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Weekly Contemporary Developments


1 - 31 May, 2020

  • China and India Brawl at 14,000 Feet Along the Border. High in the Himalayas, an enormous fistfight erupted in early May between the soldiers of China and India. Brawls at 14,000 feet along their inhospitable and disputed frontier are not terribly unusual, but what happened next was. A few days later, Chinese troops confronted Indian soldiers again, this time at several other remote border points in the Himalayas, some more than 1,000 miles apart. Since then both armies have rushed in thousands of reinforcements. (The New York Times, 30 May 2020)
  • Coronavirus news highlights: India's recovery rate increases by 4.5% to 47.4%; National tally crosses 1.74 lakh. The nationwide count of confirmed COVID-19 cases crosses 1.74 lakh on Saturday with a record number of nearly 7,500 people testing positive for the dreaded virus infection across states and union territories. The death toll crossed 4,900, but recoveries also rose sharply to surpass 81,000. (Deccan Herald, 30 May 2020)
  • Bihar: 1.4 lakh return home by 83 special trains. Altogether 1.4 lakh people stranded in 10 states, including migrant workers, reached Bihar by 83 Shramik Special trains on Friday. Of these, 40,000 were from Gujarat alone. (The Times of India, 30 May 2020)
  • Rajnath Singh discusses border situation with US def secy. India will need to firmly keep up its guard against China’s creeping cartographic aggression in eastern Ladakh, sources said on Friday, even as defence minister Rajnath Singh briefed his US counterpart Mark Esper about the ongoing confrontation between Indian and Chinese troops in the high-altitude region. Sources said Singh told Esper, in a telephonic conversation initiated by the latter, India wanted to “resolve” the military face-off with China through “existing bilateral mechanisms” in accordance with laid-down protocols. (The Times of India, 30 May 2020)
  • Indian traders to skip annual border trade with China via Lipulekh pass due to Covid-19. Local people have decided not to take part in border trade with China through Lipulekh pass in Uttarakhand this year, citing the coronavirus threat. They conveyed their unwillingness to participate in the annual exercise during a preparatory meeting convened by the administration on Wednesday, Dharchula sub divisional magistrate A K Shukla said. (The Print, 29 May 2020)
  • Trump’s gaffe on call with PM Modi is not a first, but a pattern. Government officials have dismissed U.S. President Donald Trump’s claim that he spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the situation at the Line of Actual Control with China, as untrue. While this is the first time Mr. Trump has been accused by New Delhi of fabricating a conversation entirely, it is not the first time Mr. Trump has run into controversies by revealing details of conversations with the PM, including with their most recent conversation on April 4 on hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), the drug Mr. Trump favours as a cure for COVID-19. (The Hindu, 29 May 2020)
  • Congress launches ‘Speak up India’ drive, asks PM to help poor. Congress president Sonia Gandhi led party’s ‘Speak up India’ campaign, asking the government to come to the rescue of lakhs of labourers and small traders who continue to battle the economic impact Covid and the lockdown. (The Tribune, 28 May 2020)
  • Karnataka seals forests to stop migrants from TN. The government has closed roads and sealed forest areas in Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border to stop people from entering the state illegally slipping past check posts. Despite lockdown and ban on entry of vehicles from neighbouring states till May 31, many migrant labourers have been trekking via the dense forest near Krishnagiri, Salem and Erode district to enter Karnataka via Chamrajnagar forest. (The New Indian Express, 26 May 2020)
  • First anniversary of Modi Govt 2.0: BJP to hold virtual rallies to mark year of 'historic achievements'. The BJP will hold "virtual rallies" across the country and organise over 1,000 conferences online as it readies to celebrate the first anniversary of the Modi government's second term whose "historic achievements", the party said, will be written in golden letters. (Business Standard, 25 May 2020)
  • Modi govt’s subtle message to China — 2 BJP MPs ‘attend’ Taiwan president’s swearing-in. Two BJP MPs — Meenakshi Lekhi and Rahul Kaswan — virtually attended the swearing-in ceremony of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and even sent her congratulatory messages, in a departure from the Modi government’s position on the country that China claims is its territory. (The Print, 21 May 2020)
  • Hundreds of Indian Migrant Workers Are Stranded in Nepal. More than 800 Indian migrant workers have been stranded in Nepal, Sarlahi district, after Indian border authorities denied them entry. Around a half of them are woman and children. Most of them work at different brick kilns in Sarlahi, a district bordering India, and decided to go back home once they started facing a shortage of food. (The Wire, 20 May 2020)
  • COVID-19 deaths in India 0.2 per lakh population as against global average of 4.2: Govt. The government said the number of deaths reported per lakh population in India due to coronavirus is just 0.2 as against the global average of 4.2 people per lakh population. The number of COVID-19 cases in India is 1,06,750 while 3,303 people have succumbed to the disease, the figures released by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare show. (DNA India, 20 May 2020)
  • IAF presses ‘reset’ button on modernisation plans to push ‘Make in India’. With the government renewing its thrust on ‘Make in India’ amidst the ongoing fund crunch, the IAF is furiously re-prioritising its modernisation plans. Much more technology-intensive and imports-dependent than the Army & Navy, Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria tells Rajat Pandit that IAF’s major focus is on ‘desi’ fighters and platforms like Tejas rather than `videshi’ ones for now. (The Times of India, 19 May 2020)
