September 24, 2023



Times Top10: Today’s Top News Headlines and Latest News from India & across the World

11 min read


ISRO to launch India’s first privately-developed rocket, Vikram-S; PM Modi to inaugurate ‘No Money for Terror’ Ministerial Conference in Delhi; SC to hear pleas of Gautam Navlakha and NIA in Elgar Parishad case; Moody’s to update its rating for Russia; 1st T20I – New Zealand Vs India at Sky Stadium, Wellington

1. Finally, Cong & BJP are on the same page on this…
1. Finally, Cong & BJP are on the same page on this…
  • What: Facing criticism from the Congress, the BJP-led Centre on Thursday moved the Supreme Court seeking a review of its order for premature release of six convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
  • Govt says… The order granting remission to the convicts, who had assassinated the former prime minister, was passed without affording it adequate opportunity for hearing despite it being a necessary party to the case.
  • And… The government highlighted the alleged procedural lapse, saying the convicts seeking remission did not formally implead the Centre as a party which resulted in its non-participation in the case.
  • Key argument: “Thus absence of any assistance by the Union of India, due to procedural lapse of convicts/petitioners, while the present matter was being finally heard and decided has prevented this Court from appreciating the crucial and important evidence in the matter, which if presented, would have assisted this court to arrive at a just and correct judgment in the matter,” it said.
  • Six convicts: On November 11, the top court had ordered premature release of six convicts, including Nalini Sriharan, who had hosted the assassin, noting the Tamil Nadu government had recommended remission of their sentence. All six walked out of the jail following the SC order.
  • The Congress termed the decision “totally unacceptable and completely erroneous”, saying the SC order sends a message to the world that India extends “to these killers such benefits forgetting the nature of their crime”.
  • Former PM Gandhi was assassinated on the night of May 21, 1991 at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu by a woman suicide bomber, identified as Dhanu, at an election rally.
2. A slugfest over Karnataka voter survey row
2. A slugfest over Karnataka voter survey row
A controversy erupted in Karnataka on Thursday over a voters’ survey in the city with opposition Congress alleging corrupt electoral practice in it and demanded the Chief Minister’s resignation, while the city’s civic body announced terminating the permission given to the private entity involved in the exercise.

Congress cries foul

  • Congress general secretary and the party’s Karnataka in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala alleged that the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) authorised the private firm, Chilume Educational Cultural and Rural Development Trust, in August to carry out a door-to-door survey of voters ‘free of cost’ and that it gathered personal information such as people’s gender, mother tongue and collected voter ID and Aadhaar details.
  • He also wondered why an advertisement was not issued by the BJP-led state government or the election authorities before giving the work to a private entity.
  • The firm also appointed hundreds of Booth Level Officers (BLO), which technically should be government appointed persons, said Surjewala, adding these BLOs were also given identity cards resembling those being possessed by government employees.

‘Lodge an FIR’

  • Alleging “the chief minister was the conduit for the electoral fraud,” the Congress leader said an FIR should be registered against Basavaraj Bommai and he should be arrested.

CM hits back

  • Rejecting the allegations, Bommai said the opposition party was bankrupt with ideas. He asserted he was ready to face an inquiry.

Civic body wakes up…

  • As a row erupted over the issue, the BBMP said the private entity violated the conditions and announced terminating the permission given to it to conduct door-to-door visit to “create awareness” among the public on online application via Voter Helpline Mobile App.
3. Can a CM flee the country to evade ED?
3. Can a CM flee the country to evade ED?
Summons and response

  • Facing allegations of money laundering linked to alleged illegal mining, Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren appeared before the Enforcement Directorate in Ranchi on Thursday. But before he faced ED, Soren slammed the summons the agency had served him for questioning.
  • “I hold a constitutional post as the chief minister. But the way the probe is going, the way I’m summoned, it’s like they think I am the kind of person who would flee the country. I can’t remember anyone other than big businessmen having fled the country. No politician has fled like that,” Soren told his supporters gathered outside the ED office to protest his questioning.

‘A larger conspiracy’

  • Soren claimed the probe against him was “part of a larger conspiracy by the BJP’s central government to destabilise” his government.
  • He said, “The conspirators were working like a submarine, too scared to come up. But that submarine is now being brought to the surface.”

