Thursday, October 15, 2020

Hardeep Puri interacts with envoys from EU member states, talks of opportunities created due to COVID-19 disruptions

Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri holding video conference with Ambassador of European Union to India, Ugo Astuto and other diplomats from 27 EU Member States.


New Delhi [India], October 15 (ANI): Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday had a video conference with Ambassador of European Union to India Ugo Astuto and envoys from 27 EU member states and outlined comprehensive steps taken by India to deal with COVID-19 and opportunities created in the wake of disruptions caused by the pandemic.

"Had an extended video conference with Ugo Astuto and Ambs from 27 EU Member States. I outlined comprehensive steps taken to deal with COVID19 in India under the visionary leadership of PM Narendra Modiji and opportunities created in the wake of disruptions caused by the pandemic," Puri said in a tweet.

"We also covered several issues pertaining to civil aviation, development of infrastructure in cities and policy interventions implemented under AatmaNirbharBharat Abhiyan. Reforms undertaken across industries in India are creating an attractive environment for FDI," he added.

He further said India is enhancing inclusivity and sustainability for a post-COVID-19 world.

"We are enhancing inclusivity and sustainability in India for a post COVID world in which we will position ourselves as a robust economy in the global context and will be able to emerge stronger," he said. (ANI)

Ambassador to Kuwait meets president of National Security Bureau

Indian Ambassador Amb Sibi George with President of National Security Bureau, Kuwait, Sheikh Thamer Al-Ali Al-Sabah on Wednesday. (Photo Credits: India in Kuwait Twitter)


Kuwait City [Kuwait], October 15 (ANI): Indian Ambassador to Kuwait, Amb Sibi George, met the President of National Security Bureau, Kuwait, Sheikh Thamer Al-Ali Al-Sabah on Wednesday.

The Indian Embassy in Kuwait said in a tweet, "Ambassador met Sheikh Thamer Al-Ali Al-Sabah, President of National Security Bureau on Oct 14, and discussed inter alia bilateral relations, ways of strengthening and broadening existing cooperation, matters of mutual interest and latest regional and international development." (ANI)

12 Pak army personnel killed in two separate attacks in Balochistan and N Waziristan

12 Pakistani Army personnel were killed in two separate attacks in Balochistan's Gwadar district and the North Waziristan tribal district on Thursday. (Photo: ANI)


Gwadar [Pakistan], October 15 (ANI): As many as 12 Pakistani army personnel were killed on Thursday in two separate attacks in Balochistan's Gwadar district and the North Waziristan tribal district.

At least six security personnel were killed in the first incident after a convoy of state-run Oil and Gas Development Company Ltd (OGDCL) was attacked on the coastal highway in Balochistan's Ormara, Radio Pakistan reported. In another incident, six Pakistan Army personnel were killed after an IED explosion near the Razmak area of North Waziristan.

The Pakistan security forces have cordoned off the areas and started a search operation.

Soon after the incidents, the Baloch Raji Ajoi Singer (BRAS) claimed the responsibility for the attack in a Twitter post, adding that they will issue a detailed statement soon.

Reacting to the incident, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed grief with the families of personnel killed in both the attacks. He sought a report into the incident.

According to Dawn, Balochistan is essential to the country's flagship the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is part of China's Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

The corridor seeks to connect China's western province of Xinjiang with Gwadar, giving Beijing access to the Arabian Sea. (ANI)

Fundamental rebalancing of international system at heart of changes in current world politics: EAM Jaishankar

Minster of External Affairs (MEA), S Jaishankar on Thursday, delivering a keynote address at the Bloomberg India Economic Forum 2020. 


New Delhi [India], October 15 (ANI): Fundamental rebalancing of the international system is at the heart of the changes in the current world politics and the metrics of measuring power now is not merely military but finance, trade, connectivity, data and technology, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said.

Delivering a keynote address at the Bloomberg India Economic Forum 2020 on Thursday, he referred to the conditions created by COVID-19 and said the world is in the midst of the most catastrophic global events since the second world war and one of its consequences will be those living in extreme poverty will increase for the first time in a quarter-century.

"At the heart of the changes in the current world politics is the fundamental rebalancing of the international system. We also need to assign different weightage to different players, not just the US and China but others including India. And the metrics of measuring power is now very different. It's not merely military but finance, trade, connectivity, data, technology, and as we discovered recently it is masks and ventilators," he said.

Speaking on `Turning a geopolitical crisis into an opportunity', Jaishankar said apart from sections of people going back to poverty, the scenario created by COVID-19 will also have other results as well.

"Among them is how countries see national security and global trade, some much more differently than before. The additional stress in the global system will surely aggravate," the minister said.

