which had lowered their rates of stunting in the previous decade – have reported a rise in stunted children in the fifth round of NFHS (2019-20) survey. Sixteen states and UTs out of the 22 surveyed recorded a rise in the percentage of children under five years who are severely wasted and underweight in comparison to NFHS-4, the data showed. National Family Health Survey – a chief source of health data in India – covers over 400,000 households and collates data on marriage, fertility, vaccinations, nutrition and health status, among other indicators. India already has a poor score on the global hunger index – ranking just above 13 countries out of a total of 107, including North Korea, Haiti, Afghanistan and among others.


RTGS money transfer facility to be operational round the clock from today

RBI on Sunday announced that Real Time Gross Settlement System, a facility to transfer large sums of money, will become operational on a 24-hour basis, from 12.30 am on Monday.“RTGS facility becomes operational 24x7 from 12.30 am tonight. Congratulations to the teams from RBI, IFTAS and the service partners who made this possible,” RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das tweeted on Sunday.


Air India employees bid to purchase 51% stake in struggling national carrier

Mumbai: A group of 219 Air India Ltd. employees submitted a bid to purchase 51% of the loss-making state-owned carrier.The remaining 49% will be held by a financial partner, according to Meenakshi Malik, who is Air India’s commercial director. Each employee will have to contribute at least Rs 100,000 ($1,360) toward the bid, she said.Air India has been on sale since 2017 when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet signed off on a plan to sell all or part of the debt-ridden carrier. The government sweetened the deal earlier this year when it extended the bid deadline to Dec. 14 from Oct. 30, saying potential suitors will be allowed to decide how much of the flag carrier’s debt they want to take on as part of the transaction. The rules before that required bidders to take over the carrier’s $3.3 billion of aircraft debt, deterring buyers.


Wholesale inflation hits 9-month high of 1.55% in November, up from 1.4% in October

Inflation based on Wholesale Price Index for the month of November, or wholesale inflation as it is more commonly known, hit a nine-month high of 1.55%, government data showed on Monday. Wholesale inflation for October was at 1.48%, while the numbers for a year-ago period (November 2019), stood at 0.58%. This is now the fourth straight month, where the wholesale inflation has gone upwards.


Karnataka iPhone plant violence: 160 arrested; company pegs loss at Rs 438 crore

Bengaluru :Wistron Infocomm Manufacturing India Pvt Ltd has said it suffered losses worth Rs 437.70 crore in the violence where a section of workers went on a rampage at its facility manufacturing Apple iPhones and other products in Bengaluru’s Narasapura area over non-payment of promised wages.According to the complaint by Wistron company executive Prashanth TD, office equipment, mobile phones, production machinery and related gadgets worth Rs 412.5 crore was lost. Infrastructure worth Rs 10 crore, Rs 60 lakh worth cars and golf carts, smartphones and other gadgets worth Rs 1.5 crore were among those that were damaged, were stolen or lost.


Inside Delhi AIIMS Ward, Patients Left Alone As Nurses Go On Strike

New Delhi: A ward for critical patients at the country's top medical facility AIIMS appears empty - there are only patients and their attendants but no nurses. The nurses have gone on an indefinite strike citing 23 long-standing demands, including a salary hike and a freeze on hiring of contractual staff.The strike comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, when patients need extra care. Director of AIIMS today made an emotional appeal to its 5,000-strong nursing staff which in the afternoon declared the indefinite strike."I am very proud of the AIIMS family for the tremendous work done during COVID-19...the nation is proud. Unfortunately, at this time of pandemic, the nurses' union has gone on strike," AIIMS Director Prof Randeep Guleria said in a video message to the AIIMS Nurses Union."The nurses' union had put in 23 demands. Almost all the demands have been met by the AIIMS administration and the government," Mr Guleria said.


So much for Digital India: Only 42.6 % of women, 62.16 % men have ever used Internet, finds govt survey

On an average, less than 3 out of 10 women in rural India and 4 out of 10 women in urban India have ever used the Internet, according to data collected by the fifth National Family Health Survey (NFHS).NFHS-5 in 2019, for the first time sought details on two specific indicators: Percentage of women and men who have ever used the Internet. It usually collects data on key indicators on population health, family planning and nutrition.As per a report carried by The Indian Express, the following pattern was revealed by the survey:-Only an average of 42.6 per cent of women ever used the Internet as against an average of 62.16 per cent among the men-In urban India, an average 56.81 per cent women ever used the Internet compared to an average 73.76 per cent among the men-A dismal 33.94 per cent women in rural India ever used the Internet as against 55.6 per cent among men.





