Top10: India world’s 3rd-largest military spender

Top10: India world’s 3rd-largest military spender

Good morning!

Today: Third and final phase of Bihar polls, ISRO to launch EOS-01, nine customer satellites; Bypolls to four assembly constituencies in Manipur; Tomorrow: IPL Qualifier 2: DC vs SRH; General election in Myanmar

2. What Bihar’s last day of polling is about
2. What Bihar’s last day of polling is about
  • The day: Bihar votes in the third and final phase of assembly elections today. About 2.34 crore voters, across 19 districts and 78 constituencies (the assembly has 243 seats) will decide the fates of 1,204 candidates, including 12 ministers. Polling will also take place for Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha seat. Votes will be counted on November 10.
  • The regions: This phase of voting falls in the Seemanchal (Kishanganj, Purnia, Araria and Katihar districts), Kosi (Saharsa, Madhepura) and Mithila (Darbhanga, Madhubani) areas of north Bihar. While Seemanchal is Muslim dominated, Kosi has a sizeable chunk of Yadav and Rajput voters and the Mithila region has Brahmin and Muslim voters in good numbers.
What's at stake_
  • The issues: In the Muslim-dominated Seemanchal area, smaller parties such as AIMIM, LJP and NCP may have an impact on the votes bigger parties get. The AIMIM, for instance, won the Kishanganj assembly seat in 2015. That is also the reason why the narratives for the final phase of the campaign changed to NRC, CAA and migration issues. The two districts of Champaran that will vote today recorded the highest number of migrants returning to the state. Close to the Nepal border and affected by floods, this region has scant employment opportunities, so jobs will be an issue too.
  • The past: In 2015, the grand alliance had won 54 Assembly seats, which included JD(U)’s 24 seats, RJD’s 20 and Congress’ 10. This time with JD(U) in the saffron camp, some expect its tally of Muslim votes to come down. JD(U) also has to deal with BJP rebels who are contesting against its candidates on LJP ticket.
  • The options: Almost a third of the candidates in this phase face serious criminal charges, including those of rape, murder and extortion. The highest share of such candidates is in the BJP and Congress (76% each).
3. A tale of two international captains
3. A tale of two international captains
  • Unsold at the auction, Jason Holder wouldn’t have been part of the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) squad had it not been for Mitchell Marsh’s ankle injury. And the West Indies skipper set the ball rolling for the Men in Orange, who chose to field in the Eliminator against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).
  • RCB’s experiment to open with Virat Kohli backfired with Holder getting him caught behind down leg side eight balls into the match. In the next over, he sent back the other opener — the in-form Devdutt Padikkal. That spell of 2-0-9-2 ensured it was advantage SRH in the Powerplay. And then off the fourth ball of his second spell he dismissed allrounder Shivam Dube.
  • SRH had hardly broken a sweat chasing 121 in their last league match against RCB, and this was another below-par target. But at 67/4 in the 12th over, the knockouts jitters were setting in.
  • But New Zealand captain Kane Williamson meant business. In his calm, composed and watchful style he had reached 13 off 24 balls. And then he broke free with a six off Washington Sundar in the 14th over. Another six off Yuzvendra Chahal in the 16th calmed SRH nerves further.
  • The Man of the Match brought up his fifty off the first ball of the final over, but he needed to bring the innings this deep. And giving him good company right till the end was Holder. With 8 needed off four balls, the West Indian crunched two successive boundaries to seal victory.
  • The score: SRH 132/4 (Williamson 50 not out) beat RCB 131/7 (de Villiers 56, Holder 3/25) by 6 wickets
4. ISRO’s first satellite launch amid pandemic
4. ISRO's first satellite launch amid pandemic
  • The space agency’s last mission launched in India was the RISAT-2BR1 onboard the PSLV C48. After that, in January, the GSAT-30 communication satellite lifted off onboard Ariane-5 VA-251. However, GISAT-1’s launch onboard GSLV-F10 on Mar. 5 2020 was postponed due to technical issues.
  • And today, the Earth observation satellite EOS-01 along with nine international customer satellites will launch on board launch vehicle PSLV-C49, under a commercial arrangement with NewSpace India, ISRO’s new commercial arm. Scheduled at 3:02 pm IST, countdown commenced in Sriharikota on Friday. It would bring the total number of satellites launched by ISRO to 328; it’s the agency’s 51st mission as well.
  • EOS-01 is an advanced series of Earth observation RISAT satellite whose synthetic aperture radar has an all-weather and day-and-night observation capability. It can also see through clouds. This new ‘eye in the sky’ will boost the military’s surveillance capability from space and help the security forces keep a hawk eye on the borders amid the LAC troop standoff with China.
  • Besides its surveillance role, EOS-01 will also be used for civil applications like in agriculture, forestry, soil moisture, geology, coastal monitoring and flood monitoring. ISRO has lined up a few launches in November and December including the first demonstration test of its new rocket Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) or mini-PSLV by December.
6. Want slippers, blankets, time out in jail? Go to court
6. Want slippers, blankets, time out in jail? Go to court
  • 2.7 lakh pages of printouts? Delhi Police approached the high court this week to avoid doing exactly that after a trial court asked it to supply a physical copy of the chargesheet and documents to those accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act case related to the northeast Delhi violence. The police have chargesheeted 15 people. Before rushing to HC, police had asked for 15 days to arrange funds for making the copies.
