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Times Top10: Today’s Top News Headlines and Latest News from India & across the World


5 THINGS FIRST

PM Modi to virtually launch 2G ethanol plant in Panipat; Tenure of Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu comes to an end; SC to hear case related to the termination of a 24-week pregnancy; Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to hold a town hall event in Gujarat’s Palanpur; 44th Chess Olympiad in TN concludes

1. Nitish walks over to the other side, again
1. Nitish walks over to the other side, again
  • Nitish Kumar has dumped his ruling alliance partner for the third time in nine years — the BJP two times. But he remained the Bihar chief minister barring a period of a few months after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls all through. He will again be the CM but as the Mahagathbandhan leader, for the second time in five years.
  • New old alliance: “The Mahagathbandhan of seven parties and one Independent will work closely,” Nitish said after meeting the governor for the second time during the day. These seven parties are: JDU, RJD, Congress, CPI-ML, CPI, HAM and AIMIM. Nitish had formed a government with Mahagathbandhan in 2015 before parting ways in 2017 over allegations of corruption against his deputy Tejashwi Yadav.
  • What Tejashwi gets: He will be deputy CM, and his RJD will get the Speaker’s post. Nitish will decide portfolios, of which Tejashwi wants home.
  • When it began: Nitish walked up to Tejashwi’s home in May over an iftar party in full public view. Soon after, he and his JDU remained silent on a new corruption case against jailed RJD chief Lalu Prasad. In June, Tejashwi’s MLAs refused to criticise the Nitish government in the assembly. In July, Nitish supervised Lalu’s airlifting to Delhi for treatment. In August, when Tejashwi led a protest against price rise, his march was provided with adequate security.
  • BJP knew? Reports indicate the BJP leadership saw Nitish’s “national ambition for 2024”, but didn’t try to placate him to stay in the NDA. It accused Nitish of betrayal.
  • Fresh elections? LJP’s Chirag Paswan and some BJP leaders demanded a fresh election in Bihar saying Nitish has violated people’s mandate. Latest updates here
2. Maharashtra gets a cabinet and a controversy
2. Maharashtra gets a cabinet and a controversy
The Eknath Shinde government in Maharashtra has drawn flak for inducting three controversial MLAs into the newly expanded cabinet. In addition, rights activists have highlighted the lack of women’s representation in the government.

Allegations against 3 MLAs

  • Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Rathod, who served as a minister in the previous Uddhav Thackeray-led state government, had resigned last year after he was linked to a woman’s death in Pune. Later, he joined the Shinde camp.
  • Rebel Sena MLA Abdul Sattar courted controversy on Monday when the names of his four children appeared in the list of the 7,880 candidates who were disqualified and banned in connection with the alleged rigging of the Teachers’ Eligibility Test (TET) 2019-20.
  • Another newly inducted minister and BJP leader Vijaykumar Gavit was five years ago found guilty of corruption and irregularities in the tribal development department led by him between 2004 and 2009.

Shinde’s rebuttal

  • State BJP vice president Chitra Wagh said it was unfortunate that Rathod was inducted into the cabinet when he was allegedly responsible for a woman’s death. “Even if he is made a cabinet minister, I will continue my fight against him. I have faith in the judiciary. We will fight and win,” she said.
  • Countering this allegation, CM Shinde on Tuesday said police had given a clean chit to Rathod.

No woman minister

  • Eighteen MLAs from Sena and BJP were sworn in as cabinet ministers on Tuesday. The list doesn’t include women, a move being panned by politicians and women’s rights activists.
  • NCP MP Supriya Sule said not inducting women shows the “BJP’s mindset”. Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis later said women will get appropriate representation in the next round of cabinet expansion.
3. Now, a hotline to prevent air skirmishes?
3. Now, a hotline to prevent air skirmishes?
Amid the protracted border row in eastern Ladakh, India and China are likely to set up a separate hotline between their air forces to prevent any possible escalation of the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Currently, the armies of the two neighbours communicate through hotlines.

