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Farmers, Govt talks end as Deadlock continue

AMN / WEB DESK

The talks between farmers and the government ended today without any positive outcome as farmers rejected the government’s offer to set up an expert committee to discuss the new laws, which deregulate crop pricing, even as agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar appealed for an end to agitation and invited the farmers for further discussions on Thursday.

The Centre failed to break a deadlock over controversial farm laws at a meeting with leaders of protesting farmer unions on Tuesday, with the latter saying their demonstrations will continue as will their blockades of key highways that lead to Delhi.

“The farmer’s organisations rejected the government’s proposal to form a five-member committee to look into the issues related to the new farm laws,” Roopsingh Sanha, member of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan), said.

Sanha said he was informed about the stand taken by the representatives at the meeting by the farmer union’s president Joginder Singh Ugrahan over the phone. It is one of the largest blocks of farmers who have been protesting against the new laws.

Farmers have been protesting the laws for nearly two months in Punjab and Haryana — where they have been blocking key highways. The situation escalated last week when tens of thousands of them marched to the national capital, where they clashed with police who used tear gas, water cannons and batons against them.

The farmers have since camped along at least five major highways on the outskirts of New Delhi and have said they won’t leave until the government rolls back what they call “black laws”.

The farmers say the laws rushed through Parliament in September will lead the government to stop buying grain at minimum support prices and result in exploitation by corporations who will push down prices. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has defended the bills enacted in September as a way to rid the vast agriculture sector of antiquated procurement procedures and to allow farmers to sell to institutional buyers and big international retailers.

In talks lasted several hours, agriculture minister Tomar and commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal met more than 30 farmers’ representatives. Following the meeting, Tomar said farmer leaders have been asked to come with specific issues in the new farm laws.

“We had a detailed discussion. We will again meet on December 3. We suggested to them to form a small committee, but they said they all will be present in the meeting. So, we agreed to that,” Tomar said.

An earlier meeting between government and farmers on November 13 had failed to give any breakthrough and the next one was originally scheduled for December 3, but was advanced due to the ongoing protests on Delhi borders.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has said that the Central Government is always committed to protect the interest of farmers and is always open for discussions for farmers’ welfare. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Prakash today interacted the representatives of Farmers Organizations of Punjab at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi.

The Ministers again explained the benefits of Farm Reform Acts to the representatives of the Farmers’ Unions. Besides, various issues related to Farm Reform Acts were discussed at length and talks were held in a cordial atmosphere. During the meeting, Mr Tomar emphasized that the Government is fully committed towards the welfare of farmers and agriculture development is always on the top priority for Government of India. During the deliberations, the Agriculture Minster also proposed to constitute an expert committee to put forth the issues of farmers so as to resolve them with mutual consent but the representative of the Farmers Union suggested that all the representatives will attend further round of discussions with the Government to resolve the matter amicably.During the interaction, it has been suggested by the Government to the representatives of Farmers’ Union to identify the specific issues related to Farm Reform Acts and share with the Government tomorrow for consideration which will be discussed during the fourth round of meeting to be held Thursday.

Post-pandemic economic growth dominates G-20 Summit

The Riyadh Summit focussed both on handling the pandemic and the global economic recovery.

Asad Mirza

The virtual G20 Summit in Riyadh, which was organised under the direct supervision of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS), was indeed able to showcase the leadership capability of the Kingdom on the global stage.

As expected the coronavirus pandemic topped the agenda of the two-day Group of 20 major economies, with countries committing to ensure “affordable and equitable” access to coronavirus vaccines worldwide and to be prepared to deal with future health crises.

International pandemic treaty

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, proposed an international agreement on the pandemic to prevent future pandemics. “It should be negotiated with all nations, UN organisations and agencies, in particular the WHO. The WHO must remain the cornerstone of global coordination against health emergencies”, Michel said.

The G20 leaders pledged over $21 billion at the outset of the crisis to support funding in global health capacities, according to a statement by G20. Moreover, the members have injected over $11 trillion so far to shield the economy and protect livelihoods, it said.

International leaders expressed their collective determination to strengthen COVID-19 vaccine production and distribution, extend social protection guarantees to low-income countries, and cement crucial debt-relief extensions.

Saudi vision

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in his closing remarks at the summit stressed that cooperation is necessary today more than ever to face the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and to build a prosperous future for the people of the world. He also noted that G20 has achieved a lot this year.

