India Goalpost News For Knowledge Wed, 28 Oct 2020 08:16:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 India Goalpost 32 32 India-US are ‘pol-mil’ allies; Trump or Biden doesn’t matter Tue, 27 Oct 2020 15:01:37 +0000 By Prakash Chawla

Whether Donald Trump returns as the President or is replaced by his democratic challenger Joe Biden by the US voters on November 3, the India-US relations have matured into a solid partnership of mutual national interests. These interests were further served by a high profile visit of two of the most important secretaries (ministers) of the Trump Administration to India for the annual bilateral strategic reviews with the Indian ministers on October 26 and 27. 

Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs) Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper were in New Delhi for talks and signing of Defence-related agreement and the one for exchange of satellite data with Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. These four ministers met for what has come to be known in the diplomatic parlance as 2+2 dialogue. This is the institutional arrangement  irrespective of change of government in any of the two countries. The 2020 dialogue was the third in the series, and took place days before the US elections. For all you guess, Pompeo and Esper would be replaced by new secretaries to be appointed by Biden. That remains only a possibility, though a strong one!     

After the conclusion of the dialogue, known as strategic dialogue, the two countries signed in all, five agreements. The  underlying theme is the common perception of threat from China and its rising ambitions. The military and political adversary is common: China. Read the following observation by Pompeo during his New Delhi visit:       “Our leaders and citizens see with increasing clarity that the Chinese Communist Party is no friend to democracy, rule of law, transparency… I’m glad to say India and US are taking all steps to strengthen cooperation against all threats and not just those posed by CCP.” 

India’s External Affairs Minister too made it clear that this ”2+2  dialogue has a pol-mil agenda that underlines our close bilateral relationship. Our national security convergences have obviously grown in a more multi-polar world. We meet today to not only advance our own interests but to ensure that our bilateral cooperation makes a positive contribution in the world arena…”.  Jaishankar was reminding China which is challenging India’s territorial integrity, to uphold a ”rule-based international order”. He said towards this end, ”it is particularly important to uphold a rules-based international order, the ability of India and the US to work closely in defense and foreign policy has a larger resonance. Together, we can make a real difference when it comes to regional and global challenges, whether it is in respecting territorial integrity, promoting maritime domain awareness, countering terrorism or ensuring prosperity”. 
Both India and the US are busy re-energising common alliances on all fronts. Australia too has fallen out with China and Japan is the traditional Chinese adversary. These four make what is known as the QUAD combination for strategic military cooperation. The message is aimed at China.   For the regular military exercise with a common friend, India has formalised a framework, which is known as the Malabar Exercise. India has invited  Australia to join the Malabar Exercise 2020 which includes the US and Japan. The exercise would take place in November in the Bay of Bengal, sending a signal to the Chinese leadership of the QUAD alliance.   

]]> 0
Americans voting before Nov 3.Early voting allowed in US Mon, 26 Oct 2020 09:08:01 +0000 US Presidential elections are scheduled for November 3,2020. Then how come, voters are rushing for casting their votes now? Because, early voting either through person or postal ballots are allowed in the US. In fact, this time around, early voting is quite popular. As the US is in the midst of coronavirus pandemic, postal ballot is also being preferred.

As on October 25, 59 million American voters have already cast their votes, of whom 40 million have done through postal mail, according to the US election project statistics.

Early voting – being allowed to cast votes before the scheduled data, is also permited in Finland and Canada. In Switzerland,the UK and Germany, postal ballots are allowed before the due date of voting.

Joe Biden, Democratic challenger to President Donald Trump and the Republican candidate, has been polling high levels of early voting, leading to a strong caution on the US Election Project website: ” Democrats’ unprecedented high levels of early voting should not be taken as an indicator of the final election results.

]]> 0
Snow leopard, guardian of Himalayan rivers Sat, 24 Oct 2020 14:13:39 +0000 Snow leopards live ideally in high altitude mountains. In India,their geographical range encompasses a large part of the western Himalayas including Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Protecting the snow leopard and its habitat ensures protection of the major Himalayan rivers that support the teeming millions downstream, as the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change is working on the Project Snow Leopard (PSL).

Protection of snow leopard also ensures that the ecological balance is maintained in these fragile ecosystems. The international PSL programme comprises 12 snow leopard range countries which have developed national priorities and identified large landscapes to support viable populations of these animals.

Foot marks of Snow Leopard ;pics courtesy, Environment Ministry

The PSL was launched in 2009 as India is committed to landscape restoration for snow leopard habitat conservation. India is also party to the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) Programme since 2013.