  • Warm clothes? Student activist Gulfisha Khatoon, arrested in the same case, told a Delhi court that she had to file a plea seeking winter clothes as the jail authorities weren’t permitting the same unless there was a court order.
  • A pair of slippers? Former Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan said she was denied a pair of slippers from home as the slippers given by the jail authorities were slippery.
  • Some time out? When former JNU student Umar Khalid, arrested in the same case, alleged that he was not being allowed to go outside his cell, police told the court that “half the ward movement was visible from his cell”. The court was “amazed” at the “bizarre” argument as prisoners are allowed outside their cell during permissible hours. Police later allowed Khalid to go out.
  • Summer clothes? When J&K bar association president Mian Abdul Qayoom moved Supreme Court at the peak of Delhi summer in June challenging his detention under Public Safety, he made an unusual request – provision for summer clothing in jail, where he was lodged. When he was packed off to Tihar from Kashmir, he had brought with him only winter clothes and the jail authorities hadn’t allowed his family to give summer appropriate clothes to him.
7. North Denmark in lockdown after coronavirus in minks
7. North Denmark in lockdown after coronavirus in minks
  • Making news: Denmark’s northern region went into lockdown on Friday after a mutated variation of SARS-CoV-2 was found in minks being farmed for their fur. In seven northern Denmark municipalities, sport and cultural activities have been suspended, public transportation has been stopped and regional borders have been closed. An order has been issued to kill all minks in the country — numbering nearly 17 million.
  • Alarm bells: Danish authorities say they’ve found some genetic changes that might undermine the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines currently in development. The virus variant was registered in August and September, and no mutations have been found since. The mutated virus was found in five mink farms.
  • The WHO is looking at biosecurity around mink farms across the world to prevent further “spillover events”. Maria van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for Covid-19, said transmission of the virus between animals and humans was “a concern”, but added: “Mutations (in viruses) are normal. These types of changes in the virus are something we have been tracking since the beginning.” Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO’s chief scientist, said: “We need to wait and see what the implications are but I don’t think we should come to any conclusions about whether this particular mutation is going to impact vaccine efficacy”.
  • Inter-species jump of viruses is a concern. “This hits all the scary buttons,” Carl Bergstrom, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Washington, tells STAT. Yet, experts say panic is unwarranted. “I don’t believe that a strain which gets adapted to mink poses a higher risk to humans,” said Francois Balloux, director of University College London’s Genetics Institute.
8. SC allows coal block auctions, but …
8. SC allows coal block auctions, but …
  • The Supreme Court on Friday said the Centre could go ahead with e-auction of 41 coal blocks across the country, including nine in Jharkhand, but ordered that the fate of the auction would be subject to its final decision on Jharkhand’s suit questioning the process.
  • Jharkhand had raised a Centre-state dispute by filing a suit under Article 131 questioning the Union government’s jurisdiction to auction coal blocks without consulting the states. It had said the nine coal blocks in the state were situated inside forests and mining activity would harm the environment and tribals who were dependent on forests for their livelihood.
  • The Jharkhand government said the successful bidders should not resort to cutting down of trees at the allotted coal block area. The Centre said no mining activity could take place unless the bidders got forest and environment clearances, along with permission for mines, and the three permissions would take considerable time. It said mining activity, in any case, would not start without permission from the SC.
9. Another election to keep an eye on
9. Another election to keep an eye on
  • Myanmar, the fledgeling democracy to the east of India, will hold only its second general election since it emerged from a decades-long military rule on Sunday. The National League of Democracy of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, is tipped to trump the election once again.
  • Suu Kyi’s party had ridden a wave of euphoria in 2015 to script a landslide victory but the military’s continued influence has meant the former democracy activist aligned with the establishment she had fought against for decades, scuppering hopes of further democratic reforms. Myanmar’s constitution drafted under the junta in 2008 reserves the military 25% of seats in parliament and guarantees it control over key ministries.
  • Then there’s the Rohingya crisis. Suu Kyi has failed to acknowledge the discrimination the largely-Muslim group has faced under the military; she even defended the country at the International Court of Justice in a case of genocide brought forward by the Gambia. A recent note by the UN Special Rapporteur said the military is “systematically violating the most fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and human rights”.
  • To add to this, the 2020 election is occurring on the backdrop of the surging coronavirus outbreak, rising economic hardship

Karnataka. On Friday, it joined the growing list of states that have banned firecrackers amid the coronavirus pandemic just days before Diwali. Chief minister BS Yediyurappa said they decided to ban firecrackers in the context of the pandemic.

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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Judhajit Basu, Sumil Sudhakaran, Tejeesh N.S. Behl
Research: Rajesh Sharma

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