15 July 2021

India internet law adds to fears over online speech, privacy

In this Aug. 28, 2014 file photo, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at the launch of a campaign aimed at opening millions of bank accounts for poor Indians in New Delhi, India. India's new social media regulations is at the heart of a standoff that puts digital platforms like Twitter and Facebook under direct government oversight. The new rules, in the works for years and announced in February 2021, apply to social media companies, streaming platforms and digital news publishers. The new rules make it easier for the government to order social media platforms with over 5 million users to take down content that is deemed unlawful. Critics say Modi’s Hindu nationalist government is imposing what they call a climate of “digital authoritarianism."
It began in February with a tweet by pop star Rihanna that sparked widespread condemnation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s handling of massive farmer protests near the capital, souring an already troubled relationship between the government and Twitter.

Moving to contain the backlash, officials hit Twitter with multiple injunctions to block hundreds of tweets critical of the government. Twitter complied with some and resisted others.

Relations between Twitter and Modi’s government have gone downhill ever since. At the heart of the standoff is a sweeping internet law that puts digital platforms like Twitter and Facebook under direct government oversight. Officials say the rules are needed to quell misinformation and hate speech and to give users more power to flag objectionable content.

Indian, Chinese foreign ministers discuss border standoff

This photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, shows from left, SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Uzbekistani Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Tajiki Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Kyrgyz Deputy Foreign Minister Nuran Niyazaliev and SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) Executive Committee Director Jumakhon Giyosov pose for a photo prior to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, Wednesday, July 14, 2021. Foreign ministers from Shanghai Cooperation Organisation member states hold a series of meetings in the Tajik capital Dushanbe to discuss regional issues, including the security situation in Afghanistan.
The foreign ministers of India and China met in Tajikistan on Wednesday with New Delhi stressing that a military standoff along a mountainous border area was profoundly disturbing their ties, and warning that any unilateral change in the status quo by Beijing was unacceptable.

“Full restoration and maintenance of peace and tranquility in border areas is essential for the development of bilateral ties,” Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said in a tweet.

Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization foreign ministers’ meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. China’s Foreign Ministry quoted Wang as saying the standoff benefited neither side and that China wanted to resolve the situation through dialogue.

12 July 2021

Lightning strikes in India kill 38 people in 24 hours

A car moves through a flooded street during monsoon rains Jammu, India, Monday, July 12, 2021. India’s monsoon season runs from June to September.
Lightning has killed at least 38 people across two Indian states over the past 24 hours, officials said Monday.

A majority of the deaths occurred in the western state of Rajasthan, where 11 people died after being struck by lightning near a watchtower at the 12th century Amber Fort, police said.

Senior police officer Anand Srivastava said some of the victims were taking selfies near the watchtower when lightning struck late Sunday. Srivastava said at least nine more people were killed and nearly 20 others were injured in separate lightning strikes when the state was lashed with thunderstorms and monsoon rains.

In Uttar Pradesh, 18 people were killed by lightning on Sunday, said Manoj Dixit, a government official. Most of those killed were farm laborers working in fields.

7 July 2021

India’s Modi drops 12 Cabinet ministers in massive reshuffle

In this Nov. 11 2020, file photo, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves after a function at the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters following a state election in New Delhi, India. Twelve Indian government ministers resigned Wednesday, hours ahead of an expected reshuffle of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Cabinet aimed at refurbishing its image after widespread criticism of its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a massive Cabinet revamp, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi dropped 12 senior Cabinet ministers on Wednesday and inducted a younger team aimed at refurbishing his government’s image after widespread criticism of its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan, whose response to the epidemic came under close examination, Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Law and Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar were among those who resigned hours ahead of the reshuffle. Prasad was involved in a bitter row with Twitter over India’s new internet regulations, which digital activists say could curtail online speech and privacy.

Fifteen Cabinet ministers and 28 junior ministers were sworn in by President Kovind at a ceremony in the presidential palace on Wednesday. Eight junior ministers were elevated to Cabinet rank.

Dilip Kumar, Bollywood’s great ‘Tragedy King,’ dies at 98

In this Sept. 2, 2008, file photo, veteran Bollywood actor Dilip Kumar, right, receives a Lifetime Achievement award at the 54th National Film Award ceremony in New Delhi, India. Kumar, hailed as the “Tragedy King” and one of Hindi cinema's greatest actors, died Wednesday, July 7, 2021 in a Mumbai hospital after a prolonged illness. He was 98.

Bollywood icon Dilip Kumar, hailed as the “Tragedy King” and one of Hindi cinema’s greatest actors, died Wednesday in a Mumbai hospital after a prolonged illness. He was 98.

The “Tragedy King” title came from Kumar’s numerous serious roles. In several, his character died as a frustrated lover and a drunkard. He also was known as Bollywood’s only Method actor for his expressive performances identifying a character’s emotions.

Kumar was hospitalized twice last month after he complained of breathlessness, and his family tweeted “with a heavy heart and profound grief” the announcement of his passing. “Dilip Kumar will be remembered as a cinematic legend. He was blessed with unparalleled brilliance, due to which audiences across generations were enthralled. His passing away is a loss to our cultural world,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet. “An institution has gone,” Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan tweeted. “Whenever the history of Indian Cinema will be written, it shall always be ‘before Dilip Kumar, and after Dilip Kumar’ ..”

28 June 2021

Indian military: 2 drones intercepted over base in Kashmir

An Indian army soldier stands guard at the main gate of Jammu air force station after two suspected blasts were reported early morning in Jammu, India, Sunday, June 27, 2021. Indian officials said Sunday they suspected explosives-laden drones were used to attack the air base in the disputed region of Kashmir, calling it the first such incident of its kind in India.

India’s military said it thwarted a major threat when it intercepted two drones flying over an army base in Indian-controlled Kashmir early Monday, a day after suspected explosives-laden drones were used to attack an air base in the disputed region.

The military said troops around midnight spotted two drones separately flying over Kaluchak military base on the outskirts of Jammu city.

“Immediately, high alert was sounded and Quick Reaction Teams engaged them with firing,” the military said in a statement. “Both the drones flew away.” Troops launched search operations in the area, the statement said, adding that troops remained on high alert.

On Sunday, Indian officials said two drones carrying explosives were used to attack an air base in Jammu city and called it the first such incident of its kind in India. Officials said two soldiers were lightly wounded in the two explosions, which also caused minor damage to a building on the base. No military equipment was damaged.

27 June 2021

Indian police say bomb-laden drones hit air base in Kashmir

A police officer stands outside the Jammu air force station after two suspected blasts were reported early morning in Jammu, India, Sunday, June 27, 2021. Indian officials said Sunday they suspected explosives-laden drones were used to attack the air base in the disputed region of Kashmir, calling it the first such incident of its kind in India.

Indian officials said Sunday they suspect explosives-laden drones were used to attack an air base in the disputed region of Kashmir, calling it the first such incident of its kind in India.

Dilbagh Singh, the region’s police director-general, told the private news channel New Delhi Television that “drones with payload were used in both the blasts.” Singh called the attack an act of terrorism.

Two soldiers were lightly wounded in the explosions, according to a military officer who spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with military regulations. India’s air force tweeted that the attack caused minor damage to a building on the base, located in the southern city of Jammu in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir, while the second blast hit an open area. It said no military equipment was damaged.