“We have adopted important policies that will achieve recovery all the way to an economy that is resilient, sustainable, inclusive, and balanced,” he said, adding that these policies will also maintain the momentum to make the global trade system work for all and create the conditions to achieve sustainable growth.

Though the Saudis wanted to sell a positive narrative of reform and change in the kingdom and showcase the country’s future ambitious projects like the Neom city, the plans were diluted due to the on-going pandemic, yet by conducting the flawless virtual summit they were able to showcase the country’s technological advancement to a certain degree.

Indian response

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the Summit virtually and reiterated the importance of reformed multilateralism in order to fight Corona virus effectively across the world.

In his virtual address, PM Modi started his speech by stating, “We are focused on saving citizens and economy from pandemic.” and went on to turn everyone’s focus toward the changing climatic condition. “Climate change must be fought not in silos but in an integrated, comprehensive and holistic manner”, he said. Along with highlighting ‘self-reliant’ India, he also talked about women’s empowerment and how it can be the pillar for overall development of the nation.

America’s nonchalance

As the timing of the summit and US presidential elections clashed, MbS was not able to rope-in the Saudi ally President Trump in any significant role during the summit. Reports say that Trump made a brief appearance via Zoom to extol his administration’s efforts at combating the pandemic and then left to play a round of golf. President-elect Joe Biden had described Saudi Arabia as a “pariah” state in 2019, stating in October that his administration would “reassess our relationship with the Kingdom, end US support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, and make sure America does not check its values at the door to sell arms or buy oil.” However, the Saudis hope that that was just electioneering talk. Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, the Saudi foreign minister speaking to Reuters, said: “I’m confident that a Biden administration would continue to pursue policies that are in the interest of regional stability.” The foreign minister might be correct in that assessment. But it is far less likely that the Biden White House will buy into the positive narrative of reform and change, which the Saudis are pushing forward.

Collective Future actions

On the question of navigating the pandemic collectively, the G20 correctly indicated that the “unprecedented” financial and humanitarian costs can be best challenged through an even stronger focus on COVID-19 related health, economic, and social exigencies faced by developing countries at present.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said decisions taken at this year’s G20 summit would prove decisive in global efforts to curb the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and in meeting the world’s expectations from the group.

Sustaining the economic growth

In his speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested a further search for common approaches to reforming the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in accordance with modern challenges.

In her remarks at the summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also emphasised that the pandemic made governments more conscious that economies must grow sustainably rather than “at the expense of environmental degradation.” “There is a desire to learn from the pandemic and make the economy more sustainable,” she said.

Other crucial global issues such as the economic recovery, reform of the WTO, taxation of the digital economy and ways to support low-income countries were also discussed at the summit.

Many countries across the globe are facing huge economic stress and as many as 48 countries have already requested debt relief under the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), equalling some $5.7 billion in critical debt service deferral for this year alone.

The G20 leaders committed to implementing the DSSI including its extension through June 2021. They recalled their support to the WTO reform process in the lead up to the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference. The group agreed to strive to find a consensus-based solution for a globally fair, sustainable, and modern international tax system by mid-2021.

In a welcome move, finance officials from all 20 states will continue to monitor global economic behaviour into the next year, and determine whether further extension of DSSI debt freeze merits consideration. Thus, it can be surmised that G20’s demonstrated desire to internationalise economic recovery prospects, instead of confining them within its own territorial bounds, signifies its commitment to equitable global recovery.

The G20’s embrace of its newly established Global Innovation Hub for Improving Value in Health is also a step in the right direction. The Hub will serve as a dedicated platform for knowledge sharing and positions itself as a gateway for better Universal Health Coverage across countries. It seeks to accomplish this goal by collecting evidence-informed expertise, and determine which health policies nations should fund, whether these health interventions reflect that country’s actual needs, and how financial risks to a given populace are best minimised.

Action on Climate Change

By taking climate initiative into its own hands, the G20 dispelled the notion that an external stimulus may be necessary to trigger progression on climate-aligned SDG commitments. Instead, the desire to commit to voluntary climate communication is a welcome departure from previous evidence that found G20’s climate commitments to be at relative odds with the emissions reductions goals set out under the Paris Accord. Speaking about the climate issue, Merkel said all states except the US made a commitment to follow the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

A resolute G20 alliance, therefore, can thrive on the back of clearly chalked-out priorities. Balancing its resolve with delivery can lead to accelerating the cause of a strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive post-COVID-19 era around the globe.

