Farmers’ organisations and political parties continued their protest against the contentious new farm laws on Monday. Activists claiming to be members of Punjab Youth Congress set fire to a tractor near India Gate in Delhi, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh sat on a protest against the farm bills and a Congress MP moved the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of one of the laws. Violence during farmers’ protests is nothing new though.
Between 2014 and 2018, there have been more than 13,000 protests by farmers on various issues — having escalated sharply by eight times from a little over 600 in 2014 to more than 4,800 in 2016.
A major grouse has been the minimum support price (MSP) for various crops. The Shanta Kumar Committee report in 2015 noted that just 5.8% of India’s farmers benefit from MSP — mostly due to inadequate storage space of the government due to which farmers often have to sell to middlemen below the MSP, incurring losses and lack of awareness about MSP among farmers.
Another issue has been that of land acquisition, with farmers complaining that compensation for land acquired for industrial projects was not in tune with market rates. In June this year, more than 100 villagers from Gujarat’s Old Diva village in Ankleshwar taluka staged a protest against what they alleged were low compensation rates for land acquired for the Vadodara-Mumbai express highway, which, according to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), was based on 2011 Jantri rates
Even as the number of recorded Covid-19 deaths crossed the 1 million-mark on Monday, medical professionals called for balance in the treatment of Covid and non-Covid cases. According to the Lancet report Global Burden of Diseases, there are at least 15 different diseases that kill more than a million people every year (see above graphic).
Covid has also stretched the capacity of health systems as no other pandemic in recent history. Even just 5-8% of total cases becoming critically ill has meant a huge burden on the health system.
A Lancet editorial also warned that “healthcare workers, unlike ventilators or wards, cannot be urgently manufactured or run at 100% occupancy for long periods”. Amnesty International revealed in early September that more than 7,000 health workers across the world had died from Covid.
Cases: 66,251, lowest since Aug 31 (65,968)
Deaths: 783, lowest since Aug 2 (758)
Active cases: 95,000+
Tests done (Sunday): Less than 710,000, lowest since Aug 23
Also: The growth rate of cases in India fell to between 1.4%-1.6% during the last week (September 20-26), compared with 1.8%-2.2% during September 4-10, indicating a clear slowdown in transmission.
However, with a high number of new infections still being detected, active cases per lakh population, at 69, continues to rise.
Just six months after a five-judge bench settled vexed land acquisition issues, the Supreme Court on Monday sought to reopen the matter of time period for payment of compensation to land owners saying it has not been settled by the earlier bench.
The larger bench had, on March 6, said that the land acquisition will lapse if the government had neither taken possession of the land nor paid compensation within five years. However, if the government had taken possession of the land but not paid compensation, then the acquisition wouldn’t lapse.
The matter was referred to the five-judge bench because of conflicting verdicts of two benches of the apex court on interpretation of Section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in the Land Acquisition Act.
“For how long can the government not pay compensation after acquiring the land without rendering the acquisition null and void,” the SC has now asked. Centre argued that governments would be liable to pay penal interest on the compensation amount if payments are delayed.
The SC said law provided that land acquisition must be completed within five years of initiating the process (but excluding the delay caused due to interim orders passed by courts). “So, if the government did not pay compensation for five years after acquiring the land, should the acquisition be termed null and void?” it asked.
Days after the national auditor, in a report tabled in Parliament, said that it did not find a single case of foreign vendors transferring high technology to the Indian industry, the Centre announced a new defence acquisition procedure (DAP) that abolishes offsets in government-to-government and single-vendor deals.
Under India’s offset policy, foreign defence entities are mandated to spend at least 30% of the total contract value in India through procurement of components or setting up of research and development facilities.
The deal to buy 36 Rafale jets was a government-to-government deal and included a 50% offset clause.
The new DAP, which comes into force from October 1, says that offsets will continue in deals that have a multi-vendor competition and bidding.
The DAP also introduces a new provision on leasing to allow the armed forces to hire equipment for urgent operational requirements.
What: The meeting of the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy committee (MPC), which sets interest rates, has been postponed because the Centre failed to appoint three members to the six-member panel headed by the RBI governor. The three-day meeting was to begin today for a bi-monthly monetary policy review.
Why: The terms of three members ended last month. Rules require the presence of at least four members, with at least one being the governor or, in his absence, the deputy governor, who is a member of the committee.
