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NATIONAL AFFAIRS - September 2020

Sep 2020

Sep 30, 2020

Bypolls to 56 Assembly Seats, One Lok Sabha Seat in November

  • By-elections to 54 assembly seats across 10 states will be held on November 3, the Election Commission annouced. Besides, one Parliamentary constituency in Bihar and two assembly seats from Manipur will to polls on November 7. The counting of votes will be held on November 10. The list of states where elections will be held includes Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Odisha, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh.
  • The commission has also decided not to hold by-elections to seven constituencies in four states. Elections on the seats -- two each in Assam, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and one in Bengal -- will be held early next year.
  • The maximum number of seats going to polls is from Madhya Pradesh, where a chunk of seats fell vacant as Jyotiraditya Scindia switched camp from the Congress to the BJP with his loyalists. Twenty-seven seats will be up for election in the state.
  • In terms of numbers, Madhya Pradesh is followed by Gujarat, where eight seats will go to polls and Uttar Pradesh, where the corresponding number is seven.

Tharoor Continues as Head of Parl Panel on IT; Harsimrat New External Affairs Committee Member

  • The parliamentary panel on information technology will continue to be chaired by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, whose decisions to summon Facebook executives and take up the suspension of 4G internet services in J&K had drawn criticism from the committee's BJP members, some of whom had even sought his ouster.
  • Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla in consultation with Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu announced the composition of several reconstituted parliamentary standing committees, with former Union Minister and Akali Dal MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal being made a member of the panel on external affairs.
  • Besides Tharoor, various other Congress leaders who were critical of the government as chairperson of their respective parliamentary panels have been retained.
  • Congress leader Anand Sharma will continue to chair the parliamentary panel on home affairs and Jairam Ramesh will remain the head of the panel on environment and science and technology.
  • The chairperson of all parliamentary standing committees have been retained.
  • YSR Congress' Vijaysai Reddy has been reappointed the chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce, Samajwadi Party's Ram Gopal Yadav of Health, TRS's K Keshava Rao of Industry, TMC's Sudip Bandyopadhyay of Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, BJD's Bhartruhari Mahtab of Labour.
  • DMK's Kanimozhi will continue to lead the panel on chemicals and fertilizers and JD(U)'s Rajiv Ranjan Singh will head the panel on energy.
  • All remaining chairpersons of the parliamentary standing committees, most of who are from the BJP, have also not been changed.

Sep 29, 2020

Pappu Yadav Forms Poll Alliance with Chandrasekhar Azad

  • Pappu Yadav-led Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) decided to forge a poll alliance with three other political outfits including Chandrasekhar Azad's Azad Samaj Party, to fight the Bihar Assembly election.
  • The new coalition named Progressive Democratic Alliance (PDA) also includes the Bahujan Mukti Party (BMP) and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) of MK Faizi to fight against the NDA and other fronts in the upcoming Bihar Assembly polls.

Negate Farm Bills with Your Own Laws: Sonia to Cong-ruled States

  • A day after President Ram Nath Kovind granted his assent to the controversial farm Bills, Congress president Sonia Gandhi asked states ruled by her party to negate the agriculture-related Central laws by passing their own legislations.
  • Congress president has advised the Congress-ruled states to explore the possibilities to pass laws in their respective states under Article 254(2) of the constitution which allows the state legislatures to pass a law to negate the Anti-Agriculture Central laws encroaching upon State's jurisdiction under the Constitution.
  • Sonia Gandhi has told the states ruled by Congress that enacting their own legislations would enable bypassing the unacceptable anti-farmers' provisions in the three "draconian agricultural laws", including the abolition of MSP and disruption of APMCs in Congress-ruled states.

India Inks First Green Pact with Denmark

  • India and Denmark decided to elevate their bilateral ties to a "green strategic partnership", the first of its kind, during a virtual summit between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Mette Frederiksen.
  • Niche pollution control solutions being offered by Denmark include those to curb stubble burning. "Danish companies are already talking to Indian companies to take it forward," said MEA's Joint Secretary (Central Europe).
  • PM Modi in his address indicated that Indian expectations from Denmark went well beyond pollution control initiatives and partnerships. Mentioning the extensive reforms in the manufacturing, labour, regulatory and taxation sectors, he recalled Denmark's constant attendance at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit since 2009 and cautioned against the risks of overdependence on a single source.
  • The PM then spoke of virtual conferences with India, Japan, Australia and France to diversify supply chains and invited other like-minded democracies to join this endeavour.
  • PM Modi observed that India and Denmark could set up energy parks where a large number of Danish companies were present. India had recently intensified its conversation with Denmark and the groundwork for this summit was laid during talks between the two Foreign Ministers in January, followed up with more online interactions.

