Jaishankar, Wang Yi agree to a five-point plan to ease tensions, but differences persist
After a meeting in Moscow that lasted two-and-a-half-hours, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said they had agreed on a five-point course of action to de-escalate the four-month long standoff at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.
- The five-point plan includes abiding by the consensus reached between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping to “not allow differences to become disputes,” quick disengagement to ease tensions, abiding by existing India-China border protocols and avoiding escalatory action, continuing dialogue between the Special Representatives NSA Ajit Doval and Wang as well as through other mechanisms, and finally, to work towards new confidence-building measures.
- The five points are a template for the “principles of disengagement,” said a senior official privy to the meeting, but large divergence still remain in the positions taken by the two sides.
- It is understood that the military commanders’ meeting in the next few days will chalk out steps of disengagement more clearly, which the Foreign Ministers will review before deciding on the course ahead.
- India has maintained that the large mobilisation of troops by the PLA has led to a dangerous situation at the LAC. The Chinese, on the other hand, initially sought to deny any sense of crisis, holding that the two sides should “move on” from the current standoff peacefully.
- Other points of divergence persist. A document released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that the “Indian side does not consider the relations to be dependent on the settlement of the boundary question”.
- This is in sharp contrast to what Jaishankar said at the meeting and has repeated publicly, asserting that the status of bilateral ties cannot be de-linked from the situation at the LAC.
- Neither did Jaishankar say, as the Chinese note claims, that “the Indian side believes that China’s policy towards India has not changed.” In fact, sources said, India feels China has yet to “provide a credible explanation for this deployment” and for its “provocative behaviour”.
- Meanwhile, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju today announced on Twitter that the “Chinese PLA has confirmed to the Indian army” that it will hand over the five Indian youths from Arunachal Pradesh who had allegedly been “abducted” by Chinese troops. “The handing over is likely to take place any time tomorrow, i.e. 12 September 2020 at a designated location,” Rijiju tweeted.
Signs of a turnaround in auto sales
- Anticipating some recovery in demand during the upcoming festival season, automobile makers witnessed a positive growth in dispatches to dealers, with passenger vehicle sales rising 14% and two-wheeler sales increasing 3%, industry body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) said.
- As per the data released by SIAM, wholesale sales of passenger vehicles in the domestic market stood at 2,15,916 units in August 2020, a growth of 14.16% from the 1,89,129 units in August 2019.
- Likewise, sales of two-wheelers were up 3% to 15,59,665 units, as compared to 15,14,196 units in the same month last year. While motorcycle sales were up 10%, scooter sales declined 12%.
- Kenichi Ayukawa, the newly elected president of the industry body said, “We are beginning to observe growth, which is instilling confidence back into the industry, especially in the two-wheeler and passenger vehicle segments.”
DGCA asks IndiGo for report on safety violations in flight that had Kangana on board
- The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has asked for a report from IndiGo airlines on the alleged violation of safety and social distancing protocols by media persons in its Chandigarh-Mumbai flight, which had actor Kangana Ranaut as a passenger.
“We have seen some videos wherein media persons are standing too close to each other in the 6E-264 flight on Wednesday. It seems to be a violation of safety and social distancing protocols. We have asked IndiGo to submit a report on this incident,”said a DGCA official.
- Another DGCA official confirmed that the regulator has asked for a report from the airline on this incident. Ranaut was sitting in one of the front rows of the Chandigarh-Mumbai flight. As per visuals aired on Twitter, TV crew scrambled in the air borne flight to take her bites in violation of air safety and social distancing norms
Social activist Swami Agnivesh passes away
- Social activist, Arya Samaj leader and former MLA Swami Agnivesh passed away Friday due to age-related ailments at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences in New Delhi. He was 80. Agnivesh had been suffering from liver cirrhosis and was on ventilator support due to multiple organ failure.
- Winner of the Right Livelihood Award, 2004 (also known as the alternative Nobel Peace Prize), Agnivesh, “at the young age of 28, abandoned a promising career as a professor of law and management in Calcutta for a life of activism,” notes his website.
- He is renowned for his activism against bonded labour and female foeticide. He has also performed the role of an interlocutor between the state and Maoists. He became an MLA in the Haryana assembly in 1977.
The number of reported coronavirus cases from India stood at 46,49,523 at the time of publishing this newsletter, with the death toll at 77,457. For every confirmed case of Covid-19 in May, there were 82-130 infections that went undetected and India potentially had 6.4 million infections that month, say the results of the first sero-survey conducted by scientists of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The peer-reviewed paper was published online late Thursday in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, the agency in-house medical journal. As of Thursday, India had officially confirmed 4.5 million cases and 76,000 deaths.
- Industrial production shrank by 10.4% in July, as compared to the same month last year, mainly due to lower output of manufacturing, mining and power generation sectors, official data showed on Friday. This marks the fourth straight month of decline, though it’s a slight improvement from the 15.7% contraction seen in June. Explaining the reasons behind the fall, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation said a large number of industrial units were not operating from the end of March due to the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19.
- In the U.S. Open, Belarussian Victoria Azarenka will take on Japan’s Naomi Osaka on Saturday in the championship final. Azarenka, playing her first Grand Slam semi-final in seven years, beat Serena Williams 1-6 6-3 6-3, denying the latter the chance to win a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title. In the other semi-final, two-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka pulled off a thrilling 7-6(1) 3-6 6-3 victory over American hope Jennifer Brady.