So: “Monetary policy was the only lever providing support to the economy and such uncertainty doesn’t help,” A Prasanna, chief economist at ICICI Securities, told Bloomberg. “The government and RBI had at least three months to appoint members and yet they have failed,” he said. It’s not just the interest rates but the RBI’s guidance on growth and inflation that the markets and economists look forward to.
A special National Investigation Agency court on Monday sentenced Subhani Haja Moideen, a native of Thodupuzha, Kerala, to life imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs 2.1 lakh after finding him guilty of joining the Islamic State (IS) and waging a war against Iraq.
Haja left for Syria through Istanbul in 2015 before making his way to Mosul, Iraq, where he pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the IS leader who was later killed by US commandos in 2019. He later returned to India after getting an emergency travel document from the embassy in Istanbul after he claimed to have lost his passport. In 2016, NIA arrested him along with five others with alleged links to IS while investigating another case on a plan to attack political leaders and judges.
Haja was awarded life imprisonment and Rs 1 lakh fine, and rigorous imprisonment for seven years under various sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act; rigorous imprisonment of seven years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh for waging war against an Asiatic power in alliance with India (Iraq) under section 125 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC); and rigorous imprisonment of five years a fine of Rs 10,000 under section 120B of the IPC. The sentences shall run concurrently.
Donald Trump paid no income tax for at least 10 years, and the year he won the presidential election — 2016 — he paid as little as $750, a New York Times investigation revealed, potentially undermining his bid for re-election and arming his Democratic challenger Joe Biden before Tuesday’s televised election debate.
In his first two years in the White House, his revenue from abroad totalled $73 million. The NYT report showed he earned $3 million from the Philippines, $2.3 million from India and $1 million from Turkey. Trump enjoys good personal chemistry with the leaders of all the three nations.
Also, Trump is facing foreclosure. He is personally responsible for loans and other debts totalling $421 million, with most of it coming due within four years. “Should he win re-election, his lenders could be placed in the unprecedented position of weighing whether to foreclose on a sitting president,” the report said. “It’s totally fake news. Made up,” Trump said.
The report: For the second time in 10 matches, a 200+ score didn’t prove enough as Mumbai Indians (MI) levelled Royal Challengers Bangalore’s (RCB’s) total in a thriller in Dubai on Monday. (RR had overhauled KXIP’s 223 the night before in Sharjah.)
Put in to bat, RCB were boosted by an 81-run opening stand between Devdutt Padikkal and Aaron Finch, with both scoring brisk fifties. And then the pyrotechnics from AB de Villiers and Shivam Dube lifted them towards the end.
And it remained advantage RCB as they had MI at 78/4 in the 12th over of the chase. But a brilliant turnaround, courtesy the dynamic Ishan Kishan and Kieron Pollard meant 89 runs were clubbed in the last five overs to tie the match.
However, MI could manage only 7 while facing Navdeep Saini in their Super Over (the second-lowest runs scored by a team batting first in an IPL Super Over) and RCB clinched the win off the last ball.
The scorecard:RCB 201/3 (de Villiers 55, Padikkal 54, Finch 52) tied with MI 201/5 (Kishan 99, Pollard 64 not out). RCB won Super Over.
The stat: Virat Kohli has 18 runs in the first three games this IPL, his lowest in first three innings of any IPL season.
Cygnus spacecraft S.S. Kalpana Chawla will lift off from Virginia tomorrow early morning to deliver 3,458 kg of cargo to the International Space Station (ISS), including a brand-new space toilet.
Built at a cost of $23 million (Rs 169.6 crore), the fresh toilet is named the Universal Waste Management System (UWMS). And it’s 65% smaller and 40% lighter than the toilet currently in use on the space station, and can support much larger crews.
UWMS includes a seat that is meant to be more accommodating for female crew members. It also features a 3D-printed titanium dual fan separator, which creates a strong airflow to help pull waste away from the body and into specially-created containers, and a stall-like enclosure for privacy. An improved pretreat system allows to process and recycle urine for reclaimed water.
It’s hoped that the UWMS will ‘bridge the gap between current lavatorial space technology and what humans will need to make extended visits to, say, Mars, in comfort’ or the Moon.
Turkey. Prosecutors in the country have indicted six new Saudis suspected of involvement in the 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. They are seeking life imprisonment for two of the suspects and up to five years in jail for the remaining four, the official Anadolu news agency reported. (St Nicolas was born in Patara, Turkey.)
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