Today: PM Modi to release National Logistics Policy; Ministry of Urban Affairs to launch 15-day ‘Swachh Amrit Mahotsav’ campaign; Legends League Cricket kicks off. Tomorrow: AAP to hold national convention in Delhi; Mohan Bhagwat to visit Kerala to attend state RSS leaders’ meet
Direct quote: “Excellency, I know today’s time is not a time for war,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February, in Uzbekistan’s Samarkand on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit.
Modi and Putin held their first face-to-face meeting since Russia invaded Ukraine seven months ago. The two leaders have spoken on the telephone a few times during the period. More here
Why it matters: India has maintained its non-aligned stance in its foreign policy while the US-led West has imposed a series of sanctions on Russia. While Russia battled sanctions, India bought oil from that country to improve its stock at a cheaper rate when the crude prices were rising in the international markets.
India and Russia have had longstanding ties since the days of Jawaharlal Nehru. Russia is still India’s biggest arms supplier. On the Ukraine war, India has not sided with the West in condemning Russia for the invasion, and favoured resolution of the crisis through talks.
A contrast from China: PM Modi’s remarks came a day after Putin met China’s President Xi Jinping, who called the Russian president his “old friend”. Xi did not make a reportable comment on Ukraine while Putin praised him for a “balanced” approach on the Ukrainian crisis. But Putin also revealed that China had some “concerns” over the Ukraine conflict.
What Putin told Modi: “I know your position on the conflict in Ukraine, your concerns… We will do our best to end this as soon as possible,” Putin told Modi.
Putin congratulated India for assuming the presidency of the SCO for 2023. Launched in 2001, the SCO has eight full members — China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan (founders), and India and Pakistan (since 2017). More on SCO summit
First a dare: Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia dared the BJP on Thursday to get him arrested following a ‘sting operation’ purportedly conducted by the BJP else Prime Minister Narendra Modi must apologise for harassing him over Delhi liquor policy.
Nationwide raids: A day later, the Enforcement Directorate launched raids at about 40 locations spread across multiple states. The ED is probing a money laundering investigation linked to the alleged Delhi liquor scam.
Those raided included the premises linked to liquor businessmen, distributors, and supply chain networks in Delhi-NCR, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Questioning in Tihar: The ED raids were launched hours before it began questioning Delhi minister Satyendar Jain, who had been arrested more than three months ago. Jain was questioned in connection with the liquor sales policy.
Second in 2 weeks: Friday’s multi-state raids were the second in two weeks by the ED in the alleged liquor scam case. The ED had conducted raids last week at about 45 locations in Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana and Karnataka.
The scam: The now-withdrawn liquor policy of Delhi is being investigated by the CBI and the ED after Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena recommended a probe suspecting financial irregularities in its implementation. The CBI raided over 20 locations including Sisodia’s across seven states and Union Territories in August.
Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi CM, and his AAP have called the probe into the alleged liquor scam political vendetta aimed at keeping him and his party away from the Gujarat Assembly election due in two months. Both Kejriwal and Sisodia have denied any irregularities in the controversial liquor policy.
Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma will hold talks in Delhi on September 19 to find an amicable solution to the border dispute between the two northeastern states, an official told PTI.
Talks and pacts
Assam has long-running boundary rows with neighbouring states which were once part of it. These disputes have led to ethnic clashes in the past resulting in many deaths and displacement of border communities.
In March this year, Assam had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Meghalaya to resolve their boundary row. Similarly, Assam CM Sarma and his Arunachal Pradesh counterpart Pema Khandu had in July signed the ‘Namsai Declaration’ to find a solution to their territorial issues.
The Assam-Mizoram conflict
Three districts of Mizoram — Aizawl, Kolasib and Mamit — share a 164.6-km-long border with three districts of Assam: Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj.
The boundary dispute between the two states stems from two colonial demarcations of 1875 and 1933. Mizoram claims that a 509 square mile stretch of Inner Line Reserved Forest notified in 1875 under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) 1873, a certain section of which now falls in Assam, is the actual boundary of the state.
