Indo-China Border Flare Up: Trump Offers Mediation

Amid the stand-off between India and China in Ladakh region, President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that US is ‘ready’ and ‘willing’ to mediate their ‘raging border dispute’.

“We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute. Thank you!” tweeted President Trump.

Amid efforts to de-escalate the tensions with China in Ladakh through talks, the Indian military leadership had on Tuesday gave their inputs to the government on dealing with the situation.

Chief of Defence Staff had briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the military inputs and suggestions to handle the situation in Ladakh where China has brought in more than 5000 troops who are deployed all along the Line of Actual Control at multiple locations from Daulat Beg Oldie to other areas in Ladakh.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had also briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on all aspects of the ongoing stand-off with China which started on May 5-6 with a swift movement of troops by the Chinese in Pangong Tso, Finger and Galwan Nala area.


India’s Coronavirus Tally Crosses 1.5 Lakh

India’s COVID-19 count has reached 1,51,767 with 6,387 new cases of coronavirus reported in the last 24 hours, said the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Wednesday.

According to the Ministry, 170 people also died due to the infection in the last 24 hours. So far, a total of 4,337 deaths have taken place across the country.

Currently, there are 83,004 active cases in the country while 64,425 COVID-19 positive patients have been cured/discharged and one has migrated.

“A total of 1,51,767 cases have been reported from the country in which 64,426 persons have been cured and the recovery rate is pegged at 42.4 per cent,” said the Ministry.

Maharashtra continues to be the worst affected state in the country with 54,758 reported cases and 1,792 deaths, as per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Tamil Nadu registered 817 cases of COVID-19 today, while six patients died and 567 others were discharged. The total number of positive cases in the State stands at 18,545, including 133 deaths and 9,909 discharged.

Delhi has reported 792 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cases in the national capital to 15,257. 310 recovered/discharged/migrated in this period.

“The total number of positive cases in the national capital rises to 15,257, including 7,264 recovered/discharged/migrated,” said the Delhi government.

With 303 deaths, Delhi continues to be one of the worst-hit parts of the county by the deadly contagion.

Gujarat has reported 14,821 COVID-19 cases so far; 7,139 patients have been cured or discharged and 915 people have died in the state, according to the Health Ministry.

Madhya Pradesh has so far reported 7024 cases of COVID-19, 3689 people have been cured or discharged, while 305 people have died of the virus in the State.

Rajasthan has reported 35 new COVID-19 positive cases today, taking the count of positive cases to 7,680, said the State’s Health Department.

Karnataka has reported 122 more COVID-19 cases and one death, taking the total number of coronavirus cases in the state to 2,405 on Wednesday.

“The total number of cases in the state is now at 2,405, including 1,596 active cases and 45 deaths (2 due to ‘non COVID-19’ cause),” the state Health Department said.

Uttar Pradesh has reported 277 new COVID-19 positive cases in the last 24 hours. There are 2790 active cases in the state, 3855 people have been cured/discharged till date. The toll stands at 178, said State Principal Secretary (Health) Amit Mohan Prasad.


Nepal Postpones Updating Contentious Map With India

The discussion to amend Nepal’s constitution to update the country’s map, earlier slated for Wednesday, now has been taken out of schedule.

Nepal’s House of Representatives was scheduled to hold the discussion in the Parliament for the amendment, which has already been delayed for some time as parties decided to seek a national consensus on the matter.

As per schedule published by Parliament Secretariat regarding the meeting on Wednesday, Law Minister Shivamaya Tumbahamphe will table the proposal at 2 p.m. (local time).

The government had registered an amendment proposal in Parliament on May 22 after releasing a new political map of Nepal depicting Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limipiyadhura as its territories on May 18. The map was released in response to New Delhi opening a road to link India via Lipulekh with the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

As the constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Tuesday evening called on all-party-meeting to forge consensus to pass the proposal unanimously.

But the leaders of Madhesh based parties have been pressing on the government to include their demands along with the proposal to amend the charter.

“We also want our long-time demands to be addressed but no satisfactory answer has been provided so far. Instead, PM Oli termed it as an issue purely associated with the national sentiment of the people,” a senior leader from Janata Samajbadi Party informed ANI seeking anonymity.