He said among the most important realization that should be addressed is that many of the key stresses that shape the world predate the pandemic.

"It is customary on such occasion to start by emphasizing how much we are missing the good old times, hoping for a return to the real rather than the virtual life. I would not do that, not because I am a contrarian but to emphasize that importance to adapting to change rather than resisting it," he said.

Jaishankar said that the world traditionally tends to think of trade, finance, and mobility. "It is more equally important about other challenges such as climate change, pandemic, and terrorism. We are heading for a more fractured and complicated world -- one with greater multipolarity, and less multilateralism. In all this change, the opportunists are certainly there, seizing them will be the real test of our metal," he said. (ANI)

Mandatory to carry COVID-19 negative certificate as Sabarimala temple opens from Oct 16




Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], October 15 (ANI): As the Sabarimala temple will be opening from Friday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that it will be mandatory to carry the COVID-19 negative certificate.

"Sabarimala temple is opening tomorrow. Before visiting temple, COVID-19 negative certificate is mandatory. Only 250 people will be allowed to visit on a day. A health certificate, assuring the devotee is fit for climbing the hill is also mandatory," said Kerala CM.

All COVID protocols should be followed during the visit, Kerala CM informed.

The Sabarimala temple will be opened for devotees for five days starting from Friday during the Malayalam month of Thulam amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

As per the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), only 250 people will be allowed to visit on a single day and booking will be done on a first come first serve basis. A virtual queue portal for the booking of darshans at the temple has been opened for the public.

A COVID-19-negative certificate will be mandatory and pilgrims will be required to take the test 48 hours before reaching Pamba. Those arriving without the certificate will have to undergo a COVID-19 test at the base camp at Nilackal.

Special showers are arranged for bathing and devotees will not be allowed to bathe in the Pampa river.

The TBD also informed that toilet and bathroom facilities have been set up at Pampa, Nilakkal and Sannidhanam, and sanitisers, soap and water have been arranged at various points.

Devotees will ascend and descend through the Swami Ayyappan Road and special marks have been put in place for devotees to perform darshan at Sannidhanam in accordance with the COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.

There will be no accommodation for devotees at Sabarimala. In addition to the regular poojas, Udayasthamana poojas and Padi poojas will also be held, the TDB said. (ANI)

India to deliver kilo class submarine INS Sindhuvir to Myanmar Navy

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava


New Delhi [India], October 15 (ANI): India will be delivering a kilo class submarine INS Sindhuvir to Myanmar Navy and this will be the first submarine of the neighbouring country.

The step is in accordance with India's vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and also in line with India's commitment to building capacities and self-reliance in the neighbouring countries.

Addressing the weekly press conference here, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said cooperation in the maritime domain is a part of India's diverse and enhanced engagement with Myanmar.

"In this context, India will be delivering a kilo class submarine INS Sindhuvir to the Myanmar Navy. We understand that this will be the first submarine of the Myanmar Navy. This is in accordance with our vision of SAGAR - Security and Growth for All in the Region, and also in line with our commitment to build capacities and self reliance in all our neighbouring countries," he said. (ANI)

No message for talks sent to Pakistan, says MEA

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava


New Delhi [India], October 15 (ANI): India has sent no message for talks as claimed by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's advisor on national security and strategic policy planning in an interview.

India has said environment is not conducive for talks as Pakistan continues to support terror and is involved in spreading hate against India.

Pak official Moeed W Yusuf had said, "We have got a message for a desire for conversation".

Talking to reporters at the regular media briefing, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the senior Pakistani official had commented on India's internal affairs.

"We have seen reports on the interview by a senior Pakistani official to an Indian media outlet. He has commented on India's internal matters. As always, this is Pakistan's effort to divert attention from domestic failures of the present government and mislead its domestic constituents by pulling India into headlines on a daily basis," he said.

Srivastava said the official is well advised to restrict his advise to his establishment and not to comment on India's domestic policy.

"The statements made by him are contrary to facts on the ground, misleading and fictitious. As regards the purported message, let me make it clear that no such message was sent from our side" he said.

The MEA spokesperson said Pakistan continues to support, aid and abet cross-border terrorism against India and has also been resorting to unprovoked ceasefire violations to support terrorist infiltration.

"The Pakistani leadership continues to indulge in inappropriate, provocative and hate speech against India. Such support to terrorism against India and use of derogatory and abusive language is not conducive to normal neighbourly relations," he said. (ANI)

Vishal V Sharma appointed India's next permanent representative to UNESCO

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New Delhi [India], October 15 (ANI): Vishal V Sharma has been appointed as the next permanent representative of India to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Sharma has succeeded Jawed Ashraf.

