ARMY CHIEF SAYS PLA THREAT PERSISTS
As Indian and Chinese Corps Commanders met for the 14th round of discussions to resolve the 21-month-long standoff in eastern Ladakh, Army Chief General MM Naravane Wednesday said the Chinese threat in the region had not reduced in any way despite partial disengagement at multiple friction points.
Speaking to the reporters ahead of Army Day on January 15, Naravane also rejected China’s land boundary law that came into force on January 1, saying it was not legally binding on India.
“This law will have no bearing on our bilateral relations and that we do not accept it as such,” he said. “India and China have many other agreements and protocols which predate this new law that they have passed. And any new law which is not binding on other countries and which is not legally tenable and is not in keeping with the agreements that we have had in the past, obviously cannot be binding on us.”
The law, passed amid the standoff, stipulates that “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China are sacred and inviolable”. It has sparked concerns that it could have a bearing on the dispute along the LAC.
Naravane said the situation along the LAC “is stable and under control”. He added, however, that India is in a position “to meet whatever is thrown at us in the future”. “War or conflict is always an instrument of last resort. But if resorted to, we will come out victorious.”
On the talks with China on Wednesday, Naravane said: “We are hopeful that we will be able to resolve the issues at PP15 (Hot Springs), which is the one which is pending as of now”. Once that is done, he said, “we will go on to the other issues which pre-date the current standoff, we are hopeful that too we will get resolved from time to time”. “A number of rounds will be required to deal with this situation and resolve them, one at a time,” said the Army Chief. “While we say that, while there has been partial disengagement, the threat has in no way reduced. The force levels are more or less the same, and from our side they have been enhanced.”
During the press briefing, Naravane touched on a range of issues including the botched Army ambush in Nagaland, the state of the borders with Pakistan and Myanmar, and the situation in J&K. He said the Court of Inquiry is expected to submit in a day or two its report into the December 4 Army operation in Nagaland that left seven civilians dead . Terming the episode “highly regrettable”, he said: “Based on the findings of the inquiry, appropriate action will be taken. I would like to clarify that the law of the land is paramount, and we will always uphold that and will take action as required in upholding the law of the land.”
PM SECURITY BREACH: JUSTICE MALHOTRA TO HEAD SC-APPOINTED PROBE PANEL
The Supreme Court Wednesday appointed a five-member committee headed by former apex court judge Justice Indu Malhotra to probe the security breach during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to Punjab.
The 'questions cannot be left to one-sided enquiry' and a judicially trained mind needs to oversee the probe, a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana said while appointing the Justice Malhotra panel.
The bench also appointed the Inspector General of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Director General of Police of Chandigarh, the Registrar General of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Additional DGP (Security) of Punjab as members to the panel.
The apex court directed the Registrar General of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to provide all the seized documents pertaining to the security arrangements made by the Punjab government for the Prime Minister's January 5 visit immediately to the panel head.
The bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, said the panel will submit its report 'at the earliest'. It said the points of reference of the apex court-appointed panel will be to inquire as to who all are responsible for the security breach and to what extent, the remedial measures are necessary.
The top court's order has come on the plea of an organisation, Lawyers Voice, seeking a thorough investigation into the breach in Modi's security in Punjab on Jan 5, to ensure there is no such incident in the future.
NOTICE TO CENTRE, UTTARAKHAND OVER HATE SPEECHES
The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notices to the Centre, Uttarakhand Government and Delhi Police on a PIL seeking action against those who delivered hate speeches during the ‘Dharam Sansad’ held at Haridwar and an event organised by ‘Hindu Yuva Vahini’ in Delhi last month.
Asking them to respond to the PIL filed by journalist Qurban Ali and senior advocate Anjana Prakash, a Bench led by CJI NV Ramana posted the matter for further hearing after 10 days. The petitioners have sought an “independent, credible and impartial investigation” by an SIT into the incidents of alleged hate speeches at the Dharam Sansad. On behalf of the petitioners, senior advocate Kapil Sibal urged the top court to stay the next Dharam Sansad scheduled to be held at Aligarh later this month and take up the matter on Monday for this purpose but the Bench didn’t pass any such orders.
