01-01-2021 The Asian Independent

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Vol : 04 : #58 01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021

Kerala woman who was

sweeper at panchayath office

becomes its President

Kollam: 46-year-old A. Anandavalli, fondly referred to as

“Valli Chechi”, had worked as a part-time sweeper at panchayath

office at Pathanapuram block in south Kerala’s

Kollam district for nearly 10 years. A Dalit woman, Valli’s

job included clearing cobwebs and dusting chairs. On

Wednesday, she returned to the same office as its president.

In the recently concluded

local body elections

of Kerala, in which

the Left Democratic

Front (LDF) emerged victorious,

Valli was elected

as an LDF candidate and

has now been elevated as

the block president.

While being escorted to

her seat on Wednesday,

she expressed gratitude to

her party for giving this

opportunity. “Only my

party can do such things.

I am really indebted to

it,” she said.

“I was a bit nervous.

But my party leaders and

well-wishers prodded me

to take up the new responsibility.

I will do my best to make

by block panchayat a role

model. My responsibility is

heavy now. I will work hard to

make life better for all people

in my block.” she added.

She had competed from the

Thalavoor ward, which had

been reserved for

Scheduled Caste members

and won by a

clear margin of 650

votes. In that panchayath,

the LDF alliance

had won seven seats

while the UDF won the

remaining six out of

the 13 seats.

Anandavalli’s

appointment comes

close on the heels of

many other firsts in the

country. Arya

Rajendran, a 21-yearold

college student and

LDF representative

was just made

Thiruvananthapuram

corporation’s mayor. She is

now the country’s youngestever

mayor.

By Hanie Abdul Razak

'China ready to work

with ASEAN to further

enrich partnership'

Beijing : China stands

ready to work with the

Association of Southeast Asian

Nations (ASEAN) in an effort

to further enrich the strategic

partnership and usher in a new

era of peace, development and

cooperation for the region,

Chinese State Councillor and

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.

Wang made the remarks in a

recent interview with Xinhua

news agency.

"Since its launch, China-

ASEAN cooperation has

always been results-oriented,

pioneering and responsive to

the trend of the times. It has

become the most successful

and vibrant example of regional

cooperation," he said.

The Foreign Minister said

the two sides became each

other's largest trading partners

for the first time in 2020.

"We jointly pushed for the

signing of the Regional

Comprehensive Economic

Partnership (RCEP), which

gave birth to the world's most

promising free trade area with

the largest population and

biggest economic aggregate.

"This is a historic breakthrough

in China-ASEAN

cooperation," he said.

Noting that China and

ASEAN will celebrate the 30th

anniversary of their dialogue

relations in 2021, Wang said

that Beijing looks forward to

the new opportunities it will

bring for enhancing relations

between the two sides.

The State Councillor also

called on the two sides to work

together to defeat the raging

Covid-19 pandemic, do their

best to bolster regional economic

recovery, and stay committed

to sustainable development.

The ASEAN, founded in

1967, groups Brunei,

Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos,

Malaysia, Myanmar, the

Philippines, Singapore,

Thailand and Vietnam.

BJP, JD(U) flay Rabri's comments on

Nitish returning to 'Mahagathbandhan'

Patna : The ruling

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

and the Janata Dal (United) are

angry after the statement made

by former Bihar Chief Minister

and opposition Rashtriya

Janata Dal (RJD) leader Rabri

Devi, saying that her party

leaders would think about

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish

Kumar rejoining the

Opposition Grand Alliance in

the state.

Senior BJP leader and Rajya

Sabha MP Sushil Kumar Modi

has retorted that RJD supremo

Lalu Prasad's party could not

stop a dozen MLAs and

Legislative Councillors from

joining the JD(U) before the

recent Bihar Assembly elections.

The RJD's impractical

promise of providing government

jobs to 10 lakh people

was rejected by the people of

Bihar. Sushil Modi said the

downtrodden, labourers, youth

and women gave the mandate

to the inexperienced dynastic

leadership of the RJD to sit in

the opposition, but they are

proving their 'loyalty' by making

fresh claims of dissidence

among the National

Democratic Allliance (NDA)

MLAs. There is no political

truth in such claims.

Commenting on Rabri

Devi's statement, JDU

Spokesperson Sanjay Singh

said the RJD is desperate to

come to power in the state. The

people have given a mandate to

the RJD to sit in the opposition

so the party should behave like

the opposition, he added. He

clearly said the ruling NDA

government would not break

apart even with the RJD's

repeated attempts.

JDU state President

Bashistha Narain Singh also

termed Rabri Devi's statement

as laughable and meaningless.

Former Chief Minister Rabri

Devi on Friday referred to the

recent incident in Arunachal

Pradesh where six JD(U)

MLAs had joined the BJP. She

said the JD(U) may break in

Bihar as well.

She in her own inimitable

style said, "The BJP does its

work secretly. When they

accomplish a task, everybody

gets to know about it then."

Asked about Nitish Kumar

returning to the Opposition

Grand Alliance fold, Rabri

Devi said her party leaders and

MLAs would sit together and

think over it.


2

01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Houses built under Global Housing

Technology Challenge will be

allotted to urban poor : TN CM

Chennai : Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami on

Friday said urban poor/slum

families living on the banks of

waterways will be allotted

houses built under the central

government's Global Housing

Technology Challenge.

He was speaking at the

foundation stone laying ceremony

for the central government's

'Housing for All'

scheme for the Global

HousingTechnology Challenge - India Project.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of

Light House projects (LHPs) under Global Housing Technology

Challenge (GHTC)- at six sites across six States, through video

conference. Palaniswami said the central government, under the

Global Housing Technology Challenge, has sanctioned construction

of 1,152 tenements with an area of 413 sqft. at Perumbakkam,

Chennai at a cost of 116.27 crore rupees. "These tenements will be

allotted to the urban poor/slum families living on the banks of

waterways and other objectionable lands in Chennai city," he said.

According to him, the housing project includes social amenities

like a ration shop, two Anganwadi centres, a library, a milk booth

and six shops. The project will also have a Sewage Treatment

Plant and an Electrical sub-station. This work will be completed

within 15 months. This technology will ensure eco-friendly construction

fit for diverse climatic quality standards and disasterproof

houses, Palaniswami said.

Repeated ceasefire violations by

Pakistan on LoC in Rajouri

Jammu : Pakistan repeatedly violated ceasefire on the line of

control (LoC) on Friday in J&K's Rajouri district.

Having violated ceasefire on the LoC more than 3,500 times

during 2020, Friday's is the first ceasefire violation by Pakistan in

2021. Defence Ministry spokesperson Colonel Devender Anand

said, "At about 3.30 p.m. today Pakistan initiated unprovoked

ceasefire violation by firing with small arms and shelling with

mortars along the LoC in Nowshera sector in District Rajouri.

Indian army retaliated befittingly."

At least 30 civilians have been killed and over 130 injured in

ceasefire violations by Pakistan on the LoC in J&K in 2020.

Team AI :

Devinder Chander

Editor-in-chief

Columnists

V.B. Rawat

Farzana Suri

Arun Kumar

Rahul Kumar

Harminder K. Bhogal

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Nitish's son, cabinet ministers richer than him

Patna : Bihar Chief

Minister Nitish Kumar and his

cabinet colleagues have made

public the information about

their personal assets. As per the

public disclosure, many members

of Nitish's cabinet are way

richer than him. Nitish Kumar's

son Nishant is also richer than

his father.

In 2010, the Nitish government

had made it mandatory

for all cabinet ministers to disclose

their asset details on the

first day of every year.

According to the details

given by the ministers on the

website of the Cabinet

Secretariat department, Chief

Minister Nitish Kumar has Rs

35,885 in cash and nearly Rs

34,000 deposited in the bank

while his son Nishant has Rs

28,297 in cash and Rs 1 crore

'Unique Chinese grenades'

seized from militant associate

in J&K's BARAMULLA

Srinagar : Police in J&K's Baramulla

district on Friday said that they have recovered

three "unique" Chinese grenades from

an arrested militant associate.

Speaking to media told, SSP, Baramulla,

Abdul Qayoom, said the three recovered

grenades are Chinese and the recovery is

first of its kind. "Arrested militant associate,

Asif Gull was tasked to kill a newlyelected

municipal councillor. He has been

slapped with four Public Safety Act (PSA)

detention orders in the past.

"Most wanted militant, Hyder, slain last

year, and another associate were in touch

with Asif Gull and it repeatedly surfaced he

was involved in grenade attacks, but had

gone into hiding since then to undertake

some task.

"In the preliminary investigation, it surfaced

that Asif had even managed to move

outside J&K," the SSP said adding that he

has at least 29 FIRs against him. "Abid, his

friend, a student enrolled at Jammu

College went to Pakistan via Wagah Border

in Fixed Deposit (FD) or

deposits in various banks.

While the Chief Minister

owns jewellery worth Rs

by availing a visa and is presently running

the TRF outfit as a top commander based

in Pakistan and Asif was tasked to recruit

youth into the outfit (TRF).

"Asif has done huge extortions in the

name of Lashkar and TRF, but nobody has

so far approached the police with a complaint

against him because of the life

98,000, his son Nishant owns

jewellery worth more than Rs

20 lakh. Nitish also owns a

1000 sq ft flat in Delhi's

Dwarka while his son owns

agricultural and non-arable

land in Kalyan Bigha village

in Bihar as well as residential

complexes in

Bakhtiyarpur and Patna.

Nitish's cabinet colleagues

are also richer than

the Chief Minister. Mukesh

Sahani, founder of the

Vikassheel Insaan Party

(VIP), which is part of the

National Democratic

Alliance (NDA) government

in Bihar, comes in the list of

the richest ministers in the

CM's cabinet.

Minister of Animal

Husbandry and Fisheries

Department, Mukesh Sahani

has deposits of Rs 23 lakh in

banks. Sahani owns three plush

properties in Mumbai worth

more than Rs seven crore. He

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threats he made.

"With his arrest, we are sure that almost

eight youth have been saved from joining

the TRF outfit and his stay in Srinagar is

also being investigated." The SSP also said

that questioning by joint teams of security

agencies will reveal the purpose of his visit

outside J&K.

Delhi Metro closes exit gates

of 4 stations near India Gate

New Delhi : The Delhi Metro Rail

has been issued due to the crowds celebrating

the New Year. There is a danger of

Corporation on Friday closed the exit gates

of its four stations around India Gate over

coronavirus infection further spreading due

the rush on New Year in the area.

to increased crowd. According to this,

The DMRC in a statement said, "Exit

more than five people at one time cannot

gates of Khan Market, Supreme Court,

assemble at a public place. New Year celebrations

will not be allowed in any public

Central Secretariat and Mandi House are

closed. Entry and interchange is permitted

place in Delhi. Places like restaurants, etc.,

at these stations." The DMRC is taking

which have a licence, will not come under

precautions following a Delhi Disaster

the purview of a public place."

Management Authority (DDMA) advisory.

Delhi is witnessing a record decline in

The DDMA on Thursday ordered the

corona cases. As per the latest figures till

imposition of night curfew in the national avirus. However, the restriction is not Thursday, the overall tally reached

capital on December 31 and January 1 applicable on interstate travel.

6,24,795. Out of these, more than 6.08 lakh

from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. The decision was The Delhi Disaster Management people have been discharged and 10,523

taken to contain the spread of the coron-

Authority had said in its order, "This order have died.

and his wife also own a flat

each.

Bihar Transport Minister

Sheela Kumari does not own

any vehicle, but she and her

husband own 30 acres of cultivable

land. They also own

non-cultivable land worth more

than Rs three crore and two

flats.

Deputy Chief Minister

Tarkishore Prasad is quite fond

of luxury vehicles and owns

four cars. Prasad has Rs 54,000

in cash while his wife has Rs

4,000 in cash. Prasad has jewellery

worth Rs 2.5 lakh while

his wife is the owner of jewellery

worth Rs 20 lakh.

Bihar Deputy Chief Minister

Renu Devi is also fond of jewellery.

She has 150 gm of gold

and silver worth Rs 70,000. She

also owns a pistol and a rifle.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

ASIA

01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021

3

Soldier killed in Pakistani firing

on LoC in J&K's RAJOURI

Chennai : Stepping into

2021, the Indian Space

Research Organisation (ISRO)

has chalked out its decadal plan

which includes development of

a heavy lift rocket, reusable

satellite launch vehicle, semicryogenic

engine, and others,

said a top official.

In the short term, the space

agency has to realise the first

developmental flight of the

Small Satellite Launch Vehicle

(SSLV) operational Geo-

Imaging capability, the third

moon mission Chandrayaan-3,

the first solar mission Aditya-

L1, and the first Indian Data

Relay Satellite. "The first

unmanned flight under the

Gaganyaan Programme is

another significant milestone to

be achieved this year," ISRO

Chairman K. Sivan, who is also

Secretary, Department of

Space, ISRO said.

In his New Year message, he

said all the centres/units of

ISRO have actively contributed

to the formulation of the

decadal plan.

Sivan said: "In this decade,

the VSSC (Vikram Sarabhai

Space Centre), the lead centre

for space transportation systems,

will carry forward its

competence in launch vehicle

development towards heavy lift

capabilities, achieving partial

& full reusability and achieving

progress in scramjet engine

research." According to Sivan,

the Liquid Propulsion Systems

Centre (LPSC) will fructify the

much-awaited high thrust semicryogenic

propulsion capability,

which is expected to boost

the lifting capability of Indian

rockets to Geostationary

Transfer Orbit (GTO) to almost

5.5 ton while also focusing on

liquid oxygen (oxidiser)-

Methane propulsion, green

propulsion as well as electric

propulsion.

He also said ISRO

Jammu : An army soldier

was killed in Pakistani ceasefire

violation in J&K's Rajouri

district on Friday.

Defence ministry

spokesman, Colonel Devender

Anand said at about 3.30 p.m.

on Friday Pakistan initiated an

unprovoked ceasefire violation

by firing with small arms and

shelling with mortars along the

Line of Control (LoC) in

Nowshera sector of Rajouri

district. Defence sources said

Naib Subedar Ravinder Kumar

was injured and later succumbed

to the critical injuries

sustained in the Pakistani firing.

Sources said the Indian

Army retaliated befittingly.

Friday's is the first ceasefire

violation by Pakistan on the

LoC in 2021.

In 2020, Pakistan violated

the ceasefire over 3500 times.

Thirty civilians were killed and

over 130 injured.

Reusable rockets, satellite constellation

for broadband in ISRO's 10-year plan

Propulsion Complex (IPRC)

needs to gear up its test facilities

to support the qualification

of the new propulsion systems

and also expand its integration

facilities to realise the new

semi-cryogenic and

LOX/Methane engines.

"In the next decade, emphasis

will be on satellite constellation

for broadband communication,

all electric satellite platform

and high performance

satellite platforms in all the

application areas," Sivan said

as regards the decadal plans for

the U.R. Rao Satellite Centre

(URSC). He said the Space

Applications Centre (SAC) will

complete its indigenisation

efforts for atomic clock and

traveling wave tube amplifiers

(TWTA). In this decade, SAC

and the National Remote

Sensing Centre (NRSC) need

to work towards ensuring the

collection, processing and ondemand

delivery of satellite

data services in line with user

expectations.

As regards the rocket port

under the Satish Dhawan Space

Centre (SDSC) scaling up of

the launch infrastructure to

support human spaceflight as

well as new heavy lift vehicles

and perhaps support and facilitate

the launching of private

space transportation systems in

the country, Sivan said. The

Semi-Conductor Laboratory

SCL will works towards creating

a strong micro-electronics

base in the country and enhance

capabilities in Very Large Scale

Integrated circuit (VLSI)

domain.

"A lion's share of ISRO's

technology development &

advanced R&D activities is

expected to be carried out for

facilitating the Gaganyaan

(human space mission) programme

and sustaining the

human spaceflight activities in

the long term," Sivan added.

On its part, the Human

Space Flight Centre (HSFC), in

association with all other ISRO

centres, is working towards the

enhanced capabilities essential

for the human spaceflight programme

including the human

rated launch vehicle, Orbital

Module, rendezvous and docking,

regenerative life support

systems and space habitats,

Sivan added.

Gurugram : Due to lack of a

waste-to- energy plant, a mountain

of waste reaching upto nearly 42

metres has accumulated at the

Bandhwari garbage plant in

Gurugram.

The waste-to-energy plant is yet

to be set up by Ecogreen Energy

Private Limited at the site. The company

has a contract to collect house

waste from Gurugram and Faridabad

districts.

The Municipal Corporation of

Gurugram (MCG) pays crores of

rupees every month to the company

for garbage collection.

According to MCG officials,

nearly 10 acres of land is required

for the waste-to-energy plant while

the Bandhwadi plant is spread over

30 acres of municipal land.

In 2017, Ecogreen Energy had

BSF seized 517 kg

heroin, shot 8 intruders

in PUNJAB in 2020

Chandigarh : BSF personnel guarding India's international

borders along Pakistan in Punjab shot dead eight drug smugglers

and intruders in separate encounters in 2020 and seized 517 kg

heroin and 43 weapons, as per official data released on Friday. A

total of 13 Pakistanis and one Bangladesh national were also

arrested during the year, as per the data provided by BSF's Punjab

Frontier headquarters regarding its achievements in 2020 while

manning the 553-km tough and challenging India-Pakistan border

in the state. In a humanitarian gesture, the Border Security Force

handed over six Pakistanis to the Pakistan Rangers after they had

inadvertently crossed the international border.

As a goodwill gesture, BSF troops also looked after people

residing in border areas on the Indian side through civic action

programmes, including free medical camps, sports tournaments,

cultural activities, and other efforts to help the needy.

In addition, awareness campaigns on coronavirus and preventive

measures during the nationwide lockdown and provision of

essential items to the needy were also undertaken.

In the true spirit of 'Jai Jawan Jai Kissan' to assist border farmers

and for speedy redressal of their problems, meetings with

farmers are held regularly by respective Company Commanders at

Commandant and Deputy Inspector General levels during which

their problems are resolved on the spot.

Adequate publicity to these meetings is ensured to allow participation

by maximum number of farmers. Also, initiatives were

taken to improve basic infrastructure at the grass roots to provide

maximum facilities to jawans in Punjab Frontier. The BSF's

Punjab Frontier troops have been protecting the international borders

with full devotion despite inclement weather conditions and

will continue to safeguard it, the force said.

42 metre high mountain of waste at Gurugram garbage plant

started work on setting up a waste

plant at the same site. For this, 10

acres of land was provided by the

MCG at the Bandhwari plant but due

to the non-construction of the plant,

three million tonnes of garbage has

accumulated at the proposed plant

site. The corporation officials

informed that the civic body has

paid more than Rs 126 crore to

Ecogreen in 31 months but the company

did not begin the work even

after a year of getting environmental

clearance.

The officials said nine trommel

machines are working to reduce the

mountain of garbage. The height of

one part of the garbage mountain

had reached 42 metres. Nearly 1,700

tonnes of garbage from Gurugram

and Faridabad is reaching the

Bandhwari landfill daily. According

to information through a Right To

Information (RTI) query, fines have

been imposed several times on

Ecogreen.

As per a National Green Tribunal

(NGT) order, the State Pollution

Control Board imposed a fine of Rs

25 lakh on November 11, 2019, on

the company for spreading pollution

and harming the environment. The

Faridabad Municipal Corporation

did not take action to cancel the

company's contract till June 2020,

despite imposing a fine of more than

Rs 1.57 crore. "Nine trommel

machines are working to reduce the

garbage mountain. The company's

representatives have been instructed

to set up the waste-to- energy plant

soon," said Dheeraj Kumar, Joint

Commissioner, Swachh Bharat

Mission, MCG.


4

01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

UK, EU begin new

relationship as Brexit

transition period ends

UK records HIGHEST daily

increase in coronavirus cases

London : Another 55,892

people in Britain have tested

positive for Covid-19, marking

the highest daily increase in

coronavirus cases since the

pandemic began in the country,

according to official figures

released on Thursday.

The total number of coronavirus

cases in the country now

stands at 2,488,780, the data

showed. It is the third day in a

row when more than 50,000

cases were reported in the

country, Xinhua news agency

reported.

Another 964 have died within

28 days of a positive test,

bringing the total number of

coronavirus-related deaths in

Britain to 73,512, the data

London : Britain and the European

Union (EU) have started a new chapter in

their relationship as the Brexit transition

period ended on Thursday. In an earlier

message, British Prime Minister Boris

Johnson urged Britain to seize the moment

as the country embarks on a new journey as

an independent global trading nation.

"The destiny of this great country now

resides firmly in our hands. We take on this

duty with a sense of purpose and with the

interests of the British public at the heart of

everything we do," he said, Xinhua news

agency reported.

"11 p.m. (2300 GMT) on 31 December

marks a new beginning in our country's

history and a new relationship with the EU

as their biggest ally. This moment is finally

upon us and now is the time to seize it."

Also on Thursday, Britain's Queen

Elizabeth II gave Royal assent to a new law

spelling out Britain's future relationship

with the EU, after the bill was approved in

both the House of Commons (lower house

of the British Parliament) and the House of

Lords (upper house). However, some

major changes are still taking place from

2300 GMT regarding rules on travel, immigration,

commerce and security, among

others. The free movement of people

between Britain and the EU countries has

ended, replaced in Britain by a "pointsbased"

immigration system. Britons who

want to stay in most of the EU for more

than 90 days in any 180-day period will

need a visa. British police have lost instant

access to EU-wide databases on criminal

records, fingerprints and wanted persons.

Meanwhile, concerns remain over disruptions

in ports like Dover due to border

checks and new customs rules. Rajneesh

showed. On Thursday, emergency

field hospitals known as

Nightingale hospitals across

England are being "readied" for

use if needed.