The ruling Nepal Communist Party commands a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, but it needs support from other parties to get the Constitution amendment proposal through the Lower House, as it falls short of around 10 seats.

The Nepali Congress, which has supported the government’s move of releasing the new map, however, has said the constitution amendment proposal needs discussion in the party.


Charge Sheet Filed Against 292 Tablighi Foreigner

The Crime Branch of Delhi Police on Wednesday filed 15 more charge sheets against 292 foreign nationals from 14 countries in a Saket district court in connection with the congregation at Markaz Tablighi Jamaat in the Nizamuddin area of the national capital.

The charge-sheets were filed before the court of Duty Metropolitan Magistrate Jitendra Pratap Singh in connection with the congregation, which had reportedly emerged as an epicentre for the spread of coronavirus in the country.

The matter was listed for consideration of charge-sheets on June 17. The charge sheets run into around 13,070 pages.

Filing the charge sheets, the Crime Branch official told the court that there are more than 900 accused in the case. Today 15 charge sheets were filed against 292 foreign nationals from 14 countries, the court was informed.

The accused have been blacklisted and their visas are cancelled. There was a violation of visa rules as they came on tourist visas and were doing missionary work here in India, the Crime Branch official told the court.

Yesterday, the Crime Branch had filed 20 charge-sheets against 82 foreign nationals and more charge sheets are to be filed tomorrow, the court was informed by the Crime Branch.

The judge asked about the funding received by the organisation. The investigating officer told the court that ED and CBI are investigating the funding angle.

According to the charge-sheets, 80 of the foreign nationals are from Malaysia, 80 from Bangladesh, 44 from Myanmar, 39 from Thailand, 22 from Nepal, 17 from Sri Lanka, two OCI card holders from UK and Australia, two each from Djibouti and Kenya, one each from Mali, Nigeria, Tanzania, and South Africa.

Charge-sheets have been filed under Section 14 (b) Foreigners Act, 1946, Section 3 of The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and Sections 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 270 (Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 271 (disobedience to quarantine rule) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

All these foreign nationals are being charge-sheeted for violation of visa norms. The police said that they have already questioned all foreign nationals who attended the congregation. (ANI)

Misery And Hope In Covid-19 Days

The relentless exodus of the migrant workers continues, on train, trucks and tempos, and, of course, on foot, unabated. Scores have died in road accidents, several at a railway track in Aurangabad, as they slept after a long trek, and a goods train crushed their emaciated bodies. All that was left on the tracks was their blood and a few dry chapattis, even as the Prime Minister, for reasons only he knows, refuses to release free food from the Food Corporation of India godowns to the poor and the workers. The godowns reportedly store around 70 million tonnes of food grain, while the summer harvest will create another bounty.

At least 40 million workers are going to lose their jobs and livelihood in the post-pandemic era in India. This might just be a conservative estimate because most of these workers are outside the organized and formal structure of the Indian workforce, constituting almost 93 per cent of the labour force, almost half of them Dalits and from extremely backward castes, including adivasis and women. They have virtually no trade union rights, no fixed daily wages, no holidays, no maternity leave or crèche for children, no provident fund or pension, not even fixed work days. They are the eternal ‘free labour’ floating in an exploitative market, outside the gambit of trade unions.

ALSO READ: The Invisible Indian In Pandemic

That is why, perhaps, the call of 10 trade unions for a nation-wide strike against the new, draconian labour laws on May 22 last, did not elicit much response on the ground. The labour laws are a direct attack on rights won after decades of struggle including the 8-hour work day, and the Inter-State Migrant Act, among other laws. The suspension of a large number of labour laws for three years by the Yogi Adityanath government in UP and the ‘hire and fire’ policies in several states will not only adversely impact the formal sector workers, but also the migrant workers who have no trade union rights.

Those who will be hit the hardest are those who are at the bottom of the unequal ladder. During the Covid-19 pandemic, for instance, the garbage-pickers, dressed in tatters with no protective equipment, not even masks, do their jobs diligently, and without any thanks from any corner whatsoever. You can see them carrying the huge pile of urban waste of the consumer society on their ramshackle carts, stopping only to greet other garbage collectors – the rest of the society really cares two hoots for them.