"Vishal V Sharma appointed as the next permanent representative of India to the permanent delagation of India to UNESCO, Paris, in succession to Jawed Ashraf," MEA said in a release.

Sharma is expected to take up the assignment shortly. (ANI)

133 Indian nationals to return from Pakistan on October 19

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Islamabad [Pakistan], October 15 (ANI): A total of 133 Indian nationals are set to return from Pakistan on October 19, said Indian High Commission in Pakistan on Thursday.

The high commission has requested the people to make necessary arrangements to reach at Wagah/Attari border at the scheduled date for their return.

"High Commission of India in Pakistan is facilitating the return of 133 Indian nationals from Pakistan to India on 19 Oct. Those in the list are requested to make necessary arrangements to reach at Wagah/Attari border at scheduled date for return," said Indian High Commission in Pakistan.

In September, the Indian High Commission had said it is facilitating the return of 363 NORI (No Objection to Return to India) visa holders and 37 Indians from Pakistan.

"The High Commission of India in Pakistan is facilitating the return of 363 NORI visa holders and 37 Indians from Pakistan to India on September 15, 2020. The repatriation will be carried out as per the attached list," India in Pakistan had tweeted. (ANI)

Abusive interrogations of Hong Kong residents detained in China deserves condemnation: Human Rights org

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Washington DC [US], October 15 (ANI): The "incommunicado detentions and abusive interrogations" of 12 Hong Kong residents detained in China deserves worldwide condemnation, said Washington-based China Commission on Thursday.

"Their rights should be respected and they should have access to family-appointed lawyers, suitable medical care and contact with their family," said the human rights monitoring group, Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

This comes after the group of 12, some of whom are linked to anti-government protests were held in August while they were heading for Taiwan. According to media reports, they are under arrest in the southern city of Shenzhen.

According to Hong Kong media reports, among the people who were arrested was pro-democracy activist Andy Li.

Li is among the other pro-democracy activists including Agnes Chow and Jimmy Lai who were arrested on August 10 under the draconian National Security Law.

In September, the Hong Kong government had said it will not interfere in the arrest of 12 Hong Kongers by Chinese authorities.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Washington-based commission had slammed the Chinese government for the "crushing Hong Kong's freedoms" amid an increasing crackdown by the Hong Kong government on people for allegedly participating in an "unauthorised" pro-democracy demonstration across the region.

Anti-government protests have been rocking Hong Kong since last year. The enactment of draconian national security law in Hong Kong in June to stop people from protesting has intensified the demonstrations.

The national security law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong criminalises any act of secession (breaking away from China), subversion (undermining the power or authority of the central government), terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, with punishments of up to life in prison. It came into effect from July 1. (ANI)

Pak anti-graft body issues arrest warrant against former president Asif Ali Zardari

Former Pakistan president and Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari (File Photo)


Islamabad [Pakistan], October 15 (ANI): Pakistan's anti-corruption watchdog, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Thursday issued an arrest warrant against the former president and Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) leader Asif Ali Zardari in a graft case worth 8 billion in Pakistan Rupees.

According to The Express Tribune, a two-member bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) would hear Zardari's interim-bail plea today over suspicious transactions in the fake accounts case.

This arrest warrant comes amid the Imran Khan government's crackdown on opposition parties after an alliance was formed by all major opposition parties named Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) amid growing pubic agitation against the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.

Earlier in September, a court in Islamabad indicted the former president and other accused in money laundering pertaining to the fake accounts case.

Zardari, who is named in multiple corruption cases filed by the NAB, was granted bail by the Islamabad High Court on medical grounds last year.

Last week, Zardari was shifted to a hospital, after he felt unwell on Sunday, according to a statement by the party.

"Doctors are conducting his medical check-up and necessary medical tests," PPP said in its statement that was tweeted.

The Dawn newspaper reported that Zardari has been admitted to a hospital in Karachi. (ANI)

Ex-telecom secy Siddharth Behura challenges Centre's sanction to file appeal in 2G spectrum case

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New Delhi [India], October 15 (ANI): Former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, accused of sending Rs 200 crores through various channels to DMK MP K Kanimozhi in the 2G spectrum case, has challenged in the Delhi High Court sanctions granted by the Central government for the Central Bureau of Investigation to file an appeal against his acquittal.

The civil writ petition was listed before a single-judge bench of Justice Navin Chawla, who after hearing both the sides of the matter placed the petition before a bench of Justice Brijesh Sethi on October 19, 2020, subject to the order of the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court.

Justice Brijesh Sethi is hearing the appeals against the acquittal of the accused.