Asad Mirza is a political commentator based in New Delhi.

Comments by Canadian PM on Indian Farmers are unwarranted: MEA

WEB DESK

India today said comments by Canadian leaders relating to farmers in India are unwarranted, especially when pertaining to the internal affairs of a democratic country.

In response to a media query, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava termed the comments as ill-informed. He said it is best that diplomatic conversations are not misrepresented for political purposes.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made comment on the ongoing farmers’ protests. “Canada will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protest,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. He backed Indian farmers in his statement adding that the situation in the country is ‘concerning’.

During an online event to mark the 551st birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, Trudeau said, “The news coming out of India about the protest by farmers. The situation is concerning and we are all very worried about family and friends. I know that’s a reality for many of you. Let me remind you, Canada will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protest.”

On Tuesday, farmers entered the sixth consecutive day of protests braving water cannons, tear gas, police barricades, the pandemic, and winters. Thousands of people from several states, including Punjab, Haryana have camped out on the outskirts of Delhi in the biggest protest by farmers in years. They are demanding action against the new agri laws.

Govt proposal not acceptable to farm unions, says Protests will continue

AMN / New Delhi

Farm leaders who met with a Ministerial delegation of Government of India which included Agriculture Minister Mr Narendra Singh Tomar, Commerce Minister Mr Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, to press for their demands around repeal of 3 Central Farm Acts and withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020. 32 of the farm leaders were from Punjab Unions and one from Haryana, and two were from national farmer alliances – AIKSCC and RKMS.

The talks ended inconclusively, and will resume the day after, on December 3rd 2020.

Farmer leaders rejected the government proposal to form a 5-member committee to look into the objections and study the concerns. They told the government that such Committees led to no results and outcomes in the past.

The Government also asked the farm unions for their detailed critique to be provided in the statutes, and to articulate the objections in detail. The Minister said that statutes could have deficiencies and that the government is willing to look into objections and deficiencies pointed to by the unions and consider changing the same.

AIKSCC announced that the protests of farmers will intensify further, until their demands are met.

NCMC meeting held as Deep Depression in Bay of Bengal

AMN

Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba today chaired a National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) meeting through video conferencing. In view of the deep depression emerging along the Southern coast of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Mr Gauba held the meeting with the Chief Secretaries of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Advisor Lakshadweep and Secretaries of different ministries.
DG, IMD informed that winds of different speed during the deep depression are likely to affect the Southern coast of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Lakshadweep with heavy to very heavy rainfall between in the next three days.

The Chief Secretaries of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Advisor, Lakshadweep briefed the NCMC about their preparedness and arrangements by District Disaster Management Committees.
The Secretaries from the Ministries of Civil Aviation, Telecommunication, Power, Home, NDMA and the representative of Ministry of Defence also briefed the NCMC about their preparedness.

The Cabinet Secretary asked the State Governments and Central Ministries to ensure that all necessary actions are taken to ensure that damage is minimum and necessary preparations are made to restore essential services at the earliest.

National Education Policy upholds Reservation Policy: Nishank

AMN / NEW DELHI

Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ on Tuesday clarified that the NEP 2020 upholds the Reservation Policy enshrined in the Constitution of India.

In a letter Minister reiterated that successful ongoing programs and policies will continue with new efforts to bring educational inclusion of SCs, STs, OBCs, Divyang and other socio-economic disadvantageous groups. He said that the Ministry of Education will take every appropriate action if we receive any complaint in this regard.

The Minister mentioned that to give special policy emphasis for their educational inclusion, NEP framed a cluster of SCs, STs, OBCs, Divyang, girls, women, trans/gender, minorities, geographical marginalized, and other socio-Economically and culturally deprived groups under a cluster- ‘Socio-economic Deprived Group’s (SEDGs).The Minister in his letter also highlighted that for the educational inclusion of girl child and women, NEP has made a provision to form a ‘Gender-I Inclusion Fund’ to initiate various support schemes for the inclusion of gender-based deprived social and biological groups.He said the NEP-2020 has further made many provisions to support minorities, their educational initiatives and their inclusion in the educational sphere of the nation. As per the policy, the opening of minority schools and colleges will be encouraged. The alternative forms schools will also be supported under NEP-2020. The provision of special scholarships to develop the capacity to participate in the educational sphere among minority students has been provided.

