27 October 2020
A) Supreme Court puts on hold panel to look into stubble burning.
The Supreme Court on 26 October has decided to keep in abeyance its pre-Dussehra order appointing former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B. Lokur to a one-man committee to monitor/prevent stubble-burning in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. The decision to put on hold its October 16 order came soon after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde that the Centre had proposed a legislation to tackle the problem which occurs annually and chokes the Capital. Mr. Mehta said the new law may come out in the next few days that proposed to have a permanent body to deal with stubble-burning. Having regard to the statement made, we consider it appropriate that the measures adopted in the order of October 16 be kept in abeyance until further orders. On October 16, the court asked Justice Lokur with the help of student volunteer forces deployed from the National Cadet Corps, National Service Scheme and Bharat Scouts and Guides to protect Delhi NCR from air pollution caused by stubble-burning in neighbouring Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh this winter. The court had said the student forces could patrol highways and fields in the three States and ensure that no fires were started in the fields. It asked the Chief Secretaries of the 3 States to provide facilities to the committee and provide student volunteers with adequate transportation to aid their vigil. It also directed the existing mobile teams and nodal officers of the States to report to the committee.
B) Polio networks to play crucial role in Covid vaccine distribution: WHO
In the coming months polio networks, with their vast knowledge on vaccination and tools and strategies tailored to reach the unreached and the most vulnerable, could play a critical role for COVID-19 vaccination roll out, indicated Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director WHO South-East Asia. Dr Singh also cited U.P. as an example of applying strategies from polio eradication programmes, to help contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Stating that the polio-network has been effectively used in south-east Asia region during the pandemic, she said that wiithin weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak, the integrated surveillance and immunization networks in 5 polio priority countries of the region were re-purposed to support preparedness and response. Working among the most vulnerable population and areas, these networks are helping health authorities to detect, test, track, isolate and even prepare hospitals to provide adequate and timely treatment.
C) Slow Durga Puja in Kolkata following High Court order.
Durga Puja 2020 has turned out to be rather slow event in Kolkata this year. Except a handful of places in south Kolkata, such as Ekdalia, where people still showed up in large numbers, pandals and roads across the city remained mostly deserted throughout the five days of Durga Puja. Those visiting friends and relatives could easily drive from one part of the city to another something unthinkable in normal times. It was obvious that the city, by and large, abided by the Calcutta High Court order, which had declared pandals as no-entry zones for the general public. Prime Minister Narendra vModi’s address to the nation, asking people to exercise caution, and repeated appeals by doctors, also appear to have worked.
D) Covid watch – Numbers and Developments.
The number of reported coronavirus cases from India stands at 79,39,228 with the death toll at 1,19,438. Reuter’s is reporting some very positive news regarding a vaccine. A vaccine candidate developed by the University of Oxford, produces an immune response in both young and old adults, British drug maker AstraZeneca Plc, which is helping manufacture the vaccine. It is encouraging to see immunogenicity responses were similar between older and younger adults and that reactogenicity was lower in older adults, where the COVID-19 disease severity is higher, an AstraZeneca spokesman said.
Curtain came down on October 26 over campaign for 71 Assembly segments of Bihar which go to polls on October 28, in the first phase of elections. Leading the NDA charge, Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew down to address as many as three rallies where he urged the voters to vote Chief Minister Nitish Kumar back to power. Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, whose party is contesting the elections in alliance with Lalu Prasads RJD and three Left parties, also chipped in with two rallies.
A) India to sign geo-spatial agreement with U.S. in 2+2 dialogue.
India is likely to sign the last foundational agreement with the U.S., Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial cooperation (BECA), at the 2+2 ministerial dialogue on 26 October. The foundational agreement BECA was set to be signed, said the source. A maritime information agreement was also under discussion between India and the U.S. India already has such agreement with other Quad countries, Australia and Japan. In the run-up to the 2+2 the U.S. was keen on India signing the BECA and discussions continued to iron out the differences. A U.S. State department official said in Washington on Saturday that the talks would focus on four themes — regional security cooperation, defence information sharing, military-to-military interactions, and defence trade. The official said both sides had made “significant progress” towards concluding the last foundational defence enabling agreement, BECA. This agreement will allow for expanded geo-spatial information sharing between our armed forces. They are also seeking to expand secure communication capabilities between our respective militaries as well as between their foreign and defence ministries, and that too figures prominently on what they are trying to accomplish in the information-sharing space.
B) Turkey’s Erdogan calls for boycott of French goods.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on October 26 called on Turks to boycott French goods, as relations between the NATO allies deteriorated over Paris’s hardened stance against radical Islam. As it has been said in France, don’t buy Turkish-labelled goods, he call on my people here. Never give credit to French-labelled goods, don’t buy them, Mr. Erdogan said during a televised speech in Ankara. Boycotts of French goods are under way in supermarkets in Qatar and Kuwait, with further calls to spurn French products in Jordan and other states. Mr. Erdogan’s comments follow his call at the weekend for French President Emmanuel Macron to undergo mental checks, which led to Paris recalling its envoy to Ankara.
C) Air strike in Syria leaves more than 50 dead.
An airstrike on a rebel training camp in northwestern Syria on Monday killed more than 50 Turkish-backed fighters and wounded nearly as many, a Syrian opposition spokesman and a war monitor said. The airstrike in the northwestern part of Idlib province, the last rebel enclave in Syria, targeted a military training camp for Failaq al-Sham, one of the largest Turkish-backed opposition groups in Syria, said Youssef Hammoud, a spokesman for the groups. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war in Syria, gave a higher toll, at 78 fighters dead and nearly 90 wounded. Rescue missions were still underway, the Observatory said. It said it also suspected the airstrike was carried out by Russia, which is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the country’s civil war.