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THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 16TH DECEMBER 2019

  1. With reference to Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), consider the following statements1. AIIB has more than 80 member nations.

    2. India is the largest shareholder in AIIB.

    3. AIIB does not have any members from outside Asia.

    Which of the statements given above is / are correct?

    (a) 1 only

    (b) 2 and 3 only

    (c). 1 and 3 only

    (d) 1, 2 and 3

 

Answer: A

 

  1. Who heads the CCS (Cabinet Committee on Security ) :

Answer: Prime Minister

 

  1. Which one of the following is not a sub-index of the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business Index’?(a) Maintenance of law and order

    (b) Paying taxes

    (c) Registering property

    (d) Dealing with construction permits

Answer: A

 

 

CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT 2019

NEWS: Violence erupted around Jamia Millia Islamia University here on Sunday afternoon as protesters opposing the amended Citizenship Act clashed with the police. Scores were injured as the police resorted to lathi-charge and firing of teargas shells.

At least 51 people, who were injured in the police action near Jamia, have been admitted to the nearby Holy Family Hospital.

A mob set fire to public buses and damaged parked vehicles. Students, however, dissociated themselves from the violence.

WHAT DOES THE ACT CONTAINS?

The ACT seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 by seeking to grant citizenship to undocumented non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who came to India on or before December 31, 2014.

The purpose of the ACT says that it will enable acquisition of Indian citizenship by persons who were forced to seek shelter in India due to persecution or fear of it on grounds of religion and will extend the facility to the class of persons presently facing hardships and difficulties in acquiring citizenship.

The ACT says the six non-Muslim communities “shall not be treated as illegal migrant” for violating provisions under Passport Act, 1920 or the Foreigners Act, 1946 that pertains to foreigners entering and staying in India illegally.

The ACT shall not apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura as included in the sixth schedule of the Constitution and States of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland protected by the Inner Line Permit (ILP).

Citizens of other States require ILP to visit the three States as per the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.

 

NATIONAL GREEN TRIBUNAL

NEWS: Railway stations across India must obtain necessary environmental permits as several polluting activities take place there, the National Green Tribunal has said.

A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said there can be no dispute about the proposition that the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, also applies to major railway stations.

It directed the Railways to take into account recommendations of the Central Pollution Control Board on implementing the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.

ABOUT NGT:

National Green Tribunal was formed under the National Green Tribunal Act of 2010. Act was enacted under the India’s constitutional provision of Article 21 which assures the citizens of India the right to healthy environment.

Tribunal has been created for effective and expeditious disposal of the cases relating to environmental protection and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto.

Tribunal is mandated to make endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals filing within 6 months of the filing of the same.

Chairman of the tribunal must be a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court or judge of the Supreme Court of India. 

The tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 but shall be guided by the principles of natural justice. 

New Delhi is the principle place of sitting of the tribunal and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkatta and Chennai are other four places of sitting of the tribunal.

Present NGT Chairperson is Justice (Retired) Adarsh Kumar Goel.

 

CENTRAL RESERVE POLICE FORCE

NEWS: A Deputy Inspector General of CRPF and his driver were killed while his personal security officer was critically injured when their vehicle was hit by a landslide along the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway in Ramban district on Sunday, officials said.

ABOUT CRPF

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is the largest of India’s Central Armed Police Forces.

It functions under the aegis of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) of the Government of India.

The CRPF’s primary role lies in assisting the State/Union Territories in police operations to maintain law and order and counter insurgency.

It came into existence as the Crown Representative’s Police on 27 July 1939.

After Indian Independence, it became the Central Reserve Police Force on enactment of the CRPF Act on 28 December 1949.

 

PRADHAN MANTRI MATRU VANDANA YOJANA

NEWS: Three years after a pan-India maternity benefit programme promising ₹6,000 to new mothers was first announced, the chorus on its many exclusions is growing louder leading to a demand for a scheme that is truly universal.

The many clauses introduced into the long and tedious documentation work totalling 32 pages has led to single women and young brides being left out of its purview, say activists working at the grassroots level.

Activists say that registration for the scheme requires an applicant to provide her husband’s Aadhaar details along with her own, affecting single women which include unwed mothers, deserted wives and widows.