Snow Leopard enumeration of the Nation, which is the first of its kind, has been developed by scientific experts

Minister of State for Environment Babul Supriyo said in a recent webinar that India has identified three large landscapes, namely, Hemis-Spiti across Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh; Nanda Devi – Gangotri in Uttarakhand; and Khangchendzonga – Tawang across Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh for raising population of snow leapards.

Supriyo emphasised that states, together with Government of India, should resolve to bring up the population of snow leopards in the next five years.Combatting illegal trade in wildlife should also be a priority.

His senior , Minister for Environment, Prakash Javedkar had said last year, “We will strive to double the Snow leopards population in the world in the coming decade

]]> 0
IT returns can be filed till December 31, this year Sat, 24 Oct 2020 12:43:20 +0000 To mitigate the Covid-19 impact, the government has further extended the due date for furnishing of Income Tax Returns to December 31, 2020 for the income earned during 2019-20. Normally, personal IT returns have to be submitted by July 31. The due date was earlier extended to November 30. Now, yet another extension has been given.

”In order to provide more time to taxpayers for furnishing of Income Tax Returns, it has been decided to further extend the due date for furnishing of Income-Tax Returns,” according to a Finance Ministry statement.

 The date for furnishing of various audit reports including tax audit report and report in respect of international/specified domestic transaction has also been extended to December 31, 2020.

]]> 0
Oscar-winning Jeff Bridges says he has lymphoma Tue, 20 Oct 2020 09:16:12 +0000 Hollywood star Jeff Bridges has disclosed he has been diagnosed with Lymphoma, a form of cancer . The 70-year -old Oscar-winning American actor has shared news of the ”serious disease” in a Twitter post.

Bridges had won Oscar for Best Actor in 2010 for his role of an alcoholic singer in ‘Crazy Heart’.

” I have been diagnosed with Lymphoma. Although it is a serious disease, I feel fortunate that I have a great team of doctors and the prognosis is good”, Bridges said.

Bridges’ other films include  The Last Picture Show, The Contender and Starman,

]]> 0
Jacinda Arden, daughter of ex-police officer, school cook re-elected New Zealand PM Mon, 19 Oct 2020 12:47:35 +0000 New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been voted back to power for another three years. Arden,40, belongs to the Labour Party and won by a landslide margin in the general elections even though her country has witnessed quite a few challenges, including the worst ever terror attack. Arden is credited with handling all these challenges well, including the Covid 19 pandemic. New Zealand has largely been spared from the pandemic.

New Zealand is a country of about five million people,with almost three-fourth of the population living in the Northern island, including the capital city of Wellington.

Born in 1980 in Hamilton , south of Auckland, Arden has a rural background with her ear to the ground. Her father Ross was a police officer and mother Luarell was a shool cook.

She became a first time mother at 37 after becoming the Prime Minister.

“New Zealand has shown the Labour Party its greatest support in almost 50 years. We will not take your support for granted. And I can promise you we will be a party that governs for every New Zealander.” she said after her landslide return to power.

Agriculture is the main economic activiy of New Zealand along with manufacturing and tourism. The pacific country , made of two big islands along with smaller ones is blessed with glacier mountains, lakes, beaches and springs.

]]> 0
BrahMos missile: Indian Navy’s lethal strike weapon Mon, 19 Oct 2020 08:53:05 +0000 India has successfully test fired BrahMos, the supersonic cruise missile which will give additional strength to Indian Navy. It was test fired on October 18 from indigenously-built stealth destroyer INS Chennai, hitting a target in the Arabian Sea. The missile hit the target successfully with pin-point accuracy after performing high-level and extremely complex manoeuvres, according to a statement of the Ministry of Defence.

”BrahMos as ‘prime strike weapon’ will ensure the warship’s invincibility by engaging naval surface targets at long ranges, thus making the destroyer another lethal platform of Indian Navy. The highly versatile BrahMos has been jointly designed, developed and produced by India and Russia,” it said.

Congratulating scientists of the Defence Research and Development, Secretary in the Department of Defence Research & Development (DDR&D) and DRDO Chairman, G Satheesh Reddy, stated that BrahMos missiles would add to the capabilities of Indian Armed Forces

]]> 0
The Nobel winners Sat, 17 Oct 2020 12:14:20 +0000 Physics: For discoveries about ‘Black Hole’

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics was shared by three for discoveries about one of the ”most exotic phenomena in the universe, the black hole” Roger Penrose showed that the general theory of relativity leads to the formation of black holes. Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez discovered that an invisible and extremely heavy object governs the orbits of stars at the centre of our galaxy. A supermassive black hole is the only currently known explanation, said a press release by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Chemistry: Genome editing

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna “for the development of a method for genome editing”.

