PM Modi to address the nation at 4 pm: What to expect
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation at 4 pm today. This will be his sixth address to the nation since the nationwide coronavirus lockdown started. The announcement of his address came soon after the government ordered the guidelines for Unlock 2.0 and banned 59 Chinese apps over security concerns. The move to ban the Chinese apps came in the aftermath of the border tensions in Galwan Valley in Ladakh.
PM Modi's last address was on May 12 when he announced the Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package to revive the economy. In his last Mann ki Baat address, PM Modi had spoken about the India-China clash in Ladakh and said that the jawans gave a befitting reply to those eyeing Indian territory. While it is unclear what he is going to talk about, the PM is likely to address both or either of the issues during his Tuesday address.
During his Sunday Mann ki Baat address, the Prime Minister said, "The world has seen India's commitment to protecting its borders and sovereignty. In Ladakh, a befitting reply has been given to those eyeing our territories." He said that India knows the true value of friendship but also knows how to give a befitting reply if the situation demands. "India bows to our brave martyrs who lost their lives in Ladakh. Their valour will always be remembered," he said.
Additionally, calls to boycott Chinese goods and products have continued in the wake of the clash. The government had earlier asked online platforms to show 'country of origin' to help customers discern between local and foreign-made products. The government has also ordered a 100 per cent examination of all consignments coming from China. Amid this, on Monday, the government ordered a ban on 59 Chinese apps over security concerns. The list includes names such as TikTok, Helo, CamScanner, Likee, UC Browser, Shein, WeChat and more.
On Monday, the Ministry of Home Affairs further announced some relaxations. The government has relaxed night curfew and will be imposed from 10 pm to 5 am. Shops, depending upon their area, have been allowed to have more than five people but with adequate distancing. Training institutions of the central and state governments will be allowed to function with effect from July 15, 2020. International air travel has been allowed in a limited manner under the Vande Bharat mission.
However, metro services will remain shut. Schools, colleges, educational, institutions, cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars and auditoriums will remain closed. All social, political, religious, cultural gatherings remain prohibited.
Even as relaxations are eased, the number of cases in the country continues to increase. India currently has 5,66,840 cases including 2,15,125 active cases, 3,34,821 discharges and 16,893 deaths.
Do you think Lockdown will be extended?
Lockdown 5.0: Amit Shah meets PM Modi to discuss way forward; guidelines to be issued soon
Union Home Minister Amit Shah has reportedly met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday to discuss the way forward in relation to coronavirus lockdown. The nationwide lockdown, which has already been extended three times, is to end on Sunday. According to reports, a decision on lockdown would be taken on May 30.
On Thursday, Amit Shah spoke to various chief ministers of states and asked for suggestions on a plan for May 31 onwards. Many states have suggested that the coronavirus lockdown is necessary at this stage as the cases have continued to spike. The government had earlier given many relaxations, allowing states to take a decision on what to reopen and what to remain shut.
"I spoke to Home Minister Shah on the phone and I feel lockdown may be extended for 15 more days. However, we demand that there should be some relaxations - restaurants should be allowed with social distancing at 50% capacity. Many people also want gyms to resume. Lockdown must be extended for 15 more days, it is needed, as the graph of coronavirus is rising," Goa CM Pramod Sawant said on Friday.
On March 24, PM Modi had announced the nationwide lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus across the country.
India recorded the biggest jump of 7,466 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, taking the total number to 1.65 lakh. With 175 deaths in one day, the death toll in the country now stands at 4,706. The active cases are 89,987, of which 71,105 have been cured or discharged. Meanwhile, fresh 1,106 coronavirus cases have been reported in Delhi, taking the total tally in Delhi to over 17,000, said state Health Minister Satyendar Jain.
Do you think Lockdown needs to be extended?
Indonesia proposes to tax polluting cars, sweet drinks, plastic
Indonesia's finance minister proposed on Wednesday new duties on sweetened drinks, vehicles that emit carbon dioxide and plastic bags, to control consumption of the products in Southeast Asia's largest economy.
Sri Mulyani Indrawati's proposal comes amid weak tax collection after the economy grew at its slowest pace in three years in 2019. Indonesia had a nearly $15 billion revenue shortfall last year due to weak company profits and falling exports.
The proposal is to levy excise taxes ranging from 1,500 rupiah to 2,500 rupiah ($0.11-$0.18) per litre on sugar- and artificial sugar-sweetened beverages, such as bottled tea, coffee, carbonated soft drinks and energy drinks, she told a hearing with parliament's finance commission.
The aim is to cut consumption of sweet drinks, Indrawati said, arguing that the prevalence of diabetes and obesity levels have steadily increased in the past decade.
Some 2% of Indonesians age 15 and above suffer from diabetes in 2018, up from 1.1% in 2007, while the number of obese adults rose from 10.5% in 2007 to 21.8% in 2018.
Indrawati also brought up again her 2017 proposal to impose an excise tax of 200 rupiah per bag on plastic bags, which parliament has not approved yet. The levy, though small, can halve Indonesia's consumption of plastic bags to 53,533 tonnes a year, she argued.
The government also wants to impose duties on new vehicles that emit carbon dioxide as part of efforts to control pollution, the minister said. The tariffs would vary depending on emission levels and other aspects, she said, without providing details.
The total additional revenue expected from all three measures per fiscal year is 23.56 trillion rupiah or about $1.72 billion - 1.61 trillion rupiah from plastic bags, 6.25 trillion rupiah from drinks and 15.7 trillion rupiah from vehicles, she said.