Govt issues guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination drive

Vaccinating 100-200 people in each session per day, monitoring them for 30 minutes after administering the shots for any adverse event and allowing only one beneficiary at a time are among the guidelines issued by Centre for the COVID-19 inoculation drive.According to the guidelines issued to states recently, the COVID Vaccine Intelligence Network (Co-WIN) system — a digitalised platform — will be used to track enlisted beneficiaries for the vaccination and anti-coronavirus vaccines on a real-time basis.At the vaccination site, only pre-registered beneficiaries will be vaccinated in accordance with the prioritisation, and there will be no provision for on the-spot registrations.PTI



Next 4 to 6 months could be worst of COVID-19 pandemic, says Bill Gates

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, whose foundation has been part of the effort to develop and deliver COVID-19 vaccines, has warned that the next four to six months could be the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.In recent weeks, the U.S. has been experiencing record high cases, deaths and hospitalisations.“I thought the U.S. would do a better job handling it,”  Gates, who in 2015 had warned the world of such a pandemic, said on Sunday.“Sadly, the next four to six months could be the worst of the pandemic. The IHME (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation) forecast shows over 200,000 additional deaths. If we would follow the rules, in terms of wearing masks and not mixing, we could avoid a large percentage of those deaths,”  Gates, the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, told CNN.PTI


China leaks: From Pfizer to foreign offices, a story of Chinese communist infiltration:India Today

It was suspected for long. Now, leaked documents have confirmed that China is using its communist party workers to infiltrate consulates of foreign countries and multinational companies of repute -- including the coronavirus vaccine maker Pfizer. These come from the reports oublished in the Australian media.Leaked documents, the Australian media reported, show that the Communist Party of China (CPC) operatives have infiltrated at least 10 consulates in Chinese commercial hub Shanghai. Those having been infiltrated, in what is being said as a coordinated effort by the Chinese communist party for over a decade, included the consulates of the UK, the US, India, Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand, Italy and South Africa.According to the reports, these recruitments were made through the Shanghai Foreign Agency Service Department. Among the MNCs infiltrated by the Chinese communist party are coronavirus vaccine maker Pfizer and airlines such as Boeing. There have also been leaked documents about China's repressive policies in Xinjiang.India Today






Israel settlers escalate their attacks against Palestinians in West Bank

Israeli settlers escalated their attacks against Palestinians across the occupied West Bank, Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported.On Saturday night, a group of Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian homes in Sa'ir neighbourhood in the West Bank city of Hebron. They raided homes and attacked people and threatened to set their properties on fire.In Hebron's Tel Rumeida neighbourhood, the settlers also attacked Palestinian journalist Muhannad Qafisha, bruising him in the head before he was detained by the Israeli occupation forces.Last night, a number of Jewish settlers raided Al-Odeesa neighbourhood in the east of Hebron and threatened to kill Palestinians and burn their homes.Meanwhile, Israeli occupation forces set up military checkpoints at the entrances of the villages of Beit Awa, Kharsa and Wadi Obeid in the west of Hebron, and at the entrance of Halhoul in the north of Hebron. They humiliated Palestinians and inspected their vehicles.


US removes Sudan from ‘state sponsors of terror’ list: Embassy

 United States has formally removed Sudan’s designation as a “state sponsor of terrorism”, 27 years after putting the country on its blacklist.The announcement was made by US embassy in Khartoum and comes into effect on Monday.“The congressional notification period of 45 days has lapsed and the Secretary of State has signed a notification stating rescission of Sudan’s State Sponsor of Terrorism designation is effective as of today [Dec.14], to be published in Federal Register,” US embassy said on Facebook. Delisting Sudan is also a key incentive for the government in Khartoum to normalise relations with Israel.


Moroccan schools to teach Jewish history and culture

Rabat: Jewish history and culture in Morocco will soon be part of the school curriculum - a "first" in the region and in the North African country, where Islam is the state religion. The decision "has the impact of a tsunami," said Serge Berdugo, secretary-general of the Council of Jewish Communities of Morocco. It "is a first in the Arab world," he told AFP from Casablanca.For years, although the kingdom had no official relationship with Israel, thousands of Jews of Moroccan origin visited the land of their ancestors, to celebrate religious holidays or make pilgrimages, including from Israel. But Morocco this week became the fourth Arab nation since August to announce a US-brokered deal to normalise relations with Israel, following UAE, Bahrain and Sudan.


Algeria tells Morocco, 'Mutual recognition between occupiers is useless'

Algeria's Minister of Communication has criticised Morocco for normalising relations with Israel by insisting that, "Mutual recognition between occupiers is useless and will not stand up to the will of the people."Ammar Belhimer made his comments in an interview with Al-Khabar Press published by the official Algerian News Agency."The trade-off that includes the outgoing US President Donald Trump recognising Morocco's colonisation of Western Sahara in exchange for Morocco's recognition of the colonisation of Palestinian lands by the Zionist entity… is useless given the indomitable will of the people to break the chains of occupation and tyranny."


Turkey appoints ambassador to Israel after two years: Report

Turkey has appointed a new ambassador to Israel after a two-year absence, reports say.In May 2018, Ankara withdrew its envoy over deadly attacks against Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip who were protesting US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.The move to appoint Ufuk Ulutas, 40, as the new Turkish ambassador is part of an attempt to improve ties with incoming President-elect Joe Biden’s administration, a report by Al Monitor quoting “well-placed sources” revealed last week.


