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


5 THINGS FIRST

PM Modi to virtually address the 108th Indian Science Congress; President Murmu on two-day visit to Rajasthan; Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to inaugurate bridges near India-China border; Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra to enter Uttar Pradesh; First T20I between India and Sri Lanka in Mumbai

1. Demonetisation was legal but does that answer the question?
1. Demonetisation was legal but does that answer the question?
No illegality

  • The Supreme Court on Monday declared the Centre’s demonetisation move of November 2016 legally valid. A Constitution bench held that it appears from the record that there was consultation between the RBI and the central government for a period of six months.
  • It was a 4-1 judgement from the SC on a batch of 58 petitions, most of which challenging the demonetisation, while some seeking a new window to deposit the demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes that could not be deposited back then.

Key issues

  • Did the demonetisation scheme abide by the provisions of the RBI Act, 1934?
  • Did the limits on withdrawing cash violate the Rights to Equality and Livelihood?
  • Was the scheme implemented in an unreasonable manner that violated the Rights to Equality and Livelihood?
  • To what extent can the SC review a scheme relating to the fiscal and economic policy of the government?

Judges split

  • The majority judgement, authored by Justice BR Gavai, said the decision-making process was not flawed merely because the procedure emanated from the government.
  • Justice SA Nazeer-headed bench said there has to be great restraint in matters of economic policy and the court cannot supplant the wisdom of the executive by a judicial review of its decision.

Dissenting view

  • Justice BV Nagarathna, bench’s junior-most judge, held that demonetisation had to be done through a legislation and not through a gazette notification, arguing that Parliament cannot be left aloof in a matter of such critical importance.
  • She said the RBI showed no independent application of mind and that the entire exercise was carried out in 24 hours after the Centre proposed the move. She held that such an opinion given by RBI cannot be construed as a “recommendation” under the RBI Act. More here
2. ‘China sees India the way Russia saw Ukraine’
2. ‘China sees India the way Russia saw Ukraine’
Perceptive or far-fetched?

  • Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday said China is adopting the same principle with India as Russia is with Ukraine, as it is threatening to alter India’s boundaries. This is from Rahul’s conversation with actor-politician Kamal Haasan.
  • Rahul also claimed that the Sino-Indian border conflict has a link with a weak economy, a confused nation without any vision, hatred, anger and the Chinese sitting in Indian territory.

Rahul to Haasan

  • “Essentially, what the Russians have done in Ukraine is that they have said we do not want Ukraine to have a strong relationship with the West and they have basically told the Ukrainians that if you will have a strong relationship with the west, we will alter your geography.”
  • “That is the exact same principle that can be applied to India. What the Chinese are saying to us is that be careful with what you are doing, because we will alter your geography. We will enter Ladakh, we will enter Arunachal [Pradesh], and what I can see is them building a platform for that type of an approach.”

Charge against government

  • Rahul said security has become a holistic thing in the 21st century as one has to have a global view of it, adding, “I think our government has completely miscalculated it.”

A counter

  • BJP’s Amit Malviya wrote on Twitter: “Kamal Haasan, well beyond his prime, who couldn’t win an AC in TN, interviewing Rahul Gandhi, a washout politician, struggling to bloom after decades in politics, who lost from the family bastion of Amethi, is rich…Incidentally, both lost to BJP leaders.” More here
3. When terror struck twice in 14 hours
3. When terror struck twice in 14 hours
  • Terrorists struck for the second time at the same site within 14 hours in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri, leaving a minor sister-brother duo dead and six others injured in an IED explosion on Monday morning, reported news agency PTI. Sanvi Sharma (7) and Vihan Kumar Sharma (4) were killed in a blast in Dangri village where terrorists had opened fire at three houses on Sunday evening, killing four civilians and injuring six others, according to officials.

Same location

  • The explosion on Monday morning took place near the house of one Pritam Lal, a victim of the gunfire attack on Sunday evening, reported PTI citing residents of the village. There were several people, including Lal’s relatives, present in the house when the blast took place around 9.30 am on Monday.

Protests

  • As the incidents led to protests across the district, including in Rajouri town, and a complete shutdown, Director General of Police Dilbag Singh said that the IED blast (Monday) was intended to target senior police officers who were about to reach there. The DGP, who went to the village after the attack, also met protesters who were refusing to conduct the last rites of the victims.
  • The DGP announced that village defence committees (VDCs) will now be revived and rearmed, after some protesting leaders and locals claimed that the incident could have been averted had the authorities not taken away the weapons of VDCs.
  • While the army and police are conducting a massive search operation, a team of the National Investigation Agency has reached Dangri village for a probe.