Significance

  • The move assumes significance in the backdrop of the recent Chinese Air Force activities in the eastern Ladakh sector where they were frequently violating the 10 km ‘Confidence Building Measure’ line. On two occasions, the Indian Air Force (IAF) scrambled its fighter jets and activated other air defence measures.

How will it work?

  • The issue of having a direct hotline between the Chinese PLA Air Force (PLAAF) and the IAF was discussed during the recent talks held in Chushul-Moldo border meeting point last week, government sources told ANI.
  • The structure and the level at which the hotline would be set up is likely to come up for discussion in future meetings.
  • Currently, the Indian and Chinese armies maintain six hotlines — two each in eastern Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim — between their ground commanders. The sixth one was set up between Kongra La in north Sikkim and Khamba Dzong in Tibet in August last year.
4. Tennis’ most successful woman ‘evolves’ into retirement
4. Tennis’ most successful woman ‘evolves’ into retirement
Not many would believe that when Serena Williams — she, of the 23-time Grand Slam winner fame — started playing as a professional way back in 1996, Steffi Graf was the reigning Wimbledon champion. 26 years later, the woman with the most Grand Slam victories, announced her retirement from tennis.

Going out in style

  • Williams, known for her stylish couture sense, announced her retirement in an article in Vogue magazine on Tuesday, said that she’s “been reluctant to admit” that she will “have to move on from playing tennis.”
  • Saying she “never liked the word retirement”, Serena said she’s “been thinking of this as a transition” and added that she’s “evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.” Those things include expanding her family, which currently includes daughter Olympia and husband and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
  • She however, made it clear that the question of choosing between a playing career and parenthood wouldn’t have arisen if she “were a guy, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labour of expanding our family” and added that it was unfair on her.

