News Wrap


The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sammelan Nidhi launched in December 2018, aimed to provide Rs 6000 per year to a farmer in three installments of Rs 2000 each, for farm inputs to ensure crop health, and would reach the beneficiary through self registration, and without any intermediary, simply by uploading Aadhaar and bank details. The scheme was abruptly stopped in Tamil Nadu State, after a scam of at least Rs 110 crore, was detected. About five lac people who have nothing to do with farming or own any farm land managed to get themselves enrolled under the PM Kisan Scheme, and have drawn Rs 110 crore, while many genuine farmers are struggling to get themselves enrolled. Among those drawing kisan doles are government employees, who do not own even a square foot of land. Under the union government of India's revised guidelines on beneficiary registration released in 2019, the beneficiary registration rose from 41 lac to 46 lac, in just four months. There was zero disbursement in West Bengal because of non-co-operation by the West Bengal state government. About 5.5 lac ineligible people who registered as beneficiaries in Tamil Nadu have been identified, and their bank accounts frozen. There are also allegations of corruption involving crore of rupees in the construction of toilets under the Swatch Bharat Abhiyas and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.

Birbhum Aero Drome
The Indian Air Force wants to use Birbhum's (West Bengal) world war II airfield, "Surichua", as a permanent base. The IAF is in a hurry to complete building a boundary wall around it for security reasons. The aerodrome is spread 550 acres at Surizlua village, on the Birbhum-Jharkhand border. The aerodrome, which is around 11 km from Rampurhat Town, is being considered strategic because it is located 611 lines from the Indo-China border in Sikkim. The air base is monitored from the Panagarh Airbase, which is around 120 km from Surichua. The aerodrome had been lying abandoned since the end of World war II, till the union defense ministry decided to turn it into an auxiliary are base in 2013, because of its strategic location and the availability of airstrips. After the Indo-China stand off in the Galena valley in Ladakh in June 2020, activities, including landing of aircraft have increased at the aerodrome, Earlier one two aircraft used to land in Suruchua in a month, but since June 2020, the number of landing had increase to three every alternate day. There were around 50 houses on the land, which belongs to the defense ministry. Both the IAF and the defense ministry want to evict them, as it is necessary to finish the boundary wall.

Israeli Strikes
The Israeli military struck Hamas militant sites in the Gaza strip, early on 16 September 2020, in response to rocket fire towards Israel the previous night, that coincided with the signing of normalisation agreements between Israel and two Arab countries, at the White House (USA), The barrage against Israel began 15 September 2020 night, just as the ceremony in Washington was getting underway to formalize the new agreements between Israel with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Two Israelis were lightly wounded. The rock fire continued overnight, with sirens sounding across southern Israel. Israeli military said five project files landed in open areas, with the rest intercepted by Israel's rocket defense system. The military said it struck about ten sites belonging to Gaza's militant Hamas rulers, including a weapons and explosives manufacturing factory, underground infrastructure, and a Hamas military training compound. In addition to the bilateral agreements signed by Israel, the UAE and Bahrain, all three signed a document dubbed the Abraham Accords, after the patriarch of the world's three major monotheistic religions. The Palestinians are opposed to the agreement with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, viewing them as a betrayal of their cause by the Arab countries, which agreed to recognize Israel, without securing territorial concessions. The Islamic militant group Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007, when it seized power from the internationally backed Palestinian Authority.

Vol. 53, No. 33, Feb 14 - 20, 2021