Moreover, a mother seeking benefits needs to provide proof of address of her marital home, which proves challenging for a newlywed expecting a child and often residing in her natal home during pregnancy. She is then forced to go from pillar to post to claim benefits.

She added that the requirement that the applicant has to be at least 19 years old also leaves out younger brides, who hesitate in getting their marriages registered as the legal age of marriage is 18 years.

The application form requires separate undertakings from the woman and her husband that the child for whom they are seeking the benefit will be “the first living child for both of them”, further making it prohibitive.

 

ABOUT PRADHAN MANTRI MATRU VANDANA YOJANA

The Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a televised address to the nation on December 31, 2016.

Under this government decided to give a benefit of ₹5,000 to pregnant and lactating mothers for the birth of the first child. This would be disbursed in three installments upon meeting several conditionalities — registration of pregnancy, at least one ante-natal check-up, registration of child birth and vaccinations.

The remaining cash incentive of up to ₹1,000 is to be given under a separate scheme called the Janani Suraksha Yojana so that on an “average” women get a total sum of ₹6,000. The objective is to compensate women for wage loss due to child birth.

 

AJANTA CAVES

NEWS: Two tourist visitor centres set up at Ajanta and Ellora caves by the Maharashtra government with funding from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have been shut due to their pending water and electricity dues worth ₹5 crore, an official said.

The State set up the two centres, having facilities like audio-visual presentations and library, in 2013 for which ₹125 crore was spent in two phases, the official said. A big chunk of this fund came from JICA, he said, on condition of anonymity.

ABOUT AJANTA CAVES

The wall paintings of Ajanta caves belong to period from 2nd century BCE to 7th century CE.

BUILT BY: Satvahanas, Vakatakas and Chalukyas

LOCATION: Maharashtra State near Aurangabad.

The subject matter of these paintings is almost exclusively Buddhist, excepting decorative patterns on the ceilings and the pillars. They are mostly associated with the Jatakas, collection of stories, recording the previous births of the Lord Buddha. The compositions of these paintings are large in extent but the majority of the figures are smaller than life size. Principal characters in most of the designs are in heroic proportions.

FORM: As they are drawn over many centuries and by artisans belonging to various guilds they show great stylistic variation along with maintaining certain common features.

The common features are…

  • Centrality
  • perspective drawing
  • common physical features such as half closed eyes
  • black outline with various body colours

 

STRANDHOGG

NEWS: The Union Home Ministry has sent an alert to all States warning them about the vulnerability of the Android operating system to a bug called ‘StrandHogg’ that allows real-time malware applications to pose as genuine applications and access user data of all kind.

While all versions of Android, including Android 10, are vulnerable to this bug, it may not be apparent to the affected users that malware applications are already on board their device. These malware can then potentially listen to their conversations, access photo album, read/send messages, make calls, record conversations and get login credentials to various accounts.

The information was shared by the Threat Analytical Unit, Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs.

ABOUT MALWARE

Malware is short for malicious software. It is designed to either gain access to or damage someone’s computer network. For example, ransomware is a kind of malware.

 

 

ISSUE: HONG KONG PROTEST

NEWS: Small groups of protesters gathered in shopping malls across Hong Kong on Sunday amid brief scuffles with riot police as attention turned to an upcoming meeting between Hong Kong’s leader and China’s President.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam is scheduled to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on Monday and some observers say the visit could yield fresh directives including a possible Cabinet reshuffle.

Hong Kong has been embroiled in its worst political crisis in decades since June with anti-government protests posing a populist challenge to Mr. Xi and complicating ties between China and the U.S. at a time of heightened tensions.

 

HONG KONG

  1. Special administrative region of China
  2. Eastern side of Pearl River Estuary, South China Sea.
  3. Hong Kong become a colony of the british empire at the end of First Opium War in 1842.
  4. Sovereignty over the territory was transferred to China in 1997.
  5. ONE COUNTRY TWO SYSTEMS
  6. The Basic Law is the constitutional document for the HKSAR. It enshrines within a legal document the important concepts of “One Country, Two Systems”, “a high degree of autonomy” and “Hong Kong People administering Hong Kong”
  7. Umbrella Revolution and Water Revolution are associated with Hong Kong.

