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20 Indian soldiers killed, 43 Chinese

The violent face-off happened late evening and night of 15 June as a result of an attempt by the Chinese troops to ‘unilaterally change’ the status quo during de-escalation in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley

Ashish Singh

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In what can be called the biggest provocation by China so far and the first loss of lives at the IndiaChina border in at least 45 years, 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a “violent faceoff” with Chinese troops at Galwan Valley in Ladakh, the Army said on Tuesday. Forty-three soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are also said to have been killed as a result of the face-off.

In an official statement, the Indian Army has said that “17 Indian troops who were critically injured in the line of duty at the standoff location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain have succumbed to their injuries, taking the total that were killed in action to 20.”

 An earlier report had said that one commanding officer of the Indian army and two soldiers were killed in the Galwan region in Eastern Ladakh last night.

The Indian Army said on Tuesday that Indian and Chinese troops have disengaged at the Galwan area where they had earlier clashed on the night of 15-16 June. The Army said that it is firmly committed to protecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation.

An initial statement by the Indian army had said: “During the de-escalation process underway in the Galwan Valley, a violent face-off took place yesterday night which reportedly led to casualties. The loss of lives on the Indian side includes a commanding officer and two soldiers. Senior military officials of the two sides are at the site of the incident to defuse the situation.” However, later the Army issued another statement claiming that there were casualties on both sides.

Earlier, sources had said that the Indian and Chinese sides who had met for the disengagement process got into an argument which eventually escalated into a fistfight and reportedly led to pushing and shoving during which three Indian soldiers slipped into a treacherous terrain and lost their lives. Sources also said that no bullets were fired and Army officers from both the sides were present at the spot to engage in the de-escalation process.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the current operational situation in the region after the violent face-off along with the CDS and all three service chiefs. External Affairs minister S. Jaishankar was also present during the meeting. Rajnath Singh also briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the incident.

China, meanwhile, maintained its belligerent stance and continued blaming India for the border face-off. In a statement to the Global Times, the Chinese Foreign minister reportedly blamed Indian troops for “violating consensus”, “illegally crossing the border” and “carrying out a provocative attack on Chinese soldiers”. In the statement, China also urged India to “strictly restrain its frontline troops from crossing the border or taking any unilateral action that may complicate the border situation”.

Sources had earlier informed this correspondent that the tensions between both sides toned down after the 6 June talks between military commanders followed by other rounds of talks. Following that, there had been no considerable build-up by both sides. Limited disengagement of troops at more locations was also underway after continuous dialogue between both sides, though the latest incident seems to be adding a major roadblock to the peace process, dimming hopes of timely resolution of the issues.

 In response to media queries on the situation in the western sector of the India-China border, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, “India and China have been discussing through military and diplomatic channels the de-escalation of the situation in the border area in Eastern Ladakh. Senior Commanders had a productive meeting on 6 June 2020 and agreed on a process for such de-escalation. Subsequently, ground commanders had a series of meetings to implement the consensus reached at a higher level. While it was our expectation that this would unfold smoothly, the Chinese side departed from the consensus to respect the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley. On the late-evening and night of 15 June 2020 a violent face-off happened as a result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo there. Both sides suffered casualties that could have been avoided had the agreement at the higher level been scrupulously followed by the Chinese side. Given its responsible approach to border management, India is very clear that all its activities are always within the Indian side of the LAC. We expect the same of the Chinese side. We remain firmly convinced of the need for the maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas and the resolution of differences through dialogue. At the same time, we are also strongly committed to ensuring India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Army Chief M.M. Naravane on Saturday had assured everyone that the entire situation “along our borders is under control”. He said that a series of Corps Commander level talks are underway and are being followed up with meetings at the local level between commanders of equivalent ranks. In the present scenario, he has cancelled his scheduled Pathankot visit.

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Woman moves court after losing a Ludo game with dad

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A 24-year-old woman has approached a family court after she lost a Ludo game to her father. The matter came up before family court counsellor Sarita Rajani in the Madhya Pradesh capital here. The daughter has said that she has been experiencing alienation from her father ever since the outcome in the board game. 

