1. A vow to expand ties with ‘time-tested’ friend - News Beasts

1. A vow to expand ties with ‘time-tested’ friend


1. A vow to expand ties with ‘time-tested’ friend
1. A vow  to expand ties with ‘time-tested’ friend
  • Economic engagement: India on Tuesday vowed to expand its economic engagement with “time-tested” partner Russia including procurement of crude oil even as External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar reiterated New Delhi’s call for resolving the Ukraine conflict through dialogue and diplomacy in his wide-ranging talks with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow.
  • Long-term ties: In his opening remarks at the meeting, Jaishankar referred to the “exceptionally steady” Indo-Russia relationship for decades and that the objective is to fashion a contemporary, balanced, mutually beneficial, sustainable and long-term engagement between the two sides.
  • Areas of cooperation: The external affairs minister said the talks covered practical cooperation in areas of trade, investments, energy and commodities as well as sensitive domains like defence, space and nuclear energy.
  • On the Ukraine conflict, Jaishankar referred to PM Modi’s message to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting with Putin in the Uzbek city of Samarkand in September that “today’s era is not of war” and that the Ukraine conflict was a dominant feature in the talks.
  • Oil imports: Asked about Western pressure on India’ on import of crude oil from Russia, Jaishankar said New Delhi’s fundamental obligation is to ensure that Indian consumers have the best possible access on the most advantageous terms to international markets.
  • A $30bn target: Lavrov described the talks as “fruitful” and welcomed “positive dynamics” in bilateral trade while expressing confidence in achieving the target of an annual trade volume of $30 billion soon. More details here
5 THINGS FIRST

Justice D Y Chandrachud to take oath as the CJI; Sale of 23rd tranche of electoral bonds from today till Nov 15; Mumbai special court to pronounce order on Sena MP Sanjay Raut’s bail plea in money laundering case; SC to hear Gautam Navlakha’s plea seeking house arrest in Bhima Koregaon case; T20 World Cup – Semi-final – Pakistan Vs New Zealand in Sydney

2. A new ‘beginning’ for India’s space sector
2. A new ‘beginning’ for India’s space sector
  • India’s first privately developed rocket — which has been named Vikram-S — is expected to be launched in a sub-orbital mission, later this week or by early-next week. It is currently undergoing final launch preparations at ISRO’s launch pad in Sriharikota. The mission is named ‘Prarambh’ — that translates to ‘the beginning’.
  • The rocket is developed by Hyderabad-based startup Skyroot Aerospace, which has the technical launch clearance from Space regulator, Indian National Space Promotional and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe), and it is looking forward to a launch window between November 12 and 16. The final date will be confirmed in a few days depending on weather conditions.
  • Vikram-S is a single-stage sub-orbital launch vehicle which would carry three customer payloads and help test and validate the majority of the technologies in the Vikram series of space launch vehicles, said Naga Bharath Daka, COO of Skyroot – which, incidentally, was the first Indian startup to sign an MoU with ISRO for sharing facilities and expertise. In November 2021, the firm successfully tested a prototype of this engine for 20 seconds.
  • Skyroot’s launch vehicles are named ‘Vikram’ as a tribute to the founder of the Indian Space programme Vikram Sarabhai. Other than a launch vehicle, Skyroot is also working on a cryogenic engine — Dhawan-I, named after former Isro chairman Satish Dhawan — which would operate on two high-performance rocket propellants, liquid natural gas and liquid oxygen.

Meanwhile…

  • ISRO appears set for the first runway landing experiment (RLV-LEX) of Reusable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) from aeronautical test range in Karnataka’s Chitradurga district. The RLV wing body will be carried using a helicopter to an altitude of 3-5 km and released at a distance of about 4-5 km ahead of the runway with a horizontal velocity. After the release, the RLV will glide, navigate towards the runway and land autonomously with a landing gear in the defence airfield near Chitradurga, according to a report in news agency PTI.
3. SOS from Indian sailors stuck in Africa since August
3. SOS from Indian sailors stuck in Africa since August
Captive for over 80 days

  • A Norwegian vessel — MT Heroic Idun — and its crew were detained on August 12 in Equatorial Guinea when the ship was reportedly on a business trip to pick up an oil shipment.
  • For over 80 days, 24 crew members including 16 Indians are being held captive in the African country.
  • They have sent out SOS for help from the Indian government. There is no clarity on whether they committed any crime as per the local government’s laws.

An MP and a CM

  • Rajya Sabha MP AA Rahim posted a letter to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Twitter on Monday saying the crew members were arrested in international waters.
  • On Tuesday, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention to secure the release of the Indian sailors.