And a bomb threat in Chandigarh

  • A bomb disposal squad was rushed to the spot after reports that a bombshell was found a few hundred metres away from the official residences of Punjab and Haryana chief ministers in Chandigarh on Monday, police said. The bombshell was reportedly found on the Nayagaon-Kansal road, which is about 600 metres from the residences of Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann and his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar.
  • Disaster Management Nodal Officer Sanjeev Kohli said that the explosive has been secured with the help of the police and the bomb disposal squad. “An Army team has been called in… The area is being cordoned off. Further investigation is underway.”
X-PLAINED
4. The idea of turning humans into compost
4. The idea of turning humans into compost
What

  • Humans can be turned into compost after they die. It’s legal in Sweden. New York has become the sixth US state to allow human composting.
  • Its proponents call it recomposition — integration of the human body with the soil.

Never heard about it?

  • Humans have been composting livestock for a few years now.
  • Human composting is also called “natural organic reduction” of the human body.
  • It is a practice of accelerated decomposition of the human body in a controlled environment.
  • Against the backdrop of climate change, this is being seen as an environment-friendly alternative to cremation or burial, the popular and religion-sanctioned modes of body decomposition.

Need a law?

  • Yes, human composting needs a new law because it involves disposal of the human body, and the existing legislation provides for only burial, cremation or donation of the body.

How

  • A human body can take months to return to earth if left in the open or when buried in the ground or in a casket. But in the compost process, it takes about four weeks.
  • The body is placed in a closed vessel. Select materials such as woodchips, alfalfa and straw grass are placed in it, allowing heat-loving microbes to do their work.
  • In about 30 days, the remains are heated at 55 degree Celsius to kill off any contagion.
  • Now, this compost is safe for use in growing vegetables, flowers or trees.

But why

  • Short answer is the excessive carbon emission, which is a major contributor to climate change.
  • Based on a study — BBC reported in 2020 — in the US, it is estimated that tonnes of carbon could be saved compared to cremation or traditional burial.
  • Also, it can potentially solve a civic problem — of expanding cemeteries — in lands of burial culture.

Any problems?

  • Maybe; at around $7,000 per body in the US, its cost is prohibitive for most of the world.
  • Police may object to it as exhuming bodies to solve an old crime wouldn’t be possible anymore.
NEWS IN CLUES
5. Identify this political leader
Clue 1: He has been a trade unionist
Clue 2: He has spent more than a year in jail after being convicted in a graft case
Clue 3: He belongs to the country that has won the FIFA World Cup the highest number of times

Scroll below for answer

6. Is Delhi horror an accident or a murder?
6. Is Delhi horror an accident or a murder?
The shock

  • A 20-year-old woman died after a car hit her scooty on New Year’s midnight, and dragged her for several kilometres in Delhi.
  • Video footage showed her entangled in the wheel of the car, whose occupants reportedly removed the body from the car and fled from the scene.

The accused

  • Deepak Khanna (26), Gramin Seva auto driver; Amit Khanna (25), who worked in a bank on a contract basis in Uttam Nagar; Krishan (27), who worked at Spanish Culture Centre in CP; Mithun (26), a hairdresser and Manoj Mittal (27), a ration dealer.
  • The car belonged to a relative of Amit Khanna’s friend.

Delhi accused

Probe

  • Police said the five accused were arrested on the basis of the registered car number.
  • The accused said they were unaware that she was dragged along with their car for several kilometres.

The case

  • Police lodged a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, causing death by negligence and criminal conspiracy. Police got a three-day remand of the accused.
  • The Union home ministry has sought a detailed report from the police.

The victim

  • Her body was found on the road without any clothes. She was declared brought dead in the SGM Hospital, Mangolpuri, where her body was kept for post-mortem examination.
  • Her mother alleged that the victim had been sexually assaulted. Police denied the claim.

Eyewitness

  • A local confectioner, who first spotted the victim entangled in the car and informed police, said the accused drove the car on the same road taking U-turns for about one and a half hours. “It could not be just an accident.”

Politics

  • Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal demanded the culprits should be hanged. His AAP alleged that one accused, Mittal, was a BJP member, and protested outside LG VK Saxena’s residence.
  • DCW chief Swati Maliwal pelted the police with a barrage of questions, alleging sexual harassment.
  • Saxena said his head “hung in shame” over this crime. More here
7. What happened to resignation of 90 Rajasthan Congress MLAs?
7. What happened to resignation of 90 Rajasthan Congress MLAs?
  • The Rajasthan High Court on Monday sought to know from state Assembly Speaker C P Joshi what decision he has taken on the resignations of Congress MLAs pending before him.

