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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Daily Briefing: India, Taliban make first official contact; Q1 growth rate at 20.1%

The first quarter’s high growth rate, however, has come despite a brutal second wave of the pandemic which peaked in April-May.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: September 1, 2021 7:48:23 am
Daily Briefing: Free Covid vaccines for all, only Centre to procure; Red flags as PNB stake in housing finance subsidiary may dip below 26%A look at the top news today,September 1, 2021.

Good morning, 

Afghanistan-Taliban crisis 

India made its first official contact with the Taliban on Tuesday, with its ambassador to Qatar meeting the head of the Taliban political force in Doha. The government said discussions focused on “early return of Indian nationals stranded in Afghanistan” and “the travel of Afghan nationals, especially minorities, who wish to visit India”. The meeting took place after Prime Minister Narendra Modi formed a high-level group to focus on the situation. 

As the last United States forces left Kabul, the United Nations Security Council, under India’s presidency, adopted a resolution that gave de facto recognition to the Taliban as a state actor in Afghanistan. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, who chaired the session, said the resolution “unequivocally” conveys that Afghan territory should not be used to threaten or attack any nation, shelter or train terrorists, and this is of “direct importance to India”. 

From the Front Page

Despite a brutal second wave of Covid-19, India’s economy grew at a record pace of 20.1 per cent in the April-June 2021 quarter. However, the economy continues to limp towards recovery. The GDP in absolute terms at Rs 32.38 lakh crore (constant prices) in the first quarter is still 9.2% lower than the GDP in the same period during the pre-Covid year 2019-20.

BJP state chief Swatantra Dev Singh called on Samajwadi Party patron Mulayam Singh Yadav on Monday. The meeting comes months ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections and at a time when the BJP is hard-pressed to explain its diffidence on a caste census, and is pushing its OBC outreach. While Swatantra Dev said he had gone to invite Yadav for a condolence meeting for the late BJP leader Kalyan Singh, the SP claimed he was unhappy in the saffron party.

In the biggest ever M&A deal in India’s fintech space, Dutch consumer Internet conglomerate Prosus, along with its financial services unit PayU, has agreed to buy 100% stake in Mumbai-based payment aggregator BillDesk for $4.7 billion. BillDesk is among the largest payment gateway aggregators in the country, handling more than half of all online billing transactions.

Must Read 

A possible dengue outbreak has brought a small town in UP to its knees, killing around 40 people, including 32 children, in the past week alone. Both government officials and local people in Firozabad — a town located about 35 km from Agra — said the first cases were seen after Rakhi last week. Agra’s Divisional Commissioner said a viral fever has been reported as a symptom in most of these cases, but the exact cause is still being ascertained. 

The Haryana government has decided to clamp down on protestors in case they resort to violence. For months now, leaders of the ruling BJP and Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) have been virtually unable to appear among the public or hold any official or party-level functions without farmers protesting. Sources said the government will not tolerate “violence in the garb of protests”, and will use force if farmers “exceed their limit”, or disrupt any official or public function attended by them. 

Around 120 Afghan nationals, who are training either at defence academies in India or pursuing specialised military courses here, will be allowed to continue with their training. Once they complete their courses they will be allowed to apply for refugee status in one of the 98 countries that have announced they will accept Afghan nationals.

And Finally 

An uneasy calm prevails in Junagadh’s Mangrol harbour, one of the biggest fishing hubs of Gujarat. With fishing season right around the corner, the fishermen are a worried lot, thanks to high diesel prices as well as falling export volumes of seafood and low consumption in the domestic market due to the pandemic. Fishermen leaders fear that a sizable number won’t even be able to set sail this season. 

Delhi Confidential: A special invitation has been extended to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar bySlovenia, which presently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, to participate in an informal meeting of EU Foreign Affairs Council on September 3. 

In today’s episode of the 3 Things podcast, we look at why cases are continuing to rise in Kerala, and how pandemic restrictions and hefty fines being imposed by the state police are affecting people.

Until tomorrow, 

Leela Murali and Rahel Philipose

Express Cartoon by EP Unny.

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