“A 24-year-old young woman had come to us and said that when she was playing Ludo with her siblings and father, her father killed her tokens (goti) and she felt it was a breach of trust. She said she had trusted her father a lot and didn’t expect to be defeated by him,” said Rajani. 

Rajani told reporters that the woman has told her she has lost respect for her father and even felt hesitation in calling him “father”. She said the father daughter relation was better earlier and only the board game defeat led to the crisis. 

“I had four meetings with the woman and now some positive changes have started taking place,” said the counselor, adding: “Nowadays, children are unable to endure defeat which is why such cases come up. They need to learn to accept defeat which is as important as winning.” 

During the lockdown period, the young woman, her two siblings and their father used to play the board game. After losing a game, the young woman developed resentment against her father, which increased over time. Rajani said the girl did not share her feelings with her family and decided to seek counselling about the matter.

 She said the young woman is currently pursuing her studies, and the family lives in Bhopal city. The girl does not have a mother and she is the youngest of three siblings. “She has been counselled four times till now and the situation is improving. We will find a positive solution,” Rajani added.

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Former Bihar police chief joins Nitish’s Party a month before Assembly elections

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Ahead of the Assembly elections in Bihar, former Director-General of Police (DGP) Gupteshwar Pandey, who recently took voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), joined the JD-U on Sunday evening. He met Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday and later said that he has not taken any decision on contesting the elections. “I came here to meet Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and to thank him as he gave me absolute freedom to serve my duties as DGP. I have yet not taken any decision on contesting polls,” he had said. Later talking to the media, he said that CM Nitish Kumar called and asked him to join the JD-U.

 Pandey quit as DGP after his request for voluntary retirement was approved on Tuesday by the Bihar government, which waived a three-month mandatory cooling-off period.

 At a press conference held later at the party office, Pandey said he would be a “disciplined soldier of the party” and it is up to party how it utilises him. Asked about the buzz on his contesting elections, he said that too was the party’s call. “I was called by CM himself and asked to join. Whatever the party asks me to do, I will do. I don’t understand politics. I am a simple person who has spent his time working for the downtrodden section of society,” he told mediapersons.

 On Saturday, the former DGP met Nitish Kumar and claimed that it was just a “thank you” session. “I discussed nothing political with the Chief Minister. I have worked with him for long and, after retirement, I just wanted to thank him for his support,” he had told reporters.

 Pandey had earlier made headlines with his role in the Sushant Rajput case, and his comment questioning “aukat” (stature) of the actor’s friend Rhea Chakraborty for her remarks on Nitish Kumar.

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Tejashwi’s big poll promise: Will fill 10L vacancies soon after coming to power

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RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav

Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav on Sunday promised that if his party returned to power after the Bihar Assembly elections, more than 10 lakh government vacancies would be filled within two months. He also accused the Nitish Kumar government of neglecting the youths of Bihar. 

“As a result, job scarcity is at its highest in state. He is unable to fill 4.5 lakh vacancies in different departments. Besides, vacant posts of supporting staffs are even more,” the Leader of the Opposition in Bihar Assembly told the media here.

 “If we calculate, over 10 lakh posts are lying vacant in various departments. Besides, opportunities to create jobs in industries and unorganised sectors are also possible,” Tejashwi said. 

“As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), one doctor is required for every 1,000 people. Accordingly, 1.25 lakh doctors are required for 12 crore people of the state. Besides, around 2 lakh support staff like nurses, lab technicians and Group D employees are needed. As many as 50,000 posts of teachers and 75,000 Junior Engineers will be filled. In Bihar police, over 50,000 posts are vacant,” he added.

 He also claimed that law and order in Bihar was at its worse. “When the RJD was part of the state government for 15 months, I was the Deputy CM… the crime graph had gone down during that period.” 

Playing the regional card, Tejashwi said that he had earlier advocated the implementation of the domicile law in Bihar but the Chief Minister did not agree.

 “Neighbouring Jharkhand has a domicile law; Madhya Pradesh has 100 per cent domicile law, and so do others. Why has he not implemented this law in Bihar? Does he have any explanation?”