FPI inflows in October and November witness a significant resurgence

WEB DESK

The Indian growth story continues to expand and it is demonstrated by the trends in FPI, FDI and Corporate Bond Market flows. The trends indicate and underline the beliefs of investors in the strength and resilience of Indian economy. Ministry of Finance in a statement said that the last two months, October and November 2020, have witnessed a significant resurgence in Foreign Portfolio Investment-FPI inflows.

It was driven primarily by equity inflows resulting in the highest ever FPI inflows for a month for India. As of 28th November 2020, FPI inflows stood at 62 thousand 782 crore rupees . Of this, equity inflows amounted to 60 thousand 358 crore rupees while FPI net investment in debt and hybrid was to the tune of 2,424 crore rupees.

The Ministry said, total Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) inflows into India during the second quarter from July to September of this financial year have been 28 thouand 102 million US dollar , out of which FDI equity inflows were 23 thousand 441 million US dollar.

The Ministry said, FDI equity inflows has touched over 30 thousand million dollar up to September 2020 in 2020-21-which is 15 per cent more than the corresponding period of 2019-20.

Golf Women: Diksha, Vani, Ridhima lead field as action returns to Hero WPGT after nine months

Harpal Singh Bedi / NOIDA

Hero Order of Merit leader Vani Kapoor, Diksha Dagar and Ridhima Dilawari, are among the 23 golfers who will battle it for top honours ,as the seventh leg of the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour gets underway on Wednesday at the Par-72 Noida Golf Course here from Wednesday .

The action returns to the women’s professional golf circuit after a gap of almost nine months and it is a major step in 2020 for the Women’s Golf Association of India, which has scheduled three events over the next three weeks. The last event on the Hero WPGT was the sixth leg in the first half of March 2020.

The Hero WPG Tour had six events in the first two and a half months of 2020, before the pandemic brought it to a halt. The first six events produced different winners, including an amateur.

After Ridhima took the opening event, Pranavi Urs created history of sorts by winning the next two but with different status – she won the second leg as an amateur and then in her first start as a professional she won the third leg. Amandeep Drall, Vani Kapoor and Gursimar Badwal won the subsequent three events in that order.

The field for this tournament also fixtures, Neha Tripathi, Amandeep Drall, Gursimar Badwal ,Saaniya Sharma along with five amateurs and players from all over India.indicating keenness to get back to action.

Among the WGAI players who were playing on the Ladies European Tour, Tvesa Malik, Diksha Dagar and Astha Madan will all be seen in action in the eighth and ninth legs of the Tour. Of the three, only Diksha is playing at Noida.

Vani stayed put in India due to the pandemic, said ”The resumption of the Tour is the best news in a long time, and I have been waiting for it. Hopefully it will put everyone in the right frame of mind.”

Ridhima, who had qualified for the China LPGA Tour but could not go, added “I have been practicing at every course and driving range around the NCR like DLF, Skyline, Harmoni and so on. But nothing beats a competitive pro event, so this is very welcome for all of us.”

The WGAI is following the Covid protocols and will be adhering to the regulations prescribed by the government and doctors. While all players will undergo temperature screening before being allowed to play, and caddies will strictly maintain Social Distancing, the caddies will also be wearing masks and will be provided with sanitizer and gloves.

Sports Minister Kiran Rijiju, AIFF Chief Praful Patel assure full support to Women football

Harpal Singh Bedi / New Delhi

Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju today assured government’s full support for the Women football in the country saying “Football is the world’s most popular sport and we have to give our all to promote football in India. In women’s football, we have the ability and that day is not far that we will qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup,”

Rijiju lauded the fact that India was named hosts of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022 as he along All India Football Federation President Praful Patel interacted at length via video conferencing with the India U-17 Women’s National team and assured them of their full support and laid down a roadmap for them.

“With India named hosts for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2022, I congratulate Mr. Patel and his team for getting FIFA into confidence and assuring that India retains the hosting rights. It shows that they believe that India will be able to host the event successfully and it has reduced the disappointment of the postponement,” he said.

“Interacting with players helps understand the various needs of the players and forge the direction in which we need to move. I know these players will be disappointed but we will not let their spirits drop. They have just started and there is a long way to go for them. I would like to assure them that we will continue to give the required support for their FIFA U-20 World Cup qualification campaign and at the senior level.