Kusegaon executive Rajiv Agarwal, another in the 2G spectrum allocation case who was acquitted by the trial court, today also told the court that the CBI had filed an appeal against his acquittal without placing on record the mandatory approval by the Central government.

The plea, filed through advocates Vijay Aggarwal and Ashul Agarwal, said the procedure prescribed by the Delhi High Court rules and the CBI manual have not been followed by the CBI and because of these glitches, the CBI has not supplied the complete documents in the court.

Agarwal argued that the appeal has been filed in terms of Section 378 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) for which approval of Central government is required, which is an administrative decision and in the present case the said decision has been given without any application of mind.

He submitted that when the said issue was raised before the appellate court, it was argued by CBI that the same can only be looked into by a writ court, however, when the issue is being raised before a writ court, CBI is opposing the same on the ground of issue being pending before the appellate court.

Aggarwal further submitted that the CBI cannot blow 'hot and cold' at the same time and a litigant cannot be left remediless. Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain along with advocate Ripudaman Bharadwaj appeared for Central Government and the CBI.

The plea said that the grant of sanction to file an appeal under Section 378 (2) of the CrPC is akin to the grant of sanction to prosecute and hence same has to be done with the utmost application of mind.

It said the appeal under Section 378 (2) of the CrPC is to be filed by a special public prosecutor appointed for 2G spectrum cases, which has not been done in the present case. (ANI)

Moscow imposes new COVID-linked rules for clubs, bars, discos

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Moscow [Russia], October 15 (ANI/Sputnik): Moscow is introducing new rules for access to bars, clubs and dance halls between midnight and 6 am amid the spike in coronavirus cases, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said Thursday.

Both staff and visitors will have to register their phone numbers to access the venues at night, the mayor said. Upon entry, visitors will either scan a QR code or send a text message to a special number 7377.

"Naturally, registering phone numbers will not stop coronavirus from spreading in and of itself. However, if one of the visitors later tests positive, we can quickly notify every person present that they were exposed and have to get tested quickly," the mayor said. (ANI/Sputnik)

Baloch students of Bahauddin Zakaria University march to Islamabad demanding their right to education

Baloch Students Council of Bahauddin Zakariya University marching towards Islamabad demanding their right to education. Photo/ANI


Lahore [Pakistan], October 15 (ANI): The Baloch Students Council, which began its protest against the Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU) 40 days ago, has now begun a protest march from the university campus in Multan to Islamabad after the scholarships for Baloch students were cancelled.

According to the list of demands put by the Council, the university administration must take back its decision and reopen the scholarships for Baloch students.

It has also demanded that scholarships be issued for the seats of tribal areas of Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajan Pur.

Earlier, the university had issued a notification cancelling the scholarships for Baloch students and justified it by saying that the decision came after a financial crisis.

The students had been protesting for the past 40 days. However, the issue remained unheard just like other issues of Baloch students.

Now, they have begun marching towards Islamabad, and are marching at this very moment when this report is being written.

"It is very common for people of Balochistan to protest against other political and human rights issues, but here we are standing just to ask for our basic right of education. Unfortunately even for education, we have to come out on the streets and cry for such petty things," the students said.

According to reports, the members of the Baloch Students' Council have received overwhelming support from other Baloch students organisations.

Protests like this give rise to questions about the treatment of Baloch students by the Pakistani state institutions. Basic things like the right to education are being snatched from them and they are forced to protest outside the universities instead of attending classes. (ANI)

President Ram Nath Kovind holds telephonic conversation with President of Turkmenistan

President Ram Nath Kovind and Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. (Photo/Reuters)


New Delhi [India], October 15 (ANI): President of India Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday held a telephonic conversation with the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.

The leaders acknowledged the warm and cordial relations between the two countries underpinned by historical and civilizational links. They lauded the sustained momentum of cooperation in diverse areas, particularly in the pharmaceutical sector, said a release issued by Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Both leaders agreed upon the immense potential that exists in trade and economic spheres and noted the success of joint collaboration between Indian and Turkmen companies, it added.

Kovind thanked Berdimuhamedov for the pleasantries exchanged and for his personal commitment to strengthening bilateral relations with India. (ANI)

Pakistan PM, Army trying hard to stop peaceful anti-government rally

People in Pakistan are set to participate in anti-government protests that will be held on October 16. (Photo: ANI)


Islamabad [Pakistan], October 15 (ANI): As the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) parties prepare for the peaceful anti-government rally in Punjab that will be held on October 16, the Pakistan Army and Prime Minister Imran Khan are trying hard to stop the protest.

According to sources, the Imran Khan-led government in liaison with the Army is under pressure by the narrative set by the PDM parties.