Some of the sanitation workers in Delhi, indeed, as reports say, have been silent victims of Covid-19. Not too many reporters are chasing their daily life stories, or their health situation. Many of them remain anonymous in their tragic destinies; those who go through the trauma are reportedly never compensated.

ALSO READ: Get Ready For New Normal Post-Corona Times

Of the scores of stories which have been missed in the lockdown because reporters can’t go to the ground due to difficult circumstances, strict regulations and containment zones, the everyday stories of the heroic garbage-collectors and sanitation workers too have been missed. They remain invisible, condemned and exiled – as in so-called normal times.

Those who have become invisible are only becoming visuals of infinite tragedy, like an endless film with no intervals. A dead mother lying on a thatched funeral bed with her two little sons crying, touching her forehead. A young mother carrying two children on her two shoulders. A woman climbing on the side of the truck, while another man holding a child just about sliding up from the side. A desperate man, crying aloud, trying to make a phone call to someone no one knows. Women with sacks on their heads walking on the highways, the streets, in empty landscapes, as if in a long march to nowhere. Men holed up in the b lack hole of a truck like cattle for slaughter. Feet smashed with earth, broken, destroyed, ravaged skin, nails, toes. Feet full of blood.

There are moments of optimism too, when hope floats. A smiling child with a plateful of food. A rare moment. A Muslim man standing with a placard: Please stop, take rest, eat and drink something. This is the duty the Muslims are doing during the daily fasts in the holy month of Ramzan. Location unknown.

The Gurudwaras, as usual, are distributing food to thousands of people. Their big hearts are there for all to see, as the big meals they prepare in big utensils. God is with them.

ALSO READ: Langar In The Time Of Coronavirus

Shariq and his friends distributing food and fruits to far-away nooks and corners day after day since the killings started in Northeast Delhi. No publicity, no fanfare, no photo-ops. A daily task.

Scores of the others are doing the same, opening their hearts and doors, giving food and love, day after day. In Varanasi some students wake up all night because the workers are travelling in the night to escape the heat and the police: they are distributing food and water. Jadavpur University students have made a commune and collective kitchen: distributing food and sanitisers to cops, traffic cops, vegetable vendors, slum-dwellers, for weeks.

One man goes alone to a highway with butter milk every day, somewhere in south India. He spots a man walking from Bangalore to Madhya Pradesh – an old man. So he gives him Rs 400, and that is all he had.

Surprise, surprise:  the old man calls him and thanks him. He has reached home with the Rs 400, hitch-hiking on a truck half-way. So what does the old man tell the ‘butter milk man’: “Come, visit my village; and send me your address, I will return the money. He also says that we should not lose hope because there are still people who are ready to share and help. Humanity and humanism lives. Yes, it does.”

ALSO READ: Covid-19, Nemesis Of Age Of Reason

A man writes a hurried letter in Hindi. He is a migrant worker and the letter is addressed to the owner of a cycle, perhaps his employer. He says he has a handicapped child and no money, and he has to reach Bareilly, so he is stealing the cycle. He is a ‘gunahagar’ – he has done a crime, he confesses in the letter.

A migrant worker who has returned to Gurgaon called a female volunteer of the collective, Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch who make 30,000 meals a day for the workers, and have fed lakhs of workers since the pandemic began. He says he has rejoined work but can he and his co-workers get food. She says, we are providing food to jobless and homeless workers, but do give your address, we will try to reach you. So what does he say in response?

“Didi, now that I have a job, I will manage. Give the food to those whose kids are hungry.” With tears in her eyes ‘Didi’ thanks him profusely.

Indeed, even as huge unemployment and starvation stare millions of migrant and organized workers in India, eminent economists are repeatedly appealing to the Centre to drastically revise its strategies. Former RBI governor, Raghuram Rajan, for instance, has yet again said that the economic crisis is so huge and relentless that much more needs to be done. He told a portal in a recent interview: “I think it is particularly so in the case of India because we have years of economic drift in which our growth had slowed, our fiscal deficit has gone up. There is a lot more we need to do to put economy back on track. We have to pull all stop.”

PM Holds Meet Over Troop Build Up At Indo-China LAC

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday took stock of situation at India-China border skirmishes with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat and three defence chiefs.