Assam, on the other hand, claims that the demarcation made as per the Survey of India’s map in 1933 is the constitutional boundary of the state. More details here
The crash: Equity indices plunged for the third straight session on Friday with the benchmark BSE Sensex crashing nearly 1,093 points amid heavy selloff across all sectors. The 30-share index fell 1.82% to settle at 58,840, recovering a little after tanking 1,247 points or 2% to 58,687. The NSE Nifty declined 346 points or 1.94% to close at 17,530.
Week’s gain lost: The massive fall saw the equity benchmarks erase gains for the week, almost on a cue from the global sell-off after the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank warned of a looming recession. Indian markets were the worst performers in Asia over high inflation and anticipated aggressive rate hikes by the US Fed. On a weekly basis, Sensex shed 952 points or 1.59%, while Nifty fell 302 points or 1.69%.
What caused the fall
IT and auto stocks tumbled dragging the markets. The Nifty IT index logged a weekly decline of 7%, its biggest since mid-June. The Nifty automobile index declined 2.7% on Friday. Automakers Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, Tata Motors Ltd and IT services majors Tata Consultancy Services Ltd and Infosys Ltd fell over 3% each.
Lowered growth projections by rating agency Fitch after a lower than expected GDP data for April-June also impacted the markets. Fitch’s growth rate revision is triggered by global economic stress, elevated inflation and tighter monetary policy. Other agencies too slashed their growth predictions.
Global markets fell, with the British pound hitting a 37-year dollar low, stoking global recession fears.
Weakening rupee — down 0.1% on Friday and 0.2% for the week — also hurt the markets sentiment, especially after the Chinese yuan weakened past 7 per dollar to breach a key psychological level for the first time in two years.
Clue 1: Believed to be a native of South Africa, its name has a Sanskrit origin Clue 2: MP’s Mandsaur has evidence of its presence in India since the Neolithic Age Clue 3: Koriya’s Maharaja reportedly shot down the last 3 of its species in 1947
Bangladesh has allowed banks to maintain accounts in Chinese currency for overseas transactions to reduce dependency on the US dollar as part of the country’s efforts to preserve the dwindling foreign reserves.
Imports: The latest decision of the country’s central Bank came as major chamber bodies like Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (MCCI) were insisting on the Chinese Yuan, RMB (Renminbi), as the second international currency instead of the dollar, as Bangladesh imported most from China.
Trading partner: China is also the country’s largest trade partner. Besides, China recently introduced a cross-border interbank payment system with RMB as an alternative trading currency. Bangladesh currency’s exchange rate with the RMB abruptly widened this month as Taka 1 now equals 0.067 RMB while the ratio was 0.71 in August.
The switch: The Bangladesh Bank had issued a notification on Thursday asking authorised foreign exchange dealers to follow the switch to tackle the price rise of the US currency and fall of foreign exchange reserves amid surging global inflation.
China’s influence: The move comes at a time when Beijing is expanding its footprint in the country by sponsoring infrastructure projects. Analysts warn Bangladesh may fall into the Chinese debt trap if it allows China’s state-owned companies to invest in these projects.
The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday asked the Centre to file its response in an appeal against the Delhi High Court’s split verdict in the marital rape case, listing the matter for hearing in February 2023.
What the HC said
In a split ruling in May earlier this year, while one of the HC judges of a division bench had struck down Exception 2 to Section 375 as unconstitutional, another judge upheld the same.
Exception 2 to Section 375 states that a man can not be charged with rape if he has non-consensual sex with his wife.
While Justice Rajiv Shakdher of the HC held that Exception 2 to Section 375 was “violative of article 14”, Justice C Hari Shankar disagreed, noting that “there is no support to show that impugned exception violates Articles 14, 19 or 21.”