Official response

  • Responding to Rahim’s letter, the Indian Embassy in Equatorial Guinea confirmed their intervention saying the officials were in contact with the sailors. “All crew members are safe and those in the Detention Centre have been shifted to the ship.”

The sailors

  • Three of the 16 Indian sailors are from Kerala. The sailors and their families are in great distress, Vijayan wrote in his letter.
  • Videos and photos sent by the sailors to their family members and friends are being widely circulated on social media. Videos show them locked in a jail after they were taken captive from the ship on the pretext of shifting to a hotel.
  • Another sailor told a TV channel that they were not physically abused, “everything was being done at gunpoint and by intimidating us”.

Quest for freedom

  • The shipping company held talks with the local authorities and reportedly agreed to pay any fines to secure the release of the sailors. But, CM Vijayan says, “After negotiation with the Nigerian authorities, the shipping company paid the required fine on September 28. Unfortunately, the crew and ship are still held in Equatorial Guinea under arrest till date.”
4. Push for climate action, fossil tax at UN meet
4. Push for climate action, fossil tax at UN meet
World leaders have called for tougher action to tackle global warming on Tuesday, as this year’s international climate talks in Egypt, known as COP 27, heard growing calls for fossil fuel companies to help pay for the damage they have caused to the planet.

‘Cooperate or perish’

  • United Nations chief Antonio Guterres warned that humanity was on “a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator,” urging countries to “cooperate or perish.”
  • He and leaders such as Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said it was time to make fossil fuel companies contribute to funds which would provide vulnerable countries with financial aid for the climate-related losses they are suffering.

A windfall tax

  • The idea of a windfall tax on carbon profits has gained traction in recent months amid sky-high earnings for oil and gas majors even as consumers struggle to pay the cost of heating their homes and filling their cars.

What about America?

  • The US midterm elections were hanging over the talks on Tuesday, with many environmental campaigners worried that defeat for the Democrats could make it harder for President Joe Biden to pursue his ambitious climate agenda.

Mangrove restoration

  • India has demonstrated expertise in mangrove restoration for nearly five decades and can contribute to the global knowledge base due to its experience, Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav said Monday at the launch of the ‘Mangrove Alliance for Climate’.
  • The UAE and Indonesia have launched the MAC on the sidelines of the UN climate summit to strengthen conservation and restoration of mangrove ecosystems worldwide. India, Australia, Japan, Spain and Sri Lanka have joined the alliance. More on COP 27 here
6. What are the criteria for EWS quota?
6. What are the criteria for EWS quota?
Although a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court allowed 10% quota for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) by a majority of 3:2, one more round of litigation seems to be on the horizon pertaining to its implementation as the court did not examine the criteria fixed by the Centre for EWS, including Rs 8 lakh income per annum, which the apex court earlier had observed to be unreasonable.

The 50% cap

  • The issue relating to the 50 per cent cap on reservation may also have to be examined by a larger bench in view of the Indra Sawhney judgement which was delivered by a nine-judge bench. The five-judge bench headed by outgoing Chief Justice U U Lalit had framed three questions to be decided by the court and the issue of 50 per cent reservation was not among them.

Three key questions

  • Whether the 103rd Amendment can be said to breach the basic structure of the Constitution by permitting the State to make special provisions, including reservation, based on economic criteria.
  • Whether it violates the basic structure by permitting the State to make special provisions in relation to admission to private unaided educational institutions
  • Whether the Amendment is a breach of the Constitution by excluding the SEBCs/OBCs/SCs/STs from the scope of EWS reservation.

The Indra Sawhney case

  • In this case, the top court had said, “Reservation being an extreme form of protective measure or affirmative action it should be confined to a minority of seats. Even though the Constitution does not lay down any specific bar but the constitutional philosophy being against proportional equality, the principle of balancing equality ordains reservation, of any manner, not to exceed 50%.”

Income limit

  • The apex court had last year questioned the Centre for fixing annual income limit of Rs 8 lakh for EWS category which is the same for determining the ‘creamy layer’ of OBCs. Though the SC had observed that the same yardstick could not be applied for OBCs and forward classes to decide backwardness, it did not pass any order as the matter was pending before a Constitution bench.
7. A conman’s ‘chargesheet’ against a CM, his ministers
7. A conman’s 'chargesheet' against a CM, his ministers
Conman Sukesh Chandrashekhar has filed another complaint with Delhi LG VK Saxena alleging threat by Delhi minister Satyendar Jain and former DG Tihar Sandeep Goel on behalf of CM Arvind Kejriwal. He has sought the LG’s direction to “the CBI to initiate urgent investigation” and allow him to register an FIR.

