1.PM defends farm laws: Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended the three new agriculture laws on Friday, saying the legislation would ensure Indian farmers kept pace with global standards. He also accused the Opposition of misleading cultivators. He said: “Even after my words and the efforts of the government, if someone has any concerns, then we are ready to bow our heads humbly and discuss the issues with folded hands, for the welfare of the farmers.”
2. India planning surgical strike: Pak: Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has claimed India was planning a surgical strike on Pakistan to divert attention from issues it had been facing at home. Qureshi at a media conference said: “I have learnt through our intelligence sources, they have picked up this information that India is planning a surgical strike against Pakistan. This is a serious development.”
3. India to produce 300m doses of Sputnik V: The head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund Kirill Dmitriev has informed India will be producing about 300 million doses of Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine in 2021, nearly three times the previously known number as deals have been signed with more manufacturers. In an interview with Rossiya 24 TV channel, he said: “In India, we have agreements with four large manufacturers… India will produce about 300 million doses or more of the vaccine for us next year.”
4. WB Speaker rejects Adhikari’s resignation: West Bengal Speaker Biman Banerjee has refused to accept Trinamool Congress rebel Suvendu Adhikari’s resignation from the party saying his resignation letter was not in order and that he was not satisfied that it was “genuine and voluntary”. Till his resignation is accepted, Adhikari will continue to remain a Trinamool MLA.
5. Nithyananda announces visa: Nithyananda , the controversial “godman”, who fled India to escape arrest in a rape trial in 2019, has now begun issuing special 3-day visas for tourists to his mysterious island nation “Kailasa”. He said visa-holders will have to travel from Australia aboard a newly launched private chartered flight service “Garuda”.
6. China builds roads near LAC: Satellite images show the Chinese People’s Liberation Army is undertaking a significant road and building infrastructure upgrade across Karakoram Pass and Aksai Chin to ramp up military capacities and capability against India. The move comes despite Beijing’s commitments of de-escalation from friction points, raising concern for New Delhi.
7. Nasa, UN pledge for ‘peaceful’ use of space: The Nasa and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) have signed a memorandum of understanding pledging cooperation in areas of science and technology to support peaceful use of outer space. As a part of the MOU, both the organisations are planning to leverage Nasa’s Artemis programme for UNOOSA’s “access to space for all” initiative, which offers opportunities for international research.
8. India denies claim of shooting UN vehicle: India has denied claims by Pakistan that it targeted a United Nations vehicle with two military observers in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on Friday, calling them “baseless”. Pakistan had earlier claimed Indian soldiers fired at the United Nations vehicle that was carrying the observers on their way to meet victims of firing along the Line of Control.
9. K’taka drops content ‘hurting’ Brahmin feelings: A couple of days after sections of the Brahmin community in Karnataka objected to certain passages in school textbooks for “hurting religious sentiments”, the state government has ordered omission of the same. Primary and secondary education minister S Suresh Kumar has also directed the formation of a committee to examine such contents in the social science and language textbooks from class 1 to 10.
10. Communist link to Wistron violence: In a major development, Karnataka police have arrested Srikanth, the local president of Students’ Federation of India (SFI), in connection with the violence at Wistron’s iPhone manufacturing plant on December 12. The police said: “Srikanth was detained. We are questioning his involvement in instigating the violence and also bringing in people outside of the company’s employees into the plant which was vandalised.”