Apart from the hospital at

London's Excel center site,

other Nightingale hospital sites

across England include

Manchester, Bristol,

Sunderland, Harrogate, Exeter

and Birmingham.

A spokesman for the British

National Health Service (NHS)

said hospitals in London were

coming under significant pressure

from high COVID-19

infection rates. "The NHS in

London is opening more beds

in NHS hospitals across the

capital to care for the most

unwell patients. It is

crucial that people do

everything they can to

reduce transmission of

the virus," the

spokesman said.

"In anticipation of

pressures rising from

the spread of the new

variant infection, NHS

London was asked to

ensure the London

Nightingale was reactivated

and ready to

admit patients as needed,

and that process is

underway," he said.

Under the new government

measures, an

additional 20 million people

were put into Tier Four from

Thursday, meaning a total of 44

million people will now be in

Tier Four, or 78 percent of the

population of England.

London and many other

parts of England have already

been under the highest Tier

Four restrictions, which require

residents in the areas to stay at

home, with limited exemptions.

People are also urged to work

from home when they can, and

should not enter or leave those

areas. The British government's

Scientific Advisory Group for

Emergencies (SAGE) has

urged all regions of England to

be placed in Tier Four restrictions.

Narula, the John H. Dunning Chair of

International Business Regulation at the

Henley Business School, University of

Reading, has warned that there could be

difficult months ahead as many large issues

are left out of the current deal, which will

add uncertainties to Britain-EU future relations.

Most notably, the trade deal did little for

the services sector, which makes up 80 percent

of the British economy.

Although Britain ended its membership

of the EU on January 31, 2020, it has followed

EU rules during a transition period

which expired at 2300 GMT on Thursday.

The EU and Britain announced on

December 24 that they had reached an

agreement that will govern their trade and

security relationship starting from January

1, 2021. The deal, which came after nine

months of arduous negotiations between

Britain and the EU, is the biggest bilateral

trade deal signed by either side, covering

trade worth around 668 billion British

pounds ($913 billion). The EU is Britain's

largest trading partner. Britain is the EU's

third-largest trading partner in goods, after

the US and China.

Elton John tired

of singing same

hits at concerts

London : Legendary

English singer-somgwriter

Elton John says he is tired of

singing the same hit songs over

and over again at concerts.

"I'm lucky to have so many

great songs to play every night.

But there is a point in time

where you think, 'I don't really

want to play this anymore',"

said Elton, who will soon retire

from touring, reports contactmusic.com.

"There are things

like 'Original sin' or '(Gotta get

a) meal ticket' that I haven't

really played before -- not

enough anyway. But if I have to

go back and play 'Crocodile

rock' again, it's like, 'I'm gonna

kill myself'," he added.

So, after he is done with his

tour, he doesn't "want to play

some of these songs any more".

"I'd like to do something like

(singer) Kate Bush, where I can

do a show and play some of

these songs that are deep cuts,"

said the 73-year-old rock star.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021

5

UK COURT slaps $28.7M penalty

payment to Pak High Commission

London : Pakistan's National

Accountability Bureau (NAB), an

institution accused and blamed by

political leadership for taking political

maneuvering of the government and

using it to nab top leaders of major

political parties on charges of money

laundering, assets beyond means and

corruption worth billion of dollars, has

been penalised for playing the delaying

tactics in submitting the penalty

amount of at least $21 million to the

country in the infamous Broadsheet

LLC case.

A high court in London has ordered

debiting at least $28.7 million from

the accounts of the Pakistan High

Commission in London over non-payment

of the penalty by Pakistan's

National Accountability Bureau

(NAB) to the foreign assets recovery

firm Boardsheet LLC.

As per the court's order, the amount

had to be debited from the accounts of

the Pakistan High Commission in the

UK by December 30.

The development was also confirmed

by Pakistan Foreign Office

sources, who said that London had

ordered debiting millions of dollars

from the Pakistan High Commission

accounts.

Referring to the court order, the

United Bank Limited UK had also

written a letter to the Pakistan High

Commission on December 29,

requesting to provide written payment

instructions along with debit account

details to ensure smooth transaction of

$28,706,533.35, which should be as

DM Hathras among

17 IAS OFFICERS

transferred in UP

Lucknow : Barely hours

before ushering in the New

Year, the Yogi Adityanath

government transferred 17

IAS officers, including the

District Magistrate of

Hathras who came under

fire following the gang-rape

and murder of a 19-year-old

Dalit woman in Hathras last

year.

According to the government

spokesman, Hathras

District Magistrate Parveen

Kumar Laxkar, who faced

flak for the cremation of the

woman in the dead of the

night was among the 11 district

magistrates transferred

in a reshuffle.

Laxar was also in the

limelight after the

Allahabad High Court had

expressed concern over the failure

of the Uttar Pradesh government

for not taking action

against him after the rape and

murder case.

He has been transferred to

Mirzapur in the same capacity.

Meanwhile, Joint Managing

Director of Jal Nigam,

Lucknow, Ramesh Ranjan, has

been appointed as the new

District Magistrate (DM) of

Hathras.

Markandey Shahi has been

made the District Magistrate of

Gonda, Shruti has been given

the charge of District

Magistrate at Balrampur while

Nitin Bansal has been made the

per the Final Third Party Order issued

by the high court.

The bank had also notified the

Pakistan High Commission that in

case the written payment instruction

Pratapgarh District Magistrate.

Navneet Singh Chahal has

been made the DM of Mathura,

Sanjeev Singh has been given

charge of Chandauli and

S.Rajlingam has been appointed

as DM of Kushinagar.

Abhishek Singh is the new

DM of Sonbhadra. Apurva

Dubey has been appointed in

the same capacity to Fatehpur,

and Sunil Kumar Verma has

been made Aurraiya DM.

Kanchan Verma has been

made the Managing Director,

UP Medical Supply

Corporation, Sushil Kumar

Patel has been made the Joint

Managing Director of the Jal

Nigam, Lucknow.

Bhupendra S. Chaudhary

has been appointed as the special

secretary, irrigation and

water resources, Sarvagya Ram

Mishra has been made special

secretary, trade tax and Rupesh

Kumar has been appointed as

special secretary, sugar and

cane development.

Ten officers of the provincial

civil services (PCS) have also

been transferred.

New York : Human activities

such as groundwater

removal and other natural

causes are leading to sinking

of the Earth's surface and the

phenomenon will affect 635

million people, mostly in Asia,

with a total exposed Gross

Domestic Product (GDP) of

$9.78 trillion in the next four

years, warn researchers.

By 2024, 19 per cent of the

world's population - accounting

for 21 per cent of the global

GDP -- will be impacted by

subsidence, the sinking of the

ground's surface, said the

study published in the journal

Science. The results represent

"a key first step toward formulating

effective land-subsidence

policies that are lacking

in most countries worldwide,"

the authors noted.

Lead researcher Gerardo

Herrera Garcia and his team

performed a large-scale literature

review that revealed that

during the past century, land

subsidence due to groundwater

depletion occurred at 200 locations

in 34 countries.

The team developed a model

by combining spatial and statistical

analyses that identified an

area's subsidence susceptibility

based on factors like flooding

was not received by December 30, the

bank would still proceed with unilaterally

debiting the high commission's

account to meet the orders of the On

the other hand, the high commission

responded to the bank, stating that any

unilateral attempt of debiting their

accounts for the payment would be a

violation of the international law and a

breach of trust, which would impact

future course of relationship with the

bank.

As per reliable sources, NAB's

ignorance towards the sensitivity of

the case and issue, has led to

Pakistan's loss of millions of dollars.

NAB was awarded a penalty of $17

million by London Court of

International Arbitration (LCIA) in

2018, which was later added with a $3

million case cost. And in March 2019,

the court awarded a $20 million final

award.

As NAB did not pay the amount,

addition of interest rate shot up the

award amount to $28.7 million.

The penalty slapped with embarrassment

on Pakistan's top anti-corruption

watchdog, comes with reference

to the case, in which Broadsheet

LLC was hired by NAB during

Musharraf's regime to trace hidden

assets of 200 Pakistanis, which included

former Prime Minister Nawaz

Sharif and former President Asif Ali

Zardari.

However, NAB terminated the

agreement in 2003, due to which the

firm's claim against Pakistan was

worth at least $600 million.

Sinking land will affect 635M

people globally: Report

and groundwater depletion

caused by human activities.

"Notably, the model also

revealed that most of the 635

million inhabitants in subsistence-susceptible

areas are

located in Asia, with a total

exposed GDP of $9.78 trillion,"

the findings showed.

While the model does not

consider existing mitigation

measures, potentially resulting

in overestimates of subsidence

exposure, their results still represent

a step forward to effective

policies.

During the next decades,

factors including global population

and economic growth,

exacerbated by droughts, will

probably increase land subsidence

occurrence and related

damages or impacts.

"Policies that implement

subsidence modeling in

exposed areas, constant monitoring

of high-risk areas, damage

evaluation, and cost-effective

countermeasures could

help reduce the impacts of subsidence

where it will hit hardest

- namely, areas with increased

population density, high

groundwater demand, and irrigated

areas suffering water

stress," the authors elaborated.


6 01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Vandalized Pak Hindu

temple to be reconstructed

UP: Inter-faith marriage

lands in controversy

Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh) : The Gorakhpur police arrested

a man on the charges of kidnapping and forcibly marrying a 17-

year-old girl. Both the man and the girl belong to different communities.

According to Sahjanwa Station House Officer (SHO),

Santosh Yadav, the girl had been allegedly kidnapped in

November. On the written complaint of her father, a search operation

was launched and the girl was finally traced and rescued on

Wednesday. Accused Mansoor, 26, a resident of Hamirpur district,

was arrested from the Bhiti Rawat area, the police officer said.

The accused claimed that the girl was an adult on the basis of

her Aadhaar card and asked the police not to interfere in the matter.

The girl's father presented her high school certificate, which her

age to be 17 years. "The girl has been sent for a medical check-up.

As per her high school marksheet, she is 17-years-old," the SHO

said. The man has been booked under Sections 363 (kidnapping)

and 366 (abducting or inducing woman to compel her for marriage)

of the IPC and the section of the new law on forced conversion will

be added after the medical report confirms her to be a minor.

Afghan presidential

aide 'critically injured'

in Kabul blast

Kabul : An aide to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was "critically

injured" in an IED blast in Kabul on Thursday, while his driver

was killed, according to a government official.

The blast occurred at around 8.10 a.m. when the IED exploded

and targeted a Corolla-model car in Chehel Sutoon area in PD7 of

Kabul city, TOLO News reported.

The injured person has been identified as Jawid Wali, deputy of

the coordination of advisers' affairs.

No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the blast.

TOLOnews findings show that 23 people have been killed and 70

others have been wounded in security incidents in Kabul over the last

two weeks. Kabul has witnessed 15 security incidents in the past 10

days, including suicide attacks, car bomb attacks, magnetic IED

blasts and targeted killings.

Four blasts occurred in Kabul on December 26. Most of the magnetic

IED blasts targeted security vehicles and were near police headquarters

buildings in various areas of the city.

Peshawar (Pakistan) : After angry mob

in Pakistans Khyber Pukhtunkhwa provinces

Karak district, attacked and vandalized the

shrine of a Hindu saint in Terri area of Karak;

Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP) government has

announced reconstruction of the Hindu temple,

along with launching a crackdown

against the attackers.

Chief Minister Khyber Pukhtunkhwa

(KP) Mahmood Khan has issued instructions

to relevant authorities to ensure reconstruction

of the Hindu temple, while police

authorities have arrested at least 45 people,

including three notable clerics, who were

nominated.

Among the nominated religious clerics, a

local leader of religious political party Jamiat

Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Rehman Salam

Khattak, has also been arrested.

Angry and violent protesters attacked and

set a blaze the Samadhi of Shri Paramhansji

Maharaj on Wednesday over dispute over its

expansion. As per the police authorities,

Rehman Salam Khattak of JUI-F had participated

in a meeting before the attack on the

shrine. However, the plan to attack the shrine

was decided and ordered by local clerics

Maulana Mohammad Sharif and Maulana

Faizullah.

Police officials have been searching

dozens of houses to arrest the people

involved in the attack.

The shrine holds critical importance as in

2015, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered

the KP government to restore and rebuild the

shrine, while hearing a petition by Ramesh

Vankwani, member national assembly and

patron of Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC).

The court's decision came after it became

a dispute and confrontational contention

between the Muslim and the Hindu community.

As per latest details, police authorities

have been directed to ensure security of the

places of worship of minorities and protect

their constitutional right, enshrined in the

country's constitution.

KP Inspector General of Police Sanaullah

Abbasi confirmed that "the first information

report (FIR) has been lodged in the case and

a probe was underway". "At least 350 persons

had been named in the FIR," he said.

Abbasi also confirmed that more arrests

will be made in the coming days after the

accused are identified through video clips

and still images. The local leadership of

CANADIAN minister

caught holidaying amid

Covid lockdown, resigns

Toronto : A

Canadian minister, who

was on Wednesday

caught enjoying a clandestine

Christmas holiday

in the Caribbean

while people in his

country has been under

Covid-19 lockdown,

has resigned on his

return.

Ontario's Finance

Minister Rod Phillips

was ordered to end his

holidays and return

immediately by his

Premier Doug Ford

after a massive public

backlash. He resigned

on Thursday.

Ontario has been in

its second lockdown since December 26 as

Covid-19 cases have hit record numbers.

Minister Phillips had quietly slipped out of

Canada on December 14 to enjoy holidays.

During his holidays, the minister maintained

the facade that he was in Ontario.

In a video call on December 16 from his

holiday resort, he fooled people by using a

fake backdrop of Ontario's assembly building.

On Christmas eve, he was shown sitting in

his office and greeting people with these

words, "As we all make sacrifices this

Christmas, remember that some of our fellow

citizens won't even be home for Christmas dinner

over Zoom. Thousands of front line heroes

will be at work, looking out for us. Who is the

special hero in your life you want to thank?"

Resigning after arrival in Toronto, the minister

said going on a holiday during the lockdown

was "a significant error in judgment -- a

dumb, dumb mistake, I apologize for it, I

regret it."

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) condemned

the incident, insisting that an act of a few

individuals should not be attributed to the

entire Khattak tribe that inhabits Karak.

Moreover, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP)

took suo moto notice of the incident, fixing

the case for hearing on January 5.

Hafiz Mohammad Tahir Mahmood

Ashrafi, representative of Religious

Harmony and Middle East, strongly condemned

the incident, assuring zero tolerance

towards the culprits. "Attack on Hindu temple

in Karak is very sorrowful and regrettable.

The Constitution assures complete

protection to the minorities and the elements

involved in attack on temple have damaged

the image of Islam and Pakistan," he said.

UP Police official found

using stolen car

Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh) : In a

shocking incident,

the station

officer of the

Bithoor police

station in

Kanpur, has

been found

using a car that

was stolen in

2018.

The station

officer is

Kaushalendra Pratap Singh, one of the

policemen who was injured in the Bikru

incident on July 3. The matter came to

light when the car owner, Omendra

Soni, received a call from a service centre,

seeking his feedback on the servicing

of his car, a Wagon R.

Soni reached the service centre and

was informed that the car had been

returned to the station officer. He was

told that the feedback call was made to

him on his previous car service records.

Soni told reporters that his car had been

stolen in December 2018 from Barra

area and he had lodged a complaint with

the police there. He said that the Barra

police should have been informed when

the car was recovered. The Station

Officer, meanwhile, said that he had

found the car abandoned and it was

seized. He refused to respond to further

questions. Inspector General Kanpur,

Mohit Agarwal, meanwhile, has ordered

an inquiry into the entire incident. He

said that if found guilty, the station officer

would face departmental action.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

ASIA

01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021

7

2,00,000-year-old tools from Stone

Age unearthed in Saudi Arabia

Riyadh : A Saudi scientific team

from the Heritage Authority discovered

stone tools used by the inhabitants

of Assyrian civilization in the

Paleolithic period that date back to

2,00,000 years. The Heritage Authority

said in a press statement that the discovered

stone tools from the Shuaib

Al-Adgham area, located east of the

Al-Qassim region, are stone axes from

the Middle Paleolithic period.

These are unique and rare stone

axes that were characterised by the

high precision in manufacturing that

these human groups used in their daily

life. The abundance of stone tools discovered

from this site indicated the

numerical density of prehistoric communities

that lived in this region. It is

also a clear indication that the climatic

conditions in the Arabian Peninsula

were very suitable for these human

groups as they benefited from the natural

resources available therein, the

Saudi Gazette reported.

The satellite images showed that

the Shuaib Al-Adgham and other sites

were connected with passages of

rivers to confirm that humans used

2021 will be

year of growth,

vows Pak PM

Islamabad : Pakistan Prime

Minister Imran Khan on Friday

said the new year will be a year

of economic growth for the

country. He said that the country

was already moving in the

right direction with essential

industries increasing output.

Speaking at an event in

Islamabad, the Prime Minister

said the construction industry

was already on its way up,

which he said was evident from

rising cement sales in the country,

the Dawn reported.

"When cement sales are

increasing it is a clear sign that

construction activity is on the

rise," he said.

Imran said the textile industry

was "producing at capacity

for the first time in many years"

which he said had given rise to

a shortage of labour in the sector.

The Prime Minister said

these signs were indicating that

the country was in the right

direction and that Pakistan was

among nations that had seen the

"fastest recovery from the

Covid-19 pandemic."

Singapore : A free trade agreement

(FTA) between the UK and Singapore

takes effect from 7 a.m. on Friday,

ensuring that companies from both

countries continue to enjoy the same

trading benefits even as the UK leaves

the transition period for its exit from the

European Union.

The EU-Singapore Free Trade

Agreement will no longer apply to trade

between UK and Singapore when the

new deal kicks in, said the Ministry of

Trade and Industry on Thursday.

Both countries have completed their

respective domestic procedures for the

FTA's provisional application, which

enables them to apply treaty commitments

on a provisional basis until the

FTA is ratified by both countries and

enters into force, The Straits Times

reported.

The UK is Singapore's third and second-largest

trading partner for goods

and services respectively, as well as its

top investment destination in Europe. In

turn, Singapore is the UK's largest trade

and investment partner in South-east

Asia.

The UK-Singapore FTA was inked

on December 10 by Minister for Trade

and Industry Chan Chun Sing and UK

Secretary of State for International

Trade Elizabeth Truss. The Ministry of

Trade and Industry (MTI) said the UK-

Singapore FTA provides certainty and

clarity in trading arrangements between

both countries.

"Companies will be able to enjoy the

same EU-Singapore FTA benefits when

trading between the UK and Singapore

rivers to reach deep into the interior

regions of the Arabian Peninsula in

ancient times. According to the wide

spatial distribution of the Assyrian

sites, they were the largest concentrations

of human inhabitance worldwide.

It also indicates that human

groups in the Arabian Peninsula were

able to cross through vast swathes of

geographical distances, while the large

under the UK-Singapore FTA," MTI

said.

These include tariff elimination for

goods trade, increased access to services

and government procurement markets,

and a reduction of non-tariff barriers.

In terms of tariffs, the UK-Singapore

FTA will maintain the same timeline for

tariff reductions as the European Union-

Singapore FTA.

This means that 84 per cent of

Singapore exports entering Britain will

continue to be duty-free once the agreement

enters into force. By November

21, 2024, tariffs on virtually all remaining

products will be eliminated.

Liberal and flexible rules of origin

for Britain and Singapore's key exports

number of sites centered around

ancient valleys and rivers indicated

that these groups were gradually

spreading and discovering new sites

when they needed them. These sites

to each other's markets, such as cars,

chemicals, electronics and pharmaceuticals,

will continue to be provided for.

Singapore companies will also continue

to enjoy enhanced market access

in the UK for Asian food products made

in Singapore, such as har gow (prawn

dumplings) and sambal ikan bilis (spicy

crispy anchovies). These goods will

enter the UK tariff-free under flexible

rules of origin, up to a combined quota

of 350 tons annually.

Meanwhile, service providers, professionals

and investors will have

enhanced market access, creating a level

playing field for businesses in both

Britain and Singapore. This includes

sector-specific rules on non-discrimination

and transparency.

were characterised by the spread of

broken stone fragments and manufactured

tools.

The authority stated that a huge

amount of new environmental and cultural

information has been collected,

and the results showed that there were

significant changes in the environments,

ranging from very arid to

humid. The current evidence strongly

supports the assertions of the existence

of the "Green Arabian

Peninsula" many times in the past.

During the wet phases of human

civilizations, there were rivers and

lakes throughout the Arabian

Peninsula, which led to the spread and

expansion of these human groups.

This confirms that the Arabian

Peninsula was a major crossroads

between Africa and the rest of Asia

throughout prehistoric times and that

it was one of the places of settlement

in the period of the Stone Ages. It is

believed that the ancient migrations of

these human groups were through two

main passages - the Bab Al-Mandab

Strait and the Sinai Peninsula

Corridor.

Singapore-UK free trade deal kicks

in as Brexit transition period ends

A wide range of services is covered

under the agreement, including architecture,

engineering, management consultancy,

as well as hotel and restaurant

services.

The UK will grant Singapore

enhanced access to city-level and

municipal-level government procurement

opportunities, which means that

firms here can bid for more government

projects in Britain. Companies that are

expected to benefit include those in

transport, financial services and utilities.

The agreement will also do away

with unnecessary technical barriers to

trade for Singapore and British

exporters. For example, it will reduce

duplicative testing, lowering costs for

exporters. Sectors that will benefit

include electronics, motor vehicles and

vehicle parts, and pharmaceuticals.

The FTA also allows Singapore and

Britain to continue enjoying a comprehensive

Intellectual Property Rights

Chapter, which covers copyright,

enforcement and geographical indications.

