News Wrap


Chinese troops have set up loudspeakers that belt out Punjabi numbers at their forward posts! This comes in the wake of Indian troops setting up an around the clock observation at the dominating height near Finger 4, overlooking the positions of the Peoples Liberation Army. According to sources the post at which the Chinese Army has put up loudspeakers is under 24x7 constant watches by Indian soldiers and it is possible that the Chinese might be indulging in such drama to distract Indian troops or perhaps just relieve the pressure.

India and China had a recent incident near Finger 4 where more than 100 rounds were fired between the troops of the two sides on September 8. India and China have had at least three firing incidents between their troops in Eastern Ladakh in the last 20 days over the ongoing territorial dispute there. "The first incident happened when the Indian Army preempted the Chinese attempt to occupy heights near Southern Bank of Pangong lake between August 29-31 while the second incident occurred near Mukhpari height on September 7," Army sources said. In the third incident, which occurred on September 8 near the northern bank of Pangong lake, troops of both sides fired more than 100 rounds as the Chinese side was behaving in a very aggressive manner, Army Sources said. The incident had taken place at a time when the Indian foreign minister had gone to Moscow for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting and met his Chinese counterpart to address the border issues.

As per discussions, the two sides were supposed to hold Corps Commander-level talks but the date and time have not yet been confirmed by the Chinese side, so far. India and China have held multiple rounds of talks since April-May at both military and diplomatic level but it has not yielded any significant results till now. India and China have been engaged in a standoff since April-May this year after transgressions by the Chinese Army in Kongrung Nala, Gogra and Finger area near Pangong lake.

The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court, on 27 August 2020, under five judge bench, ruled that the government can give preferential treatment by way of sub categorisation of some sections of SCs, STs, and OBCs in reservation. Some would get "reservation within reservation" to end disparities within quota. Sub-classifications of SCs, STs and OBCs could be allowed by government, which means some would get "reservation within reservation", to end disparities within quota. The matter will be adjudicated by a seven-judge bench, in contradiction with the apex court's 2004 verdict, by which sub-classification was not allowed, by a five-judge bench. The Supreme Court decision has set off a few political tremors, as the sub-classification proposal has been fiercely resisted by more dominant SCs, STs and OBCs.

The Maharastra government has told the Supreme Court that the 50% ceiling on reservation fixed nearly 30 years ago in the Indra Sawhney case requires reconsideration as 70 to 80% of the population today, belongs to backward classes. The argument may have been desingned to push the 12% Maratha quota in state government jobs. Many states today have granted reservations in excess of the 50% ceiling. A law in Punjab reserves 50% vacancies within scheduled castes to Balmikis and Mazahabi Sikhs. Quotas were supposed to be a temporary tool to empower the most downtrodden sections of society. Reservations have become a casteist project today, where jobs and education are carved out along caste lines, irrespective of the actual state of beneficiaries. There are threats of social divisions in the social block and loosen their political consolidation, exemplified by the emergence of BSP in Uttar Pradesh and minor outfits in India's Southern states, as well as a pan-India Dalit Civil society.

GST Controversy
There is estimated Rs 3 lac crores shortfall in goods and services tax collections in 2020. The central government and states converged on the need to borrow more funds, to meet the latter's compensation requirement. The burden of the additional borrowings as the compensation cess-levied on cars, soft drinks, pan masala, tobacco and coal—will be applicable beyond June 2022. In 2019-20, the GST compensation cases collected Rs 95,444 crore. The compensation needed to be paid to states is Rs 165,302 crore. The short fall of Rs 69,858 crores was made good by taking out money out of the surplus in the kitty, from collections in the first two years Presently there are almost nil funds in the corpensation cess kitly. The expected shortfall in GST collections on the states' account is Rs 3 lac crore. Money expected to be collected from compensation cess in 2020, is Rs 65,000 crores. The uncovered GST shortfall is Rs 235,000 crores. The central government has split the shortfall of Rs 235,000 crores into two parts. Rs 97,000 crores is attributable to what it terms shortfall on account of "GST implementation". The Rs 138,000 crore shortfall is attributed to Covid-19 related factor, which does not form part of the constitutional obligation to pay. Two options are placed before the states. They can borrow Rs 97,000 crore this year from a special window to be created by the Reserve Bank of India, or borrow the entire Rs 2,35,000 crore from the RBI this year. The borrowing will make the RBI monetising converting into currency, the GST shortfall. The RBI will have to either make a special liquidity provision, or raise its money supply. The states may hope to pay back the loan without shouldering any burden if the RBI grants a moratorium on payment and the GST compensation cess is extended beyond the agreed five year term, till June 2022.

Protests In US City
Following a police shooting of a reportedly unarmed black man, protests erupted in the US city of Kenosha, Wisconsin. This prompted officials to impose a curfew. The victim identified by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, as Jacob Blake was hospitalized in a serious condition on 23 August 2020 evening, after police shot him multiple times. Blake was walking towards a car followed by two police officeRs As Blake opens the car door, one of the two officers shoots him. Soon after multiple fires were set at the scene by a crowd that gathered to protest the incident. Large crowds marched down streets and threw Molotou cocktail and bricks at the police, with one officer reportedly injured. Police officers were responding to a "domestic incident". The Wisconsin Department of Justice informed those involved in the shooting, had been placed on administrative leave. There have been on going protests in the United States against police brutality and racism since the death on 25 May 2020, of George Floyd, a 46 year old African Amrican man after white police officer knelt on his neck for a few minutes. In Minneapolis Jacob Blake was among black people to have been injured or "mercilessly killed" by police in the United States.

Vol. 53, No. 14, Oct 4 - 10, 2020