24 October 2020
A) Bihar needs Nitish-led NDA govt for development: Modi.
Addressing a poll rally in Sasaram, Bihar on 23 October, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ended the speculation about growing differences between alliance partners JD(U) and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), asserting that an NDA government led by Nitish Kumar was necessary for development in Bihar. He also clarified that the NDA in Bihar meant the BJP, the JD(U), the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular), and the Vikasheel Insaan Party. He did not mention the Chirag Paswan-led LJP. Apart from Sasaram, Modi is scheduled to address public meetings in Gaya and Bhagalpur. In all, he will address 12 public meetings during the three-phase Bihar elections that will end on November 7. Counting will be on November 10. He said that for the development of Bihar, an NDA government led by Nitish Kumar is necessary for a self-reliant Bihar, an NDA government is necessary here.
B) Shivraj Singh Chouhan latest to promise free Covid-19 vaccine.
Ahead of the by-election to 28 Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, and after the BJP promised Bihar residents free vaccination against Covid-19 in its Assembly election manifesto, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has announced that the vaccine will be administered free to the poor in his state. Chouhan said that control over the Covid-19 pandemic has been achieved to a great extent in Madhya Pradesh, but the permanent cure is a vaccine. The State government has decided that the Covid-19 vaccine will be administered free to those who can’t afford it.
C) WHO had informed India about coronavirus in early January, reveals RTI query.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) had informed India about the novel coronavirus circulating in Wuhan, China as early as January 11, and had conveyed that its probable dates of onset was 12-29 December 2019, according to information accessed through the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The RTI reply shows that the WHO also advised against any travel or trade restrictions on China based on the information currently available on this event. In the RTI reply, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, New Delhi, sent an alert mail to Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan on January 11, 2020, regarding the novel corona virus circulating in Wuhan. The RTI query, filed by Jammu resident Rohit Chaudhary, had sought to know “the date when the Government of India first received information on the Covid19/Coronavirus/Wuhan Virus/China Virus. After the first known case was detected in India on January 30, more than 77 lakh Covid-19 cases and around 1.17 lakh deaths have been reported in the country so far.
D) Centre imposes stock limits, offers onion at ₹26-28 per kg to States, UTs.
The Centre has imposed stock limits on onions as the rising prices have crossed levels needed to trigger government intervention under the provisions of the newly amended Essential Commodities Act. The storage limits of 25 tonnes for wholesalers and 2 tonnes for retailers, in effect from today until Dec 31, will send a strong message that the government will not allow price manipulation to hurt the ordinary consumer, Consumer Affairs Secretary Leena Nandan said. Nationally, the average retail price was more than ₹55 per kg as on October 21. This is only 22% higher than last year, when excess rainfall had similarly affected crops, damaged onions in warehouses, and caused transport disruptions. However, the price is 115% higher than the average of the last five years for this date. This triggers the extraordinary price rise clause of the amended Essential Commodities Act, allowing the government to invoke stock limits. Further, in a bid to cool down retail onion prices, which are at over ₹75 per kg in some places, the Centre has asked States and Union Territories to take the vegetable from the central buffer stock for retail intervention. As per data maintained by the Consumer Affairs Ministry, retail onion prices were ₹86/kg in Mumbai, ₹83/kg in Chennai, ₹70/kg in Kolkata, and ₹55/kg in Delhi on October 22.
E) Amazon refuses to appear before Parliament Committee.
E-commerce giant Amazon has refused to appear before the Joint Committee of Parliament on the Data Protection Bill on October 28, and this amounts to breach of privilege, panel chairperson and BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi said on 23 October. Lekhi said that the panel is unanimous in its opinion that coercive action can be suggested to the government against the e-commerce company. Amazon has refused to appear before the panel on October 28 and if no one on behalf of the e-commerce company appears before the panel, it amounts to breach of privilege, she told PTI. Meanwhile, Facebook’s policy head Ankhi Das appeared before the panel on the issue of data security on 23 October. Facebook India representatives were asked some tough questions by the members of the panel, sources said. During the meeting, a member suggested that the social media giant should not draw inferences from the data of its users for commercial benefits of its advertisers. The panel has summoned officials of Twitter on October 28, and those of Google and Paytm on October 29.