  • Money: Chandrashekhar claims Rs 72.50 crore was paid to Delhi minister Satyendar Jain, former Tihar DG Sandeep Goel and Delhi minister Kailash Gahlot, alleging that Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal directly gave instruction in every matter.
  • Funding polls: He claimed that he gave about Rs 50 crore to the AAP during Punjab and Goa polls.
  • Target Kejriwal: Chandrashekhar claimed that Kejriwal asked him to ‘mobilise’ large contributors who would be given positions in the party and to bring 20-30 people from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to contribute about Rs 500 crore.
  • Linked to BJP? “I have read the news and seen that Arvind Kejriwal has tweeted that the BJP is putting me forward during election times and he wrote that I am the country’s biggest thug which is misleading and diverting from the issue.”
  • Why now? In his letter, Chandrashekhar writes, “As it became too much and I don’t have any need to take all this from you [Kejriwal], I decided to move as per law. Not because someone or anyone is asking me to do so.”
  • And a counter-threat: Chandrashekhar threatened to expose Kejriwal saying, “…as it would then force me to reveal a few other things which are very personal which you or Mr Jain will not be happy with in any form, details of which will shock the country. You know exactly what I’m talking about.”
8. When lotus found space in G20 logo
8. When lotus found space in G20 logo
  • What: PM Modi on Tuesday unveiled the logo, theme and website of India’s G20 presidency. The logo bears a lotus and the message ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam — One Earth, One Family, One Future’.
  • Lotus is ‘hope’: While launching the logo through a video conference, Modi said that the lotus in the logo – which, coincidentally, also happens to be the BJP’s election symbol – resembles “hope” at a time when the world is witnessing after-effects of the pandemic, conflicts and economic uncertainty.
  • ‘Only one world’: Elaborating on the message in the logo, Modi said: India’s efforts will be to ensure that “there is no first world or third world, but only one world”. He further said that the logo reflects India’s idea of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the whole earth is a family)”, because of which India has always believed in global harmony.
  • India’s turn: India will assume the presidency of the G20 grouping from the current chair, Indonesia, on December 1 and the next G20 Leaders’ Summit is scheduled to be held on September 9 and 10 next year in New Delhi. The presidency of the G20 rotates every year among members.
  • Powerful 20: The G20 comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, the US and the European Union (EU). The G20 was formed in 1999 in the backdrop of the financial crisis of the late 1990s that hit East Asia and Southeast Asia in particular. Its aim was to secure global financial stability by involving middle-income countries.
9. Is Trump all set for a comeback?
9. Is Trump all set for a comeback?
  • Americans trooped to polling stations on Tuesday for voting in midterm elections, with projected results expected to cripple Democrats and boost Donald Trump’s bid for a second White House term in 2024.
  • The Democrats’ loss of its current five vote majority in the 435-member House is considered a certainty, with the most optimistic forecast projecting a 10-12 seat loss, and the most pessimistic projecting a 30-40 seat rout. Losing the Senate, currently tied at 50-50, is less of a certainty. But the loss of one or both would seriously impair the Biden presidency in the two-year run-up to the 2024 Presidential election.
  • More than 40 million people have already cast their ballot in early voting and already there is apprehension about delayed results in tight races whether the losers will accept the outcome – a turbulent precedent having been set in 2020.
  • At the best of times, incumbent Presidents fear midterm results, given voters’ penchant for checking White House power by strengthening the opposition. Only thrice in modern American history (1934, 1998, and 2002) has the presidential party gained seats in Congress in midterm elections when the entire House of Representatives and a third of the Senate goes to the polls.
  • President Biden has pitched the election as a fight not so much between Democrats and Republicans, but as a “battle for the soul of America” between moderates and extremists.
  • Trump has called on voters to deliver a red wave, amid feverish speculation that he will declare a fresh run for the White House after leading Republicans to a victory fueled by his MAGA-base. At an election eve rally in Ohio, he stopped short of announcing a run, only saying “we will take back our magnificent White House” in 2024. Read more here.
Answer to NEWS IN CLUES
Answer to NEWS IN CLUES

Vande Bharat Express. A 54-year-old woman died after being hit by the semi high-speed Vande Bharat Express train near Anand in Gujarat on Tuesday afternoon. The victim, identified as Beatrice Archibald Peter, was crossing the track when the accident happened. The train was on its way from Gandhinagar Capital to Mumbai Central. It does not halt at Anand railway station. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on September 30 flagged off the inaugural run of the train from Gandhinagar Capital station. In the last one month, the train has suffered damage on three occasions due to collisions with cattle on the tracks. The indigenously designed and manufactured semi-high speed train is the third under the Vande Bharat series.

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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Jayanta Kalita, Prabhash K Dutta, Abhishek Dey
Research: Rajesh Sharma



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