“You’d think the auto sector is making drugs or liquor” — these were the words with which Shekar Viswanathan, whole time director, Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM), vented his ire at what he said was a high tax structure (calling them the ‘we don’t want you’ taxes) for the automobile industry and in what may be termed as the strongest words ever spoken against the Centre’s taxation policies.
In an interview to Bloomberg, Viswanathan said that while TKM, which is 89% owned by Toyota Motors, “won’t exit India”, it “won’t scale up” either — which means that the Japanese automaker has put its further expansion plans in India on hold.
However, Vikram Kirloskar, vice chairman, TKM, tweeted, saying that the company was “investing 2000+ crs towards the electrification of vehicles” — which was in response to Union minister Prakash Javadekar’s tweet, saying that reports of Toyota halting its India investments were “incorrect”.
Toyota, which as of August had a 2.37% market share, against 5% a year back, attracts a 43% tax for its hybrid vehicles while its SUVs and MUVs, due to their size and engine capacity, attract a tax rate of up to 50%.
SC hearing on plea to debar criminal MLAs & MPs from contesting polls; First chargesheet on Delhi riots conspiracy likely to be filed; Gujarat HC to start physical hearing of cases; Japanese parliament to vote on new PM; England vs Australia, 3rd ODI, Manchester
Now: The government on Tuesday declined the opposition’s demand for discussion on the standoff between Indian and Chinese forces at the LAC in Ladakh. According to news agency PTI, the Centre suggested that the issue is sensitive and related to national security and thus can’t be discussed on a ‘public platform’.
Then: The Centre had declared an emergency on October 26, 1962 following an attack by the Chinese army. First-time MP Atal Bihari Vajpayee demanded a special session of Parliament to discuss the situation to which PM Jawaharlal Nehru agreed. When the session was convened on November 8 (when the war was still on), there was a suggestion for it to be a “secret session” but Nehru refused saying “the issues before the House are of high interest to the whole country”.
Plus: Vajpayee spoke about the “grave sin” that had been committed “by leaving our borders unguarded” and asked for an investigation into what went wrong. The war ended when China declared a ceasefire on November 20. Read Vajpayee’s full speech here
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, in the first statement by the government in Parliament on the Ladakh border standoff, said that since “China doesn’t recognise the traditional and customary alignment of the boundary…there has been no mutually acceptable solution”.
He said the face off between Indian and Chinese troops started when, in early May, the Chinese troops acted to hinder routine patrolling by Indian troops in the Galwan Valley area.
Singh said that as “there is no commonly delineated Line of Actual Control (LAC)”, Beijing and New Delhi have different perceptions about the LAC.
While terming the action of Chinese troops “violent” and in “violation of all past agreements”, the Defence Minister said that considering a large number of Chinese army battalions had been mobilised along the LAC, forcing India into counter deployments, there were several “friction points in eastern Ladakh, Gogra, Kongka La, Pangong Lake’s north and south banks”.
Singh, who earlier this month had met his Chinese counterpart Gen Wei Fenghe in Moscow, followed a few days later with a meeting between the foreign ministers of India and China, added that both countries had agreed to “maintain peace and tranquillity” in the border areas.
The show: The Supreme Court on Tuesday stopped the telecast of a “rabid” Sudarshan TV programme, claimed by the channel in promos as a ‘big expose on conspiracy to infiltrate Muslims in government service’.
The approval: The Centre had last week allowed the channel to broadcast the show. On Tuesday it argued before the apex court that “freedom of journalists is supreme” and it would be “disastrous for any democracy to control the press”. It also cited stories on “Hindu terror” and others that “alarmed people during the lockdown”. “Can these be said to be less harmful than communal shows,” the Centre’s lawyer asked.
The stay: “It is an insidious attempt to malign a particular community,” the apex court said. “No one has absolute freedom to say anything and surely journalistic freedom of speech is not absolute,” it said.
The question: The court said, “We are not suggesting some kind of censorship on media but there should be some kind of self-regulation in media”. “The point is this that the right of the media is on behalf of the citizens only and it’s not an exclusive right of the media,” it said.
Elsewhere, in a strongly-worded open online letter, around 60 human rights advocacy groups and over 2,500 individuals castigated “News Media of India” for allegedly conducting a misogynistic media trial of actor Rhea Chakraborty.