There has been an aggressive build up at Line of Acutal Control at India’s border with China in Ladakh region. China has objected to infrastructre projects taken up by India on its side of the border.

Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane will hold a meeting with his top commanders from Wednesday, Army sources said on Tuesday.

During the two-day meeting, the top brass of the force is likely to discuss security issues along with other points, they said.

The meeting comes amid the Indian Army increasing presence of its troops to match the strength of the Chinese Army, which has deployed over 5,000 of its personnel on the Line of Actual Control at different locations in the Ladakh sector.

The Indian Army is also enhancing its presence in other areas to deter the People’s Liberation Army troops from carrying out transgressions.At present, the Chinese Army has diverted its troops carrying out a massive exercise on their side of the LAC and deployed them at short notice across the Line of Actual Control in the areas under the Indian Army’s 81 and 114 Brigades deployed to counter the Chinese assertions from Daulat Beg Oldie and adjoining areas. (ANI)

Rahul Distances From Uddhav, Says Cong Isn’t Decision-Maker

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday distanced his party from Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, saying it was only supporting the state government and was not actually the decision-maker.

“I would like to make a differentiation here, we are supporting the government in Maharashtra but we are not the key decision-makers in Maharashtra. We are the key decision-maker in Punjab, in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Pondicherry. So there is a difference between running a government and supporting a government,” Rahul Gandhi said in a video press conference.

Rahul’s remarks came a day after Maharashtra’s former chief minister and BJP leader Narayan Rane met state overnor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, demanding the president’s rule in the state, saying Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government has failed to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

The MVA consists of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress. Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Tuesday slammed the opposition and said that the coalition government in Maharashtra is strong and rejected any possibility of the president’s rule in the state.

Raut, in a tweet, said that “Corona’s vaccine and the dose of toppling the Thackeray government by the Opposition is yet to be found.”

“It would be right for the opposition to quarantine immediately,” he added.

Maharashtra continues to be the worst affected state in the country with 52,667 reported cases and 1,695 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Fingers are being pointed towards the state government for allegedly failing to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

Continuing his attack on the Central government over spike in Covid-19 cases in the country, Gandhi said that the country is “facing the result of a failed lockdown”.

“India is the only country where the virus is exponentially rising and we are removing the lockdown. The aim and purpose of the lockdown have failed. India is facing the result of a failed lockdown,” Gandhi added.

He further said that the Congress party wants to understand what further steps the government is taking to control the crisis.

He also rubbished the Centre’s claim that it had provided 10 per cent of the GDP as a relief to people amid lockdown and claimed that in reality less than one per cent of the GDP is being given, that too in loans.


‘Covid-19 Recovery Rate In India 41%, Fatality Lowest’

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Tuesday said that the recovery rate of COVID-19 cases in India has been improving considerably while the fatality rate is among the lowest in the world.

“A total of 60,490 patients have recovered so far from COVID-19. The recovery rate continues to improve and presently it is 41.61 percent. The fatality rate is one among the lowest in the world, and it is at 2.87 percent now,” said Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry, at a press conference here.

Agarwal further said that COVID-19 cases in India were being reported at a much lower rate than the world average.

“If 69.9 cases per lakh population have been reported across the world, in India the number is near 10.7 cases per lakh population,” he said, adding that this comparison was based on absolute numbers.

Stating that lockdown, social distancing, and other guidelines had helped India to fare better than other countries in handling the crisis, Agarwal added, “Spain has 504 cases per lakh population, Belgium 499 per lakh, America has 486 cases per lakh, while in the lower end of the spectrum too Mexico, has 52.2 cases per lakh population.”

The Joint Secretary said that India’s fatality rate due to COVID-19 was much less than other countries with a high number of cases.

“While every death reported is painful, the fatality rate (due to COVID-19) has been observed overall around the world at 6.4 percent, therefore, India has one of the lowest fatality rates amongst the countries with a high number of cases,” he said.


SC Takes Suo Moto Cognizance Of Migrants Miseries

Supreme Court on Tuesday took suo moto cognizance of the “problems” and “miseries” of migrant labourers amid the coronavirus lockdown and noted that there have been certain lapses on part of the Centre and State governments in providing help.

A three-judge bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MR Shah said that even though the issue is being addressed at both Central and State levels, “effective and concentrated efforts are required to redeem the situation”.