Beyond the agreement, Singapore

and the UK have committed to start

negotiations for a high standard investment

protection agreement within two

years of the FTA coming into force, and

aim to conclude the negotiations within

four years.

MTI said: "This will ensure that our

bilateral investments will be covered by

robust and up-to-date treaty protections,

and provide our businesses and

investors with the certainty of investment

protection."


8 01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

JUI-F leaders among 31 held over

Hindu shrine attack in Pak

Karak : Police have arrested 31

people, including district leaders of

Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F)

here for vandalising and demolishing

the shrine of a Hindu saint in Teri area

of the district. Police officials said that

JUI-F senior leader Rehmat Salam

Khattak was also among the arrested

persons on Thursday. He was arrested

from his residence in Chokara area of

Takht-i-Nusrati tehsil. He served as

provincial general secretary of PML-

N before joining JUI-F, the Dawn

reported. Officials said that they raided

the houses of people, who were

involved in the attack on the shrine.

However, several of them, who took

part in damaging the shrine, went

underground to avoid arrest, they

added. Teri police registered an FIR

against the people involved in the

attack for defiling place of worship,

hurting religious sentiments, robbery,

hurt, arson, mischief and assault. The

FIR also included Section 7 of Anti-

Terrorism Act. The FIR stated that

Maulana Mohammad Sharif during a

protest informed the gathering about

the shrine and said that they would

neither allow a Hindu shrine on the

soil of Teri nor the visits by Hindus.

It said that during his speech, he

asked the participants numbering

1,000 to 1,500 to destroy the shrine.

"Whoever dies while demolishing

the shrine would be a martyr," the FIR

quoted the cleric telling the crowd. It

said that about 400 people led by

Maulana Sharif attacked the shrine

and set it on fire.

It said that the attackers also

opened fire on police. It added that the

mob also took away artefacts from the

shrine. Provincial police chief Dr

Sanaullah Abbasi also visited the

Hindu shrine. He said that investigations

were underway and FIR was

lodged in the case. He said that 31

accused were arrested for attacking

the shrine while 350 persons were

nominated in the FIR and raids were

being conducted for their arrest.

Ishaq Khattak, a local elder, told

Dawn that situation remained calm in

Teri and mostly locals stayed away

from the site of occurrence. He said

that Teri Bazaar also remained closed.

Meanwhile, the district chapter of

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf condemned

the incident and said that chief minister

and IGP should take practical steps

for the arrest of the people involved in

the attack on Hindu shrine. Addressing

a press conference, PTI district general

secretary Kamran and senior vice

president Ashiq Muneer said that it

was an act of few individuals and

should not be attributed to the entire

Khattak tribe. They said that stringent

action should be taken against the people

involved in the attack. They said

that police committed criminal negligence

during the attack and district

administration failed to take timely

steps to prevent the incident. They

demanded of the chief minister to suspend

deputy commissioner, district

police officer and DSP of tehsil Banda

Daud Shah and other responsible

administrative officers for their failure

to preempt the attack.

In Peshawar, Awami National Party

provincial president Aimal Wali Khan

condemned the incident and described

it as an attempt to pave way for resurgence

of violence in Pakhtun region.

In a statement, he said that provincial

government should bring to justice

those people, who led the mob to

attack the shrine. He said that it was

prime duty of the government to provide

security to all citizens including

non-Muslims and their places of worship.

The ANP leader also condemned

setting on fire houses in Waziristan

and said that such incidents would

increase violence in the Pakhtun belt.

He said that Pakhtuns were peace-loving

people, who always played role for

promoting interfaith harmony.

In Kohat, minority leaders condemned

vandalising of Hindu shrine

in Karak and said that India would use

the incident against Pakistan. Former

district councillor Mubashir Naz in a

statement said that the stigma attached

to such a big incident could not be

removed. Advocate Rohit Kumar said

that the incident hurt the feelings of

the Hindus living in Sindh.

China's 'Glacier Bro' Wang

Xiangjun presumed dead

Beijing : A popular Chinese social

media influencer and environmentalist

dubbed "Glacier Bro" is presumed

dead after falling into icy waters in

Tibet. Wang Xiangjun, 30, was reportedly

exploring a glacial waterfall

when he disappeared on 20 December,

the BBC reported. His body has not

yet been found, but his social media

account appeared to confirm his death

on Saturday.

Wang was known for his videos

exploring glaciers and his efforts to

highlight the impact of climate

change. Footage shared on Chinese

social media appears to show him lose

his balance while climbing near the

base of a waterfall and he is seen slipping

into fast-flowing icy waters.

The incident took place in Lhari

county, northern Tibet, according to

reports. Rescuers are still searching

for him, but a member of the rescue

team quoted by Chinese media said it

was likely that Wang had been swept

under an ice floe - a sheet of floating

ice - and that it was "almost impossible"

that he had survived.

At the weekend, a sorrowful tribute

posted by the administrator of Wang's

official Kuaishou social media

account appeared to confirm his death.

"My brother... lies forever in his

favourite waterfall. I hope everyone

does not hype up (his death), and

respect the deceased," read the statement.

"For all of his life he was obsessed

with glaciers, and gave his life to glaciers.

This is the best resting place for

him."

Born in rural Sichuan province to a

family of farmers, Wang became interested

in glaciers when he saw a

tourism advert for a snow-capped

mountain.

In the years that followed, he visited

dozens of glaciers and posted

videos on social media under the handle

Tibetan Adventurer. His clips,

which usually featured him clambering

across icy terrain and enthusiastically

exploring glacial caves and tunnels,

quickly went viral.

He was also known in China for

photographing more than 70 glaciers

in seven years, and had addressed the

UN Climate Change Conference last

year to share his experience of melting

glaciers.

As a result of his travels, he became

passionate about raising awareness of

the impact of climate change.

"Almost all the glaciers I visited

looked different from the images on

my phone," he told media. "You need

to stand in front of the glaciers to

realise how fast they are melting."

China, which is the world's biggest

source of carbon dioxide, said in

September that it aimed to hit peak

emissions before 2030 and achieve

carbon neutrality by 2060.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk ASIA 01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021 9

India will have to move to collective

federal spirit beyond one man one

party one MARKET one FAMILY

When the focus of the country’s

intellectuals, activists, journalists

should be on the immediate challenge

before us particularly the issues of

agrarian sector and farming communities

who have been protesting against

the three farm bills, ‘liberals’ and ‘seculars’

seems to have now been obsessed

with the Gandhi family. The fulminations

of Ram Chandra Guha, an elite

brahmanical secularist, against the

Gandhi family will neither help secularism

nor democracy. The best, it will

help the BJP and Hindutva who he

claims to despise so much. And Ram

Chandra Guha kind of people are more

dangerous and do more damage to democratic

polity than Arnab Goswami and

his ilks could as their ideological traits

are well known and they are committed

to that.

I am not here to speak about the

decline of Congress but if you do an

honest analysis of the situation, it is not

merely Gandhi family, it has to do a lot

with political debate getting highly poisonous

and intoxicated in the past twenty

years. Sonia Gandhi faced a hostile

‘intellectual class’ along with the Sangh

Parivar related to the issue of her birth.

After the formation of UPA-1, she tried

to lead it from the backdoor but played

mostly the role of a guiding force

reminding the government of the day,

its duties towards the citizens and some

of the best bills were passed in the

Parliament during that period.

When the Congress Party came back

to power in 2009 i.e. UPA-II, a large

number of BJP leaders had felt that

their political career was over.

Congress leaders too became too arrogant

to speak to their workers and files

would move at the speed of bullock

cart. The biggest failure of Congress

there was its mishandling of various

issues. Anna’s movement could have

been dealt with in a better way, followed

by Nirbhaya. The media had by

then turned against the UPA as communication

with the media and people was

the last strategy of Congress party.

The Telangana issue, the Land

Acquisition issue and then Anna and

Nirbhaya issue actually discredited the

government. Coal Block and other

issues of corruption and the Sangh

Narrative became more powerful. If

you see the leaders who were at the

helm of affairs doing all this were

Pranab Mukharjee, Kapil Sibbal,

Gulam Nabi Azad and P Chidambaram

were in most the committees formed by

the government and its responses. Will

these leaders take responsibility for the

downfall of the Congress. Manish

Tiwari was the Minister for Information

and Broadcasting but look at his contribution.

Nothing. He was arrogant

enough to not fight the election. They

only felt that they had no responsibility

towards the party. Who brought the

FCRA changes shrinking the NGOs and

civil society work. It is Chidambaram.

Today, Congress need civil society

when the government has made the

laws more stringent but you can not

blame Sonia Ganhi for the same. The

problem is that Congress never did an

analysis of its governanace model in

UPA I and II. It should have actually

done a performance check and monitor

their work. Today, those who faiiled

Congress shamelessly are actually tell

us how they are ‘concerned’ about its

decline. Question is whether merely

Gandhis are responsible for this or there

is a collective failure. It is the Congress

politics which believed in personality

cult as they got benefitted from it but

India is changed now. Modi phase will

remain for some time but will not work.

It is working because it is a combine

effort of many things. Congress must

learn that India is now aspiring for a

truly collective federalism and only that

spirit will take us further. Even at the

regional level parties will have to

democratise more.

Congress’s decline started in the

1980s and I have written about it many

times. It is because India is going federal

and regional aspirations are coming

up and none can stop it. States don’t

want a decision to be taken at the center

and India will have to develop better

mechanisms to develop a cordial relationship

among the States. Secondly,

since emergency time and with the

notoriety of Sanjay Gandhi, Congress

was being despised by the minorities.

The Delhi’s 1984 riots and Congress’s

continuous defence of those participating

in the alleged riots alienated a big

number of Delhi’s Sikh population.

Rajiv Gandhi’s Shah Bano Act,

Narsimha Rao’s failure to protect

Babari Masjid and subsequent riots

alienated Muslims from the party.

The failure of the Congress Party in

handling the Mandal Commission issue

properly resulted in erosion of faith by

the Dalits and OBCs. Narsimha Rao

government’s attack on reservation and

rabid ‘liberalisation’ did its work further.

Congress had lost all the major

segments which brought it to power.

These segments, Muslims and Dalits

had left with the Congress. Farmers

voted according to their zones. There

were many Congress leaders during

Indira Gandhi’s time which hailed from

these communities.

Uttar Pradesh and Bihar changed in

the post Mandal era. It was these two

states which were giving Congress the

biggest power but since 1989,

Congress’s ground completely lost

from this region. It is no doubt that BJP,

Jan Sangh and RSS are organisations to

protect the interest of the Brahmanical

Social Order but most of the Savarnas

supported Congress as they felt it could

keep their ‘interest’ safe. It was committed

to that but after the Mandal

report, the Savaranas understood it

clearly that Congress cant protect their

interest and slowly started shifting to

BJP. Congress however, never learnt

any lessons and continued to attempt to

woo SC-ST-OBC Minorities on one

side and refusing to build a strong independent

leadership from these communities.

The fact is if Congress had

Mandalised itself then many of the current

day ‘dissenters’ would not have

found a way to go to Rajya Sabha. It

would have been people who have

linked with the community and public.

Now, these ‘liberals’ who are mostly

coffee table friend of many of the ‘dissenters’

feel that Sonia Gandhi and

Rahul Gandhi are responsible for this

ignore this vital fact that the power

games with in Congress are so powerful

that a leader like Arjun Singh who was

far superior to many including Pranab

Mukherjee, the highly eulogised man,

got isolated because he was considered

to be ‘eyeing’ for the prime minister’s

post. Even when he was given a relatively

lightweight Ministry of Human

Resource Development, it was he who

fought for the reservation issues in

higher education and ensured it was

implemented. It was Arjun Singh who

went to Ayodhya after the Babari

Demolition despite Prime minister

Narsimha Rao not enthused by his visit.

The brahmanical lobby within the

Congress has been upset because Rahul

Gandhi has been trying to implement

those changes. It has to be understood

that no single leader can make any

party victorious. BJP is not winning

elections just because there is a Modi

and his carefully crafted image but

because of ‘well oiled’ party machinery,

money, ED-CBI and their shameless

misuse as well as various other factors.

Congress also engaged in dirty tricks

during its hey days but Sonia Gandhi

and Rahul can’t be blamed for that.

To say that Gandhi family has

become the biggest threat to democracy

and its survival is a new low in the public

discourse. Tomorrow, you will say

Mayawati is the biggest threat to Dalit

rights or Akhilesh the biggest threat to

rise of farmers. If Congress party has

become a private limited company, as

Ram Guha says, then all those intellectuals

should join hands and form a new

party with Congress dissenters.

Obviously, BJP would love that. This is

not the time for such ridiculous arguments.

Chandra Shekhar remained lifelong

in politics and could become

prime minister for a short period. Atal

Bihari Vajpayee became prime minister

in mid 1990s while he was in politics

since 1960s. Most of the old veterans

became ministers and chief ministers

after one to two decades and even if

they have not become Prime minister or

chief minister, none ever questioned

their legitimacy. Can’t Gandhis be in

Politics ?

The way Ram Guha was saying

things it looked like he wanted Gandhis

to leave India to ‘protect democracy’ ?

What a joke ? How can you decide

about someone else. Why are the liberals

so bothered about a party they never

liked. The ‘ideological’ mind of Ram

Guha says that many ‘good people’ left

Congress and joined ‘BJP’. If they were

good looking then I don’t mind but if

they are truly secular, they won’t join it.

There is no doubt that Congress

remained a party of Brahmanical elite

which refused to change as per times

when Savarnas have ditched it. It still

feels that one day these caste Hindus

will return to it and ‘gaddi’ will be

reserved for them while still thinking

SC-ST-OBCs as foot soldiers of the

party which is not possible. The best

thing for Congress party would be to

keep changes as per regions. Stop

behaving as B Team of BJP bring new

faces and credible ones, give space to

marginalised and speak their issues.

Ram Guha said that Gandhi’s were

inconsistent and made ideological compromises.

Frankly Gandhi’s basic politics

have been above these but they

don’t want to be seen as anti Hindu.

Things have changed and poison is

more powerful today. Nobody could

ever dare to say Nehru as anti Hindu

despite his so strong secular credentials

but that was caste and being a ‘Pandit’

he was respected for his world view.

Indira Gandhi too remained powerful

but the Sangh narrative always questioned

her marriage etc. Rajiv Gandhi

actually liked by the RSS very much

and they supported many of his initiatives

but if Congress is feeling hollow it

is because the biggest strength of the

Gandhis have become the biggest weakness

of the party. The Gandhis worked

beyond narrow caste and communal

interest but today they do not have any

core constituency. Every leader has his

or her core constituency based on his or

her caste or other identity. Congress’s

Hindu identity has gone to BJP. BSP,

SP, RJD, DMK, Akalis, NCP, Shiv Sena

have their core constituencies and that is

why they are surviving. BJP is working

to snatch those core constituencies from

them. A non Yadav, chief of SP or RJD

or a non Savarna of the BJP would not

be able to attract or enthuse the core

constituencies in India.

The crisis of our democracy is different.

It is not Gandhis. It is that electoral

system which only helps the

‘dominants’. The day Dominants were

with the Congress, the system helped

the Congress and today all the dominant

forces are with BJP and it is helping

them. Secondly, India has changed.

People are aspiring for participation.

They need representation. Leaders have

to speak to people and good that Rahul

Gandhi is using social media which is

important. These are the only ways to

reach people apart from mass mobilisation

but the main point is that Congress

should become an umbrella organisation

for providing space to all the secular

social justice forces. Every

Congress worker and associate must

have a fierce commitment to democracy,

social justice and secularism. It

must respect collective spirit and federalism.

I can bet that BJP’s challenge

will only be met through collective federalism.

The attempt to ‘homogenise’

India for the purpose of helping one or

two corporations will fail ultimately.

Ram Guha has every right to critique

Gandhis but he can’t give them ‘ultimatum’.

India’s focus should be on fighting

for democratic polity and in collective

spirit. India aspires to become more

federal and that is why so many regional

parties are coming up. They will have

to show statesmanship and work

together. One man, one market, one

party show will fail. Expecting

Gandhi’s to do ‘miracle’

without

strengthening the collective spirit is

again looking for a ‘national’ figure to

counter Narendra Modi whose success

is not his own but a collective work of

so many forces, volunteers of RSS,

loyal media, loyal voters and now the

government machinery too but this is a

phase. This can only be countered by

collective federalism and inclusion of

the most marginalised and minorities in

the structure. So-called ‘national’ parties

will have to work along with other

regional parties on an equal basis and

give and take relationships. Ofcourse,

all forces must have a common minimum

programme. Fight is to protect the

idea of India as enshrined in our constitution

and Sonia or Rahul leaving the

space will not help the ‘secular’ forces

or democracy in India. Let them remain

where they are. Suggesting that the

Gandhis have become the biggest threat

to the survival of democracy is cleverly

changing the goal post from the ruling

party to the opposition which BJP

always wanted and Guha has only done

that. BJP and Modi have already made

media focus on Gandhis and Congress

and not on their failure to protect

democracy, minorities, SC STs and

farmers. Ram Guha has only added to

what Arnab Goswami and likes are

doing. Maybe Guha can tell us who is

his ‘ideal’ hero of the ‘seculars’ who he

think can lead the Congress party ?

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

is a social and human rights

activist. He blogs at

www.manukhsi.blogspot.com

twitter @freetohumanity

Email: vbrawat@gmail.com


10 01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

RJD leaders will DISCUSS Nitish's

return to Grand Alliance: Rabri Devi

Patna : Former Bihar Chief

Minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal

(RJD) leader Rabri Devi on Friday

congratulated the people of Bihar

on the beginning of 2021 and

wished that the year is fruitful for

both the state and the country.

On Friday, a large number of

leaders and workers reached Rabri

Devi's residence and wished her

happy New Year. While addressing

the media, the former CM referred

to the recent incident in Arunachal

Pradesh where six Janata Dal

United leaders joined the Bharatiya

Janata Party (BJP) and said the BJP

could try the same political trick in

Bihar. She opined in her own inimitable

style, "BJP does its work

internally, everybody comes to

know of it only when they have

completely done it."

Asked about Nitish returning to

the Opposition Grand Alliance,

Rabri said the party leaders and

MLAs would sit together and consider

it. Rabri again tried to corner

New York : When using

Facebook, Twitter or other social

media platforms to nudge people

towards safe and healthy behaviour, it

is critical to make sure the words

match the pictures, says a new study.

After looking at social media

posts, parents of young children were

better able to recall safety messages

such as how to put a baby safely to

sleep when the images in the posts

aligned with the messages in the text,

said the study published in the

Journal of Health Communication.

"Many times, scientists and safety

experts aren't involved in decisions

about social media for health agencies

and other organisations, and we

end up seeing images that have nothing

to do with the safety message or,

worse, images that contradict the

guidance," said lead study author Liz

Klein, Associate Professor at The

Ohio State University in the US.

Take the safe sleep example, for

instance. The researchers found posts

that advocated a bumper-free crib for

the baby but used an image of an

infant in a crib with bumpers. They

the ruling Nitish government

regarding the law and order situation

in the state. She said, "Today is

the first day of the New Year, for

this reason I do not want to speak,

but the law and order situation in

the state has taken a turn for the

worse. Incidents of murder, rape

and robbery are taking place

almost every day."

Rabri said at present, the BJP is

running the government and not

Nitish Kumar, adding, that it is the

BJP that took the decision on the

recent transfers of Indian

Administrative Service (IAS) and

Indian Police Service (IPS) officers

in the state.

The wife of Rashtriya Janata

Dal (RJD) President Lalu Prasad

said those criticising her son and

Leader of Opposition in the Bihar

Legislative Assembly, Tejashwi

Yadav, moving out of Patna must

focus on other important issues.

She said whenever Tejashwi leaves

Bihar, it is related to work.

saw posts about preventing head

injury with bike helmets illustrated

by pictures of kids without bike helmets.

"In this study, we were trying to

understand how much those mismatches

matter -- do people understand

the message even if the picture

isn't right? Does the picture really

matter?" Klein said.

Their answers came from research

using eye-tracking technology to

gauge the attention young parents

paid to various posts, and subsequent

tests to see what they recalled about

the safety messages. When the 150

parents in the study were shown a trio

of posts with matched imagery and

Farmer from Baghpat dies at

Ghazipur border protest site

New Delhi : Amid

freezing temperatures in

Delhi and adjoining areas,

a farmer from Baghpat

district of Uttar Pradesh

died near Ghazipur border

on Friday while protesting

against new agricultural

laws enacted by the central

government.

The farmer, Galtan

Singh (57) was a resident

of Bhagwanpur Nagal village

in Baghpat district of

Uttar Pradesh, said

Saurav, an associate of

Bhartiya Kisan Union

leader Rakesh Tikait, who

is leading the farmers

from Uttar Pradesh

demonstrating at the

Ghazipur Border.

Saurav told IANS:

"Galtan Singh was in good health and fit

and but he suddenly felt uneasy with

complaint of chest pains and was taken to

the hospital but he died on the way. The

body has been sent to his village."

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader

from Uttar Pradesh Sachin Chaudhary,

who has been protesting against the three

farm laws at Ghazipur border, said,

"Sacrifice of Galtan Singh will not go in

vain." Several farmers have died during

the protest to severe cold weather, he

added. Bharatiya Kisan Union

Pictures should match words in social media safety messages

text and three other posts with mismatched

visual and written messages,

they spent far longer on the matched

posts -- 5.3 seconds, compared to the

3.3 seconds their eyes lingered on the

mismatched posts. Further, the

matched messages appeared to make

a difference in understanding and

recall of safety messages. After

accounting for differences in health

literacy and social media use among

participants, the researchers found

that each second of viewing time on

matched posts was associated with a

2.8 per cent increase in a safety

knowledge score.