Talking about shifting of U-17 Women’s World Cup to 2022, AIFF chief said ” It pains me that some girls from this team will not be able to play in the World Cup in 2022. They had been working tremendously hard and we were expecting them to take the game to a new level.

The young girls should not lose hope as they will get a lot of opportunities to play for India and make the nation proud. This group of players will get ready for the upcoming qualifiers for the U-20 Women’s World Cup 2022, and with India set to host the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 as well, these players will be contenders to become part of the senior Women’s National team in that event,”

“The disappointment is there but there is a bright future ahead. It is the direction in which we will move forward. The FIFA U-17 World Cup has been delayed but we will build momentum till 2022 and the AIFF stands committed that these girls will represent India on various platforms and in various competitions.

Patel said that he was expecting the team to take Indian football to a “new level” and highlighted the various opportunities for the team in the coming years.

“We want to give them the opportunity to play at the Asian Games and like we formed the Indian Arrows boys team, we will form an Indian Arrows team for girls that will take part in the Hero Indian Women’s League. We are committed to women’s football and want to keep moving forward.

As women’s football continues to progress, we hope to see the Indian team participating in the FIFA Women’s World Cup and I am hopeful that by the 2027 edition, with the continuous support, this team can represent the nation very well,”. Patel added.

Giving his views head coach Thomas Dennerby said “When we closed the camp back in March this year the girls had already shown so many good signs of improvement in terms of tactics, technique, pace, and the mental aspect of the game,” said Dennerby. “They had performed at such a high level on their tours to Romania and Turkey as well.”

“We already have eight fantastic girls who can do very well. The others will progress to the U-20 team. I thank everyone for all the support that they have shown. Dhanyavaad.”Meanwhile Shilky Devi, who had captained the U-17 Women’s Team, said that the girls are highly motivated to help India qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Costa Rica on merit.

“As much as we are sad about missing out on the U-17 FIFA World Cup, we are also determined to represent India in the 2022 U-20 World Cup on merit. Those of us who are not eligible for the U-17 World Cup anymore, will train as hard as possible to achieve this goal,” said Shilky.

Golf Women: Diksha, Vani, Ridhima lead field as action returns to Hero WPGT after nine months

Harpal Singh Bedi

Hero Order of Merit leader Vani Kapoor, Diksha Dagar and Ridhima Dilawari, are among the 23 golfers who will battle it for top honours ,as the seventh leg of the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour gets underway on Wednesday at the Par-72 Noida Golf Course here from Wednesday .

The action returns to the women’s professional golf circuit after a gap of almost nine months and it is a major step in 2020 for the Women’s Golf Association of India, which has scheduled three events over the next three weeks. The last event on the Hero WPGT was the sixth leg in the first half of March 2020.

The Hero WPG Tour had six events in the first two and a half months of 2020, before the pandemic brought it to a halt. The first six events produced different winners, including an amateur.

After Ridhima took the opening event, Pranavi Urs created history of sorts by winning the next two but with different status – she won the second leg as an amateur and then in her first start as a professional she won the third leg. Amandeep Drall, Vani Kapoor and Gursimar Badwal won the subsequent three events in that order.

The field for this tournament also fixtures, Neha Tripathi, Amandeep Drall, Gursimar Badwal ,Saaniya Sharma along with five amateurs and players from all over India.indicating keenness to get back to action.

Among the WGAI players who were playing on the Ladies European Tour, Tvesa Malik, Diksha Dagar and Astha Madan will all be seen in action in the eighth and ninth legs of the Tour. Of the three, only Diksha is playing at Noida.

Vani stayed put in India due to the pandemic, said ”The resumption of the Tour is the best news in a long time, and I have been waiting for it. Hopefully it will put everyone in the right frame of mind.”

Ridhima, who had qualified for the China LPGA Tour but could not go, added “I have been practicing at every course and driving range around the NCR like DLF, Skyline, Harmoni and so on. But nothing beats a competitive pro event, so this is very welcome for all of us.”

The WGAI is following the Covid protocols and will be adhering to the regulations prescribed by the government and doctors. While all players will undergo temperature screening before being allowed to play, and caddies will strictly maintain Social Distancing, the caddies will also be wearing masks and will be provided with sanitizer and gloves.