PAKISTAN'S NEW SECURITY POLICY SEEKS PEACE WITH INDIA
Pakistan is “not seeking hostility with India for the next 100 years”, said an official in Islamabad while offering a sneak preview to the media of its first-ever security policy.
“Economic security will be the central theme of the new national security policy…. But geo-economics does not necessarily mean we overlook our geo-strategic and geo-political interests,” Pakistani media quoted the official as commenting on the unclassified 50 pages of the policy which will be unveiled by Pakistan PM Imran Khan on Friday. Another 50 pages of the policy will remain classified.
Kashmir will be a “vital national policy” issue for Pakistan, but the new policy seeks peace with immediate neighbours by normalising trade and business ties. “The national security policy for 2022 to 2026 seeks a shift in Pakistan’s approach from geo-strategic to geo-economics,” said the official in a background briefing for journalists. But, he clarified there was no prospect of rapprochement with India under the current government in New Delhi.
Pakistan’s national security adviser Moeed Yusuf had also said in a briefing that economic security should be the core of the country’s security policy.
COVID DASHBOARD – INDIA
As of 0800 IST /Jan 13
from mohfw.gov.in ,
New Cases on Wednesday 2,47,417
Active Cases 11,17,531 (+1,62,212)
Total Deaths (Deaths Yesterday) 4,85,035 (204)
Total Vaccination: 154.61 Crores (+76,32,024)
AMID CALLS FOR HIM TO QUIT, UK PM SORRY FOR LOCKDOWN PARTY
British PM Boris Johnson offered his “heartfelt apologies” on Wednesday for attending a “bring your own booze” gathering at his official residence during the country’s first coronavirus lockdown as opponents said he must resign. Johnson admitted for the first time that he had attended the party at 10 Downing Street on May 20, 2020, when Covid-19 rules limited social gatherings to a bare minimum, and said he understood the anger the revelations had caused. “I know the rage they feel with me over the government I lead when they think that in Downing Street itself the rules are not being properly followed by the people who make the rules,” Johnson told parliament.
Johnson said he regretted his action and had thought the gathering was a work event — drawing jeers from opposition lawmakers. “I went into that garden just after six on the 20th of May 2020 to thank groups of staff before going back into my office 25 minutes later to continue working,” he said. “With hindsight, I should have sent everyone back inside. ”
Two snap opinion polls on Tuesday showed well over half of respondents thought Johnson should resign.
RUSSIA, NATO LAY OUT STARK DIFFERENCES ON UKRAINE CRISIS
The NATO allies warned Russia on Wednesday that they would not compromise on the alliance's right to defend its eastern members to avoid further conflict in Ukraine, but invited Moscow to further talks on calming security concerns.
Speaking after talks with Russian envoys at NATO headquarters in Brussels, alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned: “There are significant differences between NATO allies and Russia on these issues.”
Gen. Stoltenberg said it would be impossible for the 30 NATO members to agree to Moscow’s core demands for a new security order in Europe, and in particular added that Russia would have no veto on Ukraine’s right to eventually join the alliance.
Gen. Stoltenberg said it was “positive” that the two sides had been able to sit down together, reviving the NATO-Russia Council platform, and that NATO members had invited Russia to agree to a series of talks to discuss arms control and “many other issues to prevent a new armed conflict”.
“Russia was not in a position to agree on that proposal. They didn’t reject it either, but the Russian representatives made it clear that they needed some time to come back to NATO with an answer,” he said.
WORRY NUMBERS AGAIN – COVID POSITIVES AND DEATHS ON THE RISE
More than 2.4 lakh new cases of coronavirus infections were reported from across the country on Wednesday, a big jump compared to the last few days, indicating that it was still premature to read much into the apparent recent slowdown in cities such as Mumbai and Delhi.