"As more health organisations and

(Lakhowal) General Secretary Harinder

Singh Lakhowal said, "The farmers have

been protesting at the bordering areas of

the national Capital since November 26,

2020 and the death toll of farmers has

reached to 43 since then."

The government should listen to those

who are ready to sacrifice their lives and

repeal the agricultural laws which are

anti-farmers, he added.

The farmers protesting under the banner

of Samyukta Kisan Morcha have been

demanding the withdrawal of the three

public health agencies use social

media to share health information

with the public, the findings of our

study underscore the need to ensure

that the imagery and text in social

media posts are aligned," said study

co-author Lara McKenzie from

Nationwide Children's Hospital in

Columbus, Ohio. Klein said she

understands that those managing

social media accounts may be drawn

to images that are the most attentiongrabbing.

But when it comes to

health and safety, this study suggests

that making sure the image and the

text are sending the same message is

more important.

laws and legal guarantee for minimum

support price (MSP) which is declared

every year by the Centre for 23 crops

while the government has assured them

that it will accept their two more demands

related to stubble burning and electricity

subsidies.

Farmers' protest is going on at Singhu

border, Tikri border and Ghazipur border

amid severe cold condition in Delhi and

NCR as the mercury plummeted to 1.1

degree Celsius on the New Year's day on

Friday.

715-C Parkfield Road

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www.theasianindependent.co.uk

MAY THE

YEAR 2021 BE

FRUITFUL

FOR ALL

The year 2020 has passed with colossal

amount of deaths on the record. The Covid

19 started in China in November 2019 and

spread all around the world. It has claimed a

lot of lives in 2020 and now we have entered

into the year 2021 and still it has not eased

it s grip. The death toll has been so extreme

that it compelled the medical Institutions, the

researchers and the scientists all around the

world to produce a vaccination that would

halt it s advancement. Luckily, we are now

entered 2021 in safeguard of various Corona

vaccinations in hand.

In Delhi Corona virus is on increase but it

hurts to say that on the borders of Delhi in

thousands, the kisaans are on the roads

protesting against the three laws the BJP

Government has introduced without any

serious consultation.

The Kisaans and some with their families

from all over India have also come here. All

have been and are still sleeping on the roads

under the open sky in minus temperature for

nearly forty days but the Government is still

holding back from arbitrating the matter.

They keep postponing the dates even knowing

that their well being is at stake through

exposure to the danger of corona and

extremely cold weather.

The Kisaans want three farm laws withdrawn

and the next meeting with the

Government is going to be on the 4th

January 2021.

The Kisaans are not happy with the

Government because their

spokesmen/women on the TV channels those

support the Government keep giving fabricated

views and stories against the protestors.

They keep insisting that these three laws

are the best for the farmers but the farmers

ASIA

M. Teji

refute this statement because they hold of

opinion is that the sole purpose of these three

laws is to eventually take away land from

their possession.

Millions in India are unhappy with the

Government because since its commencement

in the year 2014, it has caused division

within the citizens of India via caste based

ideas. The democratic rights are being

snatched away through amendments but this

attack on the Kisaans has exploded because

to benefit the corporations their livelihood

has been played with.

The public of India has started to understand

that there is a very close attachment

within the corporations and the Government

and is the reason why their massive loans are

being pardoned by the Government.

Under the BJP reign, the rapes and murders

of the women and girls have increased.

The bodies of the victims are being cremated

in the fields, in the middle of the night and in

presence of the police. The justice is not

being done by the courts but by the state

authorities through encounters. This is not

democracy, it is fascism.

India needs democracy to remain because

it gives fair justice and equal right to all the

citizens of India. In the manner the

Government has behaved with the Kisaans

has arisen a deep concern. The police has

mercilessly used lathi sticks, tear gas and

water cannons on the protestors. Not only in

Haryana but also in other states to stop them

joining the protest in Delhi,

The Government wants to reinstate

Manusmirity back into the system. Taking

into account in the manner the police has

behaved on the barricades it has become a

big worry for the millions of the Indians living

in India and abroad that when the issue of

Manusmirity will come on the scene then the

Army, the Navy and the Air Force which side

they will stand for.

Through Indian Constitution, India has

progressed to where it is now because it supports

fair justice and equality for all regardless

of caste, culture or creed. It has given

freedom for the women to progress.

Unfortunately, Manusmirity is going to be

the downfall of India because it categorises

humanity and contains cruel acts. It spreads

hatred. Under it s ruling the women will lose

the freedom and the status they are enjoying

today.

A new Parliament Building is going to be

built. The Dharti Poojan has already been

done under Hindu rights. Dr. Bhim Rao

Ambedkar s statue which is present in the

Parliament, will it be moved to the new

building or will a new one be erected there?

In the new building, will the MPs be

sworn under the oath of Indian Constitution

or the Manusmirity? Only the BJP wants to

reinstate Manusmirty but the majority of the

Indians want the Indian Constitution to

remain because it is the energy to India s

success. The solidarity that has been shown

in support of the Kisaans deserves praise and

this amalgamation is the start of new India.

The barriers of division have been broken

and all India has now united together and

will remain united in the future.

They have come to learn that through

Unity they can overcome any obstacle.

WE MUST KEEP THIS IN MIND THAT

UNITED WE STAND AND DIVIDED WE

FALL.

JAI BHARAT, JAI JAWAN, JAI

KISAAN, JAI MUZDHOOR, JAI BHEEM.

01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021

Islamabad : Pakistan

Interior Minister Sheikh

Rashid Ahmed said former

premier Nawaz

Sharif’s passport would

be cancelled on February

16, 2021, the media

reported on Thursday.

"Let me give you a piece

of news. We will cancel

Nawaz Sharif’s passport

on Februrary 16," Dawn

news quoted Ahmed as

saying while addressing

reporters on Wednesday.

He did not however

provide any further

details. A Ministry official

told Dawn that February 16

was in fact the expiry date of

Sharif’s diplomatic passport. He

said a red passport bearing number

BV5128363 with five-year

validity had been issued to the

Pakistan Muslim Leagure-

Nawaz (PML-N) supremo on

February 18, 2016.

The official further told Dawn

news that this was the only valid

travel document held by Sharif

and its expiry would render him

stateless.

Speaking to Dawn in London

about the development, Hussain

Nawaz, son of the former Prime

Minister, said: "This is not at all

shocking. We had no hope of any

11

NAWAZ SHARIF’S

passport to be cancelled

on Feb 16 : Minister

goodwill from them (the government)."

Nawaz Sharif has been

living in London since

November 2019 after he was

allowed to leave the country for

medical treatment.

Earlier this month, the PML-

N supremo was declared a proclaimed

offender in two graft

cases by the Islamabad High

Court after he failed to appear in

person.

Adviser to the Prime Minister

on Accountability and Interior

Mirza Shahzad Akbar had said

the UK authorities had been

asked to deport the convicted

former Prime Minister from their

country.

Sivan gets ONE YEAR

extension as Space Secretary

Chennai : The Centre on Wednesday extended the services of

Space Secretary and Space

Commission Chairman K.

Sivan by one year. Sivan is

also Chairman of Indian

Space Research

Organisation (ISRO).

The Appointments

Committee of the Cabinet

has approved the extension

of tenure of Sivan for a period

of one year beyond

January 14, 2021, i.e. upto

January 14, 2022 or until further orders, whichever is earlier.

On kanshi TV

channel 772.

SATURDAY at

6 :00 pm

SUNDAY at

6 :00 pm

Ambedkarites News and Views

by

BUDDHIST INTERNATIONAL MEDIA

Mob : 07411 251 804, 07847 307 059


12 01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Farmers to hold tractor rally

on Jan 6 if talks FAIL

New Delhi : Farmers' organisations

under the Samyukta Kisan Morcha,

after a meeting at Singhu border, on

Friday said that if the talks with the

government on January 4 fail then

they will intensify the protest and hold

a tractor rally on January 6.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal)

General Secretary Harinder Singh

Lakhowal told IANS, "The topics of

the next round of talks with the government

were discussed in the meeting.

The government has agreed to our

two demands, but two important

demands are yet to be discussed on

January 4.

If these two demands are not negotiated

during the talks with the government,

then a tractor rally will be taken

out on January 6."

Friday marked the 37th day of the

farmers' protest against the Farmers

Produce Trade and Commerce

(Production and Facilitation) Act,

2020; Farmers (Empowerment and

Protection) Agreement on Price

Assurance and Farm Services Act,

2020; and The Essential Commodities

(Amendment) Act 2020. The farmers

are demanding withdrawal of all the

three laws, while the government has

agreed to amend the laws as per the

suggestions of the farmers. The farmers

will be taking up the issue during

the 6th round of talks with the government.

The leaders of the farmers' organisations

also held talks on four issues

with the government on Wednesday,

of which the government has accepted

two demands while the other two,

withdrawal of the three laws and legal

guarantee for minimum support price

(MSP), are still to be addressed.

Education trends to

look out for in 2021

Cuttack

New Delhi : According to

UNESCO, in 2020, one billion

students, two-thirds of the global

student population, faced

either school closures or uncertainty.

The most vulnerable

populations, particularly girls,

remained especially at risk.

2020 brought remote, virtual

learning to the horizon at a pace

and scale never before. Is this to

be carried forward into 2021?

As per Antonius

Raghubansie, Director of

Learning Services, British

Council India. the year 2020

saw people turning to online

resources to pursue their love

for reading in the ongoing challenges

posed by the pandemic,

this was fuelled by the need for

safety and reduced access to

physical libraries and stores.

"The British Council online

library content witnessed a 67

per cent increase in subscription

over the last year (as of

November '20). We are also

seeing users above the age of

18 show increased preference

for audiobooks - evident

through a 192 per cent increase

in checkouts over 2019 for our

online library members. E-

resources available through

online library memberships

gained popularity, especially

among young readers, owing to

the convenience of accessing

them safely from personal

devices at home. We foresee

this trend continuing in 2021,

as readers including families,

professionals and young kids,

would continue to prefer online

resources for infotainment. In

view of the current situation,

we anticipate both E-books and

audiobooks to continue gaining

favor among learners in a digital-first

world," Raghubansie

told IANSlife.

"One thing that will remain

in 2021 is blended pedagogy.

We have seen the flexibility

that the online mode has provided

and there is no denying

of its advantages. Entire industries

have shifted to the virtual

platform and the education sector

will also have to continue in

a blended format. Institutes

must develop their digital infrastructures

to match up in this

post digital era. Meetings, seminars

and such activities will

remain online. However, in

terms some experientials, campuses

will have to be opened up

for these activities, but a blended

pedagogy is here to stay.

This will also have a long-term

impact, especially on valuable

programs. The institutions that

adopt the new method, new

mode and new model will

flourish while the others may

perish. The quality of educational

institutions will get

enhanced and the number of

students enrolled will only

increase in the digital mode,"

said Prof. Mahadeo Jaiswal,

Director of IIM Sambalpur.

"COVID-19 has taught our

teachers and the education sector

to use technology to seamlessly

impart education to all

students. This trend will continue

in the coming year and more

smart campuses and digital

libraries will be implemented

to cater to the new-age learner.

This digitization of the education

sector will have a longterm

impact, democratizing

education globally. We will

also continue to see a hybrid

learning model, which will

pave the way for the future of

education with access to both

classroom teaching and online

education, catering to each student's

unique needs while giving

them the best of both

worlds," said Rahul V Karad,

the Visionary Educationist, and

the Managing Trustee &

Executive President, MAEER's

MIT Group of Institutions &

Executive President, MIT

World Peace University (MIT-

WPU), Pune.

FAKE GST invoicing

racket busted in Odisha

: The Odisha

Goods and Services Tax (GST)

Enforcement Wing has cracked

a fake invoicing racket which

created fake GST invoices

worth Rs 510.28 crore, said an

official on Friday.

The mastermind Sandeep

Mohanty was arrested by the

sleuths on Thursday night

while the other accused

involved are still absconding.

Three goods vehicles carrying

the goods on the strength of

fake invoices issued by the

mastermind Sandeep Mohanty

have also been seized at

Jeypore in Koraput district.

Mohanty, the kingpin in the

tax fraud, in collusion with others,

has availed bogus Input

Tax Credit (ITC) worth Rs

27.21 crore raising fake purchase

invoices worth Rs 166

crore in the name of 22 fake

business entities created and

operated by him,

Commissioner (Commercial

Tax and GST) Sushil Kumar

Lohani said. The mastermind is

also found to have passed

bogus ITC worth Rs 61.79

crore on the strength of fake

invoices worth Rs 344 crore to

the recipients of both inside and

outside Odisha against the sale

of goods purchased fictitiously

and has defrauded the state

exchequer, said Lohani.

The GST fake invoices worth

Rs 510 crores have been

arranged/issued within a short

span of time, he added. Lohani

said the damage caused to the

state revenue would have been

manifold had the fraud not been

detected at the early stage by the

Enforcement Wing. The State

GST Enforcement Wing has so

far arrested 17 fraudsters for

their involvement in issuance of

fake invoices to the tune of Rs

5,210 crores (purchase and

sales) and availing and passing

of bogus ITC worth of Rs 970

crores. Registration of 19,539

dealers have been cancelled

during 2019-20 and 2020-21 so

far by the state GST officers on

the ground of their non-existence

after field enquiry or due

to non-filing of returns.

NEW YEAR gift for Delhi Police

personnel as insurance cover raised

New Delhi : Delhi Police personnel got a New Year gift on the

first day of 2021 as

insurance cover for

natural death, accidental

death and suicidal

death. Delhi

P o l i c e

Commissioner S.N.

Shrivastava made the

announcement on

Friday while extending

the New Year

greetings to the staff and their family members on Friday. He

said that the Delhi Police negotiated a better insurance claim

structure with Axis Bank, therefore, insurance cover for natural

deaths has been raised from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 28 lakh and from Rs

30 lakh to Rs 78 lakh for accidental death. Apart from this, the

family of the cop will be compensated with Rs 10 lakh if he commits

suicide. Amid pandemic outbreak, as many as 7,612 Delhi

Police personnel got infected by Covid, however, 7,424 recovered

but as many as 32 succumbed to the virus.

Apart from this, the Delhi Police lost 231 of its personnel due

to natural deaths, 44 due to accidental deaths and 14 committed

suicide in the previous year.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

HEALTH

01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021

13

New research explains severe

virus ATTACKS on lungs

London : A team of Swedish

researchers has revealed how different

kinds of immune cells, called

macrophages, develop in the lungs,

and which of them may be behind

severe lung diseases, a discovery that

may contribute to future treatments

for Covid-19, among other diseases.

To date, research on the development

of human lung macrophages has

been limited.

In a new study published in

Immunity, researchers at Karolinska

Institutet in Sweden used a model to

study the development of lung

macrophages directly in a living

lung.

This has been combined with a

method to study gene activity in individual

cells, RNA sequencing, and

thereby discovered how blood monocytes

become human lung

macrophages.

"In our study, we show that classical

monocytes migrate into airways

and lung tissue and are converted

into macrophages that protect the

health and function of the lungs,"

said Tim Willinger, Associate Professor at

the Department of Medicine who led the

study.

New York : An estimated 3,71,504

babies will be born around the world on

New Year's Day, with about 60,000

babies expected to be born in India

alone, UN Children's Fund (Unicef)

said on Friday.

In total, an estimated 140 million (14

crore) children will be born in 2021.

Their average life expectancy is expected

to be 84 years.

While Fiji in the Pacific will welcome

2021's first baby, the US will welcome

its last.

Globally, over half of the births on

the first day of New Year are estimated

to take place in 10 countries: India

(59,995), China (35,615), Nigeria

(21,439), Pakistan (14,161), Indonesia

"We have also identified a special kind of

monocyte, HLA-DRhi, which is an intermediate

immune cell between a blood monocyte

(12,336), Ethiopia (12,006), the US

(10,312), Egypt (9,455), Bangladesh

(9,236) and the Democratic Republic of

the Congo (8,640), the Unicef said.

"The children born today enter a

world far different than even a year ago,

and a New Year brings a new opportunity

to reimagine it," Unicef Executive

Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement.

"Children born today will inherit

the world we begin to build for them -

today. Let us make 2021 the year we

start to build a fairer, safer, healthier

world for children."

In India, the babies born on Friday

will have a life expectancy of 80.9

years, Unicef said. An additional thousand

babies are surviving each day due

and an airway macrophage."

These HLA-DRhi monocytes

can leave the blood circulation and

migrate into the lung tissue.

Macrophages are immune cells

that, among other things, protect

the lungs from such attacks.

But under certain conditions,

lung macrophages can also contribute

to severe lung diseases,

such as chronic obstructive pulmonary

disease (COPD) and

Covid-19. The non-classical

monocytes, however, develop into

macrophages in the many blood

vessels of the lungs and do not

migrate into the lung tissue. In an

infection with the novel coronavirus,

SARS-COV-2, which causes

Covid-19, researchers believe

that protective, anti-inflammatory

macrophages are replaced by proinflammatory

lung macrophages

from blood monocytes.

"Given their important role in

rapid inflammatory responses, our

results indicate that future treatments

should focus on inflammatory

macrophages and monocytes to reduce

lung damage and mortality from severe

Covid-19," said Willinger.

No approval for Covaxin, expert panel

seeks more data from Bharat Biotech

New Delhi : The Subject Expert

Committee of the Central Drug Standard

Control Organisation on Friday has held that

the data provided by Bharat Biotech for its

coronavirus vaccine 'Covaxin' is not sufficient

for grant of emergency use approval

and has asked for more information, top

sources said. Earlier on Friday, the expert

committee, which is tasked with vetting

covid-19 vaccine proposals, recommended

emergency licensure for the Serum Institute

of India-manufactured 'Covishield'. It

become the first vaccine to secure recommendation

for emergency use in India.

The Pune-based Serum Institute has partnered

with Oxford-AstraZeneca for conducting

clinical trials and manufacturing

'Covishield' while Bharat Biotech has collaborated

with the Indian Council of Medical

Research (ICMR) for 'Covaxin'. The committee

had convened a meeting to take a call

on the emergency use authorisation sought

by the Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech and

America's Pfizer for their coronavirus vaccines

candidates.

Pfizer was the first one to apply for the

accelerated approval on December 4, followed

by the Serum Insstitute and Bharat

Biotech on December 6 and 7, respectively.

The meeting comes a day before dry run

of the vaccine is slated to commence in all

the states and Union Territories to equip the

administration in management of vaccine

supply, storage and logistics including cold

chain management. The Central government

plans to vaccinate nearly 30 crore people in

the first phase of drive. It will be offered to

one crore healthcare workers, along with 2

crore frontline and essential workers and 27

crore elderly, mostly above the age of 50

years with co-morbidities.

to the country's efforts as envisaged in

the India Newborn Action Plan 2014-

2020, the UN agency said.

"Anticipating and addressing the

potential impact of the pandemic is crucial

if we are to prevent a roll back of

gains made in saving the lives of children.

As we do so,we must also think

long term, to build back a better world

when the crisis finally recedes," said

Unicef India Country Representative,

Yasmin Ali Haque.

"The pandemic has shown us the

need for systems and policies to be in

place to protect people all the time, not

just in the event of a crisis."

This year will mark mark the 75th

anniversary of Unicef.

‘Over 10 mn children

to suffer from acute

malnutrition in 2021’

United Nations : More than

10 million children in the

Democratic Republic of the

Congo (DRC), northeast

Nigeria, the Central Sahel, South

Sudan and Yemen will suffer

from acute malnutrition in 2021,

the UN Children's Fund (Unicef)

said. All of these countries and

regions are experiencing "dire

humanitarian crises", while also

grappling with intensifying food

insecurity, the coronavirus pandemic

and, with the exception of

the Central Sahel, "a looming

famine", the Unicef said in a

statement on Wednesday.

"For countries reeling from

the consequences of conflicts,

disasters and climate change,

Covid-19 has turned a nutrition

crisis into an imminent catastrophe,"

Unicef Executive Director

Henrietta Fore said.

"Families already struggling

to feed their children and themselves

are now on the brink of

famine. We can't let them be the

forgotten victims of 2020," she

added. Severe acute malnutrition

is the most extreme and visible

form of under nutrition. Children

with severe acute malnutrition

have very low weight for their

height and severe muscle wasting.

It is a major cause of death

in children under five, and its

prevention and treatment are

critical to child survival and

development. Through 2020, in

spite of Covid-19 challenges,

Unicef and its partners continued

to deliver lifesaving assistance to

the most vulnerable children and

their families in the hardest to

reach areas through adjustments

on the existing programs to

maintain and increase access.

With the situation feared to

worsen in 2021, Unicef called on

humanitarian actors on the

ground in these countries as well

as the international community

to urgently expand access to and

support for nutrition, health and

water and sanitation services for

children and families. Unicef has

appealed for more than $1 billion

to support its lifesaving

nutrition programs for children

in countries affected by humanitarian

crises over 2021.

3.7L babies will be born worldwide on Jan 1, 60K in India: Unicef


14 01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021 HEALTH

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

New MUTATIONS in

malaria parasite found

boosting drug resistance

New York : New mutations

in the malaria parasite that

enhance resistance to a drug

used to prevent the disease in

pregnant women and children

are already common in countries

fighting the disease, says a new

study. Malaria is caused by parasites

(Plasmodium species)

which enter the blood when

infected mosquitoes feed.

"We need to understand how

these mutations work and monitor

them as part of malaria surveillance

programmes," said

study co-author Taane Clark

from the London School of

Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

(LSHTM). Malaria causes about

435,000 deaths each year, primarily

in young children in sub-

Saharan Africa.

Despite a long-term global

response, efforts to control the

disease are hampered by the rise

of drug-resistant strains of the

parasite species that cause

malaria.

Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine

(SP), for example, was once a

first-line anti-malaria treatment,

but is now primarily used to prevent

infection in pregnant

women and children.

Mutations in two genes in the

parasite Plasmodium falciparum

offer resistance to SP, but recently,

mutations related to resistance

were discovered in a third

gene, pfgch1.

To understand the extent and

spread of these new mutations,

the researchers analysed genome

sequences from 4,134 blood

samples collected from 29 countries

where malaria is endemic.

They discovered at least ten

different versions of pfgch1,

which occur in about one quarter

of the samples from Southeast

Asia and in one third of the samples

from Africa, where strains

carrying the mutations may be

on the rise, showed the study

published in the journal PLOS

Genetics.

The growth in the number of

malaria parasites with pfgch1

mutations is concerning, because

the mutations enhance resistance

to SP and may encourage the

evolution of new resistant

strains. As a result, their growth

may threaten efforts to use SP to

prevent malaria in vulnerable

groups.

With the identification of

these pfgch1 mutations through

the new study, however, scientists

can monitor their presence

in parasite populations, to

understand where SP can be

used effectively, and where

rates of drug-resistance are

already too high.

COVID : 12-week

vaccine gap defended

by UK medical chiefs

London : The UK's chief

medical officers have defended

the Covid vaccination plan, after

criticism from a doctors' union.

The UK will give both parts of

the Oxford and Pfizer vaccines

12 weeks apart, having initially

planned to leave 21 days

between the Pfizer jabs, the BBC

reported. The British Medical

Association said cancelling

patients booked in for their second

doses was "grossly unfair".

But the chief medical officers

said getting more people vaccinated

with the first jab "is much

more preferable".

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

was the first jab approved in the

UK, and 9,44,539 people have

had their first jab.

The first person to get the jab

on December 8, Margaret

Keenan, has already had her second

jab. Pfizer has said it has

tested the vaccine's efficacy only

when the two vaccines were

given up to 21 days apart.

But the chief medical officers

said the "great majority" of initial

protection came from the

first jab. "The second vaccine

dose is likely to be very important

for duration of protection,

and at an appropriate dose interval

may further increase vaccine

efficacy," they said.

"In the short term, the additional

increase of vaccine efficacy

from the second dose is likely

to be modest; the great majority

of the initial protection from

clinical disease is after the first

dose of vaccine."

The decision to delay the second

dose has, understandably,

caused concern. There is some

evidence regulators say - at least

for the Oxford vaccine - that it

will actually boost immunity.

But for those who are due to

get a second dose soon it will

undoubtedly be upsetting that

they now have to wait.

But the move is about practicalities.

The UK is in the middle

of a public health crisis and

despite the fact that millions of

doses are pre-ordered, there is

concern the supply of the vaccine

will not be as smooth as

everyone would ideally want.

There is a global demand for

these vaccines and there are

bound to be times when supply

does not meet demand.

So the logic of the move is

that by spreading this thin

resource the most widely, it will

have the greatest benefit - not

only to the vulnerable but to

everyone. Lives have been put

on hold and livelihoods lost.

This is the quickest way back

to some degree of normality.

Even if it does leave some of

the vaccinated susceptible to

infection, it should in theory at

least protect them from serious

illness. Given where we are now,

the argument is that that is a

price worth paying.

New Delhi : Given that India has set

the goal of vaccinating 30 crore people

with Covid-19 jabs by July, can the

country procure enough doses to fulfil

that goal?

To vaccinate 30 crore people, the

country will need 60 crore doses as the

two vaccines that are leading the race

to get the approval from the government

require two-doses per person for

protection.

These two vaccines that the government

is currently considering giving

the approval are "Covishield" and

"Covaxin" While the Pune-based

Serum Institute of India has partnered

with Oxford-AstraZeneca for conducting

clinical trials and manufacturing

"Covishield", Bharat Biotech has collaborated

with the Indian Council of

Medical Research (ICMR) for

"Covaxin".

Approval for Covishield is expected

soon as the Subject Expert Committee

of the Central Drug Standard Control

Organisation on Friday recommended

its emergency use.

However, it now appears that the

Serum Institute of India is planning to

supply the government with 30 crore

doses by July, enough for vaccinating

15 crore people, according to media

reports.

If it works out that way, the government

will be able to reach just half way

of fulfilling the phase-1 goals with

Covishield alone.

"For rolling out the vaccination

campaign, cold chain equipment such

as walk-in coolers, walk-in freezers,

Does India have the doses to fulfil

Phase-1 Covid vaccine goals?

refrigerators, deep freezers are already

procured and distributed to the states,"

Harshal R. Salve, Associate Professor

at Centre for Community Medicine, All

India Institute of Medical Sciences

(AIIMS), New Delhi, told IANS.

"Vaccine storage capacities at airports

and major railway staions are

being created.

"You may have approval for another

vaccine too in the meanwhile that can

be included in the mass the vaccination

drive," Salve added.

It now appears that the success of

India's vaccination drive may rely on

the efficacy of Covaxin in protecting

people against Covid-19.

This is specially in view of the fact

that India did not sign early procurement

deals for the other two vaccines

that have got approval in several countries

including the US -- the vaccines

developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and

Moderna.

As these two vaccines are now in

great demand, they appear unprepared

to supply India huge number of doses

quickly even if New Delhi fast-tracks

their approvals.

Pfizer has already sought the emergency

use authorisation for its Covid-

19 vaccine in India.

Now experts believe that to achieve

herd immunity against Covid-19, about

70 per cent of the country's population

will have to be vaccinated, meaning

about 90 crore people.

If other vaccines that are approved

in the future also require two doses per

person, this will mean that India will

need 180 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccines.

Union Health Minister Harsh

Vardhan earlier this month said that

about 30 vaccines against Covid-19 are

in different stages of development in

India.

How many of them get the required

approval may say a lot about how

quickly India achieves herd immunity

against Covid-19.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

New drug-delivery

system could treat

BRAIN disorders

New York : A team of researchers has

created a nanoparticle platform to facilitate

successful delivery of therapeutic agents to

the brain, which could open possibilities

for the treatment of numerous neurological

disorders.

Although researchers have in the past

decade identified biological pathways

leading to neurodegenerative diseases and

developed promising molecular agents to

target them, delivering therapeutics across

the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and into the

brain has been a challenge. The newly created

nanoparticle platform can facilitate

therapeutically effective delivery of encapsulated

agents in mice with a physically

breached or intact blood-brain barrier, said

the study published in the journal Science

Avances. In a mouse model of traumatic

brain injury (TBI), they observed that the

delivery system showed three times more

accumulation in brain than conventional

methods of delivery and was therapeutically

effective as well.

The researchers believe that the study

could open possibilities for the treatment of

numerous neurological disorders.

Previously developed approaches for

delivering therapeutics into the brain after

traumatic brain injury rely on the short

window of time after a physical injury to

the head, when the blood-brain barrier is

temporarily breached.

However, after the blood-brain barrier is

repaired within a few weeks, physicians

lack tools for effective drug delivery.

"It's very difficult to get both small and

large molecule therapeutic agents delivered

across the BBB," said corresponding

author Nitin Joshi from Brigham and

Women's Hospital in the US. "Our solution

was to encapsulate therapeutic agents into

biocompatible nanoparticles with precisely

engineered surface properties that would

enable their therapeutically effective transport

into the brain, independent of the state

of the BBB." The technology could enable

physicians to treat secondary injuries associated

with traumatic brain injury that can

lead to Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other

neurodegenerative diseases, which can

develop during ensuing months and years

once the blood-brain barrier has healed.

40 patients suffering from new

Covid strain admitted to LNJP

New Delhi ; In the last 24

hours, 494 new Covid cases

and 13 new deaths have been

reported in Delhi while 40 people

have been detected with

new corona strain. All the 40

persons have been admitted to

LNJP hospital.

Out of 40, most of the either

came from England or came in

contact with people who

returned from there.

Talking about the current situation

in the capital, Delhi's

Health Minister Satyendar Jain

said on Saturday that the positivity

rate in Delhi was 0.73 per

cent and is steadily declining as

only 585 new cases were

reported in Delhi on Friday.

"We hope that the number of

new cases in Delhi remain

below 500," he added.

The number of new Covid

cases has gone below 500 in the

national Capital after several

months. However, the Delhi

government has appealed to the

people to follow the precautionary

measures, wear mask

and maintain social

distance.

Jain said, "Despite

reducing the availability

of beds in the hospitals,

10,500 to

11,000 beds are still

vacant. As of now,

only 2,000 beds are

occupied. As far as

new strain is concerned,

40 cases have

been traced in Delhi

and patients have been

admitted to LNJP hospital."

The Delhi government has also

authorised four private hospitals

for the treatment of patients

with new Covid strain. Delhi's

Health Minister said that we

understand the seriousness of

the situation and are fully prepared

to tackle it.

He also said that medicines

and treatment for people of

Delhi is free of cost and Covid

vaccine will also be given free

of cost to them. A dry run was

conducted on Saturday at

Venkateswara Hospital, GTB

Hospital and Daryaganj dispensary.

Delhi government has prepared

to vaccinate around one

lakh people in a day. The health

workers will be given the vaccine

on priority while around

51 lakh people will be vaccinated

in the first phase. All vaccine

centers have been linked

with hospitals so that if there

are any side effects of the vaccine,

the patient can be immediately

treated.

01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021

15

AIRTELS SAYS

Jio's allegations 'baseless',

condemns tower damage

New Delhi : Telecom

major Bharti Airtel has

said that Reliance Jio's

allegations claiming sabotage

of the latter's tower

infrastructure by its rivals

are baseless and outrageous.

In a letter to the Anshu

Prakash, Secretary of

Department of

Telecommunications,

Airtel also condemned

the disruption of telecom networks and the instances of vandalism.

"We have always advocated firm government action to ensure

100 per cent continuity of networks. We would in fact go so far as

to say that the department must bring forward a policy to mandate

ICR in such situations of vandalism and network outages as a matter

of course so that customers are never inconvenienced," it said.

"The baseless allegation made by Jio that Airtel is behind the

farmer agitation to 'sabotage' their network and to force customers

to switch to Airtel is therefore simply outrageous," the letter

added. It also said that Jio's annexure to the complaint did not

demonstrate any evidence that Airtel has hand in the ongoing

issues faced by Jio. "The irony of the situation is that while the

operating teams were having several conversations over the last

few days on how to provide support to the Jio teams based on their

request, Jio was actually spending time drafting frivolous letters

and making scurrilous allegations," the letter said.

The response from Airtel comes after Reliance Jio Infocomm in

a letter dated December 28, 2020 said that there are "blatant

efforts" to sabotage its network in the garb of farmers' protest by

the channel partners of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.

In letters sent to DoT Secretary Prakash and P.D. Vaghela,

Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Jio

said that a grave situation has emerged in Punjab and Haryana

amid the ongoing farmers' protest.

"As a result of false and frivolous communication that Reliance

will be an undue beneficiary of the farm bills passed by

Parliament, Jio's telecommunications network is being targeted by

the protesters and the same is being disrupted and permanently

damaged," Reliance Jio said.

Russian ground troops to

participate in 9 int'l drills

Moscow : The Russian Defence Ministry announced that the

country's ground troops have planned to participate in nine military

exercises in 2021.

Russia plans to respectively host six bilateral drills with

Algeria, India, Pakistan, Laos, Vietnam and Sri Lanka, Xinhua

news agency quoted the Ministry as saying in a statement on

Friday.

On the territory of Russia, there will be two multilateral drills

involving members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and

the Collective Security Treaty Organization.

A Russian-Mongolian military exercise will be held in

Mongolia.

"All the manoeuvers will be aimed at peacekeeping and counterterrorism,"

the Ministry added.


16 01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Series of attacks on temples

in Andhra triggers outrage

"Repeat attacks on

Hindu temples in

Andhra Pradesh are

reminiscent of actions

of 16th century ruthless

St. Xavier in Goa who

destroyed temples and

carried out forced

conversions & Taliban's

destruction of giant

Buddha statues in

Bamiyan," Deodhar

tweeted.

Amaravati : A series of incidents

of vandalism of Hindu temples in

Andhra Pradesh has triggered public

outrage and demands from the opposition

parties for stringent action even as

Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan

Reddy promised that the desecrations

will not be tolerated. In the latest incidents

Lord Subrahmanya's idol in Sri

Vigneshwara temple in Rajahmundry

was found in a desecrated condition

while Sri Komalamma Paadaalu on

Paderu Ghat road in Visakhapatnam

agency area were found damaged on

Friday. Police has registered the cases

and initiated the investigations. The

vandalism is suspected to have taken

place on the intervening night of

December 31 and January 1. The latest

incidents came to light even as the

desecration of 400-year-old idol of

Lord Ram in Ramatheertham temple

of Vizianagaram district triggered tension.

The priests of Sita Lakshmana

Kodandarama on Tuesday found the

doors of the ancient temple broken.

The idol in the sanctum sanctorum

was beheaded and the severed portion

was recovered from the nearby pond

the next day.

Police have formed five teams to

probe the incident and nab the culprits.

These are not the only incidents. Last

week, Lord Krishna temple in Darsi

town was desecrated. Devotees lodged

a complaint after finding flesh inside

the temple and blood stains on the

walls on December 22. Police said it

was an act of mischief by a drunk

man, and not by any political party or

group. In September a 'Nandi' idol was

vandalised in a temple in Chittoor district.

The police suspect that the vandals

had broken open the idol after

rumours that gold had been poured

into the idol. A century old chariot

parked at ancient Antarvedi Lakshmi

Narasimha Temple premises in East

Godavari district was found burnt in

suspicious circumstances. Strongly

condemning the incidents, opposition

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have

blamed YSR Congress Party government

for its sheer negligence.

The BJP called for 'Chalo

Ramatheertham' programme on Friday

to protest against the repeated desecration

of temples. The incidents led to a

war of words between ruling and

opposition parties. YSR Congress

Party Rajya Sabha member Vijay Sai

Reddy said he suspected the role of

TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu

in the Ramatheertham incident. He

alleged that the TDP leaders resorted

to the act in a bid to divert the attention

of the people. Cabinet minister

Botcha Satyanarayana rubbished the

allegations that Hindu temples were

under threat during the YSRC regime

and slammed the BJP for making

baseless allegations against the government

for political gain. "Is not

Rama our God? Do BJP leaders even

know where the temple is?" he asked.

BJP secretary and state co-incharge

Sunil Deodhar warned that Jagan

Mohan Reddy government will have

to pay huge price for desecrations.

"Defacing Hindu deities continue in

Andhra Pradesh. Now it's Lord

Subramanya idol in Rajahmundry. But

the anger of Hindu devotees is falling

on deaf ears. Who's trying to undermine

sentiments of Hindus? The ignorant

state government will have to pay

a huge price for this," he said.

He stated that every attack on temples

in the state is testing Hindus'

patience. Jagan Mohan Reddy government

is failing in arresting culprits

while tacitly showing love for a particular

religion. After the beheading of

the idol in Vizianagaram district,

Deodhar had alleged that Jagan

Mohan Reddy government's inaction

shows its tacit support. He termed the

beheading of the sacred idol as 'horrific'.

"Authorities have not arrested anyone

responsible for attacking

Uttarandhra Ayodhya temple so far,"

he said The BJP leader compared the

incident with the Taliban's destruction

of giant Buddha statues in Bamiyan

and called on people to condemn the

desecration.

"Repeat attacks on Hindu temples

in Andhra Pradesh are reminiscent of

actions of 16th century ruthless St.

Xavier in Goa who destroyed temples

and carried out forced conversions &

Taliban's destruction of giant Buddha

statues in Bamiyan," Deodhar tweeted.

Chandrababu Naidu said that

nobody is safe under YSRCP rule.

"The spate of attacks on temples

itself had proven that even God isn't

safe in Andhra Pradesh," said the former

Chief Minister. He claimed that

over 120 attacks took place on temples

during the last 19 months and

over 23 idols were demolished

recently in six temples at Pithapuram.

Jana Sena led by actor-turned-politician

Pawan Kalyan demanded CBI

probe into the series of incidents of

attacks on temples, desecration of

idols and destruction of temple chariots.

Rebel MP of YSRCP K. Raghu

Ramakrishna Raju has written a letter

to Prime Minister Narendra Modi,

urging him to depute a central team

to investigate incidents of attacks on

temples and 'bring to book the culprits

including the functionaries of

the government in the state.' He

wrote that there have been over 100

attacks on Hindu temple in the state

and in recent days decades old chariots

were burnt down in three temples.

He alleged that members of Hindu

organisations protesting vandalism

were brutally arrested and assaulted

and not allowed to come on the roads

even in limited number under the

garb of corona.

The MP wrote that not a single person

has been arrested for this wanton

vandalisation of sacred idols and other

symbols such as decades old chariots

belonging to important temples and in

one of two incidents apprehended

were passed off as insane and warranting

no action. Chief Minister Jagan

Mohan Reddy on Thursday said perpetrators

of attacks on temples will not

be spared and directed police to take

stringent action against the vandals.

He termed the destruction of idols

atrocious and said god will certainly

punish those who keep messing with

temples and idols. He directed the

police to step up surveillance to prevent

attacks on temples.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021

17

From Babri Mosque to Ram Temple:

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

This 5th August (2020) the Prime

Minister of India did the ground breaking

ceremony (Bhumi Pujan) for Ram

Temple in Ayodhya. The Prime Minster

compared the 15th August; when India

got freedom to the 5th August, when

according to him Lord Ram was liberated.

Also he said that as all the people

rallied behind Mahatma Gandhi to get

India freedom; so now all people have

rallied together to liberate Lord Ram.

The RSS chief who was present on the

occasion quoted some shloka from

Manusmriti. It is wrong to say that

from last many centuries the struggle

for Ram Temple has been going on as

claimed by Narendra Modi. There is

some mention of the some disputes for

Ram Chabutara on the outskirts of the

mosque in late 19th Century, but to say

that Hindus have been struggling for

this temple is a pure concoction. The

issue came to forefront only from

1980s when BJP’s Advani took over

the issue from VHP, who had begun the

campaign that Lord Ram was born at

the spot where Babri mosque is located

and so we should build the grand Ram

Temple, precisely at that spot. The Ram

Temple campaign gained a heightened

response in the aftermath of implementation

of Mandal Commission, giving

26% reservations to OBCs.

The claim that there was Lord

Ram’s Temple at that spot has been on

tenuous grounds, Supreme Court in its

judgement did not uphold this view of

Lord Ram’s temple being there and

Babar having destroyed it. The SC did

not uphold the view that Lord Ram was

born at precisely that spot. There are

claims by some archaeologists that the

remains of some pillars and other artefacts

prove that temple was there, but it

is disputed by other archaeologists. On

the other hand while levelling the land

for the Ram Temple, few months ago,

remains of Buddhist structure was

found there. As such the seeds of the

dispute was sown by British; in pursuance

of their ‘divide and rule policy’.

Mrs. A F Beevridge while commenting

on Babri mosque in Ayodhya put a foot

note saying that there might have been

a temple on which the Mosque was

made. (Anatomy of Confrontation:

Edited by S. Gopal, Penguin). In some

versions of Ramayana (there are nearly

300 version of Lord Ram Story: A. K.

Ramanujam), Dashrath was the king of

Varanasi and not of Ayodhya. Similarly

Valmiki Ramayana also does not mention

the place of birth of Lord.

Goswami Tulsidas, who wrote the most

popular Ramcharitmanas, was living

around the time when the Temple of

Lord is supposed to have been

destroyed. He also does not mention

any such incident in his writings. The

mythological issues cannot be compared

to history. A.K. Ramanujam’s

book gives brilliantly the diverse narrative

of Lord Ram story, which is prevalent

not only in India but also in various

parts of South East Asia.

In recent history, the first incident

which occurred was putting up of Lord

Ram idols in the Mosque in 1949 in a

surreptitious manner. This was done in

the middle of the night. Jawaharlal

Nehru, the then Prime minister asked

the UP Chief Govind Vallabh Pant to

get the idols removed but no action was

taken by UP’s Chief. No action was

taken by the District Collector,

K.K.Nayyar, who after retirement

joined the previous avatar of BJP, the

Bharatiya Jansangh.

The mosque was locked and

remained so till mid 1980s. Under the

pressure of Hindu nationalists the gates

of the disputed structure were open and

Shilanyas was performed when Rajiv

Gandhi was PM. This shilanyas was

not at the site where it has been done

now. This criminal act of Ram Lalla

idols being kept inside is recorded by

the SC judgement. Later on 6th

December through communal mobilization

three lakh Kar Sevaks assembled

and destroyed the Archaeological

monument in broad day light. The UP

Chief Minster had given an affidavit to

protect the mosque, but he backed out

and later proudly proclaimed that he is

gald about what he did. Liberian

Commission, constituted by the

Government, report mentions the BJP

leaders as the culprits of this crime.

Court cases are under

progress on this issue

and cases against Lal

Krishna Advani,

Murli Manohar Joshi

and Uma Bharati are

pending in the Courts.

Ram Temple movement,

the rath yatras

led by Advani were

the big polarizing factors

in Indian politics.

It increased the communalisation

in society.

It also presented

Muslims as temple

destroyers and

widened the Gulf

between the two main

religious communities

in India.

The Muslims Kings and Hindu

kings both had destroyed the temples

for wealth and political rivalries. Just

couple of examples, Maratha armies

destroyed a temple in Shrirangpatnam,

which was repaired by Tipu.

Aurangzeb got Vishwanath temple

destroyed in Kashi, same Aurangzeb

gave donation to many Hindu temples,

and also destroyed one mosque in

Golkonda. But here destruction of temples

got associated only with Muslim

kings, reflecting it on the Muslims of

today and atmosphere of Hate against

Muslims was intensified.