India became the second country to record 5 million Covid-19 cases after the US (6.7 million currently), with the last 1 million coming in a world-record time (see above graphic). Total cases now stand at 5,014,395.
With 90,789 new infections on Tuesday, India’s active cases also crossed the 1 million mark while it also recorded a new all time high of most deaths in a single day, with 1,275 people succumbing to the pandemic, taking the total fatality count to 82,083.
This month has now seen over 1.3 million cases, which constitute 27% of the total caseload.
Reinfections: Two healthcare workers from a Noida hospital could be the country’s first genetically proven cases of Covid reinfection, according to the preprint of a research paper submitted by Delhi’s Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB). The team has also established reinfection in four healthcare workers from Mumbai. “Our analysis suggests that asymptomatic reinfection may be potentially under-reported,” said the IGIB preprint.
Pointing to a “coordinated attempt”, a former Facebook employee has alleged that the social media giant tried to “influence” the Delhi assembly polls that were held in February. Sophie Zhang, whose Linkedin profile says she worked as a data scientist for the Facebook Site Integrity fake engagement team, which oversees bots influencing elections, wrote in a 6,600 word memo — excerpts from which were first published on BuzzFeed News — that she “worked through sickness to take down a politically-sophisticated network of more than a thousand actors working to influence the election”.
The allegations of electoral interference come even as FB’s India MD Ajit Mohan told TOI that there are no “benefits from hate speech” for the company. Responding to allegations of a delay in banning BJP MLA Raja Singh for his hate messages — for calling Muslims traitors and saying that Rohingya refugees in India be shot — Mohan said that the company was nearing the end of its evaluation on the post’s content when the controversy erupted. Mohan also claimed that FB had removed over 22 million posts of hate speech from the platform in the June quarter.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Assembly said it will issue a final notice to FB after Mohan did not appear before the Committee on Peace and Harmony probing hate speech linked to Delhi riots, with FB saying that since the issues raised were a Central subject, the notice to appear should be recalled.
India has asked Pakistan to appoint a Queen’s Counsel (QC) as lawyer for Kulbhushan Jadhav in the International Court of Justice-mandated review of his death sentence in Islamabad High Court. The two countries have been sparring over the right to represent Jadhav — while India wants an Indian lawyer to fight the case, Pakistan has rejected the demand, saying only a lawyer with licence to practise in Pakistan can represent Jadhav.
For India, the choice may fall on senior advocate and former solicitor general Harish Salve, who was appointed QC earlier this year. Incidentally, Salve also represented Jadhav at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which led to its ruling that Pakistan must grant consular access to Jadhav and undertake an “effective review and reconsideration” of his conviction.
Since the title of QC is recognised all over the world, Salve could get a shot at representing Jadhav in the Islamabad High Court, where the next hearing is scheduled for October even as Jadhav has been given an extension of four months to appeal his conviction by the country’s parliament, according to a report by Pakistani daily, Dawn.
In yet another tragedy on the high seas, 24 people were feared drowned or missing as the boat carrying them capsized in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Libya. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the Libyan Coast Guard, which intercepted three boats carrying migrants bound for Europe, had recovered two bodies, with survivors reporting that 22 people in the capsized boat were missing or feared dead.
This is the second major drowning incident involving migrants fleeing strife torn and poverty stricken regions in Asia and Africa to Europe in less than a month. In the biggest shipwreck this year off the Libyan coast, 45 people drowned when their boat capsized last month. This year, more than 350 migrants have lost their lives in drowning incidents, as they are smuggled across aboard poorly equipped rubber boats, which are often overcrowded.
Three of the six vaccines under trials to counter the novel coronavirus are expected to work, according to billionaire Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who spoke with TOI.
Gates added that India will have a “huge role to play” in manufacturing these vaccines in high numbers as several vaccine companies in the country have the capacity to ramp up production.
Speaking about the three vaccine candidates currently at various stages of clinical trials in India — by Serum Institute, in association with Oxford University-AstraZeneca; Biological E, in association with Johnson and Johnson; and Bharat Biotech, in association with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) — Gates said that he had “lots of conversations with the companies, with the vaccines that look like they will be low-cost and very scalable.”
Thomas Cup. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) on Tuesday announced that the Thomas and Uber Cup will be postponed to next year after a string of countries withdrew over coronavirus fears. No new dates were announced for the tournament.
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