The sharp decline in the new cases in Mumbai in the last five days had given rise to hopes that the city had already attained the peak of the third wave. But a sharp rise was seen on Wednesday, with the detection of 16,420 cases.
Delhi, the first city to experience the surge in the third wave, also seemed to have entered a slowdown after the sharp rise in cases in the first week of this month. On Wednesday, however, more than 27,000 cases were detected in the city, very close to its all-time high of 28,395, attained during the second wave. Delhi also reported 40 Covid deaths on Wednesday.
In the last five days, a slowdown could be noticed at the national level as well, with the rise in daily cases not being as rapid as in the first week of January. The seven-day moving average of new cases has been increasing at a much slower rate. But this could change anytime. Wednesday already saw a large increase in cases.
As on Tuesday, India’s weekly positivity rate had risen to 9.18%, compared to just about 1% at the beginning of the year, suggesting a quick spread of infection during this time.
With the Omicron variant, which is driving the third wave, known to result in mostly mild diseases, it was not expected to cause many deaths. But as the third wave entered into the second week in India, the death count is showing a very clear upward trend.
PM SECURITY BREACH: SIX BJP CMS ALLEGE PLOT
On a day when the Supreme Court appointed a committee over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security breach, chief ministers of BJP-ruled states came out to accuse the Congress and its government in Punjab of a “pre-planned, well-orchestrated conspiracy”.
At least two chief ministers, Himanta Biswa Sarma (Assam) and Biplab Kumar Deb (Tripura), alleged the involvement of “Khalistanis”, with Sarma even demanding the arrest of Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi for the “conspiracy to kill” the PM.
Four chief ministers, Yogi Adityanath (Uttar Pradesh), Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh), Sarma and Deb, alleged that the flyover where the PM’s convoy was stranded was “just a few kilometres from the Pakistan border”, vulnerable to “drones, missiles and snipers”.
Addressing a press conference in Guwahati, Sarma alleged that the Congress high command and its government in Punjab were “directly involved” in an “international conspiracy”, and the protesters who had blocked the road were “Khalistanis”, not farmers.
ANOTHER BJP MINISTER QUITS AMID CHURN IN UP
In another jolt to the ruling BJP in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, state minister Dara Singh Chauhan on Wednesday resigned from the Yogi Adityanath Cabinet.
Earlier on Tuesday, minister Swami Prasad Maurya quit and three MLAs announced resignation from the party. Chauhan hit out at CM Yogi and the BJP, saying oppressed, poor, backward, Dalits and youth “on whose shoulders the BJP rode to power in 2017, did not get justice, while others took all benefits”.
Meanwhile, an arrest warrant against Maurya was issued by a local court in a seven-year-old case. The court fixed January 24 as the next date of hearing. The case was lodged in 2014 for alleged objectionable comments against Hindu gods. An arrest warrant was issued against Maurya in 2016, but it was stayed by the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court.
Though he hasn't yet announced joining Akhilesh Yadav, Maurya thanked the SP chief for welcoming his decision to quit the state cabinet. Asked who else is joining SP with him, Maurya said, "Everything will be clear on January 14".
Maurya ruled out returning to the BJP despite efforts by its several leaders to placate him.
There was some movement in the opposite direction too yesterday. Congress MLA Naresh Saini and Samajwadi Party MLA Hari Om Yadav joined the BJP yesterday.
A former SP MLA, Dharmpal Singh also joined the BJP yesterday.
TEWARI HINTS NEITHER CHANNI NOR SIDHU FIT TO BE PUNJAB CM
A day after Punjab chief minister Charanjit Channi and state Congress chief Navjot Sidhu pressed their claim for the CM’s post, party MP from the state, Manish Tewari, suggested that neither of them deserves to be given the top job, muddying the waters further and compounding the sense of a free-for-all in the election-bound state.
