18 November 2020
A) Madhya Pradesh ‘love jihad’ Bill proposes 5 years imprisonment.
Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra on 17 November has said the BJP government was planning a law under which anyone convicted of ‘love jihad’ could be sentenced to five years imprisonment. Speaking to reporters, Mr. Mishra said the government would table the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2020 in the next Vidhan Sabha session. Further, he said the Bill would propose that the offence to be cognizable and non-bailable. Similarly, they are making a provision to declare marriages for religious conversion based on inducements, duress, fraud and seduction as null and void. In the Bill, he added, those abetting the offence would be considered as culprits along with the main accused. For action, it will be necessary for those bound by the religious conversions or their parents or siblings to file a complaint, he said. As for those indulging in religious conversions for marriages, they will have to inform the District Magistrates at least a month in advance, along with religious persons organising the conversions, said Mishra. The announcement comes after similar plans were made public by the BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Haryana governments.
B) Amit Shah calls Gupkar Alliance an ‘unholy global gathbandhan’; Mehbooba, Omar hit back.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on 17 November has termed the coalition of political parties in Jammu and Kashmir, known as the Gupkar Alliance, an unholy global gathbandhan against the national interest. He questioned whether the Congress, reported to be in informal seat-adjustment arrangements with the People’s Alliance of the Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) for the District Development Council (DDC) polls, endorsed what the leaders of the alliance had said on the restoration of Article 370. In a series of tweets, Shah said the Indian people will no longer tolerate an unholy global gathbandhan against their national interest. Either the Gupkar Gang swims along with the national mood or else the people will sink it. He accused the parties making up the alliance, such as the National Conference (NC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), of trying to collude with foreign powers and showing disrespect to the national flag. PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and NC vice president Omar Abdullah on Tuesday hit back at Shah for his comments. Old habits die hard. Earlier BJP’s narrative was that the ‘tukde tukde’ gang threatened India’s sovereignty and they are now using ‘Gupkar Gang’ euphemism to project us as anti-nationals. Irony died a million deaths since it is BJP itself that violates the constitution day in and day out, said Mufti in a tweet. Meanwhile, responding to Shah’s tweet, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that the Congress is neither a part of the Gupkar Alliance nor is it a part of the PAGD. Will Mr. Amit Shah bother to explain why did the BJP form a coalition government with the PDP that he is now attacking? The exchange of tweets comes just as J&K prepares to hold its maiden polls for the District Development Council from November 26.
C) Not happy with Centre’s affidavit on pleas over media reporting of Tablighi congregation: SC
The Supreme Court on 17 November has expressed displeasure over the Centre’s affidavit in the case related to media reporting on a Tablighi Jamaat congregation during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, and said it should consider setting up a regulatory mechanism to deal with such content on TV. First you did not file a proper affidavit and then you filed an affidavit which did not deal with the two important questions. It cannot be done this way, a Bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. The Centre’s affidavit, filed by Amit Khare, Information and Broadcasting Secretary, had claimed that media coverage over the past few months have predominantly struck a balanced and neutral perspective. The Bench, which was hearing the pleas filed by Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind and others alleging that a section of the media was spreading communal hatred over the Tablighi Jamaat congregation during the onset of pandemic, asked the Centre to file a fresh affidavit dealing with the mechanism to regulate electronic media under the Cable TV Network Act. The top court has posted the matter for hearing after three weeks.
D) Terrorism, biggest problem confronting the world: PM Modi at BRICS.
Terrorism is the biggest problem before the world, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on 17 November. Addressing the 12th BRICS summit, he asserted that there was a need to confront the countries that supported and sponsored terror. BRICS is a grouping that comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Modi acknowledged the Russian support to the BRICS Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which has acquired a definite shape. India would continue supporting this strategy, he said. The BRICS summit is important as it provides the Chinese and the Indian leadership an opportunity to exchange their thoughts on key priorities in the backdrop of the continued tension in eastern Ladakh. Both the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS have provided recent opportunities for exchange of ideas between the two sides.