This movement has been the major

polarizing factor in contemporary

India. Now the claims of Mr. Narendra

Modi that the movement is centuries

old is not true and nobody is able to

challenge his assertions as lot of emotive

element has been created in the

whole issue. The ownership of land has

been with Sunni Waqf Board. The

judgement of 2010, Allahabad high

Court was based on faith and the land

was equally divided between three parties,

two third going to Hindu side and

one third to Sunni Waqf Board. The

basis of judgment was the ‘faith of the

people’ not the legal

grounding of the

case. Same thing

was upheld by

Supreme Court and

despite recognising

1949 smuggling of

Ram Lalla Temple

and Demolition of

mosque a crime; it

allotted the whole

disputed land to

Hindu side and

arranging for alternate

site for the

mosque. It was an

irony of history that

those who committed

the crime were

beneficiaries of the

crime and achieved

their target through a crime and other

mayhem created by them.

The majority of Muslim community

accepted the Supreme Court verdict

with honour without any protest. They

have been allotted five acres of land as

compensation. While a Prime Minister

who took oath by the Indian

Constitution, went to inaugurate the

temple building, it remains to be seen if

he will go and inaugurate the building

of Mosque in case Muslims decide to

build one. His associate the Cheif

Minster of UP, who was accompanying

PM while temple ground breaking ceremony

was done, did declare that he

will not be part of Mosque building

ceremony. While today the Prime

Minster is doing the ground breaking

ceremony of the temple one recalls the

similar incident in the aftermath of

India getting freedom. There was a

clamour that the state government

Ram Puniyani

should renovating Somnath temple,

which was destroyed by Mahmud

Gazani. Mahatma Gandhi said that

building the religious places is not the

work of the state. So a private trust

built it. They invited Dr. Rajendra

Prasad, the President of India, to inaugurate

the temple. Jawaharlal Nehru,

the Prime minster advised that the

President should not do it in his official

capacity, as the state is neutral in matters

of religion. Same Nehru went on to

lay the foundations of educational institutes,

public sector, scientific establishments

and what have you, to bring

India on par with the Modern times. He

also went on to label these, as ‘Temples

of Modern India’.

Times have changed. Now temple

building has become the agenda of the

state and the education and health facilities

have been passed on to the

Corporate. While the Constitution says

the state should not take up issues related

to religion, the Prime minster goes

to inaugurate the temple in full religious

regalia. We need to bring back

the values of Indian Constitution and

welfare of the people on the centre

stage of the society and leave the ‘matters

of faith’ to the communities. The

status quo in matters of places of worship

should be maintained and plans to

make more social facilities be brought

on the forefront of social agenda. The

whole episode has tainted the secular

nature of state to no end. It has put a

deep fright in the heart of minorities.

Can the secular character of Indian

state survive is the question. Can state

focus more on facilities for the poor

and marginalized and delving in past as

a cover of for revivalism be shunned.

The history of Buddhist Vihars being

destroyed by followers of Brahmanism

also needs to be remembered, but past

should be a matter for us for learning

that wrong paths have to be shunned

and the issues of people be brought to

forefront so that all of us can live with

dignity and honor.

PROTEST & CAR RALLY, In Support of Farmers in India, Troy, Michigan, USA

On a cold Michigan afternoon with

freezing temperatures of 30 deg F, over

500 members of Indian American diaspora

held peaceful protest and a Car Rally in

the Troy city, Michigan on Sunday

December 20, 2020 between 1 – 4 PM

local time in solidarity with the farmers in

India. The rally was arranged by representatives

of diverse ethnic groups of

Indian Americans, with many ethnicities

and religious backgrounds, including

Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims,

and Sikhs. The protestors who spoke at

the rally expressed their transparent and

unbiased views and awareness about 3

farming bills and how these bills passed

as laws by the India Parliament impact the

livelihood of farmers, including their

human rights and personal freedom.

The protestors were professionals from

various backgrounds like attorneys, businessmen/woman,

IT professionals, automotive

engineers, university students and

faculty, physicians, corporate executives

and next generation of the Indian

Americans.

Many speakers addressed the protest

rally. Some of the speakers who have

their friends and family members participating

in the farmers protests in India

talked about the adverse impacts of the

three new Agricultural Bills adapted by

the Indian Parliament under the BJP

Prime Minister Modi’s unconstitutional

political maneuvering. The agricultural

bills are in the individual state jurisdiction

and not the parliament. The protestors

used different languages, display of banners,

and chanting of slogans to show

their solidarity with the farmers in India.

Masood Rab, President of CAPI

(Coalition of Americans for Pluralism in

India) reminded the gathering that Indian

Americans of all ethnicities and religions

stand committed to help the farmers in

India until the draconian bills against

them are retracted by the Modi

Government. Mahesh Wasnik, a member

from NRI Ambedkarite group mentioned

about the conditions of farmers in

Maharashtra, with over 15,000 of them

having committed suicides since last year.

Prabhakaran and Thiru a member from

Periyar NRI group mentioned about the

conditions of farmers in in south India.

Other community leader’s speakers

reminded the gathering that the fundamental

pillar to any democracy is the right

to assemble peacefully to express their

views and appeal for justice. This right of

expression and basic human rights are

denied by the current Modi Government

to the farmers and the citizens who do not

agree with government policies.

Amrinder Singh and Harry from

GENCO Alumni Association of Michigan

gave vote of thanks to the protester families

for their participation in the successful and

peaceful rally and braving the cold temperatures.

The event concluded with a Car

Rally with US, Indian, and Indian Farmer

flags displayed. Troy Police stated that their

count of the cars was more than 300.

Contacts: Mahesh Wasnik, 248-705-

0486 , Masood Rab, 313-207-6000


18 01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has

been continuously attacking the opposition

regarding the ongoing farmers’

movement at the borders of the capital.

He has constantly made accusations that

the opposition is misleading the farmers

against the three agri-laws to gain its lost

political ground. Especially by showing

them fear of losing their lands due to the

new laws. Modi’s attack is equally on

the farmers as well. From the beginning,

he has been pretending that the farmers

are naïve and not able to recognize their

good and bad. They are in the hoax of

the opposition, while the biggest wellwisher

of the country, including farmers,

is present in front of them in the incarnation

of Modi. He has revealed this

‘ultimate truth’ with more emphasis in

the institutions/meetings of big corporate

houses/industrialists. That is, farmers

do not have to fear corporate. He

himself and corporate are jointly committed

to take care of their welfare. This

stance shows that Modi considers corporate

houses/corporate capitalism to be

the natural welfare-doers of the country

including farmers. So, be it labour laws

or agricultural laws, there is no problem

in them being corporate-friendly, rather

they will have to be corporate-friendly.

Workers and peasants have to leave all

worries and just prepare to be rich!

Modi is aware that corporate-friendly

laws have remained prominent in the

country for the last three decades of

neo-liberalism. Modi’s opponents do

not hold much weight in the argument

that Modi is benefiting some of his

cronies through various laws in various

sectors. Crony capitalism has been

going on in India since 1991 when New

Economic Policies (NEP) were

imposed. All political parties have been

more or less encouraging to crony capitalism.

All players in the main stream

politics have their own ‘Ambanis’ and

Adanis. Modi’s distinct quality from

other opposition parties/leaders is that

he has made himself integral to corporate

houses/corporate capitalism. This

has become his natural state, which he

attained as Chief Minister of Gujarat

three times in a row. No other Indian

leader could reach the stage of Modi,

despite being an active/passive advocate

of corporation capitalism.

There is a need to understand Modi’s

intimate relations with the masters of

big corporate houses. As a sovereign

nation, the strength of any leader in

India would be based on the

Constitution and parliamentary democracy.

There could be no substitute of

true loyalty to these for a leader. But if a

leader gains his/her strength/power

openly and directly from the wealth and

facilities provided by corporate houses,

he/she will naturally be a loving partner

of the corporate. The Constitution,

Parliament, democracy will be the

things only to be used for such a leader.

The chief minister of a state could not

Is the FARMERS scared

or the prime minister?

become the prime minister of the country

by downing a senior national level

leader like Advani, if he was not a natural

corporate-savvy. It is not that if

Advani were prime minister, the path

of corporate capitalism would have

blocked. But no capitalist could dare

to offer him his personal airplane or

put arms around his neck. The procapitalism

Vajpayee was also confident

of his strength as a leader first. No capitalist

could touch even the shadow of

Manmohan Singh, who paved the way

for corporate capitalism in India

through NEP. Only a leader whose

source of strength comes from corporate

houses, can do galbahiyan with the capitalists.

Prem Singh

In fact, capitalism

has had a crony

character in colonized

countries

from the very

beginning. Previously, it was the crony

of colonial powers, now the crony of the

ruling classes of independent countries.

These days crony character of corporate

capitalism also can be seen in different

forms at the world level. Leaders like

Modi and Trump are the hallmark of

crony capitalism in their own ways.

Modi says opposition leaders are

making farmers scare of losing their

land in the hands of corporate.

But isn’t Modi himself scared?

Let’s consider it a little bit. It is

true that Modi has made crony

capitalism ‘sacrosanct’ for his

blind supporters by giving it a coat of

communalism and fake patriotism. He

has also made his role of ‘Pradhan

Sewak of Corporate’ synonymous with

‘Pradhan Sewak of Country’. He is aiming

to do this ‘Sewa’ until last breath.

For this, he has bought a special airplane

for himself from the US by spending

huge amount of money from the

national treasury, and is constructing a

new Parliament building under new

Central Vista, again with a huge expenditure

of public money. Corona infection

should not interfere in his ‘Sewa

Marg’ (path of service), he has not

shaved for the past several months.

Be it a decision or a law related to

any sector or subject, he engages himself

solely in corporate interests without

taking care of decorum or dignity of the

post. In this way, it seems that both of

them – he and corporate – live for each

other. Modi is confident that no matter

how low he falls in the game of power;

the corporate will keep raising him

high. He is sure that the corporate

believes that a ‘Sewak’ (servant) like

him cannot be any other leader from

inside or outside. He not only passed the

corporate-friendly labour and agricultural

laws in the difficult period of the

pandemic by violating democratic

norms and decencies, he is determined

to crush all resistance against them and

implement the laws as it is. It is possible

that such a wonder man Modi does not

see any reason for fear for himself!

But politics is called a game of possibilities.

No party or leader for corporate

would be so dear that it would be

ready to bear loss after him/her. The

corporate is spending huge amounts of

money on elections, channels, grand

party offices and programs for the

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as the

Prime Minister and the government are

giving it opportunities to earn huge

profits constantly. A corporate who flies

Modi in his plane can make him walk

even if he is suspicious of his profits.

The BJP is not limited to Modi and his

‘Navratnas’ (nine jewels). The day the

corporate feels that Modi is not able to

play his role as strongly as before, it can

bet on a leader from within the BJP.

After all, even after Modi, the corporate

would need a ‘Pradhan Sewak’ (chief

servant). Corporate can fix such leader

in advance. Meanwhile, corporate must

have read and understood the character

of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

(RSS). The RSS, which has gone a long

organizational journey due to the donations

and dedication of small traders,

has now licked big capital. It would

rarely dare to go against the corporate

now. It is not unlikely that a Leader of

opposition might ascend to the corporate

eye tomorrow.

This is to say that even though Modi

considers himself to be integral to the

corporate, it is not a compulsion for the

corporate to stick to Modi. Perhaps

Modi realizes this reality of corporate in

one corner of the mind. This feeling

must have instilled fear in him. That is

why he is leaving no stone unturned to

uphold present agri-laws after the

labour laws. In such a situation, it is

unlikely that the 7th round of talks

between the government and farmer

organizations on December 29, 2020

will lead to any concrete result in favour

of agriculture and farmers.

In fact, peasant organizations must

take a written resolution from the opposition

parties advocating for their movement

that in the states they are in power,

or would come in power in future, and

when they come to power at the Center,

will not implement the corporate-friendly

labour and agri-laws. They should

also seek written resolution from the

opposition parties that they will abandon

the policies of privatization/corporatization

in the country. This will create

a right direction for the farmers movement

that has been firmly stood for

more than a month despite the pandemic

and severe cold.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021

19

thousands DALIT Christians took out a Rally,

Demanding Dalit bishops and archbishops in

TAMIL NADU AND PUDUCHERRY

More than a thousand

Dalit Christians

took out a Rally in

Pondicherry, the

headquarter of the

Pondicherry-

Cuddalore archdiocese,

India. The rally

which was organized

by the Dalit Christian

Liberation

Movement(DCLM)

started at 10.30 a.m

from the Kamban

Kalaiarangam, and

went up to the

Archbishop’s House.

At the start of the

Rally Dalit Christian

leaders spoke on the

issue of caste discrimination

in the

Catholic Church and

the present demands.

The rally is the culmination of the

ongoing struggle by Dalit Christians

during the past few months in different

places of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry

states. The Rally ended near the

Archbishop’s House and a delegation of

DCLM leaders led by its president professor

Mary John met the archbishop

Antony Anandarayar and submitted a

memorandum containing the demands.

In the memorandum they reiterated the

demand for the appointment of a Dalit

Archbishop in the existing vacancy in

the Pondicherry-Cuddalore archdiocese

and thereby end the century long discrimination

against Dalit Catholics in

this regard. So far only non-Dalit archbishops

have been appointed even

though Dalits comprise about 75% of

Catholics in the archdiocese.

In the past the people were continuously

disappointed and they feel that

they are taken for granted. So they have

come out openly and vigorously to

show their strong resentment and assert

their just demand. They have decided to

sustain the struggle till their demand to

appoint Dalit archbishop in

Pondicherry-Cuddalore diocese and to

appoint Dalit bishops in the five existing

vacancies in Catholic dioceses in

Tamil Nadu is met. The other main

demand is to give equitable opportunity

to Dalit Christians in education and

employment in the Catholic institutions,

taking into account that they comprise

about 75% of Catholics in the archdiocese.

They decide to take up widespread

struggle in various dioceses if the Dalit

policies of the Tamil Nadu Bishop’s

Council(TNBC) & of the Catholic

Bishop’s Conference of India(CBCI)

are not implemented to fulfill their

demands. We recall that about 40 Dalit

priests of the archdiocese staged a sit-in

demonstration for a week from 29

November to 4 December 2020, and on

20 December Dalit Christians staged

protests in front of about 45 Parish

Churches and submitted memorandum

to the Parish priests with these demands

and asked them to forwarded to the

Apostolic Nuncio in India.

The people are seriously and vociferously

demanding the appointment of

equitable number of Dalit bishops and

archbishops and also appointment of

Dalit priests in the top administrative

positions in all the dioceses, since only

this can and will bring an end to or eradicate

the untouchability practices, the

caste domination and discrimination

against Dalits that are rampant at all levels

in the Catholic Church.

in the hour-long rally, while the people

shouted slogans on their demands,

they also expressed serious concern that

these truth are not told to the Holy See

by the Catholic higher hierarchy in

India and they only cover up the struggle

by the victim Dalit Christians. But

Dalit Christians have been raising these

and DCLM has been representing these

to the Holy See and the Vatican during

the past three decades. The people in the

rally expressed their disappointment

and anguish at the lack of action and

intervention by the Vatican dicasteries

concerned and the Holy See to end the

blatant discrimination, especially in

appointing bishops/archbishops and

other prelates in the hierarchy.

After receiving the memorandum

from the DCLM delegation, Archbishop

Anthony Anandarayar openly accepted

that justice must be done this time by

appointing a Dalit archbishop in the

archdiocese and told that he has strongly

recommended this to the Apostolic

Nuncio in India and the dicastery of

Congregation for the Evangelization of

Peoples(Propaganda Fide) in the

Vatican.

It has to be pointed out that earlier on

6 October 2020 the DCLM and other

Dalit Christian leaders had a virtual

meeting with archbishop Antony

Pappusamy of Madurai, who is also the

President of the TNBC, on this issue of

appointing Dalit bishops and archbishops

in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry

States. He also accepted to do his best

on his part and assured to write to the

Apostolic Nuncio in India in this regard.


20 01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

THE PROTEST ON THE BORDERS

OF DELHI IS HEATING UP

The protest against the three agricultural

laws introduced by the BJP

Government started a protest in Punjab

about four months ago but eventually

has shifted onto the borders of Delhi.

Here the protest has been ongoing for

over a month but still no solution has

been found as yet.

The laws introduced by the

Government are in favour of the corporations

and the farmers fear that this is a

strategy that in time will engulf their

land.

A lot of the farmers have and are still

committing suicides because of bad

farming policies those force them to

borrow bank loans which they cannot

pay back. They look forward for aid

from the Government, but such does not

happen so in the end commit suicides.

Vast amount of the corporation loans are

being written off by the Government but

a small amount for the farmers cannot

be facilitated. These three new laws are

going to be worst for the farmers even

though the Government is assuring that

they are in their benefit. The Lawyers

and even the Jawaans from the borders

are now standing by the side of the

farming Kisaans. Apart from the

Government everyone else can see that

these laws are going to be pernicious for

the farmers. Farmers from various states

are arriving on the boarders of Delhi

and numbers are increasing every day. It

is not only the Kissans but general public

from all walks of life are also joining

this protest because the people have

started to understand that livelihood of

everyone else is also going to be effected

by these laws.

Ambani and Advani Corporations

are part of the RSS movement to establish

Hindutva in India. The BJP

Government wants to take control over

as much land as possible in India so

they can expand Hindutva in those

areas. Ambani and Advani corporations

shall be fulfilling this purpose.

When Mr Modt came on the scene he

presented himself as a son of a chai

wala who sold tea on a station platform.

He assured the poor that he understood

their needs and if elected he will bring

back black money deposited in the foreign

Banks and use it to improve the

conditions for the ones in need.

They believed in him and cast all

their votes in his favour but upon success

he immediately raised potato and

tomato prices. The poor were disgusted

by his action but were unable to do anything.

This has been general practise of

all the political parties to make false

promises to gain votes and then shelf

the ideas. The poor are so powerless that

they cannot raise any form of protest.

Therefore it has been a general practise

Sudha Bharadwaj seeks withdrawal

of NIA s defamatory allegations

of the political parties (GET THE

VOTES AND FORGET ABOUT

THEM).

During the election Mr. Modi has

made a promise to the poor that thousands

of brick houses will

be built for them. They

have again put their trust in

him and have helped him

to redeem second term in

his office. Will they get

brick houses, the time will

tell or is it going to prove

as another enticement for

the votes. People are being

kept poor to advantage for

their votes. Mr Modi has

not properly fulfilled any

promise so far he has

made to people living

below poverty line.

Next to poor are the

KISAAN votes. Kisaans in all the states

She has filed an application

before the Special Court praying

the withdrawal of NIA s reply

that accuses Bharadwaj of harming

the witnesses The lawyer

activist filed an application in

the Special NIA Court at

Mumbai praying for the withdrawal

of the allegations made

against her in the reply filed by

the National Investigation

Agency (NIA), reported Bar &

Bench.

Bharadwaj sought an order

reprimanding the NIA and

Special Public Prosecutor

Prakash Shetty for their irresponsible

conduct in making

statements against her and an

order restraining them from

making similar statements in the

future.

She has alleged in her application

that the NIA s reply has

defamatory statements made

against her. She further stated

that as an undertrial prisoner,

there was a presumption of innocence

in her favour, and that the

NIA s statements lacked proof

and could cause harm to the witnesses.

Her applications read,

Court should not be reduced to

a forum of gossip and slander

under the guise of legal arguments.

Her application also

pointed out that the prosecution

cannot be allowed to level such

defamatory and scurrilous allegations

against her merely

because she is accused of a

crime.

The NIA s reply read, It is

pertinent to observe that by way

of this present application the

accused Sudha Bharadwaj is digging

the identities of the aforesaid

witnesses so as to cause

harm to them.

On December 29, Bar &

Bench also reported that the

Special National Investigation

Agency (NIA) court at Mumbai

directed the NIA to provide

copies of the unredacted witness

statements of the witnesses to

Bhima Koregaon accused

Bharadwaj.

The Court said that the statements

should be provided to her

without truncation except for the

identity and addresses of the witnesses.

The Additional Sessions

Judge, DE Kothalikar was hearing

an application filed by

Bharadwaj seeking full statements

of witnesses.

Bharadwaj had contended

that she could not comprehend

the copies of witness statements,

which were provided to her previously,

due to portions of the

same being truncated. The court

also directed the NIA to take due

care in future regarding providing

copies of statements of witnesses.

Courtesy : Sabrang

– M. Teji

Bareilly: A barber

has been booked for

refusing to cut the hair

of a Dalit youth at a village

in Uttar Pradesh.

The matter came to

light after video clips

emerged in which the

barber in his mid-50s

can be purportedly

seen turning away the

youth, apparently, due

to his caste . The barber

can be also heard

saying in one of the clips that

he would rather shut his shop,

than do the hair cut.

An FIR has been registered

against the barber under sections

of the SC/ST Act following

a complaint. The barber is

on the run. After speaking

with locals and the complainant,

we came to know that

the barber had often refused to

entertain customers from the

Dalit community. This is not

acceptable, Anirudh Singh,

have been committing suicides.

It seems to weaken the farmers in

Punjab and elsewhere, these three laws

have been introduced but the farmers

are wise enough to understand the policy

behind these three laws

so the farmers from all the

states have joined together

to have them discarded.

Mr Modi is reluctant to

reverse his decision because

degrading of the Kisaans is

essential to fulfil his future

plans. For example: Prior to

Aryan arrival Mohenjodharo

and Harrappa belonged to

Adhivasi Sabita but have

been degraded to lowest of

the low. Now the Kisaans

are being targeted.

In Brahmin belief, there

is no space for humanity

because Manusmirity classifies humans

Bilsi circle officer (CO), said

on Wednesday.