The apex court relied upon news reports that have shown “unfortunate and miserable conditions of migrant labourers walking on foot and cycles from long distances”.

“We take suo motu cognisance of problems and miseries of migrant labourers who had been stranded in different parts of the country. The newspaper reports and the media reports have been continuously showing the unfortunate and miserable conditions of the migrant labourers walking on-foot and cycles from long distances,” the bench said.

The top court noted that there have been lapses on the part of Centre and state governments to provide them succour and says immediate measures are required to be taken by governments to provide travel, shelter and food facilities free of cost to migrant labours.

It also issued notices to the Government of India, governments of all State and Union Territories in the country, asked them to file their responses on the matter and posted it for hearing on May 28. The court also sought the assistance of the Solicitor General in this regard.

“Although the Government of India and the State governments have taken measures yet there have been inadequacies and certain lapses. We are of the view that effective concentrated efforts are required to redeem the situation,” the court said.

In its order, the court noted that migrant labourers have been complaining of not being provided food and water by the administration at places where they were stranded or in the way like highways from which they proceeded on-foot, cycles or other modes of transport.

“In the present situation of lockdown in the entire country, this section of the society needs succour and help by the concerned governments especially steps need to be taken by the government of India, state governments/Union Territories in this difficult situation to extend helping hand to these migrant labourers,” it added.

The court said that the crises of migrant labourers is continuing with large sections still stranded on roads, highways, railway stations and state borders and added that adequate transport arrangement, food and shelters are to be provided immediately by the Centre and state governments free of costs. (ANI)

Teaching in Lockdown

‘Teaching My Kid In Lockdown, I Rediscovered Many Subjects’

Col Vishal Ahlawat of Delhi Cantt says lockdown provided him ample time to be with family. Besides, he brushed up various subjects while teaching his eight-year-old daughter

The lockdown due to Coronavirus may be difficult in certain aspects, but in some it’s a blessing in disguise. Post-lockdown I have been able to spend a lot of time with my daughter Parnika (8), who is in Class 4. Before lockdown she used to attend tuition classes as well, but now they have been called off. We both enjoy our time together a lot, even if most of the times it is about her studies. I love seeing how confident, curious and yet open-minded my daughter is to learn new things and through newer mediums.

She has her online school classes four days a week. Most of the days her classes get over around 12.30 pm and after a break, she and I sit together to help her revise. It is actually more a revision for me and I am re-brushing my skills in various subjects.

ALSO READ: ‘My Children Turned Into Prospective Chefs’

I am mesmerised by how wonderful English grammar is. The generation that we belong to, our education system didn’t really encourage understanding a subject but rote learning. So back then we might have memorised a lot of grammar, but now I am truly beginning to see its beauty. I love it how my daughter doesn’t mind asking the smallest of questions until she understands a topic in its totality. She is teaching me rather to be able to ask questions without hesitating.

Col Ahlawat says his daughter Parnika is open to learning through new mediums.

I am also loving teaching her Maths and Life Sciences as well. When we were in school, our Maths teacher was quite old and would take a lot of time to reach the classroom from the staff room. She had given instructions to us to keep reciting the multiplication tables for as long as she took to reach the classroom.

Such memories keep coming back when my daughter talks about her school. On one hand she says she misses interacting physically with her friends, but on the other hand she loves sleeping till late now that she doesn’t have to go to school.

ALSO READ: ‘Lockdown Hasn’t Affected A Millennial’s Life’

However, it is while teaching her Life Sciences subject that I have gone a step ahead of rebrushing my skills and have learnt many new things. Sometimes I do a double take at how deeply they are being taught about topics like: How does the Universe work? And then I am like should children so young be taught such deep things at such a young age? But it is upon the schools to decide on this. I as a grown up am enjoying reading my daughter’s Life Sciences book for right now.

During the first few days of my daughter’s online classes, even the teachers took some time to get adjusted to technology for everyday use at such a large scale. As a parent I also got to upgrade my technological skills. There are pros and cons of both classroom as well as online learning, but for right now I am enjoying the wonderful time I am getting to spend with my daughter. We laugh a lot together and learning seems to be such a fun experience. It’s like I have gone back to school again, I feel such a sense of freshness.