What she achieved

  • Williams’ 23 Singles Grand Slams are the most by a woman in the Open era though she could potentially still tie for the most Grand Slam titles with Margaret Court who won 24 Grand Slams in the pre-Open era as Williams said she will retire after the US Open that begins later this month.
  • Her haul of Grand Slams includes 7 Australian Open, including the one in 2017 when she was two months pregnant, 3 French Open, 7 Wimbledon and 6 US Open titles. She’s also the highest earning woman tennis player of all time, with over $94.58 million in career prize money (as of Monday).
6. Fleeing abroad just became a wee bit tougher
6. Fleeing abroad just became a wee bit tougher
  • Pre-flight screening: The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), via a notification, has directed all airlines to submit passenger name record (PNR) details with the customs authorities 24 hours prior to departure of international flights in a bid to have a better risk assessment as also surveillance of passengers leaving and entering the country.
  • Is that all? No. The notification states that apart from the PNR details, airlines will also have to submit the billing/payment information (credit card number), date of issue of ticket as well as intended travel, and names of other travellers in the same PNR, travel itinerary for the PNR, contact details like email id, mobile number, details of travel agency, baggage information and code share information (when one airline sells seats on another air carrier’s flight).
  • Is it a new thing? The details about the PNR certainly are a new feature as till now, airlines were only required to share passenger information such as their name, nationality and passport details in advance with the immigration authorities. Globally though, 60 countries have a mandatory rule that asks airlines to share PNR details with the government authorities.
  • Non-compliance: Airlines not complying with the new directive will be fined a minimum of Rs 25,000 and a maximum of Rs 50,000. The information collected may also be shared on a “case-to-case basis” with other law enforcement agencies or government departments of India or any other country.
7. Is Bangladesh headed the Sri Lanka way?
7. Is Bangladesh headed the Sri Lanka way?
  • People’s protest: A wave of massive protests has erupted across Bangladesh following a steep increase in fuel prices, reminding what Sri Lanka saw recently. Announced on Friday, the Bangladesh government hiked petrol (by Taka 44) and diesel prices (by Taka 34) by over 50% — the highest ever, according to local media.
  • Trouble in the fast growing economy: A $416 billion-economy, Bangladesh has recorded fast growth for years. But soaring energy and food prices — especially after Russia invaded Ukraine in February — have pushed its import bill. State-run Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) reported a loss of over Taka 8 billion ($85 million) on oil sales in six months till July.
  • Inflation: Bangladesh’s inflation rate has topped 6% for nine months. Annual inflation in July hit 7.48%. Protesters shouted slogans complaining that poor and middle-income families are unable to meet their daily expenses.
  • Power cuts and rationing: Electricity outages are frequent and lengthy — up to 13 hours a day. Diesel power plants across the country have been taken off the grid. Some gas-fired plants are now idle. The government has imposed measures such as electricity rationing, and urged mosques to cut down the use of air conditioners.
  • Searching for a lender: Rising import bill has prompted Bangladesh to reach out to global lending agencies — seeking $4.5 billion from International Monetary Fund, and $1 billion each from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
  • How bad is it? Soaring food and energy prices have widened the current account deficit to about $17 billion. Bangladesh’s currency has slid against the US dollar by about 20% in three months. Foreign exchange reserves fell to about $39 billion — barely enough for five months of imports — as of July 20 from $45.5 billion a year earlier.
8. FBI raids Donald Trump’s home
8. FBI raids Donald Trump’s home
  • In an unprecedented move, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided the Florida home of former US President Donald Trump, setting off a political storm that saw the Republicans rallying around Trump who played the perfect victim in a move that many feel could help launch his 2024 presidential bid.
  • The FBI search, executed on a judge-approved warrant, was related to mishandling of presidential documents including some which are believed to be classified. Mar-a-Lago resort is Trump’s winter residence though he was away in New York when the Feds raided it.
  • The search comes on the back of the National Archives, which is responsible for collecting and archiving all material connected with the presidency, earlier disclosing that 15 boxes of White House records, some of them classified — and which should have never been removed from there — were found in Trump’s home.
  • Interestingly, even as twice-impeached Trump confirmed the raid, alleging that the FBI “even broke into my safe”, his successor and current US President Joe Biden was unaware of the raid and only came to know about it from the news, according to officials in his administration.
9. Why does CBI want to extradite this Chinese national?
9. Why does CBI want to extradite this Chinese national?
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will soon move for the extradition of a Chinese national, Jiashu Zhao, wanted in connection with one of the 2010 Commonwealth Games scam cases related to the upgradation of Delhi’s Shivaji Stadium.

The case so far

  • The federal agency has so far failed in its efforts to get an Interpol Red Notice issued against Jiashu, an alleged representative of China Railway Shisiju Group Corporation in India, officials told PTI.
  • CBI could not execute non-bailable warrants against him because of the absence of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between India and China.

The allegations

  • Jiashu has been named as an accused alongside senior New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) officials in a chargesheet filed by the CBI in connection with the case, they said.
  • The NDMC had awarded the work to China Railway Shisiju Group Corporation represented by Jiashu at Rs 160.27 crore on June 9, 2008, the officials said.
  • It is alleged that China Railways, after winning the bid, sublet the entire work to Simplex Projects Limited which executed the project, in spite of lacking enough experience, in violation of the tender conditions which was within the knowledge of accused officials.

What next?

  • Jiashu’s trial was separated from other accused after CBI could not execute summons and NBW against him. The agency has now decided to move with an application for the extradition of the accused Chinese national.
Answer to NEWS IN CLUES
Answer to NEWS IN CLUES

Issey Miyake. The Japanese fashion designer succumbed to liver cancer on August 5, though a statement about his death was released only on Tuesday. He was famous for his pleated pieces, though he also created Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ signature black turtleneck style.

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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Tejeesh Nippun Singh, Jayanta Kalita, Prabhash K Dutta
Research: Rajesh Sharma



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