 The RJD leader also took a dig at Nitish Kumar’s claims on ‘sushasan’ (good governance), asking if he was denying that 60 scams had taken place during his rule. “Srijan scam, paddy scam, Saat Nischay scam etc took place… I want to ask Nitishji about the recovery of money from offenders. How much money did he manage to recover from scamsters? Does he have the guts to reveal the amount in public domain?” Tejashwi said. 

With agency inputs

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India would never go up when Bharat is going down

Our corporates must realise that nature abhors disequilibrium. There is a huge multitude of people
who have been left out of economic development. Why can’t they tie up their goals to the needs of these
people? Why can’t they give them work and therefore, money and therefore, create a further market?

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We have a sound democratic system based on universal adult franchise. The Constitution was written by wise men and women who had experienced long years of colonisation and had incorporated various checks and balances to ensure that we were not subjugated again, either from outside or, more importantly, from forces within. The people were to elect their representatives who would formulate policies and rules for using the country’s resources for allround development. We, the people, would rule, never looking for a benign ruler. Our institutions were supposed to be forward-looking, framing policies with long-term goals, rather than in response to short-term pressures. Gradually, however, political expediency drove us to choose policies which would produce quick results and public interest was viewed as a hindrance. Thus, environmental concerns, due process and the fair allocation of natural resources came to be viewed as impediments to growth. 

Over the years, there has been an abdication of responsibility by leaders and institutions. Knowingly or unknowingly, decision making was outsourced to interest groups, which increased their clout by backing the decision-makers. Today, advice on economic matters is sought from analysts linked to brokerages or hedge funds. IT professionals linked to technology firms advise us on IT and cyber security, and the same happens in every other field like health, education, agriculture, media, infra development and, I daresay, even foreign relations, national defence and strategic affairs. Consulting domain experts is fine — but letting them guide public policy? That is daft. It is so akin to ‘insider trading’ and ‘conflict of interest’ that it is a wonder we tolerate it. Every policy matter must go through a process of consultation amongst all stakeholders — in public view. Only the sunlight of the public gaze and the oxygen of open critical debate can wipe out the disease or the rot in our decision making.  

The economic indicators we use are misleading. The most widely used indices hide the disparity in incomes and the gulf between the rich and the poor. The GDP and GNP were indicators developed to show down the performance of the Soviet bloc countries. Recall the words of President John F. Kennedy where he said, “GNP does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

 Observers are now talking about a ‘K-shaped’ postCovid recovery, meaning that while India will go up, Bharat will go down. The overall indices will, however, continue to show a growing GDP. What happened to the trickle-down theory or “the big wave lifting up the small boats”? Have we finally given up on this charade and come to accept that it is alright if the industrial worker, farmer, labourer, mid-level doctor, engineer and teacher keeps getting pushed down the economic ladder, while the rich, financial wizards, senior IT professionals and unscrupulous traders keep amassing wealth? It suits the top one percent to keep their eyes shut and ears closed to the pain of the lowermost ninety percent. But it doesn’t add up — what happened to the remaining nine percent? They are the educated middle class, supposed to be the conscience keepers of the nation. Over the last three decades, they have been lulled by unsavoury levels of consumerism. Their numbers equal the combined population of the UK and France or Germany. They are big enough to sustain an economy amongst them and are busy teaching themselves to remain disengaged from reality. They remain entertained, stay in gated colonies and, apart from ostentatious living and conspicuous consumption, invest their surplus incomes in overseas assets. Have you noticed the growing number of private jets at our airports? Did someone also say ‘colonisation of space’?

 There was a time when corporate leaders were institution builders (there are still a few left). They had a long-term vision for their ventures, which dovetailed seamlessly into the nation’s public policy. They set up companies and nurtured them, looking after their employees, giving them a sense of belonging. Training, healthcare, education, recreation and other facilities were a part of a holistically growing enterprise. Today, most promoters are clear that their only motive is to make money — and make it as quickly as possible. There is no vision to create an abiding institution and no qualms in letting companies sink after money has been drawn out through questionable means. They raise companies for slaughter and hollowing them out is a business strategy. 