Why did MLAs resign?

  • On September 25, as many as 90 Congress MLAs were learnt to have submitted their resignation to Joshi while abstaining from a Congress Legislature Party meeting called to determine Ashok Gehlot’s successor as chief minister as he was the frontrunner for the post of Congress president at that time. The MLAs anticipated that Gehlot’s bete noire Sachin Pilot would be appointed the new CM.

A crisis

  • The incident led to a crisis in the Congress which got resolved after the Gandhis intervened and Gehlot refused to join the race for party president.
  • Recently, the Congress indicated that the MLAs are likely to withdraw their resignation before the start of the Assembly session on January 23.

What’s the status of the resignations?

  • BJP MLA Rajendra Rathore had filed a petition in the high court seeking direction to the Speaker of the legislative assembly to decide on the resignations given by MLAs of the ruling Congress party.
  • The Court directed state advocate general M S Singhvi to seek instructions from the Speaker in this regard. The matter has now been listed for hearing on January 16.
8. Why Jaishankar thinks the UN needs a ‘refresh’
8. Why Jaishankar thinks the UN needs a ‘refresh’
  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said that a 77-year-old organisation like the United Nations (UN) needs a “refresh”, asserting that pushing for a major overhaul in the top global body is an important part of New Delhi’s foreign policy, reported news agency PTI.

‘We need change’

  • “The UN system was invented in 1945. Now, I tell people to show me something which is 77 years old and you feel doesn’t need a refresh. People refresh themselves, institutions need to be refreshed by other people. We need change. Large parts of the world do not believe anymore that the UN system speaks fairly for them,” said Jaishankar while addressing members of the Indian diaspora in Vienna on Sunday.

India’s push for reform

  • The UN officially came into existence in October 1945, after its Charter was ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the UK, the US and by a majority of other signatories.
  • India has been at the forefront of efforts at the UN to push for urgent long-pending reform of the Security Council, emphasising that it rightly deserves a place at the UN high table as a permanent member.

A question of influence

  • “The problem is those who are occupying positions of influence obviously don’t want to dilute their influence. So how we persuade people to go along with that change when their more short-term calculations make them stick to the old system is a real problem,” said Jaishankar, adding: “Having said that, it’s something which we will persevere and it’s a very important goal for us, and our foreign policy. It won’t happen tomorrow but it will happen one day, trust me.”
9. Nupur Sharma beat the President, a PM and two celebs in…
9. Nupur Sharma beat the President, a PM and two celebs in…
  • Suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma – who shot to prominence after she made disparaging comments about Prophet Muhammad on May 26 during a TV debate, triggering tension across the country and leading to India drawing criticism from across the world – was the most-searched person on Google in India in 2022, as per yearly data released by the internet giant on Monday.

The contenders

  • The second and third most-searched persons on Google in India were President Droupadi Murmu, who is the first Adivasi woman to occupy the Rashtrapati Bhavan, and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who is the first British-Asian and Hindu to become the country’s PM.
  • The third and fourth most-searched ones were Lalit Modi and Sushmita Sen. The IPL founder and the Bollywood actor surprised people earlier this year when they revealed that they were dating each other – sharing their photos on social media.

And other categories

  • ‘What is Agneepath Scheme’ and ‘How to download Covid-19 vaccination certificate’ were among top-searched items in India.
  • Among other most-searched were Brahmastra in movies, IPL in sports events and Paneer Pasanda in cooking recipes.

The league of top-searched

  • By becoming the most-searched person among Indians in Google, Nupur Sharma joins the league of Olympic Gold medalist Neeraj Chopra (2021), US President Joe Biden (2020) and fighter pilot Abhinandan Varthaman (2019) among others.
Answer to NEWS IN CLUES
Answer to NEWS IN CLUES

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva: He was sworn in as Brazil’s President on Sunday – two days after his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro left the country as he refused to concede defeat, reported Reuters. The veteran Left leader took charge of the office for the third time after ousting far-Right leader Bolsonaro. He won the presidential elections in Brazil in October by securing 50.3% of votes compared to Bolsonaro’s 49.7%. However, Bolsonaro refused to concede defeat and raised doubts on the reliability of the electronic voting system in Brazil, reported the Associated Press.

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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Jayanta Kalita, Prabhash K Dutta, Abhishek Dey
Research: Rajesh Sharma



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