E) Centre places Lakshmi Vilas Bank under moratorium, caps withdrawal limit at ₹25,000.
The government on November 17 placed Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) under a one-month moratorium, superseded its board, and capped withdrawals at ₹25,000 per depositor. The step was taken by the government on the advice of the RBI in view of the declining financial health of the private sector lender. In a statement, the RBI said in the absence of a credible revival plan, with a view to protect depositors’ interest and in the interest of financial and banking stability, there was no alternative but to apply to the Central government for imposing a moratorium under Section 45 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. Accordingly, after considering the Reserve Bank’s request, the Central government has imposed moratorium for thirty days effective from 17 November, it said. As per the moratorium order, Lakshmi Vilas Bank will not, without RBI’s permission, make, in the aggregate, payment to a depositor of a sum exceeding twenty-five thousand rupees lying to his credit, in any savings, current or any other deposit account, by whatever name called. T.N. Manoharan, former non-executive chairman of Canara Bank, has been appointed as the administrator of the bank. Meanwhile, the RBI has also placed in public domain a draft scheme of amalgamation of Lakshmi Vilas Bank with DBS Bank.
A) Second phase of Malabar exercise begins in northern Arabian Sea.
The navies of India, the US, Australia and Japan on 17 November has began the second phase of the Malabar naval exercise in the northern Arabian Sea. The exercise involved two aircraft carriers and a number of frontline warships, submarines, and maritime reconnaissance aircraft. The major highlight of the four-day exercise is participation of the Indian Navy’s Vikramaditya carrier battle group and the Nimitz strike group of the US Navy. The USS Nimitz is the world’s largest warship. The first phase of the Malabar exercise took place in the Bay of Bengal from November 3-6 and featured a number of complex drills, including anti-submarine and anti-air warfare operations.
B) Modi speaks with Biden, affirms importance of ties.
Spoke to U.S. President elect Joe Biden on phone to congratulate him. They reiterated their firm commitment to the Indo-U.S. strategic partnership and discussed their shared priorities and concerns, COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and cooperation in the IndoPacific region, Mr. Modi wrote on Twitter. Mr. Modi had already sent a congratulatory message via Twitter to Mr. Biden last week on his spectacular victory in the U.S. elections which concluded on November 3. Mr. Modi and President Donald Trump shared a publicly close relationship, appearing together at rallies in Houston and Ahmedabad in 2019 and 2020, respectively. The Trump campaign used this bonhomie in its campaign messaging to woo Indian American voters. The India-U.S. relationship has had broad support on both sides of the aisle in the U.S. with Democrats and Republicans bringing different challenges and opportunities for the relationship in the spheres of democracy and human rights, regional policy, trade and immigration.
C) Sri Lanka to open up Chinese-backed ‘port city’.
A mega Chinese real-estate development in Sri Lanka will open early next year offering tax concessions to attract investors and revive the struggling economy, the government said on Tuesday in its first budget. Colombo Port City, a $1.4 billion land reclamation project beside the capital’s port which started in 2014 has doubled the size of Sri Lanka’s current financial district. The largest single foreign investment in Sri Lanka so far is one of several massive Asian infrastructure projects funded by China as Beijing increases its footprint in the region.
“I expect to present to Parliament a new legal fra-mework conducive to promote commercial services and investment in this Special Economic Zone in January,” Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is also the Finance Minister, told Parliament in his budget address. He said the Port City — an area of 269 hectares reclaimed from the Indian Ocean — will offer tax concessions to attract trade, banking and foreign exchange transactions. He did not give further details.
Mr. Rajapaksa also said Sri Lanka will aim to cut its fiscal deficit to 4% over the medium-term, without specifying an exact time period, from the 9% foreseen in 2021. “This is a development budget presented to elevate an economy that has been shattered,” he said.