Tagging a news report about Channi pressing the leadership to be declared the CM candidate, Tewari tweeted, “Punjab requires a CM who has solutions to Punjab’s challenges, capacity to take tough decisions. Punjab NEEDS serious people whose politics is NOT Social Engineering, Entertainment, Freebies, & NOT regime favourites rejected by people in successive elections. ” While he did not name anyone, it was clear that Tiwari’s jibe was directed at Channi, Sidhu and state campaign committee chief Sunil Jakhar, while “regime” implied party leadership.
The AICC central election committee, which clears candidates’ names, is likely to meet on Thursday.
IT Q3 RESULTS: TCS AND INFOSYS BEAT STREET ESTIMATES, WIPRO MISSES
On a day three IT services majors announced their third quarter financial results for FY22, Infosys clearly led the chart with a strong performance on several fronts. Both Tata Consultancy Services and Infy beat the Street estimates on growth, while Wipro fell short of expectations after delivering consistent performance in the last three to four quarters.
TCS announced on Wednesday that its board had approved a buyback plan of up to Rs 18,000 crore at Rs 4,500 per share. This is the fourth buyback by the company in five years. The total cash returned to shareholders in the first three buybacks adds up to Rs 48,000 crore.
The clear message from the performance of the top three IT services players was that the growth momentum is strong, in a traditionally soft quarter.
WHAT INDIA TAKES OFFENCE TO: ADVERTISING STANDARDS COUNCIL FINDS OUT
An advertisement showing two women talking about Cars24’s promise that you can test drive the car and return it with full refund in seven days if it doesn’t work for you has upset a section of men. In the ad, the women say there should be such a policy for husbands, too.
“Will same return policy be taken so laughingly as this one if we reverse the #gender? (sic)" asks a complainant to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).
Another complaint, this time against a FreshToHome ad, reads: “Suggest to ban gory and repulsive photos of animal parts in ads – just as photos of accident victims.”
Yet another one targets a Disney Hotstar ad with the tagline, “Bahut hua parivaar”, where the teenager is encouraged to watch cricket matches with his online friends and not with his “noisy” family. "This is an effort to create a gap between teenager and his family. It is also against Indian family values and culture," a complainant writes.
Based on 1,759 such complaints against 488 advertisements received over the past three years, ASCI conducted a study, in some cases also interviewing the complainants, to understand what is it that offends people. The council’s report, “What India Takes Offence To”, is the result of this study.
CAPE TOWN TEST, DAY 2: MATCH EVENLY POISED
Jasprit Bumrah silenced his critics with one of his best five-wicket hauls in the traditional format as India’s fast bowling unit gave the team a slender edge over South Africa on an exhilarating second day in the third and final Test, in Cape Town, on Wednesday.
Bumrah (23.3-8-42-5) was at the heart of India's swift and brutal counter-attack as he got his seventh five-wicket haul with fine complementary acts from Mohammed Shami (16-4-39-2) and Umesh Yadav (16-3-64-2) that helped them bundle out the Proteas for 210.
In India’s 2nd innings, Mayank Agarwal (7) and K L Rahul (10) went cheaply, and the vistors were 57 for 2 at stumps with skipper Virat Kohli (batting 14) and Cheteshwar Pujara (batting 9.
Scores at end of Day 2: India 223 & 57/2; S Africa 210
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THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Live quietly in the moment and see the beauty of all before you. The future will take care of itself. - Paramhansa Yogananda
At a church meeting, a very wealthy man rose to tell the rest of those present about his Christian faith.
"I'm a millionaire," he said, "and I attribute it all to the rich blessings of God in my life. I remember that turning point in my faith. I had just earned my first dollar and I went to a church meeting that night. The speaker was a missionary who told about his work. I knew that I only had a dollar bill and I had to either give it all to God's work or give nothing at all. So at that moment, I decided to give my whole dollar to God. I believe that God blessed that decision, and that is why I am a rich man today."
When he finished and moved toward his seat, there was an awed silence.
As he sat down, a little old lady sitting in the same pew leaned over and said to him, "I dare you to do it again."