The Industrial Revolution, which generated unprecedented economic progress, was the most effective antipoverty development in the world’s history. Unfortunately, however, over the last five to six decades, capitalism has been misused by those who claim to support it. Business people regularly petition governments for favourable treatment. They want subsidies, tax incentives and regulatory protection against competitors. Have you ever seen them lobby for unfettered competition and free markets? People professing to be probusiness are increasingly anti-free market, pro-cronyism — and therefore, anti-capitalism. These vested interests encourage patronage rather than reward for those who add value to the economy. 

Our corporates must realise that nature abhors disequilibrium. The reality is staring at us. There is a huge multitude of people who have been left out of economic development. Why can’t they tie up their goals to the needs of these people? Why can’t they give them work and therefore, money and therefore, create a further market? Remember Henry Ford? In his 1926 book, Today and Tomorrow, Ford had made a challenging statement: “The owner, the employees, and the buying public are all one and the same, and unless an industry can so manage itself as to keep wages high and prices low it destroys itself, for otherwise it limits the number of its customers. One’s own employees ought to be one’s own best customers.” In 1914, when he introduced the assembly line mass production of the iconic Model Ts, Ford doubled the salary of his employees. “We increased the buying power of our own people, and they increased the buying power of other people, and so on and on,” Ford wrote. That is an enlightened vision! 

The writer is an Indian civil servant and a former Chairman of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The views expressed are personal. This is the second of a five-part series that will appear over a period of time.

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No let up in attacks on religious places in Andhra, now ‘Nandi’ idol vandalized

Lokeswara Rao

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There is no let-up in the incidents of vandalisation of idols of Hindu deities in Andhra Pradesh. There is already massive outrage over the burning of the religious Chariot at Antarvedi temple of West Godavari District. Now in another incident, unknown offenders have vandalized the ancient Nandi idol situated in Shiva Temple at Nangamangalam village. 

The DSP of the area said, “The offenders stole the oldest Nandi idol with a motive of taking pearls, diamonds, Panchalohas, etc., inside the idol. We will nab all the culprits.”

 With such incidents on the rise, police in Andhra Pradesh have been put on alert with all-night vigil. The government has asked the police to ensure security and safety of all places of worship in the state so that no incident of attack on religious places occurs.

 The police have also asked the priests and religions heads across the state to be alert and vigilant. They all have been asked to get cameras fixed in the temples, churches and mosques.

 In Prakasam and West Godavari districts, the policemen visit temples, churches and mosques, suggesting safety measures to the clergy as well as locals.

 The department is keeping vigil 24 hours at all places of worship across Prakasam District. Prakasam Superintendent of Police (SP), Siddharth Kaushal, has warned hate mongers of strict action if any incident takes place. Meanwhile, attacks on temples have snowballed into a major issue in Andhra Pradesh, with the BJP raising it regularly. Recently, idols at Sri Venu Gopala Swamy Temple were destroyed, the iconic chariot at Sri Prasanna Venkateswara Swamy Temple at Appalayagunta was gutted in the fire. 

On 6 September, an ancient chariot at Antarvedi Temple was found burnt in suspicious circumstances. Three silver lion statues at Kanaka Durga temple in Vijayawada were stolen. An idol of Lord Hanuman in Yeleswaram was vandalized.

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PUNJAB GOVERNMENT’S BIG STEPS TO STUB OUT STUBBLE BURNING

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In a series of measures to check stubble burning in the ongoing Kharif season, the Punjab government has appointed 8000 Nodal Officers in the paddy growing villages of the state, with 23,500 more machines being given to farmers for in-situ management of paddy straw. 

Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has also appealed to the farmers not to burn the crop residue, as it could aggravate Covid-19 conditions apart from leading to pollution spread. Seeking the support and cooperation of the farmers in preventing stubble burning amid the pandemic, he said that experts had warned it could have serious implications for the vulnerable people, already suffering from lung and other diseases.

 Captain Amarinder said while he had been repeatedly following up with the Prime Minister for compensation to the farmers for defraying the cost on the management of paddy straw, the state was also taking various steps to educate the farmers about the problem. The state government has been seeking from the Centre Rs 100/quintal as compensation to enable the farmers to manage the paddy straw without burning it.

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