Since Charpentier and Doudna discovered the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors in 2012 their use has exploded. The genetic scissors have taken the life sciences into a new epoch and, in many ways, are bringing the greatest benefit to humankind, the academy stated in its official citation.

Physiology or Medicine: Fight against hepatitis

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded jointly to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice “for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus”, according to the academy. It said, “This year’s Medicine Prize is awarded to three scientists who have made a decisive contribution to the fight against blood-borne hepatitis, a major global health problem that causes cirrhosis and liver cancer in people around the world. The Nobel Laureates’ discovery of Hepatitis C virus is a landmark achievement in the ongoing battle against viral diseases”.

Literature: Louise Gluck is all about universal beauty

The Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded to the American poet Louise Glück “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal”.

Glück made her debut in 1968 with Firstborn, and was soon acclaimed as one of the most prominent poets in American contemporary literature, according to the Swedish Academy.

Peace Prize: Banishing hunger is biggest peace tool;goes to WFP

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020 to the World Food Programme (WFP). The World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security. In 2019, the WFP provided assistance to close to 100 million people in 88 countries who are victims of acute food insecurity and hunger.

Economics:Market auctions discover value

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2020 to Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson “for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats”.

The new auction formats are a beautiful example of how basic research can subsequently generate inventions that benefit society. The unusual feature of this example is that the same people developed the theory and the practical applications. The Laureates’ ground-breaking research about auctions has thus been of great benefit, for buyers, sellers and society as a whole.

]]> 0
Nobel Peace Prize for World Food Programme Sat, 10 Oct 2020 12:13:31 +0000 Nobel Peace Prize for 2020 has been given to the World Food Programme (WFP) for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict, according to an announcement by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

It said, ”the need for international solidarity and multilateral cooperation is more conspicuous than ever”,adding, ”The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a strong upsurge in the number of victims of hunger in the world”

In countries such as Yemen, Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan and Burkina Faso, the combination of violent conflict and the pandemic has led to a dramatic rise in the number of people living on the brink of starvation. In the face of the pandemic, the World Food Programme has demonstrated an impressive ability to intensify its efforts. As the organisation itself has stated, “Until the day we have a medical vaccine, food is the best vaccine against chaos.”

The world is in danger of experiencing a hunger crisis of inconceivable proportions if the World Food Programme and other food assistance organisations do not receive the financial support they have requested.

The World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organisation addressing hunger and promoting food security. In 2019, the WFP provided assistance to close to 100 million people in 88 countries who are victims of acute food insecurity and hunger. In 2015, eradicating hunger was adopted as one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The WFP is the UN’s primary instrument for realising this goal. In recent years, the situation has taken a negative turn. In 2019, 135 million people suffered from acute hunger, the highest number in many years. Most of the increase was caused by war and armed conflict.

”The link between hunger and armed conflict is a vicious circle: war and conflict can cause food insecurity and hunger, just as hunger and food insecurity can cause latent conflicts to flare up and trigger the use of violence. We will never achieve the goal of zero hunger unless we also put an end to war and armed conflict, the committee said.

The World Food Programme was an active participant in the diplomatic process that culminated in May 2018 in the UN Security Council’s unanimous adoption of Resolution 2417, which for the first time explicitly addressed the link between conflict and hunger. The Security Council also underscored UN Member States’ obligation to help ensure that food assistance reaches those in need, and condemned the use of starvation as a method of warfare.

”With this year’s award, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to turn the eyes of the world towards the millions of people who suffer from or face the threat of hunger … As the UN’s largest specialised agency, the World Food Programme is a modern version of the peace congresses that the Nobel Peace Prize is intended to promote”.

]]> 0
Getting/Renewal of international driving permit to be made lot easier Sat, 10 Oct 2020 08:40:52 +0000 India’s Ministry of Road Transport and Highways proposes to make it easier for Indians to get their International Driving Permit renewed while they are abroad. Other conditions for issuance of the IDP may also be relaxed.

”It has come to notice that in certain cases for the citizens who are travelling abroad and their International Driving Permit gets expired, there is no mechanism for renewal while abroad. The proposal is to amend the CMVR 1989 to facilitate such citizens. The citizens can apply through the Indian Embassy / Mission Abroad portals and the applications would then move to the VAHAN for being considered by the respective RTOs”, the ministry said,on October 9.

Further the proposal includes removal of the conditions of a medical certificate and a valid visa at the time of making the request for the IDP. For a citizen who has valid driving licence, there should not be a requirement for another medical certificate. Then,there are certain countries where the visa is on arrival. In such cases the VISA is not available when applying for the IDP in India before travel, the ministry said.

It has invited comments/suggestions on the proposal. These can be sent to the Joint Secretary(MVL,IT & Toll), Email: within 30 days of issue of notification.

]]> 0