 

MISS WORLD 2019

NEWS: Jamaica’s Toni-Ann Singh has bagged the Miss World 2019 crown at an annual beauty pageant held here, with India’s Suman Rao becoming second runners-up.

The 23-year-old was declared the winner at a televised event held at ExCeL London here on Saturday.

Ms. Singh was closely followed by France’s Ophely Mezino, who was adjudged first runner-up, while India’s Suman Rao was declared second runner-up.

 

CASE AGAINST CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT 2019

NEWS: The dozen or so petitions  have been filed against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 in the Supreme Court.

ARGUMENTS BEING GIVEN BY PETITIONERS

State cannot discriminate on the basis of an intrinsic and core identity of an individual. Being Muslim is part of a person’s core identity and dignity. It cannot be the basis for discrimination for granting citizenship, they argue.

The Constitution Bench judgment in the petition filed by the Delhi government — State (NCT of Delhi) v. Union of India — said the court should follow its constitutional morality to check State power and the “tyranny of the majority”.

If at all the state ventures to classify people on the basis of religion, it should be reasonable, based on intelligible differentia and have a rational basis with the objective sought to be achieved by the law, the petitions argued, quoting the Anwar Ali Sarkar verdict reported in 1952.

The amendments provide benefits to illegal migrants who practise any of the six faiths and excludes Muslims.

The Constitution Bench in the S.R. Bommai judgment lays down that the State cannot favour any particular religion. It is the government’s duty to accord equal treatment to members of all faiths. A Constitution Bench in its Shayara Bano (triple talaq case) held that a legislation which is manifestly arbitrary, capricious, irrational, excessive or disproportionate should be struck down.

 

VACANCY IN CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

NEWS:  With the Supreme Court set to hear the case on continuing vacancies at the Central and State Information Commissions on Monday, the Centre has filed its progress report in a sealed cover.

The Commissions are the courts of appeal under the RTI Act and continuing vacancies lead to long delays in settling cases.

At the Central Information Commission — which has four vacancies — there are more than 33,000 pending cases.

Department of Personnel and Training — which is the nodal Central Ministry for RTI — submitted its status report and compliance report on December 13 in sealed covers

Earlier this month, in its judgment allowing bail to former Union Minister P. Chidambaram in the INX Media case, the apex court pulled up the Delhi High Court for accepting sealed cover documents from investigating agencies and reproducing their contents as judicial findings. Sealed covers have also featured in the Rafale petition, the 2G scam trial and a case regarding the illegal detention of children in Jammu and Kashmir.

Retired judges have said sealed covers are typically used in matters of national security or with regard to ongoing investigations.

Petitioner and RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj pointed out the irony of the government using sealed covers in a case regarding information and transparency.

 

ABOUT RTI ACT 2005

An act to

  1. provide right of information to citizens
  2. to secure access to information under the control of public authorities
  3. in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.
  4. The constitution of Central Information Commission and State Information Commission.

INFORMATION : means any material in any form, including recored, docuements, memos, emails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, Contracts,Reports.

PUBLIC AUTHORITY: means any authority or body or institution of self government established or constituted by

  1. Constitution
  2. Parliament
  3. State Legislature
  4. Appropriate government
  5. Body owned controlled or substantially financed
  6. NGO substantially financed

IMPORTANT SECTIONS

1.Section 3: RTI is for all the Indian Citizens

  1. Section4: IT is duty of every public authority to maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and the form which facilitates the RTI under this Act.
  2. Section 6: Application for seeking the information may be made in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area along with the fees prescribed by CPIO and SPIO
  3. Section 7: information has to be provided within 30 days. If information concerns the life and liberty of person then information should be provided within 48 hours.
  4. Section 8: Certain grounds on the basis of which information might be denied.
  5. Section 19: First Appeal (30 days) and Second Appeal (90 days) to CIC and SIC.
  6. Section 20: Empowers the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission as the case may be a penalty of Rs 250 each day till application is received or information is furnished, however total amount of such penalty shall not exceed 25,000 rupees.
  7. Section 24: Act does not apply to Intelligence and Security Agencies.

 

 

FASTag

NEWS:  Confusion reigned supreme at toll plazas after the government issued an order extending the deadline for FASTags to become mandatory by 30 days and requiring 25% of lanes at toll plazas to be kept open for cash transactions.