  • J&K: BJP welcomes new domicile rules, says they give ‘long overdue’ rights to refugees. The Bharatiya Janata Party welcomed the new domicile rules notified in Jammu and Kashmir. BJP National President Jagat Prakash Nadda said these rules will give “long overdue” rights to all refugees, as well as to Kashmiri Pandits who live outside the Union Territory. “The new domicile rules gazetted in J&K are a welcome step,” Nadda tweeted. “This will give the long due rights to all refugees incl those from West Pak[istan], SC workers from rest of India settled in J&K for decades, children of KPs living outside J&K to claim domicile now.” (, 19 May 2020)
  • New Delhi building ‘illegal’ defence facilities in Galwan Valley, says Beijing. China accused India of building “illegal” defence facilities in the Galwan Valley region of the disputed Aksai Chin area, which is controlled by Beijing but claimed by New Delhi. Chinese border troops enhanced control measures in the area, a state media report said quoting an anonymous military source. The latest round of conflict comes days after Indian and Chinese soldiers clashed at a remote site near the Sikkim border, which left troops on both sides injured. (Hindustan Times, 18 May 2020)
  • Boundary issue on bilateral agenda for two decades: Nepal. After Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari announced Nepal was going to issue a new political map claiming Lipulekh Pass and Kalapani territory, which is under India’s administrative control, the neighbouring country has cited a 1997 India-Nepal joint statement to assert that this boundary issue had been on the bilateral agenda for more than two decades. Nepal has strongly protested India’s inauguration of a road, built on a pre-existing route for pilgrims, to Lipulekh and Indian Army chief MM Naravane, without naming China, said last week that Kathmandu seemed to be agitating at someone else’s behest. (FIDAR News, 18 May 2020)
  • Govt signals retreat of PSUs even across ‘strategic sectors’. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled the government’s plan to limit the role of public sector companies across the economy, while announcing assistance to help migrants, companies and state governments tackle the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, and provided more money for the rural job guarantee programme. (NXG.News, 17 May 2020)
  • Govt evacuates 54866 JK residents through Lakhanpur, 11,456 reach through special trains. With evacuation of 2470 more stranded passengers the total number of J&K residents evacuated through Lakhanpur by the government, so far till May 17, has reached the figure 54866. Besides, 11,456 stranded passengers have reached through COVID special trains at Jammu and Udhampur railway stations. (The Kashmir Monitor, 17 May 2020)
  • 300 labourers on foot for days from Rajasthan rescued in Agra. Amid the Shramik special train service started by the Centre in coordination with states, there are still hundreds of labourers who are travelling on foot for thousands of km in a desperate attempt to reach home. Around 350 migrant labourers along with their families were rescued by Agra district administration after they were found walking towards their home states of Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and other districts of UP along the highway. (The Times of India, 08 May 2020)
  • Bengal’s stopping of essential goods vehicles to Bangladesh a violation of MHA orders, says Home Secretary. Ajay Bhalla in a letter to the Chief Secretary says that the “unilateral action” of the State government will have larger implications for the Indian govt. with regard to its legally binding international commitments. (The Hindu, 06 May 2020)
  • Pakistan summons Indian envoy over ceasefire violations. Pakistan lodged a strong protest on Tuesday against ceasefire violations by Indian troops along the Line of Control (LoC) in Bagsar Sector on May 4 which resulted in critical injuries to six civilians. According to the Foreign Office, a senior Indian diplomat was summoned to register Pakistan’s protest. (The Express Tribune, 05 May 2020)
  • Entire occupied Kashmir valley, 3 Jammu districts declared coronavirus hotspots. The administration in India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir has decided to treat the entire Kashmir region as well as three districts in Jammu as red zones, or hotspots, to effectively combat coronavirus infections, it emerged on Tuesday. (Anadolu Agency, 05 May 2020)
  • World’s largest evacuation exercise to begin on May 7 as India brings back 14,800 citizens amid Coronavirus crisis. Touted to be the largest evacuation exercise in the world, the Government has decided to bring back its citizens stranded in 12 countries amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, by air and by sea starting Thursday in a phased manner. (The Statesman, 05 May 2020)
  • Darbar Move waste of time and effort, says J&K High Court, asks govt to consider viability. The Jammu and Kashmir High Court observed that there was no “legal justification or Constitutional basis” for the Darbar Move, a 148-year-old tradition in which the capital of the region is relocated twice a year — from Srinagar to Jammu during winter months and vice-versa in the summers. (The Print, 05 May 2020)
  • Some countries are fomenting terrorism in the midst of the pandemic, PM Modi tells NAM. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday made an indirect reference to Pakistan during an online meeting of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) Contact Group, and said some countries were fomenting terrorism in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic. The Indian leader supported a more representative post-COVID-19 world order and urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to focus on building health capacity in the developing countries. (The Hindu, 04 May 2020)