A major kind of civil disobedience crisis is underway in Pakistan and protests are being witnessed in Karachi, Pakistan occupied Kashmir, Sindh, Gilgit Baltistan and now in Punjab, the sources said.

On October 16, the anti-government protest by the PDM will be held in Punjab's Gujranwala.

Meanwhile, the sources have reported continuous raids and arrests of PML-N leaders and workers in the Punjab region.

Earlier today, Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had written a letter to Lieutenant General Syed Asim Munir Ahmed Shah over the need for security forces' deployment to "avoid the occurrence of any untoward incident" during the peaceful demonstration.

Bajwa said, "You are aware that PML-N is organising a public meeting with PDM leaders at Jinnah Stadium Gujranwala on October 16, 20. Inputs have been received that PML-N leaders in Punjab are also planning to stage demonstration outside Corps Commanders residence, cantonment area and GT Road. Intelligence inputs suggest that local PTI activists are likely to target these gatherings which may lead to an adverse security situation."

"You are requested to make necessary security arrangements with effect from 15 October 2020 to avoid the occurrence of any untoward incident. If the law and order situation deteriorates, then requisite measures should be adopted at your end," he added.

On October 14, Pakistani media reports stated that several people have been arrested, including some from Sadr in Lahore, and corner meetings hampered in view of the rally.

On Wednesday, former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tweeted: "Police must NOT comply with Imran Niazi's unlawful orders to arrest PMLN/PDM's workers, raid their homes or hinder their travel to Gujranwala."

Pakistani media reports stated that a COVID FIR was filed at Gujranwala police station against the opposition parties' members and workers.

The major political parties in Pakistan have formed the alliance - PDM -- with an aim to oust the Imran Khan government.

Earlier this month, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) slammed the Imran Khan government saying that "political revolution" in the country would be possible only through the newly formed PDM, adding that opposition leaders are being "silenced" for speaking against a "corrupt" government.

The PDM has proposed to launch a mass protest campaign, comprising public gatherings, political rallies, no-confidence motions, en masse resignations from Assemblies, and, finally, a long march in January that will culminate in a sit-in in Islamabad until their demands are met.

PML(N) vice president Maryam Nawaz has said that the Prime Minister Imran Khan's Government "would go home" before January days before the opposition holds its first power show in a campaign to oust the incumbent government. (ANI)

Why India must exercise the Quad option

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New Delhi [India], October 15 (ANI): In the middle of the 19th century, British statesman Lord Palmerston famously said in the House of Commons: "We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow."

At the end of the second decade of the 21st century, India's interests demand bonding with powerful friends, which can change the economic and military balance of power vis-a-vis China. That is where Japan, Australia and the United States, which together with India form the Indo-Pacific Quad, come in.

Why is countering China so important? Buoyed by its economic rise, and wanting to supplement its wealth with global political pre-eminence, China has silently slipped into its default Middle Kingdom mode. Since 1000 BC, China has perceived itself as the superior Middle Kingdom surrounded by inferior tributary states.

Since antiquity, Chinese emperors had conceived and often formed an eco-system with tributary states, which nourished and sustained the Middle Kingdom. In return, imperial China, which mirrored itself as a civilizational state, was obliged to protect its vassal states. "The fact that the Chinese regard themselves as superior to the rest of the human race, and that this belief has a racial component, will confront the rest of the world with a serious problem," predicted Martin Jacques, the author of the 2009 bestseller, "When China Rules the World: The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World".

Among China's current crop of intellectuals Peking University academic Jiang Shigong, has been the leading advocate for China's rise at the centre of a "world empire". "As a great world power that must look beyond its own borders, China must reflect on her own future, for her important mission is not only to revive her traditional culture. China must also patiently absorb the skills and achievements of humanity as a whole, and especially those employed by Western civilization to construct world empire," says Jiang as quoted in Reading the China Dream, a website that translates works by Chinese intellectuals.

The revival of the Middle Kingdom imagination, the kernel of China's exceptionalism, has now become a threat to international peace and security. Resorting to exercise of raw military, economic and diplomatic power, China has threatened India, potentially a rival civilisational state, with the war in Ladakh.

It has also challenged India's regional heft in South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region. Its Belt and Road Initiative has become the vehicle for exporting China's influence in India's immediate and extended neighbourhood, which includes Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka Maldives and the Gulf countries.

India alone is not the victim of Beijing's visible expansionism. Chinese warplanes and naval ships also continue to threaten Taiwan, which has become another major flashpoint primed for a military conflict. Traditional rivals, China and Japan are at loggerheads over the Senkaku islands, and with Indonesia, Beijing is feuding over the Natuna Islands. Other ASEAN countries including Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines and Brunei are quite literally on China's radar on account of rival claims over maritime boundaries in the resource-rich South China Sea. After the COVID-19 outbreak, China's relations with Australia have gone precipitously south.