Namami Gange: Six Mega Projects, "Ganga Avalokan" to be Inaugurated

  • PM Modi is to inaugurate six mega projects under Namami Gange Mission through video conference.
  • The projects to be inaugurated are as follows
  • • Construction of 68 MLD STP
  • • Upgradation of 27 MLD at Jagjeetpur, Haridwar
  • • Construction of 68 MLD Jagjeetpur Project
  • • Inauguration of 26 MLD in Rishikesh
  • • Construction of 18 MLD STP at Darai, Haridwar
  • • Inauguration of 5 MLD STP at Chirpani. Also, two STP at Badrinath.
  • MLD is Million Litres per Day and STP is Sewage Treatment Plant.
  • The PM Modi along with these projects is to inaugurate Ganga Avalokam. It is the first museum of Ganga that is dedicated to showcase the biodiversity, rejuvenation and culture in Ganga river. The museum is located in Haridwar.
  • The Prime Minister will also launch a book "Rowing Down the Ganges" that was co-published by National Mission for Clean Ganga and Wildlife Institute of India.
  • The Prime Minister will also release a logo of Jal Jeevan Mission, Magdarshika for Gram Panchayats and Paani Samitis under Jal Jeevan Mission.

Sep 28, 2020

Gupteshwar Pandey Joins Nitish Kumar's JD(U)

  • Putting rest to days of speculations, former Bihar Director-General of Police (DGP) Gupteshwar Pandey has joined the ranks of Nitish Kumar-led JD(U).
  • As per reports, Nitish Kumar called him and asked to join the party.
  • The development comes just days after the Election Commission of India announced the dates for the upcoming Bihar assembly polls 2020.
  • Putting rest to days of speculations, former Bihar Director-General of Police (DGP) Gupteshwar Pandey has joined the ranks of Nitish Kumar-led JD(U).
  • As per reports, Nitish Kumar called him and asked to join the party.
  • The development comes just days after the Election Commission of India announced the dates for the upcoming Bihar assembly polls 2020.

New Defence Acquisition Procedure to Reduce Time Delays, Enhance Ease of Doing Business

  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh unveiled a new Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) that features steps to turn India into a global manufacturing hub of military platforms, reduce timelines for procurement of defence equipment and allow the purchase of essential items by the three services through capital budget under a simplified mechanism.
  • Under the new policy, the offset guidelines have also been revised to give preference to defence majors offering to manufacture products in India instead of meeting the offset obligations through other means, officials said. The DAP also incorporates new chapters on information and communication technologies, post-contract management, acquisition of systems developed by the state-run defence entities like the DRDO and Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs).
  • In what is seen as a significant move, the DAP featured measures to reduce delay in procurement of essential items by the three services as it proposed a new enabling provision to acquire them through capital budget under a simplified procedure in a time-bound manner.

Akhilesh Yadav Welcomes SAD's Decision to Quit NDA

  • Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav welcomed Shiromani Akali Dal's (SAD) decision to quit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) against the recently promulgated farm bills.
  • Apart from the opposition, people and BJP's alliance partners, even the workers of the ruling party are objecting to Centre's policies. This is because they are directly facing the ire of the people.
  • President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to three farm bills passed by the Parliament in the recently-concluded monsoon session.
  • With this, all three bills have now become acts- The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Service Act, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
  • The three bills were passed by Parliament amid vehement protest by the Opposition parties.

Sep 27, 2020

Shiromani Akali Dal Breaks Ties with BJP-led NDA

  • Shiromani Akali Dal, one of the oldest ally of the BJP announced to quit the ruling party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) after sharp difference over three newly-passed farm bills.
  • SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal announced the move after attending a core committee meeting of the party.
  • According to a party statement, the said the decision to quit the NDA was taken because of the Centre's stubborn refusal to give statutory legislative guarantees to protect assured marketing of farmers crops on MSP and its continued insensitivity to Punjabi and Sikh issues like excluding Punjabi language as official language in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The SAD becomes the third major NDA ally to pull out of the grouping after the Shiv Sena and the TDP. The development comes days after SAP MP Harsimrat Kaur resigned from the Cabinet due to rift widening between the two parties over farm bills.
  • Badal said that the SAD will continue to stand by its core principles of peace, communal harmony and guard the interest of Punjab and Punjabi in general, and Sikhs and farmers in particular.

