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Daily briefing: Farmers’ hunger strike; decline in India’s Covid-19 numbers; and more

The top news today: Farmer unions have intensified their agitation against the government; India's Covid-19 numbers are on the decline, slowly but steadily; and more.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 14, 2020 8:18:27 am
A look at the top news on December 31, 2020.

Good morning,

The Big Story

Intensifying their agitation against the Centre’s farm laws, farmer leaders are observing a nine-hour hunger strike on Monday. Apart from this, farmers will stage dharnas at all district headquarters in the country. Their demand is clear: repeal the laws, and start with “a clean slate”. The government has left open the door for talks, and is hoping to soon end the stalemate and reach a consensus.

From the Front Page

Calling Jammu and Kashmir “two eyes”, Lieutenant Governor of J&K Manoj Sinha said both have to work together for overall progress of the Union Territory. In an interview to The Indian Express, Sinha said neither can be favoured over the other.

India is among the countries with the highest number of road accidents. Yet, almost 60 per cent of the vehicles on the road are running without any insurance cover — a mandatory provision under the Motor Vehicles Act. A bulk of these are two-wheelers.

Experts are warning that Indian cricketers may be psychologically affected by their extended stay in Covid bio-bubbles, which require them to remain confined to their hotel rooms with stringent curbs on movement and contact. At least 13 Indian players would have spent six months in a bio-bubble by the third week of January.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays homage to those who lost their lives in 2001 Parliament attack to mark its 19th anniversary, at Parliament House in New Delhi, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020. (PTI Photo)

Only in Express

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, in an interaction with The Indian Express, said farmers will not benefit from the recently-enacted farm laws as they are “capitalist laws”. He questioned having one Act for the entire country when the situation differed across states.

In a new measurement, China and Nepal have announced Mount Everest is 86 cm taller than the 8,848 m accepted globally so far. How was the original height calculated by the Survey of India? What does the revision mean? Two of the senior-most officials of Survey of India explain in an interview to The Indian Express.

Despite dramatic improvements in sanitation and better access to fuel and drinking water, several states across the country have reversed course and recorded worsening levels of child malnutrition. The most surprising reversals have happened in child stunting, which reflects chronic undernutrition, and refers to the percentage of children who have low height for their age.

Must Read

The BJP, which has a negligible presence in Kerala, is looking to woo the Christian community to consolidate its position. It wants to capitalise on the increasing disenchantment among Christian leaders over the Kerala version of “love jihad” and possibililty of demographic change.

Despite festivals, elections, farmers’ protests, and relaxations in restrictions, India’s Covid-19 numbers are on the decline, slowly but steadily. With new infections having stablised for over a month now, experts believe a larger share of the Indian population — maybe ever more than half the population — may have already been infected by the virus.

In a string of contentious remarks, BJP MP Pragya Thakur said shudras “feel bad” when they are called shudras due to “ignorance” about the social system; kshatriya need to produce more children and induct them into the Armed Forces so they can fight for the nation; a law to control population growth should be enacted for those who indulge in “anti-national activities”.

A truck loaded with the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine leaves the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant in Portage, Mich., Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020. (AP Photo: Morry Gash)


Republic TV’s CEO Vikas Khanchandani was arrested by the Mumbai Police in connection with the fake TRP case. A total of 13 have now been arrested

A day after a BJP worker was attacked with sharp weapons and killed in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas, another party worker was found dead in a pond in East Bardhaman, triggering heated protests on Sunday

A serving officer of the Punjab police resigned from his post in solidarity with protesting farmers. “I am a farmer first and a police officer later. Whatever position I have got today, it is because my father worked as a farmer in the fields and he made me study…”

And Finally…

With the mercury dropping in the state, priests and authorities in Ayodhya are taking care to ensure the comfort of the “Ram Lalla” idol, and the idols of the deity’s brothers in a makeshift temple in the town. They have installed a blower heater in the temple, and covered the deities with a blanket.

Three days ago, the forest department got an alert from the BSF. Stuck in mud, over 250 chicks of greater flamingos were separated from their flock, near the India-Pakistan border. “Our rescue team washed the mud off the chicks before releasing them. Due to difficult terrain, it took us three days to rescue these chicks,” Chetan Patel, range forest officer said.

Delhi Confidential: Social media has been a platform for many to express differences of opinion. But it gets interesting when it is between leaders of the same ideology. Recently, a BJP national spokesperson was ticked off by a Sangh leader on democracy. Here’s what happened.

In today’s episode, we look at a clash between the Centre and West Bengal government following an attack on the BJP president’s convoy.

Until tomorrow,

Aaron Pereira and Leela Murali

Express Cartoon by EP Unny

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