A) Pakistan to stay on FATF grey list till 2021.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on 23 October has decided to keep Pakistan on the grey list till the next review of its compliance with the recommendations made in February next year. Pakistan has made progress across all action plan items and has now largely addressed 21 of 27 action items. As all action plan deadlines have expired, the FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by February 2021, said an FATF statement issued in Paris at the end of the Plenary session, on the decision to keep Pakistan in the list of Jurisdictions under increased monitoring or grey list. At the FATF Plenary, Turkey proposed that members should consider Pakistan’s good work and instead of waiting for completion of the remaining six of the 27 parameters, an FATF on-site team should visit the country to finalize its assessment. On-site teams are permitted only after jurisdictions complete their Action Plans. Such visits would signal exit from the grey or black list. However, when the proposal was placed before the 38-member Plenary, no other member seconded the move; it was not supported even by China, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. The FATF finally decided to keep Pakistan in the grey list. Pakistan has now almost 4 months to comply with the recommendations as its performance will now be put to scrutiny in the next plenary in February 2021. The points on which Pakistan failed to deliver included inaction against charitable organisations or non-profit organisations linked to terror groups banned by the UNSC.
B) Oli move on Nepal map hints at softer stand.
After months of simmering dispute with India over the Kalapani issue, Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli indicated a softer line on 23 October when he used an old map of Nepal to greet everyone on the festival of Vijay Dashami. The old map does not show the region of KalapaniLipulekIl-Limpiyadhura, which is part of India’s Pitoragarh district. The triangular piece of land is, however, shown as part of Nepalese territory in the new map, which was unveiled on May 20, and made part of the insignia of the Nepalese state by an amendment on June 8. Prime Minister Oli’s use of the national insignia of Nepal carrying the old map has drawn strong reactions from the political of Kathmandu, with leaders expressing surprise about the use of the old map during Dussehra, which is the biggest festival in the Himalayan country. Individual level can use any map of Nepal that he wishes but as the Prime Minister of Nepal, he should have used the national map of Nepal that was passed by Parliament and dedicated to the Nepalese people, said Bishwaprakash Sharma, who is spokes of the Opposition Nepali Congress. Nepalese publication Myrepublica reported that Mr. Goel led a nine-member delegation. The visit drew attention as it came a fortnight before the scheduled visit to Nepal of General Manoj Mukund Naravane, chief of the Indian Army.
C) China’s Xi sends warning to ‘invaders’.
China’s President Xi Jinping on 23 October have invoked the memory of the Korean War on its 70th anniversary to send a warning to any invaders that force must be met with force. Mr. Xi, speaking at a meeting to mark the anniversary of what China officially calls he War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea, said the 1950-53 conflict that saw China intervene on behalf of North Korea served a reminder that China will never sit back and watch any damage to our national sovereignty and will never allow any force to invade or divide the sacred territory of the motherland. While the Chinese President did not specifically refer to any of China’s current disputes, Chinese State media have framed the high-profile marking of the anniversary through a number of events in recent days, against the backdrop of deteriorating China-U.S. relations and as sending a message to Washington, even if Mr. Xi’s comments would likely also draw attention in both India and Taiwan amid recent tensions. It is necessary to speak to invaders in the language they know, that is, a war must be fought to deter invasion, and force must be met by force, he was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency. A victory is needed to win peace and respect. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has issued a somewhat muted response to the announcement of the exercise, saying China always believes that military cooperation between countries should be conducive to regional peace and stability.”
The Xinhua commentary issued a sharper response. “After a long-time hiatus, the Quad reconvened in 2017 when the United States proposed the so-called Indo-pacific strategy on the East Asia cooperation, which, based on an obsolete Cold War mentality, is aimed at stoking geopolitical competition and con• frontation so as to contain the region’s development,” it said.
‘Cold War mentality’ The drill, the commentary