The incident has been

reported from Kariamai village

under Ughaiti police station

limits in Budaun. The video

clips were filmed by one Bablu,

24, who had also put it up

online. Bablu is a graduate and

works at a private firm in Delhi.

He visited home recently

and heard about the barber

insulting a man of his community

who came to the village for

in four varnas and gives credit to the

Brahmins as the purest race on the face

of this earth. So the Brahmins down

look on the others and do as they please

as this Government is doing.

Mr. Modi and his associates want to

bring back ruling as per Manu code but

it is totally bias and contains inhuman

and cruel acts. The modern generation is

not going to accept this change because

it is myth logically bound and in modern

times the science and the technology

rules the roost.

Sir William Wilberforce has outlawed

slave trade and Dr Bhim Rao

Ambedkar has outlawed Manusmirity.

The Americans do not want slave trade

to come back and the Indians detest

return of Manusmirity. The Indian

Constitution has brought equality and

progress in India and the Indians want it

to remain.

The Kisaans who feed the nation are

on the roads protesting in the extremely

cold weather whilst the politicians are

enjoying warmth and comfort in their

houses.

Mr Modi needs to give immediate

attention as the protest is heating up and

is expanding by the day against him and

his Government. The farmers are not

going to give in because it concerns

their livelihood and of their future generation.

On the New Year s Day, for

unity and peace will be prayed all

around the world because in thousands

the families are still grieving to the loss

of their beloved ones through Covid 19.

This protest by the Kisaans has gained

worldwide interest and lot of eyes are

focused on Mr Modi and his

Government.

JAI JAWAAN, JAI KISAAN,

JAI BHARAT.

Barber refuses to cut hair of

Dalit youth in UP, booked

a hair cut . Bablu, soon,

decided to play an

activist.

The barber turned

him away only because

he is a Dalit, Bablu

alleged. When I came

to know that the village

barber is not allowing

people of our community

into his shop, I decided

to make a video. I

sent a local youth to his

salon and recorded the

incident on my mobile, the

young man told TOI.

The barber has been running

his shop for the past 15 years

and, according to Bablu, refuses

to entertain any Dalit customer.

The case is under investigation

and we have taken the

video evidence into consideration

and sent it for forensic

examination, the Bilsi CO told

TOI. The accused is absconding.

We will arrest him soon,

he added. Courtesy : TNN


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021

21

Will the FARMERS understand what

Jyotiba Phule had warned us about?

As 2020 coming to its culmination

tonight, the future still look uncertain

despite tall claims of vaccine development

by various Pharma companies.

Ofcourse, the powerful block have

already blocked huge number of doses

denying the others at the hands of 'God'.

This remain one of the darkest years

that we have witnessed. It is not that the

tragedies did not stuck earlier or their

wrath was ;ess atrocious but the enormity

and spread this time remain

unprecedented.

It impacted all. The lock down broke

the bones of not merely our economy

but also the informal sector workers

who realised that it is not merely their

'class' but their 'caste' matters as they

persistently faced discrimination and

adversity in the cities they built while

being 'declared' as 'migrants' in their

own country. Nowhere in the world, we

term fellow citizens as 'migrants'.

Every crisis is an opportunity and

western governments felt it that way

where many of the countries strengthened

their public spending particularly

on the health as well as other welfare

measures. Many provided subsidies to

small industries so that they are not

closed down while others also transferred

money to their people so that

they continue to have cash to run their

homes and spend it.

A country like UK which was on the

verge of handing over its famous

National Health Services to big corporations

in the USA, found that it is the

best landmark of their country and now

feel proud of it. NHS has become the

backbone of British people which they

feel proud of.

The impact of Corona was high in

the western world but Asian countries

handled it much better. China, from

where it all started showed why it is one

of the finest governed countries,

Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea,

Singapore, Malaysia handled it in a

much better way. In terms of mortalities,

Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri

Lanka were much below. It is a reality

that Covid assaulted the Western World

more than any other countries but for

India to compare it with them will not

serve any purpose. India can claim that

the deaths here are below US but the

economies in the Western World have

not collapsed like us. They have managed

things better. Ofcourse, with leaders

like Trump and Johnson, US and

UK paid a heavy price for ignoring the

earlier warning.

In India, the government used the

Covid as a shield to impose emergencies

and brutal lock down without even

thinking of what will happen to the

poorest of the poor who become more

vulnerable. Prior to Covid, we had

massive anti CAA-NRC protests which

were brutally suppressed with physical

assault and false cases. Shaheen Bagh

showed a mirror to

the government yet

the BJP converted it

into a We verses

them theory in its

election campaign and helped by the

powerful propaganda media and notorious

IT cell. The covid norms washed

away when the ministers and leaders

were campaigning but were imposed

when farmers were protesting. The

youths are staring at an uncertain future

while Industry is prepared for a

longer recession but the ruling

party is enjoying this phase and

using it to privatise the national

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

social and human rights activist

resources. This is shameful to

say the least.

I am not fascinated with the big

'movements' because one

thing is clear that this state

is jolted when they feel

their 'own' people have

revolted or drifted with

them. Kisans too have

castes and prejudices.

Most of them enjoy their

upper caste privileges

even when people like us

felt that they should follow

the path shown by revolutionary

Jyotiba Phule. It is

unlikely that they would.

A majority of them will be

trapped in the vicious

cycle of anti muslim narrative.

We all know how anti

CAA-NRC protests were

portrayed and why it failed

when the questions of

farmers came. It is simple.

Most of the farmers are

neither muslims, nor

Dalits nor Adivasis though most of

them are OBCs yet very much part of

the Hindutva narrative of Sangh Parivar

who they can not dare to antagonise.

As the year come to

an end, we can only

hope that people of

India will realise that

not only capitalism but

brahmanism too is root

cause of the crisis that

we are facing today.

Hence it is important

that when farmers and

working classes identify

capitalism as their enemy, they can

not ignore the bigger power of the

Indian brahmanical elite. Ignoring this

will only ensure their future defeats.

Whatever big a movement is, I dont see

the defeat of the powerful brahmanical

elite unless the peasantry understand

what Jyotiba Phule mentioned Sethji

Bhatji combine. The problem is the so

called 'intellectual' 'leaders' of these

movements who are only targeting to

be in Parliament and not to really

change the system.

As the year end, I wish that sanity

prevails and we come back to normalcy.

Hope that democratic forces worldover

will unite against the undemocratic

social order which is dictating terms

and conditions to us. Covid has shown

how unequal is this world order. It has

shown us that we need to unite and

fight against prejudices. We need to

stand up together. We hope that year

2021 will bring more energy and hope

in our life. We have lost a number of

friends and co-travellers. 2020 has

been a dreadful year. Let us join hand

and hope that humanity will prevail and

the world will rise up to the current crisis

for the betterment of its people.

Wish you all good health, lots of

strength and happiness. Let us stand

together and speak up against all forms

of injustice and discrimination. Wish

you good days ahead in the year 2021.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social

and human rights activist. He blogs

at www.manukhsi.blogspot.com

twitter @freetohumanity

Email: vbrawat@gmail.com

Study by IIT Gandhinagar and Archaeological

Department reveals the existence of a three-level

structure beneath SOMNATH TEMPLE

In a 32-page long report prepared by the Archaeological Department, it is stated

that there is an L shaped structure beneath the Somnath temple

In a Ground-penetrating radar (GPR)

investigation carried out by IIT

Gandhinagar and the Archaeological

Department on the instructions of Prime

Minister Narendra Modi, it has been

revealed that there are three historical

structures beneath the Somnath temple

in Gujarat. The investigation was carried

out by IIT Gandhinagar along with

four of its associate institutions. In

2017, the Prime Minister, who is a

trustee if the Somnath temple, had asked

the Archaeological Department to conduct

this investigation in a meeting held

in the national capital.

L shaped structure beneath the

temple

In a 32-page long report prepared by

the Archaeological Department, it is

stated that there is an L shaped structure

beneath the Somnath temple. The inves- tigation was conducted by experts using the latest technologies and machines

worth Rs 5 crore. The GPR investigation

revealed that about 12 meters into

the ground, there was a structure with an

entrance gate. The study has revealed a

3-story structure below the ground in

the area. The different levels of the

structure are at the depth of 2.5 meters,

5 meters and 7.3 meters from the ground

level. A second structure also has need

detected below the ground at the location

where the security check point for

the visitors of the temple is located.

The report also states that there are

Buddhist caves beneath the areas surrounding

the Statue of Unity which is

located at a distance from Digvijay

Dwar of the temple. The report has been

handed over to the temple trust.

Somnath temples was demolished several

times by Muslim invaders It is said

that there was a temple at the place that

was reconstructed many times after it

was demolished several times by

Muslim invaders. In the seventh century,

Maitrak kings of Vallabhi had reconstructed

the temple. It was demolished

by Arabian Governor of Sindh named

Junaid. Later Pratihara king Nagabhatta

rebuilt the temple for the third time in

815 AD. On the ruins of this temple,

Malwa king Bhoj and King Bhimdev of

Gujarat built it again for the fourth time.

The temple was constructed for the fifth

time in the year 1169 by King Kumar

Pal of Gujarat. Mughal emperor

Aurangzeb had demolished the temple

in 1706. Thereafter the temple was

reconstructed in 1951 after the then

Home Minister Saradar Vallabhbhai

Patel ordered the construction of the

temple in 1947 following the merger of

Junagarh in India.


22 01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

New Delhi : From a presidential

memoir to COVID-focused reads, the

insights by an influential former civil

servant, The Dalai Lama's message on

climate change and a power-packed

book by the co-founder of Black Lives

Matter movement, 2020 was a significant

year for books. Here's what kept us

company during the tumultuous 2020.

A Promised Land by Barack

Obama

A riveting, deeply personal account

of history in the making-from the president

who inspired us to believe in the

power of democracy

In the stirring, highly anticipated first

volume of his presidential memoirs,

Barack Obama tells the story of his

improbable odyssey from young man

searching for his identity to leader of the

free world, describing in strikingly personal

detail both his political education

and the landmark moments of the first

term of his historic presidency-a time of

dramatic transformation and turmoil.

Obama takes readers on a compelling

journey from his earliest political aspirations

to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory

that demonstrated the power of grassroots

activism to the watershed night of

November 4, 2008, when he was elected

44th president of the United States,

becoming the first African American to

hold the nation's highest office.

A Burning by Megha Majumdar

For readers of Tommy Orange, Yaa

Gyasi, and Jhumpa Lahiri, an electrifying

debut novel about three unforgettable

characters who seek to rise-to the

middle class, to political power, to fame

in the movies-and find their lives entangled

in the wake of a catastrophe in contemporary

India

This is an electrifying debut novel

about three unforgettable characters

who find their lives entangled in the

wake of a catastrophe. They seek to

rise-to the middle class, to political

power, to fame in the movies. One is

Jivan, a Muslim girl from the slums

accused of executing a terrorist attack

on a train because of a careless comment

on Facebook. The second is PT

Sir, an opportunistic gym teacher who

hitches his aspirations to a right-wing

political party, only to find his own

ascent linked to Jivan's fall. And the

third is Lovely, an irresistible outcast

who has an alibi that can set Jivan freebut

at the cost of everything she holds

dear. Taut, symphonic, propulsive and

riveting right from the outset, A Burning

has the force of an epic while being so

masterfully compressed that it can be

read in a single sitting. Majumdar writes

with dazzling assurance, at a breakneck

pace, on complex themes that read as

the components of a thriller: class, fate,

corruption, justice and what it feels like

to face profound obstacles while nurturing

big dreams in a country spinning

towards extremism.

The Purpose of Power by Alicia

Garza

2020 Wrap : Books to

mark the year gone by

In a powerful and timely

exploration of recent racial

history, the co-founder of

Black Lives Matter examines

the moment we're in,

how we got here, and how

together we can create a

just and equal world.

Black Lives Matter

began as a hashtag when

Alicia Garza wrote what

she calls 'a love letter to

Black people' on Facebook.

But hashtags don't build

movements, she tells us.

People do. Interwoven with

Garza's experience of life

as a Black woman, The

Purpose of Power is the

story of how she responded

to the persistent message

that Black lives are of less

value than white lives by

galvanizing people to create

change. It's an insight

into grass roots organizing

to deliver basic needs -

affordable housing, workplace

protections, access to

good education - to those

locked out of the economy

by racism. It is an attempt

not only to make sense of

where Black Lives Matter came from

but also to understand the possibilities

that Black Lives Matter and movements

like it hold for our collective futures.

Ultimately, it's an appeal to hearts and

minds, demanding that we think about

our privileges and prejudices and ask

how we might contribute to the change

we want to see in the world.

Portraits of Power: Half a Century

of Being at Ringside by N.K. Singh

N.K. Singh has been a formidable

civil servant, an empathetic politician, a

keen chronicler of India's socioeconomic

history and the quintessential academic

that academia never got. His

life's work, as chronicled in this book

has indeed been intertwined with the

progress India has made. In many such

cases, Singh has been not just an active

contributor but has also given shape to

those many momentous decisionswhether

through the use of diplomacy

or the rigours of understanding the

mechanism of the levers of power or, for

that matter, by consensus building.

Portraits of Power is not just an autobiography

of a man, who for several

decades has played an active role in

India's march towards becoming a formidable

economy; it is indeed, on multiple

levels, a book that profiles myriad

institutions that work in harmony to

make things happen. And in everything

that N.K. Singh has done, so in this

book too, there is both incisive clarity

and insightful anecdotal heft.

Our Only Home: A Climate Appeal

to the World by The Dalai Lama and

Franz Alt

Saving the environment is our collective

duty. With each passing day, climate

change is causing Pacific islands

to disappear into the sea, accelerating

the extinction of species at alarming

proportions and aggravating a water

shortage that has affected the entire

European continent. In short, climate

change can no longer be denied - it

threatens our existence on earth.

In this inspiring new book, the Dalai

Lama, one of the most influential figures

of our time, calls on political decision-makers

to finally fight against

deadlock and ignorance on this issue.

He argues that we all need to stand up

for a different and more climate-friendly

world, and to allow the younger generation

to assert their right to regain

their future. From the voice of the

beloved world religious

leader comes this eyeopening

manifesto that

empowers the generation

of today to step up, take

action and protect our

world.

The Battle Of

Belonging: On

Nationalism, Patriotism,

And What It Means To Be

Indian by Shashi Tharoor

There are over a billion

Indians alive today. But are

some Indians more Indian

than others? To answer this

question, one that is central

to the identity of every

man, woman, and child

who belongs to the modern

Republic of India, eminent

thinker and bestselling

writer Shashi Tharoor

explores hotly contested

ideas of nationalism, patriotism,

citizenship, and

belonging. In the course of

his study, he explains what

nationalism is, and can be,

reveals who is anti-national,

what patriotism actually

means, and explores the

nature and future of Indian

nationhood. He gives us a clear-sighted

view of the forces working to undermine

the eidea of India' (a phrase coined by

Rabindranath Tagore) that has evolved

through history and which, in its modern

form, was enshrined in India's

Constitution by its founding fathers.

Divided into six sections, the book

starts off by exploring historical and

contemporary ideas of nationalism,

patriotism, liberalism, democracy, and

humanism, many of which emerged in

the West in the eighteenth and nineteenth

centuries, and quickly spread

throughout the world. The author then

summarizes India's liberal constitutionalism,

exploring the enlightened values

that towering leaders and thinkers like

Gandhi, Nehru, Tagore, Ambedkar,

Patel, Azad, and others invested the

nation with. These are contrasted with

the narrow-minded, divisive, sectarian,

eus vs them' alternatives formulated by

Hindutva ideologues, and propagated

by their followers who are now in

office.

Firmly anchored in incontestable

scholarship, yet passionately and fiercely

argued, The Battle of Belonging is a

book that unambiguously establishes

what true Indianness is and what it

means to be a patriotic and nationalistic

Indian in the twenty-first century.

Till We Win: India's Fight Against

The Covid-19 Pandemic by Dr

Chandrakant Lahariya, Dr Gagandeep

Kang, Dr Randeep Guleria

When will India ever win the fight

against the COVID-19 pandemic? How

long do we have to use masks? When

can we expect a safe and effective vaccine?

Do we need to wear masks even

after we get a vaccine? What if there is

no definitive treatment against COVID-

19? How can we protect our family

from this disease? How should we

respond to this 'new normal' as an individual

and as a community? What is the

way forward? Offering insights on how

India continues to fight the pandemic,

Till We Win is a must-read for everyone.

It is a book for the people, for political

leaders, policymakers and physicians,

with the promise and potential to

transform public health in India.

No Rules Rules: Netflix and the

Culture of Reinvention by Reed

Hastings, Erin Meyer

Netflix cofounder Reed Hastings

reveals for the first time the unorthodox

culture behind one of the world's most

innovative, imaginative, and successful

companies.

There has never before been a company

like Netflix. It has led nothing

short of a revolution in the entertainment

industries, generating billions of

dollars in annual revenue while capturing

the imaginations of hundreds of millions

of people in over 190 countries.

But to reach these great heights, Netflix,

which launched in 1998 as an online

DVD rental service, has had to reinvent

itself over and over again. This type of

unprecedented flexibility would have

been impossible without the counterintuitive

and radical management principles

that cofounder Reed Hastings

established from the very beginning.

Hastings rejected the conventional wisdom

under which other companies operate

and defied tradition to instead build

a culture focused on freedom and

responsibility, one that has allowed

Netflix to adapt and innovate as the

needs of its members and the world

have simultaneously transformed.

Here for the first time, Hastings and

Erin Meyer, bestselling author of The

Culture Map and one of the world's

most influential business thinkers, dive

deep into the controversial ideologies at

the heart of the Netflix psyche, which

have generated results that are the envy

of the business world. Drawing on hundreds

of interviews with current and

past Netflix employees from around the

globe and never-before-told stories of

trial and error from Hastings's own

career, No Rules Rules is the fascinating

and untold account of the philosophy

behind one of the world's most innovative,

imaginative, and successful companies.

20 million more placed under stringent curbs in UK

London : The UK government has

announced more areas, including

Leicester City in England, will enter

Tier Four, the highest level of Covid-19

restrictions in the country, meaning an

additional 20 million people in the

region will be living under the toughest

measures. From Thursday, places such

as Leicester City and Leicestershire,

Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Derby

and Derbyshire, Nottingham and

Nottinghamshire, Birmingham and

Black Country, Coventry, will be put

into Tier Four, reports Xinhua news

agency. The new move will put an additional

20 million people into Tier Four,

joining millions in London and parts of

the South East and East of England

already living under the tightest restrictions.

It means a total of 44 million people

will now be in Tier Four, or 78 per

cent of the population of England. The

announcement means that more than

three quarters of England's population

will be living under the strictest measures.

The North East, as well as parts of

the Midlands, the North West, and the

South West of England are among the

regions affected.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told

MPs that "the new variant means that

three quarters of the population are now

going to be in Tier Four and almost all

of the country in Tiers Three and Four".

"And I know that Tier Three and

Four measures place a significant burden

on people, and especially on businesses

affected, but I am afraid it is

absolutely necessary because of the

number of cases that we've seen," he

said. His remarks came after the UK on

Tuesday recorded more than 50,000

coronavirus cases overnight for the first

time since the onset of the pandemic in

the country.

Under the new tougher measures,

residents in the Tier Four areas must

stay at home, with limited exemptions.

People are also urged to work from

home when they can, and should not

enter or leave those areas. The move

came as the second Covid-19 vaccine

has been authorized for use in Britain,

allowing a significant expansion of the

immunisation program with hundreds of

more vaccination sites opening in the

coming weeks and months.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Khanpur, January 02,2021- “ For

stopping victimization of cobra effect

of debt among farmers, they have to

be given loans on zero rate of interest,”

opined former Vice Chancellor

and Kurukshetra based Needonomist

Professor M.M. Goel. He was addressing

online on the topic ‘Relevance of

Needonomics for Atmanirbharta in

Rural India’ in the Faculty Induction

Programme organised by HRDC BPS

Mahila Vishwavidyalaya here today.

Dr. Shafali Nagpal Director HRDC

delivered welcome address and presented

citation on the achievements of

Prof. Goel.

While commenting on farmers agitation,

Professor Goel said that they

are not fools, if the government is

clever.

Atmanirbharta in rural India calls

for street smart villagers as consumers,

producers, distributors and

traders, told needonomist Goel.

Atmanirbharta in rural India is necessary

for sustainable development

with use of solar energy, rain harvesting

and rural tourism as in Malaysia,

WORLD

01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021

For stopping victimization of cobra effect of

debt among farmers, they have to be given

loans on zero rate of interest : Prof. M. M. Goel

23

told Prof. Goel.

For atmanirbharta in rural India,

we need to learn from Saemaul Model

of rural development and ‘palli palli’

culture of South Korea involving all

with only eleven percent contribution

of the government through training

and material instead of money in cash

to villages, explained Prof. Goel.

We have to adopt NAW (Need,

Affordability and Worth) approach of

agro products marketing with needonomics

in choices of all kinds,

explained Prof. Goel.

To obtain atmanirbharta in rural

India, we need REACH model consisting

of five steps including read

gita, empowerment with enlightenment,

altruistic approach, commitment

and holding needs, believe Prof.

Goel.

We need overhauling of the entire

system of rural development full of

inefficiencies, unhealthy practices and

misuse of the provisions in schemes

with polluted mind-sets of the nexus

of politicians and corrupt officials,

told Prof. Goel.

DRDO chief calls upon scientists to

focus on next-generation needs

New Delhi : The Defence

Research and Development

Organisation (DRDO) Chief G.

Satheesh Reddy on Friday

asked scientists to focus on

next-generation needs including

cyber security, space and

artificial intelligence.