Israel’s status quo and Netanyahu’s conundrum

Israel is on the precipice of yet another election with the formation of a new party altering the dynamic in Israeli politics and with it Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s prospects.Seven months ago, Netanyahu’s Likud and Benny Gantz’s Blue and White alliance formed a coalition – officially to ensure stability during the COVID-19 pandemic. For Netanyahu, the partnership came at a considerable price: he would have to hand over his office to Gantz in November 2021.However, mutual dislike and lack of trust remained high. The deal’s fragility had Gantz take his oath of office as “alternate prime minister and future prime minister” – a unique occurrence in Israel’s history.


Haniyeh uses Hamas anniversary to expound position on resistance

Head of the Hamas Political Bureau said on Sunday evening that the movement has rehabilitated the option of resistance in all forms and has made its mark on the Palestinian struggle. Ismail Haniyeh made his comments during a televised speech to mark the 33rd anniversary of the founding of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement."Hamas has helped to make resistance a strategic option by convincing our people and Ummah that it is a fruitful option," explained Haniyeh. He pointed out that Hamas and all the other national and Islamic factions have remained committed to the constants of the Palestinian cause. "Hamas is committed to this option and strategy."


Hamas says ready to resume Palestinian unity talks

Palestinian group Hamas has signalled readiness to resume talks for healing the inter-Palestinian rift with Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) government in the occupied West Bank.Over the weekend, five Palestinian factions called for the resumption of inter-Palestinian dialogue to achieve Palestinian national unity.“We reiterate our readiness to continue dialogue to restore unity and rebuild Palestinian national institutions based on partnership,” leading Hamas member Hossam Badran said in a statement.


Turkey and Iran resolve 'misunderstanding' over Erdogan poem

Iranian Embassy in Ankara announced on Sunday that the "misunderstanding" with Turkey over the poem recited by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his visit to the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, has been resolved.The embassy explained that Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif and his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, spoke on the phone to discuss the issue.According to Anadolu, Zarif stressed the importance of maintaining friendly relations between Erdogan and senior Iranian officials. The minister hopes to develop relations between the two countries in terms of mutual trust.


Egypt detains another minister from Morsi's cabinet

Egyptian authorities have detained Abdul-Latif Shehab, transportation minister in the cabinet of late President Mohamed Morsi, local media reported on Saturday evening.Abdul-Latif, who was detained from his house east of Cairo, is the second minister from Morsi's cabinet to be detained in the space of one week over claims of joining the "banned" Muslim Brotherhood.Prior to Abdul-Latif, Egyptian authorities detained the former Minister of Manpower and Immigration Khaled al-Azhari from his home over claims he joined a "terror group and funding terror activities".Al-Azhari was transferred to the Public Prosecution for investigation. He denies the charges.The state-owned newspaper Akhbar Al-Youm said: "The detained former transportation minister is a member of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood and he is in contact with its leaders in exile."


Trump Supporters Stage Protests Against 'Stolen Election' Across US

Washington: Conservative groups claiming without evidence that the November 3 election was stolen from President Donald Trump, staged protests across the country on Saturday, with one protest in Washington turning violent at times as police broke up sporadic clashes after dark.Organisers of “Stop The Steal”, linked to pro-Trump operative Roger Stone, and church groups urged supporters to participate in “Jericho Marches” and prayer rallies.But groups of pro-Trump “Proud Boys” protesters and “Antifa” counter-protesters brawled in downtown Washington on Saturday night. Police moved in quickly to separate them, using pepper spray on members of both sides, Reuters witnesses said.Reuters


Gmail, YouTube and other Google services are back online after global outage

Google services abruptly went down on Monday evening, impacting hundreds of users. Among the services that were disrupted at the time of writing include Gmail, Google Search, YouTube, and Drive. The latest outage, which seems to be more intensive than the last one, seemingly started around 5 pm IST today. Downdetector, the website that tracks web outages, reported over 40,000 outage cases from around the world nearly 10 minutes after the outage began. YouTube and Gmail seem to have been worst hit globally, causing an uproar on Twitter about how Google services have left them high and dry especially on the first day of the week.






Asaduddin Owaisi’s success in carving out a Muslim constituency will benefit BJP and bleed the Congress:Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd


Post-Hathras Conundrum: Striving for a National Dalit-Bahujan Agenda:Harish S. Wankhede



Protesting 'Agri Reform': Why Do Farmers Feel the Deck Is Stacked Against Them?Biswajit Dhar

The story of Gautam Adani’s rise — from kidnapping & 26/11 survivor to Mukesh Ambani rival:ALEX SAZONOV, BHUMA SHRIVASTAVA and P. R. SANJAI


To pit people’s protest against infrastructure is to diminish urban life and democracy:Fahad Zuberi


With farm laws being enacted without consulting stakeholders, many looking up to SC to examine their validity:Megha Katheria/ IPA







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