All for one
The SC also clubbed all matters related to marital rape together. The HC division bench had also granted leave to the petitioners to file an appeal before the apex court and the Centre is expected to file its reply by the next date of hearing.
Earlier, in 2017, the Centre had argued against criminalisation of marital rape, saying that it would “destabilise the institution of marriage.” According to the fifth National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), conducted between 2019 and 2021, 32% of women between the ages of 18-49 years have suffered spousal physical, sexual or emotional abuse in the 12 months preceding the survey — indicating that marital rape is a rampant problem not yet recognised officially in India.
In what could be seen as preparations for the 2023 assembly elections, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao will both unfurl the national flag in the state capital on Saturday to mark the diamond jubilee of the erstwhile Hyderabad state’s merger with India.
‘National Integration Day’
The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi will observe ‘National Integration Day’ for three days, a first since Telangana was granted separate statehood in 2014.
On Friday, rallies were taken out by students, youth and others in assembly constituency headquarters as part of these celebrations. Cultural programmes will be organised and freedom fighters will be felicitated at all district headquarters on Saturday.
Earlier, AIMIM president and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi had asked the state government to celebrate September 17 as National Integration Day as a mark of respect to the struggles of people of erstwhile Hyderabad state against British colonialism and feudal autocratic rule of the Nizam. He had also written a letter to PM Modi in this regard.
The BJP, which is making inroads into the southern state, will celebrate what it calls Hyderabad Liberation Day. This is also the first time that the Centre is organsing this event.
The main celebrations will be held at the Army Parade Ground in Secunderabad. Among the invitees are chief ministers of two neighbouring states where the BJP is in power. Parts of these states were under the erstwhile Hyderabad state.
Former Gujarat CM Shankersinh Vaghela called on Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao in Hyderabad on Friday. The meeting assumes significance as it comes amid indications of Rao launching a national party.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) froze Rs 46.67 crore of funds of several payment gateway apps such as Paytm, Easebuzz, Razorpay and Cashfree as part its anti-money laundering operation against a “Chinese-controlled” investment token app, raids on whose premises were also conducted earlier this week.
The fund freeze comes in the wake of raids conducted earlier this month on the premises of Razorpay, Paytm and Cashfree over alleged irregularities in the operations of instant app-based loan-giving companies “controlled” by Chinese persons. A seizure order for Rs 17 crore from the payment app companies’ accounts was also issued.
Disclosing that “various incriminating documents have been seized”, the ED added that “huge balances were found in the virtual accounts of the involved entities with payment aggregators. Rs 33.36 crore was found with Easebuzz Private Limited, Pune, Rs 8.21 crore with Razorpay Software Private Limited, Bengaluru, Rs 1.28 crore with Cashfree Payments India Private Limited, Bengaluru and Rs 1.11 crore with Paytm Payments Services Limited, New Delhi.”
What the companies said
While Paytm claimed the frozen funds “do not belong to the company” and the companies being investigated are in fact “independent merchants”, Cashfree Payments said they were “fully compliant with existing regulations” and were cooperating with the ED. Other companies like Razorpay and Easebuzz also denied that the frozen funds belonged to them.
How ED got wind of it
A probe under the criminal sections of the PMLA was initiated by the ED after many debtors ended their lives with the police stating they were coerced and harassed by these loan app companies by publicising their personal details available in their phones and through high-handed methods to threaten them.
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Cheetah. Over 70 years after the cheetah was officially declared extinct in India, the animal is returning to India on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 72nd birthday. Eight African cheetahs from Namibia — flying over 8,000 km, crossing the Indian Ocean — will be released in the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh. The coalition, comprising five females and three males aged 4-6 years, is coming to India as part of Rs 90-crore Cheetah Introduction Project. The idea conceived in 2009 got the Supreme Court’s approval in 2020. India was expecting to receive 20 African cheetahs this year, including the 12 from South Africa, from where an official confirmation is awaited. This is the first time in the world that a large carnivore is being relocated from one continent to another.