"The immense potential

available in DRDO has been a

catalyst for the development of

industries in the defence manufacturing

sector," the DRDO

Chief said observing the 63rd

Foundation Day of its establishment.

Reddy also met Defence

Minister Rajnath Singh and

presented him a model of

Akash Missile System, which

is recently cleared for export.

While addressing the scientists,

Reddy said that the academic

institutes, research and

development organisations and

industry need to work together

on the advanced and futuristic

technologies to make India

self-reliant in the defence sector.

He mentioned that a number

of SMEs and MSMEs are supplying

small components to

subsystems for all DRDO projects

and have been nurtured by

DRDO.

"Now they have become

partners in all new developments,"

said the DRDO adding

that that the institution conducts

a competition dare to

dream for startups and very

enthusiastic response have

been received.

He further added that at least

30 startups should be supported

every year to develop innovative

products for our forces.

He said that DRDO should

make efforts towards strengthening

long-term ties with the

academia and aim to leverage

the academic expertise available

in the country and increase

the synergy with them.

"DRDO should concentrate

on applied research and translational

research and then make

prototypes from the applied

research," Reddy said. He further

said, that the industry

should be in a position to adopt

these technologies and have

necessary infrastructure, and

scale these up to market with

sustained quality.

Chairman DRDO also

launched an Online Industry

Partner Registration Module to

simplify the process of vendor

registration.

DRDO was established in

1958 with just 10 laboratories

to enhance the research work in

Defence sector and was tasked

with designing and developing

cutting edge defence technologies

for Indian Armed Forces.

Today, DRDO is working in

multiple cutting edge military

technology areas, which

include aeronautics, armaments,

combat vehicles, electronics,

instrumentation, engineering

systems, missiles,

materials, naval systems,

advanced computing, simulation,

cyber, life sciences and

other technologies for defence.

Reddy also said that said

that in 2020, DRDO achieved

many milestones such as maiden

landing of LCA Navy

onboard INS Vikramaditya,

demonstration of Hypersonic

Technology Demonstration

Vehicle, AQuantum Key

Distribution and QRNG developments

in area of Quantum

Technology, Laser Guided Anti

Tank Guided Missile,

Supersonic Missile Assisted

Release of Torpedo, Anti

Radiation Missile, enhanced

version of PINAKA Rocket

System, Quick Reaction

Surface to Air Missile

(QRSAM), Maiden launch of

MRSAM, 5.56 x 30 mm Joint

Venture Protective Carbine

(JVPC) and many other milestones.

He also highlighted the contributions

of DRDO during

Covid pandemic and said that

nearly 40 DRDO laboratories

developed more than 50 technologies

and over 100 products

on war footing to develop products

and technologies for combating

the deadly disease in

India.

Now mandatory health

check-up for Delhi Police

personnel above 40

New Delhi : Delhi

Police personnel, above

40 years of age, would

now have to undergo

compulsory health

check-ups, Police

Commissioner S.N.

Shrivastava announced

on Friday. "It has been

decided that all the

policemen above 40

years of age would

undergo compulsory

medical check-ups, so

that any ailment could be

timely diagnosed and treated. It

would enhance health levels of

the force. Serious deliberation

is being done for maintaining

physical fitness of the police

personnel," he said.

This decision came after

Delhi Police lost 231 of its personnel.

In this direction, 7

Wellness Centres have already

been opened in Police

Colonies, which also provide

allopathic and ayurvedic doctors

for medical consultations.

Till date more than 11,700

police personnel and their families

have been benefitted.

These Centres have also facilities

of open gyms and yoga.

It was also announced that

135 personnel have been granted

Out-of-Turn Promotions for

good and exemplary work,

while 235 have been decorated

with 'Asadharan Karya

Puraskar' and 145 were awarded

Commendation Rolls. In all,

5,645 promotions (including 70

of senior officers) have been

granted from the ranks of

Constables to Inspectors (1992

from Constable to Head

Constable, 1,277 from Head

Constable to Assistant Sub

Inspector, 1,939 from Assistant

Sub Inspector to Sub Inspector

& 229 from Sub Inspector to

Inspector). Under a special initiative,

3 Out-of-Turn

Promotions for tracing 50 or

more missing children in a calendar

year have also been

granted. As many as 190 police

personnel have been appointed

on Compassionate grounds, a

step that would help 190 police

families. "The work done by

Delhi Police during Covid-19

pandemic got appreciation

from across the society and

earned the epithet 'Delhi Police

Dil Ki Police'," Shrivastava

said, urging the force to work

continuously with a humane

face and continue serving the

people with the same zeal.


24 01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021 WORLD

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Bhima-Koregaon Battle 203rd Anniversary:

Why British Victory Over Maratha Peshwas

Became Symbol of Defeat of Casteism

The victory pillar in Bhima-Koregaon village in

Maharashtra is to celebrate the 203rd anniversary of the

Bhima-Koregaon battle, which was fought on January 1,

1818, between the British East India Company and the

Peshwa forces. The upper caste-dominated Maratha

forces led by Peshwa Bajirao II were defeated by the

British army, which comprised mainly of Dalit soldiers.

The victory pillar, also known as

Ransthamb, in Bhima-Koregaon village

in Maharashtra is to celebrate the

203rd anniversary of the Bhima-

Koregaon battle, which was fought on

January 1, 1818, between the British

East India Company and the Peshwa

forces. The Maratha

troops led by Peshwa

Bajirao II attacked Pune

which was then held by the East India

Company.

A 28,000-strong force led by

Maratha were challenged by 800-

strong British troops, which comprised

mainly of Dalit soldiers.

Peshwa dispatched around 2,000 soldiers

to attack British troops. After a

nearly 12-hour-long battle, the British

army managed to push the upper

caste-dominated Maratha forces back.

Since the Mahar community was

mistreated during Pesha Bajirao II’s

regime, the defeat was considered as a

victory against castebased

discrimination

and oppression. There

is a “victory pillar” in Koregaon commemorating

the battle. Every year,

lakhs of people gather at the ‘Jay

Stambh’ which names of Mahars who

sacrificed their lives are written. The

battle is considered a symbol of the

defeat of casteism.

By Kamal Joshi

Prez, PM condole

death of Buta Singh

New Delhi : President Ram Nath Kovind

and Prime

Minister Narendra

Modi on Saturday

expressed deep

grief over the

demise of former

Home Minister

and Congress

leader Buta Singh,

saying the country

has lost one of the

longest serving

parliamentarians

who was an effective

voice for the welfare of the downtrodden.

The President tweeted that in the passing of

Buta Singh the country has lost one of the

longest serving parliamentarians with rich

administrative experience. "He championed the

cause of the oppressed and marginalised.

Condolences to his family and supporters."

In a tweet, Modi said, "Buta Singh Ji was an

experienced administrator and effective voice

for the welfare of the poor as well as downtrodden.

Saddened by his passing away. My condolences

to his family and supporters."

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi offered his

condolences to Buta Singh's family and said the

veteran party leader had spent his life in service

of the common man.

Buta Singh passed away on Saturday at the

age of 86. A senior leader of the Congress, Buta

Singh became a Lok Sabha member eight times,

besides being appointed as Governor of Bihar.

He worked with former Prime Ministers

Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and P.V.

Narasimha Rao. He was Bihar Governor from

2004 to 2006.

Born in Jalandhar, he held key portfolios like

railways, commerce, parliamentary affairs,

sports, shipping, agriculture, communications

and housing. Buta Singh was also chairman of

the National Commission for Scheduled Castes

from 2007 to 2010.

Mumbai Police haul

banned gutka worth

Rs 1.22 CRORE

Mumbai : In a major swoop on New

Year, the Mumbai Police raided a

godown in south Mumbai and seized

banned gutka and paan masala products

worth Rs 1.22 crore besides recovering

cash of Rs 1.22 lakh, an official said

here on Saturday.

Based on a tipoff to the Crime

Intelligence Unit (CIU) official Sachin

Waze of a huge stockpile of banned

gutka and paan masala, a team raided

the premises in Bharat Bazar area of

Nagpada locality on Friday.

Two persons involved in the racket

have been arrested and they were produced

before the Sewri Magistrate

Court which remanded them to police

custody till Monday. Simultaneously,

the CIU has also lodged offences

against the manufacturers, suppliers,

stockists and sellers of the contraband

stuff and further probe is underway by

the Nagpada Police Station, said Joint

Police Commissioner (Crime) Milind

Bharambe. Among the earliest states to

prohibit these products, Maharashtra

had banned manufacture, sale and consumption

of gutka, paan masala containing

tobacco and certain other

flavoured products in July 2012.

Later another 14 other states followed

suit in view of the serious health

hazards associated with their consumption

and addiction, though the products

are reportedly in heavy demand from

its connoisseurs in the gray markets.

Dalit physiotherapist

hacked to death for

marrying girlfriend of

another caste at Adoni

Kurnool: A 30-year-old Dalit physiotherapist was

brutally murdered allegedly by his wife’s family at

Adoni Town in Kurnool district on Thursday. The

deceased was identified as Adam Smith. As per reports,

Smith married his girlfriend Maheswari around six

months ago at Arya Samaj in Hyderabad. Both

belonged to different castes and parents of the girl were

not happy with her relationship with a Dalit youth.

For the past few months, the newly married couple was staying

at Krishtappa Nagar in Adoni Town. The girl’s parents and

relatives had stopped speaking to her for marrying a Dalit. When

Smith was returning home, some people intercepted his bike

near RTC Colony and attacked him with iron rods.

They smashed Smith’s head with a boulder and fled from the

spot. Smith’s wife blamed her parents for the brutal murder of

her husband as they were not in favor of the marriage. Police

have registered a case and an investigation is on to identify the

accused. Police are interrogating few people in connection with

the murder.

Courtesy : News Meter


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

CDS Gen Rawat visits forward

air bases in Arunachal

New Delhi : Amid the border standoff with China, Chief of

Defence Staff General Bipin

Rawat visited forward air

bases in Arunachal Pradesh

on Saturday and interacted

with soldiers of the Army,

Indo-Tibetan Border Police

and Special Frontier Force

deployed there.

He also visited forwardmost

air maintained posts in

Dibang Valley and Lohit

sector of Arunachal Pradesh.

General Rawat has completed one year as Chief of Defence Staff.

Complimenting the soldiers for the innovative measures adopted

to maintain effective surveillance and enhanced operational

readiness, he said that only Indian soldiers could remain vigilant

under such challenging situations and they are ever willing to go

well beyond the call of duty to safeguard the borders. "Nothing

can deter the Indian armed forces on remaining steadfast in their

call for duty," he said.

On the current standoff with China, last year General Rawat

had reiterated that India has military options to deal with the

Chinese on the issue of transgressions if talks between both countries

at the military and diplomatic level do not yield results.

India and China are engaged in a standoff since April-May over

the transgressions by the Chinese PLA in multiple areas in eastern

Ladakh. It was on January 1, 2020 when General Rawat was

appointed the country's first Chief of Defence Staff. In 2019 end,

the government had approved the creation of the post of CDS who

also functions as the Principal Military Adviser to the Union

Defence Minister and also as the Permanent Chairman, Chiefs of

Staff Committee (COSC). It was back then decided that the CDS

will head the new Department of Military Affairs in the Defence

Ministry and function as a Secretary to the government.

Poster politics in Bihar heats

up post Arunachal Pradesh

Patna : Following the souring of ties between Janata Dal

United (JDU) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), political temperatures

in Bihar continue to soar defying the winter.

An evidence of can be found in posters of BJP leaders cutting

CM Nitish Kumar's chair pasted at prominent locations of state

capital Patna. However, it is not clear who is behind the action.

The poster has several provocative messages including

"Arunachal to bas jhanki hai, ye kursi abhi baki hai" (Arunachal

was just a trailer, the BJP will now cut this chair as well.)

After the Arunachal Pradesh episode in which several JD (U)

leaders crossed over to the BJP, CM Nitish Kumar and his party

members are reportedly miffed with its ally in Bihar.

The opposition is cashing in on it by claiming that Nitish

Kumar will soon join the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance).

Former CM Rabri Devi said as much on Friday. The JDU on the

other hand has made it clear that the RJD and the Congress are

desperate to grab power. Hence they are spreading these falsehoods.

Chitranjan Gagan, the state spokesperson of RJD, said: "Nitish

Kumar has had a healthy relationship with Lalu Prasad in the past.

Moreover, Nitish is facing humiliation in the NDA. In this case,

the claim of former CM Rabri Devi may turn out to be true in the

next few months."

In a tweet on Friday, Rabri Devi said that discussions are underway

to include CM Nitish Kumar in Mahagathbandhan.

BJP MP Ajay Nishadh said: "There is no chance of Nitish

Kumar leaving the NDA. After returning to the NDA for the second

time, he won't go anywhere. A few differences between the

JDU and the BJP and will soon be resolved. Both parties want the

government to complete its five-year tenure."

NEWS

01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021 25

Bharat Biotech recruits 23,000 volunteers

for Phase III trials of Covaxin

Hyderabad : Bharat Biotech on

Saturday announced successful recruitment

of 23,000 volunteers, and continued

progress towards achieving the goal of

26,000 participants for phase-III clinical

trial of its coronavirus vaccine 'Covaxin'

across multiple sites in India.

The phase-III human clinical trials of

Covaxin began mid-November, targeting

26,000 volunteers across India. This is

India's first and only phase III efficacy

study for a Covid-19 vaccine, and the

largest phase III efficacy trial ever conducted

for any vaccine in India, the

Hyderabad-based company said.

"We thank every volunteer who has

taken the time to participate in this trial.

Their volunteering spirit is a great morale

boost for India and the world. We thank all

the principle investigators, doctors, medical

staff and the hospitals for their cooperation

and support in taking the phase III trials

forward in 26,000 volunteers in India.

We continue our progress towards achieving

the goal of 26,000 participants for

Phase-3 clinical trials of Covaxin," said

Suchitra Ella, Joint Managing Director,

Bharat Biotech.

Covaxin has been evaluated in approximately

1,000 subjects in Phase I and Phase

II clinical trials, with promising safety and

immunogenicity results, with acceptance in

international peer reviewed scientific journals.

The product development and clinical

Lalu indulging in political manipulations from jail: Sushil Modi

Patna : BJP's Rajya Sabha MP Sushil

Kumar Modi on Saturday accused jailed

RJD supremo Lalu Prasad of indulging in

political manipulations in Bihar by directing

party leaders on mobile phone in violation

of rules.

"Convicted Lalu Prasad is involved in

manipulations by directing RJD leaders on

mobile phones from the paying ward of

Ranchi's RIMS in violation of jail rules,"

the former Deputy CM alleged in a tweet.

"The bad phase for the nearly twodecade-old

friendship between the BJP and

Janata Dal-United in Bihar has passed.

trial data thus far has generated five publications,

of which four have been accepted

by international peer reviewed journals and

will be published soon.

"The publication of phase II trial data is

undergoing the peer review process. As a

part of our regulatory guidelines, all data

has been submitted to the Drugs Controller

General of India (DCGI) and Central

Drugs Standard Control

Organisation(CDSCO)."

Covaxin is a highly purified and inactivated

2-dose SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, manufactured

in a Vero cell manufacturing platform

with an excellent safety track record

of more than 300 million doses.

India's first indigenous Covid-19 vaccine

by Bharat Biotech is developed in collaboration

with the Indian Council of

Medical Research (ICMR) - National

Institute of Virology (NIV). This indigenous,

inactivated vaccine is developed and

manufactured in Bharat Biotech's BSL-3

(Bio-Safety Level 3) bio-containment

facility, a one-of-its-kind facility in the

world.

Railways registers record freight

load, earnings in Dec '20

New Delhi : Earnings and

freight load continued to maintain

a high momentum for the

Railways in December 2020,

registering an increase of 8.54

per cent and 6.87 per cent

respectively compared with last

year's figures for the period.

In December last year,

freight load totalled 118.13 million

tonnes compared to 108.84

million tonnes in 2019, the

Railways said in a statement.

In this period, the Railways

earned Rs 11,788.11 crore from

freight load, an increase of Rs

757.74 crore or 6.87 per cent

compared with earnings of Rs

11,030.37 crore during the corresponding

period in 2019.

In December last year, the

total loading was 118.13 million

tonnes, including 50.67

million tonnes of coal, 15.31

million tonnes of iron ore, 6.13

million tonnes of food grains,

5.23 million tonnes of fertilisers,

4.3 million tonnes of mineral

oil and 7.46 million tonnes

of cement (excluding clinker).

The government gives concessions

and discounts to make

freight movement through the

railways a very attractive

proposition for businesses.

Improvements in freight

movements will be institutionalised

and incorporated in the

upcoming zero-based time

table. The Railways has used

the pandemic period as an

opportunity to improve allround

efficiencies and performances,

it said.

When people gave the alliance a chance to

serve them again, the opposition is getting

heartburns," he posted on his Twitter handle.

Sushil Kumar Modi also took a dig at

the Rashtriya Janata Dal, saying that those

who had made transfers and postings a

source of income when in power in Bihar

want to give political colours to routine

administrative work due to dried-up

avenues of earning money on the sly.

On Friday, former Chief Minister and

RJD leader Rabri Devi had claimed that

IAS and IPS officers had been transferred

and posted under pressure from the BJP.


26 01-01-2021 to 15-01-2021 WORLD

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

INDIA'S Dec merchandise

exports slip by 0.80% YoY

New Delhi : Lockdown measures

in some of the key export markets subdued

India's merchandise exports in

December 2020 by 0.80 per cent to

$26.89 billion from $27.11 billion in

December 2019, preliminary data

showed on Saturday.

"India's merchandise exports in

December 2020 totalled $26.89 billion,

compared with $27.11 billion in

December 2019, a marginal fall of

0.80 per cent," a Ministry of

Commerce and Industry statement

said on the basis of preliminary data.

"Exports during April-December

2020-21 were worth $200.55 billion,

compared with $238.27 billion during

the same period last year, exhibiting a

negative growth of 15.8 per cent."

However, in December 2020, the

value of non-petroleum exports stood

at $24.73 billion, registering a positive

growth of 5.33 per cent on YoY basis.

Similarly, the value of non-petroleum

and non-gems and jewellery

exports in December 2020 stood at

$22.15 billion compared with $21.06

billion in December 2019, registering

a positive growth of 5.17 per cent. On

the other hand, India's merchandise

imports grew by 7.6 per cent in

December to $42.60 billion from

$39.59 billion during the corresponding

month of the previous year.

In December 2020, oil worth $9.61

billion was imported, compared with

$10.72 billion in December 2019, a

decline by 10.37 per cent.

"Non-oil imports in December

2020 totalled an estimated USD 33

billion, compared with USD 28.88 billion

in December 2019, showing an

increase of 14.27 per cent."

"Non-oil, non-GJ (gold, silver &

precious metals) worth USD 26.10 billion

were imported in December 2020,

recording a positive growth of 8.42

per cent, compared with

non-oil and non-GJ

imports totalling USD

24.07 billion in

December 2019."

Consequently,

India's trade deficit

widened by 25.78 per

cent to $15.71 billion

from $12.49 billion

reported for the like

period of last year.

"The sharp step up in

the value of merchandise

imports to $42.6

billion, widened India's

merchandise trade

deficit to US$15.7 billion,

the highest level

since November 2018,"

said ICRA Principal

Economist Aditi Nayar.

"The recovery in

imports reinforces our expectation that

the current account surplus will

deflate to sub-$5 billion in H2

FY2021."

EEPC India Chairman Mahesh

Desai said while domestic economy is

showing sure signs of bounce back,

there is still a rough sail for exports in

the global market.

"This is despite roll out of Covid 19

vaccine in several parts of the world,"

said Desai.

According to FIEO President

Sharad Kumar Saraf, December

exports also signals that our traditional

and labour-intensive sectors of

exports have passed the most challenging

and testing times as both

Christmas and New Year Season sales

have shown positive trends with further

improvement in coming months.

Going ahead by this trend, we

expect our inventories to be liquidated,

adding further to the overall

demand, observed Saraf.

In addition, Emkay Global's Lead

Economist Madhavi Arora said: "The

normalisation in trade deficit is an

encouraging indication of recovery in

domestic demand, in line with other

high frequency data like GST, rail

freight and car sales etc. Meanwhile

exports may see some downward pressure

amid renewed lockdowns in

Europe and the US."

"We see FY21 BoP in surplus of

$96 billion helped by surplus in current

account and solid FPI and FDI

inflows."

India to UK flights from

Jan 6, UK-India services

from Jan 8: Minister

New Delhi : Flight services between

India and UK will resume from January 6,

while those from UK to India will recommence

from January 8, Civil Aviation

Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on

Saturday. Last month, these services were

suspended to stop the spread of a mutant

Covid-19 strain which was recently discovered

in the UK.

In a tweet, the minister said: "India to UK

from 6 Jan 2021. UK to India from 8 Jan

2021. 30 flights will operate every week. 15

each by Indian & UK carriers."

"This schedule is valid till 23 Jan 2021.

Further frequency will be determined after

review." In another tweet, he said: "All

health precautions will be taken. SOPs have

been issued by @MoHFW_INDIA.

Passengers will be tested both before boarding

& upon arrival in India. Details are

attached herewith. These are valid till 30 Jan

2021." Several countries, including India,

had suspended flight services to the UK in

the wake of the new mutant Covid-19 strain.

The suspension commenced with effect

from 11.59 p.m. on December 22.

The initial decision was to suspend flights

till December 31. However, in the wake of

increasing cases of the new strain, it was

decided to extend the temporary suspension

of flights to and from the UK till January 7.

Prior to the suspension, over 60 flights

per week were being operated between UK

and India. Airlines such as Vistara, Air India,

Virgin Atlantic and British Airways operate

flights between the two countries.

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