The regional turbulence in the Indo-Pacific has naturally drawn in the United States, which has been the underwriter of rules of trade, commerce and regional balance of power, into a situation of confrontation with China. The Trump administration has virtually declared a new Cold War with China. In a major address on July 23 at the Nixon Centre, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared the futility of 40 years of engagement with China following former US President Richard Nixon's famous visit to Beijing in 1972.

It is important to note that India is not facing China on the frontiers alone. A great game between the two neighbours, with each trying to intrude and undermine each other's interests runs across geographies of the Indo-Pacific, covering ASEAN in the east and the African coastline in the west. But countering Chinese hard and soft power intrusions, especially through its BRI is expensive. Given the urgency of the task, India has to quickly build credible financial and military muscle. To accomplish this herculean task against a formidable and implacable rival, New Delhi has no choice but to embrace the Indo-Pacific Quad. By dithering to do so, India risks burying its civilisational self-esteem under the overwhelming weight of a 21st century Pax Sinica.

By partnering with the Indo-Pacific Quad, does India lose its strategic autonomy? Not necessarily. The Indo-Pacific Quad essentially represents a partnership of Middle Powers bonding with one superpower, but which has experienced a relative decline in its power. As it stands the Quad, on account of its internal power configuration, demonstrates a high degree of economic and military inter-dependence, rather than a slavish hierarchy lorded over by Washington. Recognising that the Middle Powers need to cooperate but reserve strategic space for themselves, US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Beigun acknowledged during a New Delhi address on October 12 that "the model of the last century of mutual defence treaties with a heavy in-country US troop presence," is not necessarily the Quad's future.

Instead, the US official proposed a loose "alignment on how best to equitably address strategic threats while accounting for changes in capabilities and respect for one another's sovereignty".

With clear cut roles assigned to the areas of operation, backed by logistical agreements among the four, which are already in place, there is no reason why the Indo-Pacific Quad cannot mount robust joint operations in the future, without entering into a formal old-style military alliance.

Yet, nothing is cast in stone. Pivots by nations big and small happen, in tune with significant changes in geopolitical circumstances. Ultimately the longevity of the Quad will be decided by Palmerston's dictum--the permanence of interests. If these for some reason change in the future, so would the fate of the Indo-Pacific Quad. (ANI)

CBI team in Hathras victim's village for questioning family members of accused

CBI officials along with police in Bulgarhi village of Hathras


Hathras (Uttar Pradesh) [India], October 15 (ANI): A team of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is investigating the Hathras incident has reached the Bulgarhi village on Thursday to question the family members of the accused in the alleged gang-rape of a woman who died last month.

The accused in the case have been identified as Sandeep, Ravi, Ramu, and Lavkush. On the fourth day of its investigation, the CBI is questioning the family members of the accused of the Hathras incident.

CBI on Wednesday questioned Hathras victim's family members for over six hours in connection with the case relating to her torture and alleged gang-rape last month. The family members were questioned for around 6 hours and 40 minutes at the agency's temporary office here.

The CBI has set up a camp office in Hathras in premises belonging to the Agriculture Department.

As a part of the investigation, the CBI team on Tuesday collected samples from the spot where the victim of the alleged gang-rape was cremated on September 30.

The 19-year-old Dalit woman allegedly gang-raped and severely injured in Hathras on September 14. She succumbed to her injuries at Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital on September 29. (ANI)

Air quality dips further in the national capital

Visuals from India Gate, New Delhi on Thursday. (Photo/ANI)


New Delhi [India], October 15 (ANI): Air quality deteriorated further in the national capital with the rise of pollutants in the atmosphere.

Air Quality Index (AQI) is at 366 in ITO, 309 in RK Puram, 313 in Anand Vihar, and 339 in Wazirpur, all four in the 'very poor' category, according to Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) data.

"Government should do something about stubble burning in neighbouring states, which is affecting the air quality here," a cyclist at Rajpath told ANI.

"I am facing difficulty in breathing. The government needs to immediately take action in order to reduce pollutants in the atmosphere. Old people like us have to think twice before stepping out for morning walks," Rajveer Yadav, a resident said.

Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) took to social media and tweeted, "In view of the upcoming winter season, CPCB will be deploying 50 teams for inspection in Delhi-NCR starting October 15."

