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Daily Briefing: Kabul falls to Taliban as Afghan prez leaves country; on I-Day, PM Modi calls for inclusive development

Read the latest on Taliban offensive in Afghanistan, Indian economy amid Covid, this year's Independence Day celebrations and our Idea Exchange with Tamil Nadu Finance Minister PTR Palanivel Thiaga Rajan.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 16, 2021 9:06:50 am
A look at the top news today, August 17, 2021.

Express in Afghanistan 

Kabul fell. President Ashraf Ghani fled. Taliban’s mission to seize control of Afghanistan is complete. And the US? helicopters evacuated its embassy personnel as plumes of smoke rose from their mission compound, suggesting the destruction of documents and equipment, evoking memories of their hasty exit from Saigon in 1975.  

Meanwhile, staff and personnel at the Indian embassy were also preparing to fly out the same night. For India, it will not just be an evacuation of its premises, but, for now, also its place in Afghanistan, its influence in Kabul, built over the years.

Hours before the Taliban arrived at the gates of Kabul, a school principal asked his teachers, most of them young women in their 20s and 30s, to leave for their homes. To women in Afghanistan, the return of the Taliban could only mean one thing: denial of even basic rights. 

From the Front Page

On the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitched for the country’s transformation to newer heights, new levels of prosperity, world-class modern infrastructure, and access to quality facilities for all Indians irrespective of the region and class they belong in the next 25 years.

There is a sense of disquiet within the BJP over the government’s silence on the growing demand for a caste census.  Many of its OBC MPs, contacted by The Indian Express, expressed concern. “If the census is done,” said a senior BJP leader who is a state minister, “it could reveal the fact that socially backward communities along with SCs and STs constitute more than 80 per cent of the population. So the concept of quota could have to be rethought.”

The economy may be limping towards normalcy after the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the job market continues to show extended signs of stress — the loss of employment in the contact-intensive sectors now appears to be accompanied by a progressive shift towards low-paying subsistence work. Multiple data sets point to the fact that post the second wave, the impact seems to be more pronounced in case of better quality jobs in urban areas, especially salaried jobs.

Must Read

As this year’s Independence Day marks the beginning of India’s 75th year as a free nation, Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi writes: “India must continue to demonstrate to the world how a country with innumerable languages, religions, cultures and ethnicities can thrive while celebrating diversity. India must be a beacon to other countries with our record of building and sustaining a vibrant democracy.”

Tamil Nadu Finance Minister PTR Palanivel Thiaga Rajan, while speaking at The Indian Express Idea Exchange, called the GST Council “poorly designed”, explained how lack of data hinders governance, touched upon his run-in with Jaggi Vasudev and laid out the DMK’s federalism principle. 

A fortnight ago, the daughter of a senior citizen in Mumbai’s Juhu rushed to the police: online fraudsters had looted Rs 75,000 from her father. Using his credit card details, the fraudsters had gone on a shopping spree online. The Crime Branch turned to “Stop Banking Fraud”, a WhatsApp group started four years ago by two constables in Gwalior. 

And Finally…

To the rousing cheers of the Sunday crowd, Cheteshwar Pujara blocked the 100th ball he faced in the innings, as he had through most of his combatively laborious knock. Surviving for his team, surviving for himself, Pujara was dealing with the situation in the best way he knew, by sticking to his biggest strengths.

Delhi confidential: It wasn’t just in India but in far away Croatia as well that the government’s Amrit Mahotsav, to mark the 75th Independence Day, was also celebrated.

Podcast: Dispatch from Kabul on Taliban’s takeover, understanding the new vehicle scrapping policy, and the highlights from PM Modi’s speech.

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