BQuick On Sept. 2: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes
Oil and gas tankers sitting parked on the side of a road near a refinery are illuminated by vehicle headlights at night in India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg) 

BQuick On Sept. 2: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes

This is a roundup of the day’s top stories in brief.

1. India’s Stealth Military Move Against China

India triggered the latest clash with China on their Himalayan border by executing a stealth night-time operation to claim strategic outposts offering a clear view of troop movements in disputed territory, Indian officials with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg News.

  • In what they called India’s first offensive move since the conflict began in May, thousands of soldiers climbed up mountain peaks for about six hours to claim the vantage points along the south bank of Pangong Tso -- a glacial lake roughly the size of Singapore.

  • The action was taken to counter what India saw an intrusion by Chinese forces, the officials said, asking not to be identified due to rules on speaking to the media.

  • The decision to capture high ground that was previously unoccupied along Line of Actual Control revived a conflict that had been largely dormant since June.

China accused India of breaching agreements between the two sides and unilaterally changing the status quo.

2. PUBG, Alipay Among 118 Chinese Apps Banned

Meanwhile India banned another set of 118 apps from China’s technology giants, including Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s wildly popular game PUBG Mobile Lite, the country’s search engine leader Baidu Inc., and online payments giant Ant Group Co.’s platform Alipay, as tensions escalated on the nations’ disputed border.

The apps are “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India” as well as “security and public order,” the country’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said in a statement Wednesday. “This move will safeguard the interests” of Indian mobile and internet users, it said.

Find out the full list of apps that have been banned.

3. Winds Of Caution For Consumer Demand

The Indian consumer drove the economy’s growth in the last few years. But even before the Covid-19 crisis hit, the private consumption story had started to tire out.

  • Now, an uncertain economic environment, along with a fall in jobs and incomes has led to the steepest fall in private consumption the economy has seen.

  • In the April-June quarter, when gross domestic product contracted by 23.9%, private consumption fell 26.7%.

  • This was a quarter when the nation was under lockdown. As such, the drop in spending by the average consumer came as no surprise.

  • The question economists are left asking is how quickly private consumption will rebound and to what levels?

The early indications suggest that consumers will be slow to return to the store fronts.

4. Vodafone Idea May Avoid Bankruptcy

Vodafone Group Plc’s India unit is no longer considering bankruptcy, people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg News, after winning some legal relief in a near two-decade payment dispute with the government.

  • The fine print of a Supreme Court judgment published late Tuesday showed Vodafone Idea Ltd. doesn’t need to make any immediate payments as a three-judge panel allowed phone operators 10 years to pay a combined $19 billion in back fees.

  • In what’s being interpreted as a show of strength, Vodafone Idea’s board soon after said it would meet to discuss a fundraising.

This week’s events are bolstering expectation that the teetering wireless carrier is looking for another shot at success.

Also read: AGR Verdict: Analysts Positive On Bharti Airtel But Cautious On Vodafone Idea

5. Nifty Recovers; U.S. Stocks Extend Rally

India’s benchmark equity index closed higher, led by Reliance Industries Ltd., after fluctuating between gains and losses for most of the session.

  • The S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.5% to 39,086.03, after falling as much as 0.4% earlier in the day.

  • The NSE Nifty 50 Index added 0.6%.

  • Both indexes capped their third consecutive month of gains in August, rising more than 50% from the pandemic-led sell off in March..

Follow the day’s trading action here.

7. A Jobs Programme For Indian Cities

India is considering extending its flagship jobs program in villages to workers in cities left unemployed by the pandemic-induced lockdowns, a government official said.

  • The programme, when approved, may be rolled out in smaller cities and initially cost about Rs 35,000 crore ($4.8 billion), said Sanjay Kumar, a joint secretary in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

  • “The government has been considering this idea since last year,” he said. “The pandemic gave a push to this discussion.”

  • Under the rural jobs programme, workers in the hinterland can earn a guaranteed minimum daily wage of Rs 202 for at least 100 days a year.

An urban version of the plan will soften the blow on citizens most affected by the coronavirus fallout.

BQuick On Sept. 2: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes

8. Daily Covid-19 Cases Spike Again In India

India continued to add new coronavirus cases at such a pace that even with rising recoveries the active cases crossed the 8-lakh-mark.

  • India added over 78,000 cases in 24 hours, taking the total tally to more than 37.69 lakh in Asia’s third-largest economy.

  • This includes over 66,000 deaths and over 29 lakh patients who have recovered.

  • India now has 8.01 lakh active Covid-19 cases.

  • Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Wednesday said he has tested positive for coronavirus.

Track all Covid-19 related news and updates in India, here.

One Nation, One Big Mess

As India’s coronavirus cases rise steadily, few are discussing the unfolding health crisis or following measures required to control the spread of the virus, writes Priya Ramani.

  • Forget doomscrolling, my friends proudly tell me they’ve muted all news about Covid-19.

  • As the mask becomes more important than ever, the country’s anti-maskers are getting bolder.

  • Then there’s the anger of joblessness, of failed businesses, of paused dreams and frayed tempers trapped in overcrowded houses.

Covid-19 is virulent enough to confine the population of an entire world, but it hasn’t managed to lock down hate speech.

Also read: Fauci Warns of Surge; U.K. Reverses Course Again: Virus Update

9. A Sui Generis Style: Justice Arun Mishra On The Supreme Court

In many ways, the ruling in Prashant Bhushan serves as an archetype of Mishra’s career, write Suhrith Parthasarathy and Gulnar Mistry.

  • He was tasked with presiding over benches that have heard some of the most politically and commercially significant disputes to have reached the Court.

  • Judgments and interventions in those cases have altered, often in undesirable ways, the Court’s status as an independent and final arbiter of disputes.

  • His career is also notable for judgments that have settled the law of the land, in areas ranging from affirmative action policies to statutes governing property and civil law.

The legacy that Justice Mishra leaves behind is perhaps best exemplified by his judgment for a Constitution Bench. Read more.

10. India Mints Another Unicorn

SoftBank Group Corp. is leading a round of venture investment in India’s education startup Unacademy, boosting its valuation to $1.45 billion as online learning surges during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Investors in the $150 million funding include existing backers Facebook Inc. and Sequoia Capital, while SoftBank’s money is coming from Vision Fund 2, a successor to its initial $100 billion fund.

  • The startup’s valuation is tripling from $510 million in February.

Read the story of a startup that went from a hobby on YouTube to a unicorn.

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