Morning Digest: India considers ‘reciprocal’ steps to U.K.’s quarantine rules; kharif season likely to produce record paddy harvest this year, and more

A select list of stories to read before you start your day

India considers ‘reciprocal’ steps to U.K.’s quarantine rules

India could impose “reciprocal measures” on the United Kingdom if London maintained the current quarantine policy that subjected Indian travellers “irrespective of vaccination status” to a quarantine period lasting 10 days, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said here on Tuesday. There was an option of mutual recognition of vaccination certificates, he noted at a press briefing.

The comments came hours after External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar met his British counterpart Liz Truss in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Handle disputes with ‘dialogue and cooperation’: Xi Jinping at U.N. General Assembly meet

Facing growing tensions with the United States, Chinese leader Xi Jinping reiterated his nation’s longtime policy of multilateralism on Tuesday, telling world leaders at the United Nations that disputes among countries “need to be handled through dialogue and cooperation."

His comments came hours after U.S. President Joe Biden said he didn’t have any intention of starting a “new Cold War" — itself a response to criticism from the U.N. chief that both Washington and Beijing need to make sure their differences and tensions don’t derail their 42-year-old relationship.

ADB cuts India growth forecast to 10%, sees faster inflation at 5.5%

The Asian Development Bank has cut its forecast for India’s GDP growth in 2021-22 to 10%, from 11% projected earlier, with downside risks dominating the economic outlook. The ADB also sees rising input costs fuelling inflation to a faster 5.5% pace, than the 5.2% previously estimated.

No link between AUKUS and Quad, says India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet with U.S. President Joe Biden and attend the Quadrilateral (Quad) summit along with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday, but there is “no link” between his meetings and the newly announced Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) alliance, the government said on Tuesday.

In the first such comments indicating that New Delhi is distancing itself from the new partnership, Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla said the Quad meeting will deal with issues like the COVID-19 pandemic, new and emerging technologies, climate change, infrastructure, maritime security, education, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, while AUKUS is a “security alliance”.

PM Modi, French President Emmanuel Macron discuss Indo-Pacific co-operation

French President Emmanuel Macron discussed on Tuesday co-operating over the Indo-Pacific region with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as France deals with the fallout from Australia’s cancellation of a $40 billion French submarine order.

The two leaders held a phone conversation on Tuesday, said a statement from Mr. Macron’s office, during which they also discussed issues such as the crisis in Afghanistan.

NIA court reject medical bail pleas of four Bhima-Koregaon case accused

The special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court on Tuesday rejected the medical bail applications filed by senior citizens Shoma Sen, Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha and Vernon Gonsalves.

The four are among those accused in the Bhima Koregaon caste violence case and are said to be suffering from several co-morbidities.

Two more Afghan nationals held in 3,000-kg heroin seizure case

Two more Afghan nationals have been held during the ongoing pan-India operation being carried out by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in connection with the seizure of about 3,000 kg heroin at the Mundra port in Gujarat.

While the DRI searches are under way, the Enforcement Directorate is likely to take up a money-laundering probe against the accused persons as the offences under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act come under its purview.

Record paddy harvest, lower oilseed production this kharif season

The summer kharif season is likely to produce a record paddy harvest this year, pushing the country’s foodgrain production for the season to an all time high of 15 crore tonnes, according to first advance estimates from the Agriculture Ministry.

However, oilseed production is marginally lower than last year, with both groundnut and soyabean harvests slightly, which could be bad news for soaring edible oil prices. On the other hand, the increase in pulses production, especially the toor dal crop, could come as a relief.

Releasing the estimate, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar attributed the record foodgrain production to the “hard work of farmers, proficiency of scientists and farmer friendly policies of the government”.

SC reserves order on Gauri Lankesh sister’s plea

The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved for judgment a petition filed by the sister of slain journalist Gauri Lankesh against the dropping of organised crime charges against a man accused of harbouring her alleged killers.

Kavitha Lankesh had moved the court challenging a Karnataka High Court decision to drop charges under the Karnataka Control of Organised Crime Act (KCOCA) of 2000 against accused Mohan Nayak, who is accused of harbouring Gauri’s killers. He was also accused of being a critical member of an “organised crime syndicate”.

Indian Premier League 2021 | Tyagi delivers a sensational final over as Royals stun Kings

Rajasthan Royals staged one of IPL’s most remarkable jailbreaks on Tuesday. A defeat had looked very much a certainty at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, with Punjab Kings needing just eight runs from the last two overs.

Punjab was the favourite when Kartik Tyagi began his run-up for the final over. Off his third ball, he had Pooran caught behind. After bowling a dot ball to Deepak Hooda he had him too edging to Sanju Samson behind the stumps.

Tyagi gave no opportunity for the new man Fabian Allen to be a hero. Instead, with another dot ball, he himself became the unlikely hero for Royals, who won by two runs.

Taliban bans IPL broadcast in Afghanistan ‘for showing women dancing’

The Taliban-ruled Afghanistan has banned the broadcast of the hugely popular Indian Premier League (IPL) in the country over the presence of “female audience and spectators” in stadiums.

Ever since the Taliban’s takeover of the strife-torn country last month, the international sporting community has been concerned about the fundamentalist group’s position on women participating in sports.

Former Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) media manager and journalist M Ibrahim Momand said the live broadcast of IPL matches was banned due to possible “anti-Islamic” content.

HDFC offers home loan at 6.7%

HDFC Ltd. has announced a special limited period home loan offer starting 6.7% for the upcoming festival season.

This offer will be applicable to all new loan applications irrespective of the loan amount or employment category. The special rate is linked to borrower’s credit score.

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