NHAI officials say they saw a 5% jump in FASTag transactions on Sunday, from when FASTags were to become compulsory until the government provided relief to commuters in a last-minute order issued on Saturday due to a shortage of RFID stickers in the market.

WHAT IS FASTAG?

It is a device that uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for making toll payments directly from the prepaid account linked to it.

It is affixed on the windscreen of vehicle and enables to drive through toll plazas without waiting.

The tag has a validity of 5 years and after purchase, it only needs to be recharged or topped up. The service is applicable to all kinds of vehicles but use of the service is currently voluntary.

 BENEFITS OF FASTAGS:

It helps quicken passage through toll barriers and helps avoid use of cash. Long queues of vehicles waiting while cumbersome cash transactions happen at the counter can be avoided. Here, it helps reduce use of fuel and pollution due to high waiting-times at the barriers.

It can also help the government identify the quantum of road use and types of vehicles passing through, aiding budgets for road widening and other infrastructure expenses. Theoretically, it could help increase accruals to the government as some operators managing toll plazas have, in the past, have been suspected of under reporting their revenues.

VANDE BHARAT EXPRESS

NEWS: The Railway Ministry clearing the decks for the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) here to continue making Vande Bharat Express trains is seen as a welcome move though senior officials are sceptical of rolling out 45 rakes, 720 coaches, by 2021-22.

Even if tenders are floated immediately as per the revised specifications approved by the Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), it would take at least two years to roll out the first prototype for operation after the mandatory oscillation tests and safety approvals.

While it would take three months to open tenders for scrutiny, another two months would be needed to finalise and award work, a senior railway official told The Hindu on Sunday.

Considering that the manufacturing process is monitored on a day-to-day basis, the prototype electrics would be ready only by November 2021 and would take at least three months for the mandatory inspection and type test process.

 

ABOUT VANDE BHARAT EXPRESS

  • It is India’s First Engineless Train. Next generation Shatabdi.
  • Built by Integral Coach Factory, Chennai.
  • It does not have locomotive to pull the coaches – it is a self propelled
  • semi high speed train set.
  • Train has become India’s fastest train by hitting the speed of 180 kmph
  • during a trial run on the section of Delhi Rajdhani routes.
  • It will replace Shatabdi trains and will run between Delhi and Varanasi.
  • It will run on e-traction or electric Traction.

 

 

FOREIGN CONTRIBUTION REGULATION ACT

NEWS: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has identified properties as part of its probe into the alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) by a non-governmental organisation previously linked to lobbyist Deepak Talwar. The ED may open proceedings under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

 

Regulation of Foreign Funding:

The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 and rules framed under it (the “FCRA” or “Act”) regulate the receipt and usage of foreign contribution by non-governmental organisations (“NGOs”) in India.

 

Scope and objective of FCRA:

The intent of the Act is to prevent use of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activity detrimental to the national interest. It has a very wide scope and is applicable to a natural person, body corporate, all other types of Indian entities (whether incorporated or not) as well as NRIs and overseas branches/subsidiaries of Indian companies and other entities formed or registered in India.

It is implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

In order to achieve the above objective, the Act:

Prohibits acceptance and use of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by a certain specified category of persons such as a candidate for election, judge, journalist, columnist, newspaper publication, cartoonist and others.

Regulates the inflow to and usage of foreign contribution by NGOs by prescribing a mechanism to accept, use and report usage of the same.

Definition:

It defines the term ‘foreign contribution’ to include currency, article other than gift for personal use and securities received from foreign source. While foreign hospitality refers to any offer from a foreign source to provide foreign travel, boarding, lodging, transportation or medical treatment cost.

Acceptance of foreign funds:

The Act permits only NGOs having a definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programme to accept foreign contribution, that too after such NGOs either obtain a certificate of registration or prior permission under the Act.

Registration and prior approval under FCRA:

In order to be registered under the FCRA, an NGO must be in existence for at least three years and must have undertaken reasonable activity in its field for which the foreign contribution is proposed to be utilised. Further, it must have spent at least INR 1,000,000 over three years preceding the date of its application on its activities.

The registration certificate is valid for a period of five years and must be thereafter renewed in the prescribed manner.

