TRUMP CALLS MODI A ‘TRUE FRIEND’, LAVISHES PRAISE ON PM
- U.S. President Donald Trump, on his maiden two-day visit to India, heaped praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling him a “true friend”, and said his rise from a humble background from being a tea-seller to being India’s Prime Minister “underscores India’s limitless promise”.
- The U.S. President also described Mr. Modi as a “tremendously successful leader.” Mr. Trump’s lavish praise while addressing a mammoth crowd at the Motera Stadium in Gujarat reflected the bonhomie shared by the two leaders.
- He said, In a single decade, India has lifted over 270 million people out of poverty.”
- He then went on to mention flagship schemes and programmes of the Modi administration and said,
1. Under Prime Minister Modi, for the first time, every village in India has access to electricity.
2. 320 million more Indians are right now connected to the Internet.
3. The pace of highway constructions has more than doubled
4. Over 70 million more households have access to cooking fuel
5. 600 million more people have access to basic sanitation and incredibly
6. 12 Indian citizens are lifted out of extreme poverty every single minute of every single day.
- According to President Trump, both U.S. and India face the common enemy that is radical Islamic terrorism which has hurt both nations.
- “Today, the ISIS territorial caliphate has been 100% destroyed, and the monster known as Al Baghdadi, the founder and leader of ISIS is dead,”
- Every country has right to secure its borders and securing borders is likely go down well with the Indian government, which has amended its citizenship law to exclude Muslims from neighbouring countries from seeking India’s citizenship.
- The US President claimed that after he took over, commerce between the two countries has increased by 40%.
- India is now a major market for American exports and the United States is India’s largest export market,” he said, adding that a booming America is a great thing for India.
DISSENT AGAINST GOVT IS NOT ANTI-NATIONAL: JUSTICE GUPTA
- A dissenter is not an anti-national. Holding a contrary view to that of the government does not make one an anti-national said Justice Gupta.
- Expressing dissent to government's policies did not amount to acting against the nation.
- A political party getting 51% mandate in the polls did not mean the other 49% of the country ought to remain silent for the next five years.
“Dissent is a human right. A society will not evolve unless its rules are questioned. Dissent must be encouraged. It is only through discussion that we can strive to run the country better. The government has no right to stifle a protest unless it turns violent".
ASI planning barricade around famed stone chariot at Hampi
- The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is contemplating installing a wooden barricade around the stone chariot inside Vittala Temple complex at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hampi in a bid to protect it from vandalism.
- Vittala Temple is not only among the most-visited protected monuments at Hampi, but is also the most photographed. Art historians say it reflects a high degree of craftsmanship of the temple architecture that reached its zenith under the Vijayanagara rulers who reigned from 14th to 17th century CE.
- According to a few officials in the ASI wooden barricade has been thought of since a long time given the behaviour of some of the tourists, who tend to be disrespectful towards the monuments.
- N.S. Rangaraju, retired professor of Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Mysore, said during a visit, he saw tourists hoisting children atop the wheels and elephant sculptures, while elders leaning against the chariot as if pushing it and getting photographed, ignoring its sanctity.
“This is a common phenomena across the country, where people scribble, proclaim their love on the walls of monuments. There is lack of awareness among the public that the monuments stand testimony to culture and heritage,”
Wuhan researchers call for expansive approach to testing SARS-CoV-2
- A paper published in a recent issue of the peer-reviewed, open-access journal ‘Emerging Microbes and Infections’ has cautioned that SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the COVID-19 outbreak, is being shed through multiple routes, so testing through oral swabs alone might not be sufficient.
- A paper by Wei Zhang, et al, all from the CAS Key laboratory of Special Pathogens at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, says investigations on patients in a local hospital infected with the virus revealed the presence of SARSCoV-2 in anal swabs and blood as well. What’s more, more anal swabs than oral swabs tested positive at a later stage of infection.
- Since COVID-19 is believed to be a disease of the respiratory tract, usually only oral swabs are used for diagnosis, and discharge is based on the oral swabs testing negative. The anal positives suggested, they argued, shedding through the oral-fecal route, and therefore transmission is possible as well.
- The researchers also showed that a serology test (testing blood for antibodies) can improve detection positive rate, and thus should be used in future.