Sep 26, 2020

India and Sri Lanka Set 11-point Agenda to Improve Ties

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi resolved to pursue closer bilateral ties with his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa through a mutually agreed 11-point agenda that will seek to address important issues like the Tamil question, ban on Indian imports, the Colombo Port project and harassment of fishermen.
  • Most of the 11 points stated in the joint statement, touched on programmes to provide social and medical assistance to Sri Lanka, including a $ 100-million credit line, step up people-to-people contact and increase coordination between their militaries and security agencies.
  • They also resolved to improve the environment for trade and investment, look into the import bans imposed by Sri Lanka and deepen the integration of supply chains.
  • Mahinda Rajapaksa gave no firm assurance on Indo-Japanese involvement in the Colombo Port project seen as a counter balance to Hambantota Port being allotted to the Chinese. Nor was there a firm commitment to resolving the Tamil question almost a decade after the end of the civil war.
  • The two leaders also agreed to facilitate tourism by enhancing connectivity and by early establishment of an air bubble.
  • They also resolved to strengthen cooperation between the armed forces through personal visits, maritime security cooperation and support to Sri Lanka in the spheres of defence and security.

K. T. Rama Rao Inaugurated the Cable Stayed Bridge

  • Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development K. T. Rama Rao inaugurated the cable stayed bridge on Durgam Cheruvu. Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy was the chief guest.
  • The bridge, touted as one of its kind in the country, has been constructed as part of the Telangana government's flagship Strategic Road Development Plan (SRDP). It is set to ease traffic flow towards Hi-Tec City, reducing commute time between Jubilee Hills and Madhapur by 20 minutes. The distance from Mind Space to Jubilee Hills stands reduced by two kilometres with the launch of the bridge.
  • The L&T authorities have claimed it as the "world's longest pre-cast segmental span" of 233.85 metres in concrete for a cable stayed bridge.
  • The bridge has been constructed using 420 metric tonnes of high-tensile strand, 26,600 cubic metres of concrete, 4,800 MT of steel and 287 MT of stay cables.

JP Nadda Announces New Team of BJP's National Office-bearers

  • The long-awaited team of the BJP president JP Nadda was announced with many prominent names from the previous team missing and several new faces included. Party leaders said all efforts had been made to maintain a regional balance with adequate representation to all prominent states.
  • The most prominent changes are in the list of eight general secretaries, the crucial organisational position that serves as the link between the states and the central leadership, which now has five new faces including Punjab's Tarun Chugh.
  • Though Haryana does not have direct representation in the team, newly-appointed General Secretary Dushyant Kumar Gautam (Rajya Sabha MP) has a connection to the state.
  • Dr Narendra Singh from Jammu and Kashmir is the national secretary in 'Team Nadda' in which senior leaders Bhupender Yadav (MP, Rajasthan), Arun Singh (MP, Uttar Pradesh) and Kailash Vijayvargiya (Madhya Pradesh) have been retained as General Secretary and Ram Madhav, P Muralidhar Rao, Saroj Pandey and Anil Jain dropped to make way for Chugh (Punjab), Gautam (MP, Delhi), D Purandareswari (Andhra Pradesh), CT Ravi (Karnataka) and Dilip Saikia (Assam).
  • Young and fiery advocate of 'Hindutva plank' Tejasvi Surya has made an entry as the president of the party's youth wing in place of Poonam Mahajan.
  • Uttar Pradesh leader Rajesh Agarwal has been appointed treasurer in place of union minister Piyush Goyal while Mandsaur MP Sudhir Gupta will be his deputy. Amit Malviya has been retained as the IT cell and social media in charge.
  • Other appointments include K Laxman as head of the Other Backward Classes Morcha, Jamal Siddiqui as chief of the minority wing and Lal Singh Arya as chief of the SC (Scheduled Castes) Morcha and Fatehpur Sikri MP Rajkumar Chahar as the head of the Kisan Morcha Radha Mohan Singh, Mukul Roy, Rekha Verma, Annapurna Devi, Bharti Shiyal, DK Aruna, M Chuba Ao, AP Abdullakutty were appointed national vice presidents in the reshuffle.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the new team of office-bearers and expressed confidence that they would uphold the "glorious tradition" of the party of serving the people of India selflessly and with dedication.
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