NGOs not eligible for registration can seek prior approval from FCRA for receiving foreign funding. This permission is granted only for a specific amount of foreign funding from a specified foreign source for a specific purpose. It remains valid till receipt and full utilisation of such amount.

The Act imposes various conditions on the use of foreign funds and some of them are as follows:

All funds received by a NGO must be used only for the purpose for which they were received.

Such funds must not be used in speculative activities identified under the Act.

Except with the prior approval of the Authority, such funds must not be given or transferred to any entity not registered under the Act or having prior approval under the Act.

Every asset purchased with such fund must be in the name of the NGO and not its office bearers or members.

Reporting requirement:

Every NGO registered or having prior approval under the Act must file an annual report with the Authority in the prescribed form. This report must be accompanied by an income and expenditure statement, receipt and payment account, and balance sheet for the relevant financial year. For financial years where no foreign contribution is received, a ‘NIL’ report must be furnished with the Authority

 

 

CLIMATE SUMMIT

NEWS: Marathon international climate talks ended on Sunday, with major polluters resisting calls to ramp up efforts to keep global warming at bay and negotiators postponing the regulation of global carbon markets until next year.

Those failures came even after organisers added two more days to the 12 days of scheduled talks in Madrid. In the end, delegates from almost 200 nations endorsed a declaration to help poor countries that are suffering the effects of climate change, although they didn’t allocate any new funds to do so.

The Paris accord established the goal of avoiding a temperature increase of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. So far, the world is on course for a 3- to 4-degree Celsius rise, with potentially dramatic consequences for many countries.

Negotiators in Madrid left some of the thorniest issues for the next climate summit in Glasgow in a year, including the liability for damages caused by rising temperatures that developing countries were insisting on.

 

 

 

FIRST EDITORIAL: MANY MUTINIES

ISSUE: PROTEST AGAINST THE CITIZENSHIP ACT IN NORTH EAST

Many people have erupted in revolt against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Assam and other Northeastern States have substantially calmed.

Editorial highlights that it would be dangerous to mistake it for normalcy as the Centre characteristically does in such situations

Editorial highlights that by applying religious test for granting citizenship is mindless and dangerous.

The Northeast’s ethnic divergences have been delicately — and barely — managed with the collaboration of local power-brokers and grant of special property and cultural rights to communities.

The BJP’s inability in appreciating diversity has long ceased to surprise anyone, but its insistence on aggravating dormant faultlines and inflaming new passions is baffling.

The CAA has wrecked the Assam Accord of 1985 and exhumed sleeping hostilities.

It is a pity that the BJP, despite its ambitions to make India a superpower, cannot comprehend the elementary truth that triggering numerous mutinies across the nation is an impossible route to that.

After the subterfuge on Kashmir, which involved responsible government functionaries lying to the public, the trust deficit of this government among vulnerable communities has multiplied.

The CAA seeks to provide a legal imprimatur to the BJP’s blatant politics of turning the Northeast’s ethnic faultlines into a religious one, by excluding Muslims alone.

By pitting Bengali-speaking Hindus who have moved around in the region against their Muslim counterparts, the party hopes to reinforce itself in West Bengal also. The current tempest will soon pass, but this turmoil will not cease.

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?

To undo the misadventure of CAA, the Centre must show courage and hold back, and the leadership must demonstrate statesmanship. That will serve the nation well.

 

 

SECOND EDITORIAL: PROBING THE POLICE

ISSUE: JUDICIAL INQUIRY IN HYDERABAD ENCOUNTER

Editorial highlights that Supreme Court has done right thing by appointing an inquiry commission which will carry more credibility than a routine police investigation.

WHY THERE WAS LACK OF CREDIBILITY?

The FIR contains IPC sections and Arms Act provisions that relate to the offences by the four accused in snatching weapons from the police and trying to kill them, while attempting to flee from custody. The court rightly questions how dead men could be investigated and prosecuted.

ENCOUNTER OR CUSTODIAL DEATH

Supreme Court order underscores that the suspects were in the legal custody of the police when the incident took place, implying that it was primarily a ‘custodial death’ and one that was yet to be established as an ‘encounter’ — the latter being a term that can be used only when the police or any other security force is unexpectedly faced with armed adversaries.

EDITORIAL’S VIEW

If at all it felt the need for an independent probe, the Supreme Court could have monitored the police investigation or transferred it to another agency.