It is to mention that stubble burning during the Kharif harvesting season in Punjab and Haryana is a major environmental issue that has even been adding to the pollution levels of neighbouring Delhi for the past few years. (ANI)

WHO DG urges to go after COVID-19 virus, not the vulnerable

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. (Photo:ANI)


Geneva [Switzerland], October 15 (ANI): As the countries continue to register news cases of coronavirus every day, World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged the leaders to maintain peace and focus on combatting against the virus and "not the vulnerable".

"It's a pandemic: go after the virus, not the vulnerable," said Ghebreyesus on Twitter.

In another tweet, he said, "Shanti" (peace). Interestingly, the WHO Director-General tweeted in Hindi.

Earlier, in a video message, the Director-General urged the countries to opt for "case finding, isolation, testing, compassionate care, contact tracing, quarantine, physical distancing, hand hygiene, masks, respiratory etiquette, ventilation, avoiding crowds and more" instead of herd immunity.

Informing about the herd immunity, he said, "There has been some discussion recently about the concept of reaching so-called "herd immunity" by letting the virus spread. Herd immunity is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached. For example, herd immunity against measles requires about 95 per cent of a population to be vaccinated. The remaining 5 per cent will be protected by the fact that measles will not spread among those who are vaccinated. In other words, herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not exposing them to it."

He further said, "Allowing a dangerous virus that we don't fully understand to run free is simply unethical. It's not an option. But we do have many options. WHO recommends case finding, isolation, testing, compassionate care, contact tracing, quarantine, physical distancing, hand hygiene, masks, respiratory etiquette, ventilation, avoiding crowds and more. This is what countries are proving works, every day."

According to the latest update by the Johns Hopkins University, 38,441,934 people globally have till now tested positive for coronavirus and 1,091,439 people have died. (ANI)

Twitter limits New York Post's editor from posting Biden-related corruption stories

US Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden. (Photo: ANI)


Washington [US], October 15 (ANI): New York Post's op-ed editor Sohrab Ahmari has revealed that Twitter is no longer allowing him to post stories that detail "corruption by a major-party presidential candidate, Biden".

Taking to Twitter, Ahmari said, "This is a Big Tech information coup. This is digital civil war. I, an editor at The New York Post, one of the nation's largest papers by circulation, can't post one of our own stories that detail corruption by a major-party presidential candidate, Biden."

On this, Twitter responded saying, "Your Tweet couldn't be sent because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful."

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported the Biden's presidential campaign rejecting the New York Post report about Joseph R Biden Jr. and his son Hunter that the nation's leading social media companies deemed so dubious that they limited access to the article on their platforms.

"We have reviewed Joe Biden's official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place," Andrew Bates, a spokesman for the Biden campaign, was quoted as saying.

The New York Times further reported that it was hours after the Post published its article, Facebook said on Wednesday that it had decided to limit the distribution of the story on its platform so it could fact-check the claims.

Following the Twitter not allowing the New York Post's article on Biden, US President Donald Trump took to Twitter and said, "So terrible that Facebook and Twitter took down the story of "Smoking Gun" emails related to Sleepy Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in the @NYPost. It is only the beginning for them. There is nothing worse than a corrupt politician. REPEAL SECTION 230!!!"

In a subsequent tweet, he said, "Congratulations to the @nypost for having exposed the massive corruption surrounding Sleepy Joe Biden and our Country. He's always been a corrupt politician. Disgraceful!"

As only three weeks are left for the US Presidential election, Facebook's and Twitter's actions immediately provoked strong reactions from Republicans that the social media platforms were censoring them, an outcry that grew louder later on Wednesday when the Trump campaign said the personal account of the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, had been locked because she had posted the New York Post story, The New York Times said.

Since last year, the Trump-led administration has focused on Hunter Biden's overseas business dealings, including his ties to a Ukrainian company, Burisma, during his father's tenure as vice president. (ANI)

Cinema halls to reopen today with COVID-19 protocols in place

Cinema halls will reopen from Thursday with half occupancy.


New Delhi [India], October 15 (ANI): After a gap of seven months, cinema halls and multiplexes will reopen in several parts of the country today with 50 percent capacity and seats will be marked 'not to be occupied' for ensuring physical distancing to combat COVID-19.

Cinema hall owners in cities like Ghaziabad, Gurugram, Chennai and Delhi have ensured the safety of their customers by enforcing the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines that include sanitisation of the halls, social distancing, paperless tickets, and theatres limited to 50 percent occupancy at a time.

Speaking to ANI, Gagan Kapoor, Regional head of Delhi PVR Cinemas said that theatres will follow safety guidelines announced by the MHA along with the global standards defined by the Global Cinema Federation (GCF).

"PVR has involved several goodwill screenings for the company's employees, health workers, and the police force and their families, who would later act as evangelists for the brand," said Kapoor.