Indrawati did not say when the government plans to begin collecting the excise taxes.
Chairman of the Indonesian Food & Beverage Association Adhi S. Lukman said the proposal would jack up prices and hurt people's purchasing power.
"Basically, there is no data that shows applying excise will reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases and obesity, if that's the intention," he told Reuters, adding that he would lobby against the measure.
Do you think this will Control Pollution and cut Consumption?
Controversy Over Army Chief's "Political" View On Citizenship Law Protest
Army chief Bipin Rawat today criticized violence during protests over the citizenship law, saying "leaders are not those who lead masses in arson and violence". He was immediately called out for taking sides while still in a post that must be neutral and apolitical.
"Leadership is all about leading. When you move forward, everybody follows...But leaders are those who lead people in the right direction. Leaders are not those who lead people in inappropriate directions, as we are witnessing in a large number of university and college students, the way they are leading masses of crowds to carry out arson and violence in our cities and towns. This is not leadership," said the outgoing Army chief at an event in Delhi on Thursday.
General Rawat, who is due to retire on December 31, has spoken for the first time against the nationwide protests against the Citizenship Act. But he is not the first; before him, another top army officer made politically tinged remarks.
"'The citizenship Amendment Bill was passed despite reservations from a couple of northeastern states. It would not be hard to guess that some hard decisions on left-wing extremism may be on the anvil after this,'' he had said.
At least 20 people have died, mostly in Uttar Pradesh, in clashes between protesters and the police, who have also been caught firing at the crowd in many cases.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had denounced the destruction of public property during the protests, saying rights went along with duty. "I want to ask people who resorted to violence in Uttar Pradesh to sit at home and ask themselves whether what they did is good or not. They destroyed buses and public property that belongs to the future generation," he said.
The Army Chief's comments were criticized by opposition parties like the Congress.
"Army Chief Bipin Rawat speaking against #CAAProtests is wholly against constitutional democracy. If Army Chief is allowed to speak on Political issues today, it also permits him to attempt an Army takeover tomorrow!!" - tweeted Brijesh Kalappa, a spokesperson of the Congress.
"Leadership is knowing the limits of one's office. It is about understanding the idea civilian supremacy and preserving the integrity of the institution that you head," tweeted Asaduddin Owaisi, Hyderabad MP and chief of the AIMIM.
Some who came out in General Rawat's support, however, said he was within his rights to speak as a citizen of the country. "His statement means one can protest but not be violent and destroy property. The leader of the mob should give correct direction to the protesters and tell them not to be violent," said Union Minister Ramdas Athawale, a BJP ally.
According to Article 21 of the Army Act, "no person subject to the Act shall publish in any form whatever or communicate directly or indirectly to the Press any matter in relation to a political question.''
Lieutenant General Manoj Mukund Naravane is set to become the next army chief.
General Rawat is widely tipped to be the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), a post that will function as a single point of contact for different branches of the armed forces and as the Principal Military Adviser to the Defence Minister on tri-service matters.
Do you agree with him?
"Standing Up For Minorities": Over 1,000 Scholars Back Citizenship Law
Over a thousand academicians and research scholars have in a statement expressed support to the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the amended citizenship law that fast-tracks the process of giving citizenship to persecuted non-Muslims from three neighbouring countries.
"The Act fulfils the long-standing demand of providing refuge to persecuted religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Ever since the failure of the Liaquat-Nehru pact of 1950, various leaders and political parties like the Congress, CPI(M) etc, cutting across the ideological spectrum, have demanded the grant of citizenship to religious minorities from Pakistan and Bangladesh who mostly belong to the Dalit castes," said the statement whose signatories include Jawaharlal Nehru University registrar Pramod Kumar, senior journalists Swapan Dasgupta and Kanchan Gupta, and Nalanda University vice chancellor Sunaina Singh.
"We congratulate the Indian parliament and government for standing up for forgotten minorities and upholding the civilizational ethos of India; providing a haven to those fleeing religious persecution," they said in the statement that contains the names of 1,100 people, who include researchers and scholars in universities in other countries.
Protests have been going on intermittently at several parts of the country - Assam and West Bengal have seen large-scale violence - after the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill sailed through both houses of parliament last week. Over 15 have died in the protests across India.
Protesters in Assam, Meghalaya and other states in the north-east say tribes may be overrun by new refugee-turned-citizens in the long run and they could lose political representation. The government has said the interests of the north-east states will not be harmed by the amended law.
"We also note with satisfaction that the concerns of the North-Eastern states have been heard and are being addressed appropriately. We believe that CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) is in perfect sync with the secular constitution of India as it does not prevent any person of any religion from any country, seeking Indian citizenship. Nor does it change the criteria of citizenship in any way; merely providing a special expedited redress, under special circumstances..." the statement said.
"We also note with deep anguish, that an atmosphere of fear and paranoia is being created in the country through deliberate obfuscation and fear-mongering leading to violence in several parts of the country. We appeal to every section of society to exercise restraint and refuse to fall into the trap of propaganda, communalism and anarchism," it said.
The Congress and other opposition parties have alleged the government is working to divide people on the basis of religion. "The Modi government has no compassion when it comes to shutting down people's voices... We have an example in Delhi where Police entered the Jamia women hostel and dragged them out, it mercilessly beat students," Congress president Sonia Gandhi said on Friday.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act for the first time makes religion the test of citizenship in India. The government says it will help minorities from the three Muslim-dominated countries to get citizenship if they fled to India before 2015 because of religious persecution. Critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the Constitution.