Instead, it has chosen the Commission of Inquiry route, and given six months for the panel to come out with its findings. It would be unfortunate if this has the unintended consequence of the police waiting for the commission’s findings and going slow on the criminal investigation.

After all, regular investigation based on the criminal procedure is always better than ad hoc enquiries that are mere fact-finding exercises.

 

LEAD ARTICLE: THE DISTINCT CRY OF AN IMPERILLED FRONTIER

ISSUE: WHY NORTH EASTERN STATES ARE CONCERNED ABOUT CITIZENSHIP ACT

REASONS FOR CONCERN IN REST OF INDIA

Discriminatory nature of the law and seeming Islam-phobia attributes of the new law

REASONS FOR CONCERN IN NORTH EAST INDIA

In the Northeast, CAB is seen as a threat to survival.

The fear in Assam of being overwhelmed by an unceasing influx of people from Bangladesh therefore is nothing beyond legitimacy. This is a peculiar situation often described as “a majority with a minority complex”

Fear of extinction of the local languages. The truth is, going by UNESCO’s definition of endangered languages, all of the 200 and more languages spoken in the Northeast, with the exception of Assamese and Bengali, are in the vulnerable category.

Fear of becoming minority in their own homeland.

CONCLUSION

Nobody is perfectly innocent or guilty in this sordid drama, and the way forward has to be on the path of truth and reconciliation that Nelson Mandela showed.

 

SECOND ARTICLE: SPOT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SIGN AND SYMBOL

ISSUE: SIGN OF LOTUS IN THE INDIAN PASSPORT

WHAT HAS HAPPENED?

Government has introduced the lotus on the passport, as part of security measures to be replaced by other national symbols in subsequent months.

Many see this as a political move, yet another path of saffronisation, as the lotus is the political symbol of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the party which values the Hindutva ideology-based “Hindu Rashtra” over the more secular “Idea of India”.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SIGN AND SYMBOL

A sign has a singular meaning. A symbol has multiple meanings, shifting with context.

For example, the red colour is a “stop” sign in traffic, but a “fertility” symbol in Hinduism, and in China, while being indicative of the “devil”, “scarlet women” or “Santa Claus” in Christianity.

Author’s central argument in this article is that the lotus not just a BJP symbol, just as the lion and the wheel are not just Buddhist symbols. The palm is also not just a Congress symbol; it is a gesture indicating protection (abhaya mudra) common to Buddhists, Jains and Hindus, and a common emoji indicating stop, or face-palm, i.e. a slap.

 

 

OP-ED PAGE

FIRST ARTICLE: IN BRITAIN THERE IS LOT TO GET DONE

ISSUE: CHALLENGES FOR NEW BRITISH PM BORIS JOHNSON

Author highlights that Mr. Johnson now has an 80-seat majority in Parliament — a very comfortable margin which means he will be able to deliver on his pledge to take Britain out of the EU at the end of January.

WHY JOHNSON AND HIS CONSERVATIVE PARTY PERFORMED WELL?

Mr. Johnson’s key advantage, however, was the widespread mistrust of Labour’s hard left leader, Jeremy Corbyn. He was widely seen as an extremist who has failed to tackle pockets of anti-semitism within his own party, made profligate promises about increases in public spending and, the key point, failed to convince voters that he had the potential to be prime minister.

CHALLENGES AHEAD

TRANSITION PERIOD: There will be a transition period until the end of 2020 when Britain will abide by EU rules and regulations but will not be part of the Union.

NEGOTATING THE DEAL: In the coming months, Britain will aim to negotiate the details of an enduring trading relationship with its principal commercial partners in Europe. That will be a huge task and is likely to be marked by rows and recriminations.

RECESSION: Economic forecasters believe that Brexit will impede economic growth, perhaps even triggering a brief recession. That would make it more difficult for the Conservative government to deliver on its promise of greater public spending.

POLARISIED POLITICS: For the past few years, Brexit has polarised British politics, fractured relationships, and soured public debate. Britain is wounded. Its prime minister has in the past proved to be a divisive figure who has sought to fan the flames of populism and nationalism to gain political advantage. Can he now move away from his theatrical rhetoric and provide a healing balm for his bruised nation?

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