Outside the cinema hall, masks have also been arranged for visitors entering the food gallery keeping in mind social distancing measures, and all incoming viewers will need to download the 'Arogya Setu' app on their mobile. According to the MHA guidelines, air conditioner temperature inside the cinema halls must be between 24 degrees to 30 degrees for people's safety.

"Our preparations for running operations are very solid and we have been preparing for it over the last seven months. We aim to provide a safe movie experience to our customers amid COVID-19," Sanjay Barjatya, Regional Operations Head, Miraj Cinemas, told ANI.

Theatre owners are confident to pull off their business with new restrictions and manage the safety of customers as well as their staff members after a seven-month shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Union government allowed multiplexes, cinema halls and theatres to reopen from October 15 within the framework of a set of standard operating procedure (SOP). The MHA left it to states to take a final call on the matter. (ANI)

Not just 'Missile Man': Here are five scientific contributions of APJ Abdul Kalam on his 89th birth anniversary

Late President APJ Abdul Kalam


New Delhi [India], October 15 (ANI): From being the people's President to spearheading the development of the most significant Indian missiles, late President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam has contributed to the development of the country in different spheres.

As an aerospace scientist, Kalam worked with India's two major space research organisations - Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

While, his work in the development and operationalisation of Indigenous guided missiles - AGNI and PRITHVI - earned him the title of the 'Missile Man of India,' there are many more ways in which Kalam has helped India in the division of science and technology.

On the 89th birth anniversary of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, here are 5 of his scientific contributions to the country: -

1. Directed the project to develop India's first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV)

Back in 1980s, when India had hardly dreamt of having its indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV), Dr Kalam's over 10-year-long hard work as the project director for the development of the indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle at ISRO led to the ground-breaking scientific development.

It was in July 1980, that India's SLV-III successfully deployed the Rohini satellite in the near-Earth orbit leading to the country becoming a member of the exclusive Space Club.

2. Directed projects for the development of ballistic missiles

Kalam also headed the projects Devil and Valiant which had the aim of developing ballistic missiles using the technology behind the successful SLV program. Under mission Kalam with other projects, members developed many missiles including AGNI which is an intermediate-range ballistic missile and PRITHVI which is a surface-to-surface missile.

3. Headed multiple nuclear tests at Pokhran

Serving as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the then Prime Minister, Kalam played a major role in heading the Pokhran-II nuclear testing leading to him being known as the best nuclear scientist of the country at that time. The nuclear testing under the supervision of Kalam during the period of July 1992 to December 1999 made India a nuclear-armed state.

4. He worked in making healthcare accessible to all

Working jointly with cardiologist Soma Raju, the late President developed a cost-effective coronary stent 'Kalam-Raju Stent' which helped in making healthcare accessible to all.

5. Developed the rugged 'Kalam-Raju tablet'

The duo of Kalam and Soma Raju later in 2012 designed a rugged tablet computer for better health care administration in the rural pockets of the country. They termed it the 'Kalam-Raju tablet.'

For his work in the stream of science and politics, the 11th President was also awarded India's highest civilian honour or the Bharat Ratna.

Kalam breathed his last on July 27, 2015, while delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong when he collapsed and died from a cardiac arrest.

Five years after his demise, his contributions are still remembered as some of the best scientific and technological developments in the country. (ANI)

China allowed COVID-19 to spread around world: Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump at Iowa rally


Iowa [US], October 15 (ANI): Terming the COVID-19 outbreak as a 'horrible situation', President Donald Trump on Wednesday (local time) hit out at China for allowing COVID-19 to spread outside Beijing while preventing the spread in its own country.

"We came together and what happened was that we then got hit by the plague (COVID-19). We were really coming together and then we got hit by this horrible situation--it could have been stopped. China stopped it from going into the rest of China but they did not stop it from coming out and going to Europe, the United States and the rest of the world," Trump said here at a rally organised for his re-election to the Presidency.

He added, "We are now putting it together. We had it done and now we are doing it again and next year we will be stronger. This coming year will be even better."

The US president further hit out at the former Vice President and his Democratic counterpart Joe Biden for supporting China's entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO), stating that it was a "catastrophe for our nation".

"Since the ChinaVirus, we have created a record of 11.4 million jobs. We have cut the unemployment rate by half. We are down to 7.8 per cent. Jobs have been recovering 23 times than the Obama-Biden recovery," he said.

"He supported NAFTA--a disaster, he supported China's entry into the World Health Organisation-- a catastrophe for our nation. China tries to get away with the fact that they are a developing nation. Not anymore; if Biden wins, China wins. If Biden wins, China will own our country."

The US presidential elections are scheduled to be held on November 3, this year. (ANI)

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