- As part of the research, samples - including oral swabs, anal swabs and blood - were collected by Wuhan Pulmonary Hospital. Two investigations were performed – the paper describes - In the first investigation, samples were taken from 39 patients, 7 of whom were in a ‘severe condition’.
- In the second investigation, samples were lifted from 139 patients, whose clinical records were not available.
- “When counting all swab positives together, we found most of the positives came from oral swab (8/10, 80%) on day 0.
- However, this trend appears to change on day 5. We found more (6/8, 75%) anal swab positive than oral swab positive (4/8, 50%),” the paper says. The data suggested a shift from more oral positives during early period to more anal positives during later period, it adds.
- “We show that the current strategy for the detection of viral RNA in oral swabs used for 2019-nCoV diagnosis is not perfect. The virus may be present in anal swabs or blood of patients when oral swabs detection negative,” the researchers say, indicating the possible gaps in current detection methods. “We detected the virus in oral swabs, anal swabs and blood, thus infected patients can potentially shed this pathogen through respiratory, fecal–oral or body fluid routes.”
- This observation implies that a patient cannot be discharged purely based on oral swabs testing negative, and the researchers go on to make a recommendation to do serological tests to confirm status.
Energy could replace Defence as the strongest link in India-U.S. relations, say Experts
- Energy deals are expected to be a key part of discussions between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday, with talks over increasing India’s imports of U.S. oil and gas, a clean energy deal including an MoU on building pipeline infrastructure for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) between American oil company ExxonMobil, gas transportation technology company Chart Industries and PSU Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL).
- However, a much-publicised agreement for Indian PSU Petronet to invest $2.5 billion in American LNG Company Tellurian will not be ready for signing, company officials said.
- Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan met with the U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette to talk about the upcoming agreements. “We jointly reviewed the ongoing Strategic Energy Partnership between our two countries and agreed to take it to the next level,” Mr. Pradhan said in a tweet.
- In a speech last year, Mr. Pradhan had said that India’s energy imports from the U.S. would reach $10 billion this year. In 2019, India increased its intake of oil from the U.S. to about 1,84,000 barrels per day (bpd) which was four times more than in 2018, and up from zero imports just four years ago.
- Some of the increase is due to the fact that India had to slash imports from Iran and Venezuela under threat of sanctions from the U.S., but officials say the U.S. has tried to compensate by subsidising U.S. oil transportation costs.
- India is now the world’s third largest oil importer, and it is estimated that every $1 change in the price of oil internationally has a $1 billion dollar impact on India’s energy bill.
“This is an area for growth. The U.S. has helped us diversify our energy sources by dealing with gulf countries, increasing its supply of energy so as to keep the price of oil under control,” said a senior official involved in the visit.
Banks’ profitability remains fragile, says Das
- While the Indian banking sector may be slowly turning around on the back of improvement in asset quality, its profitability remains fragile. He also said that banks continued to face challenges like the present crisis in the telecom sector.
- In terms of recent progress, the Indian banking sector is slowly turning around on the back of improvements in asset quality with enhanced resolutions through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).
- Despite the recent decline in impaired assets and a significant improvement in provisioning, profitability of the banking sector remains fragile.
- He said the capital position of banks had improved on account of recapitalisation of public sector banks by the government and capital raising efforts by private sector banks.
- At the same time, proper due diligence and risk pricing in lending is of prime importance so that the health of the banking sector is not compromised while ensuring adequate flow of credit to productive sectors of the economy,” Mr. Das said.
- On the issue of resolution of asset quality, the RBI Governor expects to have an integrated framework for resolution of financial firms operating in India, in the near future. On consolidation in public sector banks, he said a properly worked out consolidation of PSBs can generate synergies in allocation of workforce and branches.
- The focus has to be on ushering in significant improvements in efficiency and rationalisation of scarce capital to meet the capital adequacy requirements. As far as regulation of banks is concerned, he said the RBI was focussing on a sharper and more forward-looking off-site surveillance framework, apart from on-site supervision.
- On non-banking finance companies, he said recognising the systemic importance of such entities and their inter-linkages with the financial system, the RBI had taken steps and the asset-liability management (ALM) position and other aspects of top 50 NBFCs were being closely monitored, covering all NBFCs with asset size above ₹5,000 crore.
- The ALM of top 51-100 NBFCs is also being examined by the respective regional offices of the Reserve Bank, he added. He reiterated that the RBI would also issue draft guidelines on corporate governance in banks.