16 October 2020
A) Centre to borrow ₹1.1 lakh crore to compensate States for GST shortfall.
On 15 October in an apparent climbdown from its stance that States should undertake market borrowings to bridge the ₹1.1 lakh crore of GST compensation shortfall this year, the Centre said that the Government of India will undertake the borrowings in tranches and pass it on to States as a back-to-back loan that will reflect on their own books. Asserting that this borrowing to be conducted through a special window would not affect the fiscal deficit or expand general government debt of centre, the finance ministry said this is being done to ensure that States would not have to pay different interest rates for these borrowings. This will also be an administratively easier arrangement, the ministry pointed out. This will not have any impact on the fiscal deficit of the Government of India (GOI). The amounts will be reflected as the capital receipts of the State Governments and as part of financing of its respective fiscal deficits that this will avoid the prospect of individual States having to pay differential interest rates if they borrowed this corpus as a State development loan. Opposition leaders called it a change of stance from the government. If the Centre has decided to borrow the ₹1.1 lakh crore and extend it to the states as back-to-loans, I welcome the change of position. In its original proposal put up at the 41st GST Council meeting in August, the Centre had said the shortfall on account of GST implementation will be borrowed by States through issue of debt under a Special Window coordinated by the finance ministry.
B) Supreme Court likely to ask Allahabad HC to monitor Hathras case.
On 15 October, the Supreme Court has indicated that it might ask the Allahabad High Court to supervise the CBI investigation into the brutal assault, alleged gang-rape, and subsequent death of a 19-year-old Dalit girl in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh. A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde orally told that the petitioners and intervenors who wanted the apex court to directly monitor the probe that they are sending all of them to Allahabad High Court. The Bench then reserved the case for orders. Members of Kerala Union of Working Journalists stage a candlelight vigil in New Delhi on October 15, 2020 demanding the release of journalist Siddique Kappan. U.P. Police has arrested Mr. Kappan and 3 others on October 6, 2020 while they were on their way to Hathras. Members of Kerala Union of Working Journalists stage a candlelight vigil in New Delhi on October 15, 2020 demanding the release of journalist Siddique Kappan. The State government and the Director General of Police left it to the wisdom of the court to decide which court should supervise the probe, saying their only purpose is to see justice in the case.
C) Air quality in national capital turns ‘very poor’.
The air quality of Delhi, Gurugram, and Noida which are part of the NCR (National Capital Region) — worsened to the very poor category on 15 October as per the data given by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi was 318 at 10 a.m. and the values for Gurugram and Noida were 302 and 315 respectively. An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, and 401 and 500 ‘severe’. The AQI of all 3 cities was in the ‘poor’ category, as per CPCB’s 4 p.m. bulletin on 14 October, which is an average of the past 24 hours. Also, a ban on diesel generators, except for emergency purposes, came into force in Delhi and neighboring cities from Thursday as part of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) measures to control air pollution.
D) India’s first Oscar winner Bhanu Athaiya passes away in Mumbai.
Costume designer Bhanu Athaiya, who is India’s first Oscar winner, died at her home on 15 October after prolonged illness, her daughter said. She was 91 years old. Athaiya, who won an Oscar for her work in the epic 1983 film Gandhi, passed away peacefully in her sleep, her daughter Radhika Gupta said. The Kolhapur-born Athaiya began her career as a costume designer in Hindi cinema with Guru Dutt’s 1956 superhit C.I.D. She went on to work in over 100 films. She won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi, with Ben Kingsley as the Mahatma. In 2012, Athaiya returned her Oscar to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for safe-keeping. The veteran, who defined the aesthetics of Hindi cinema through her prolific work, created some of Bollywood’s best remembered looks, including Vyjayantihmala in Aamrapaali, Waheeda Rehman in Guide, and Zeenat Aman in Satyam Shivam Sundaram.
E) SC asks Arnab Goswami to go to Bombay HC on TRP scam probe.
The Supreme Court on 15 October has asked the ARG Outlier Media and journalist Arnab Goswami to have faith in the Bombay High Court rather than come straight to the top court with their plea against the Mumbai police investigation in the Television Rating Point (TRP) scam involving allegations of rigged viewership. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud asked senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for ARG and Goswami that they think their client’s office is in Worli. It is not far from Flora Fountain and the Bombay High Court. Why don’t they go there under Article 226 of the Constitution or under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to quash the FIR. Justices Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee, on the Bench, also suggested that the parties should move the High Court. Justice Chandrachud said that how do they entertain a petition like this without the High Court going into it first? The petitioners can go to the High Court. They must have faith in the High Courts. They have been functioning through the pandemic. Salve said that he would withdraw the case then and go to Flora Fountain.
A) No messages sent to Pakistan: India.
The Union government on 15 October has categorically denied that it had reached out for a dialogue with Pakistan, dismissing a suggestion by a senior Pakistani official that the Modi government had sent messages for a conversation to the Imran Khan government in the past year. The statements are contrary to facts on the ground, misleading and fictitious. As regards the purported message, let me make it clear that no such message was sent from our side, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava has said it at a weekly press briefing. The claim by Mr. Khan’s Special Assistant on National Security and Strategic Policy Planning, Moeed Yusuf, in an interview with Karan Thapar on the news portal The Wire earlier this week, had led to speculation and skepticism. In the past year, they have got messages about a desire for conversation but they know why there is a desire for conversation in their reading? So that there can be a dialogue which India can take to the world and say. The Ministry dismissed the statements as interference in India’s internal affairs.
B) EU imposes sanctions on six Russians over Navalny attack.
The European Union (EU)and Britain imposed sanctions on 15 October on 6 Russians, some among the highest-ranked officials in the nation, and a state research institute over the nerve agent poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The move comes a day after Russia’s Foreign Minister threatened the 27-nation EU with retaliatory action. French President Emmanuel Marcon has said that Russia is their neighbor and shares this continent with them, but they will not give up their principles and convictions when it comes to chemical weapons. He said that the bloc must continue a transparent but demanding dialogue with Moscow. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of Germany, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said that only with a clear position and by sticking to principles can we as the European Union make progress with respect to Russia. Those hit by the sanctions, which consist of an asset freeze and travel bans in Europe, include Alexander Bortnikov, the chief of Russia’s Federal Security Service, the top KGB successor agency that is in charge of domestic security, and Sergei Kiriyenko, President Vladimir Putin’s Deputy Chief of Staff. The State Scientific Research Institute for Organic Chemistry and Technology was also targeted. The EU said that institute, which was responsible for destroying Soviet-era chemical weapon, was years ago involved in the development and production of chemical weapons, including the nerve agent Novichok allegedly used to poison Mr. Navalny.