Training guns at governor

  • Soren is facing a possible disqualification as MLA, with the Election Commission having given its recommendation to Governor Ramesh Bais, who is yet to take a call.
  • Soren said, “The governor has said he’s sought a ‘second opinion’. But we have asked the Election Commission, and we’ve been told there is no such opinion sought…I’ve heard the governor is waiting for something.”

The scam and probe

  • The scam relates to alleged illegal mining in Jharkhand’s Sahibganj. The ED has arrested Soren’s political aide Pankaj Mishra and two others.
  • Soren calls the charges “baseless”, claiming “one would need 20,000 railway rakes or 33 lakh trucks” to cause such a scam.
  • He has argued, “The whole state has earned Rs 750 crore in the past two years, the period during which you have alleged a Rs 1,000-crore scam.” More here
4. Who’s responsible for Mizoram stone quarry tragedy?
4. Who’s responsible for Mizoram stone quarry tragedy?
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has registered a suo-motu case in the stone quarry collapse in south Mizoram’s Hnahthial district and directed authorities concerned to appear before it on November 28.

Death toll at 11

  • The death toll climbed to 11 after one more body was recovered from the site, Hnahthial deputy commissioner (DC) R Lalremsanga said. The body of a 25-year-old man, a resident of Lunglei district, was found under the debris during the ongoing search operation on Wednesday evening.
  • Twelve people were confirmed to have been trapped after the stone quarry, owned by ABCI Infrastructures Pvt Ltd, caved in at Maudarh village, about 23 km from Hnahthial town, on Monday.
  • Five of the deceased are from West Bengal, two each from Jharkhand and neighbouring Assam, and one each from Tripura and Mizoram.

NGT intervenes

  • Seven officials, including the member secretary of Mizoram pollution control board and the director of the state’s disaster management directorate, have been asked to appear at the tribunal’s Faridkot House office in Delhi, according to a notice issued by the NGT.
  • District Superintendent of Police (SP) Vineet Kumar said that suo-moto case into the incident has also been filed at Hnahthial police station.
  • Eyewitnesses claimed that workers had dug too deep and that upset the stability of the stone quarry, resulting in the collapse.


  • PM Narendra Modi had on Wednesday announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of each of those who lost their lives.
6. Should judges be appointing judges?
6. Should judges be appointing judges?
  • The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to consider listing a petition against the collegium system of appointment of judges to the apex court and high courts, days after Union Law and Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju said people were not happy with the practice of judges appointing judges.
  • The plea claims the collegium system of appointment of judges has resulted in denial of equal opportunity to thousands of lawyers who are eligible, meritorious and deserved to be considered.
  • NJAC Act: In 2015, the top court struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act and the Constitution (99th Amendment) Act, 2014, leading to the revival of the collegium system of existing judges appointing judges to constitutional courts.
  • Govt role curtailed: The NJAC Act would have accorded a major role to the executive in appointing judges to the higher judiciary.
  • Rijiju remark: Last month, Rijiju had said the people of the country are not happy with the collegium system and, according to the spirit of the Constitution, it is the government’s job to appoint judges. Later, former Chief Justice of India U U Lalit had said there is nothing wrong with the collegium system.
  • Lateral entry: The SC expressed disappointment over not getting enough eligible lawyers for lateral entry into higher judiciary as additional district judges across the country. Lawyers with a minimum of seven years of experience can take a competitive examination for lateral into Higher Judicial Services (HJS) as ADJs. The court was hearing a plea of several unsuccessful candidates who took an HJS examination held recently in Rajasthan.
8. Did social media posts from India stoke communal violence in UK?
8. Did social media posts from India stoke communal violence in UK?
  • The report: A network of fake accounts originating outside of the UK stoked violence between Muslims and Hindus in a British city earlier this year, according to the Network Contagion Research Institute at Rutgers University (NCRI) report.
  • The riots: Hundreds took to the streets in the days following an India-Pakistan cricket match in August, with some rioters carrying sticks and batons and throwing glass bottles as police were deployed to calm the masses. Homes, cars and religious artefacts were vandalised during the clashes, which went on for weeks and resulted in 47 arrests, according to Leicestershire police.
  • Social media: The NCRI report said an estimated 500 inauthentic accounts on different platforms called for violence and promoted memes. Incendiary videos were created on Twitter Inc, it said.
  • Bot-like accounts disseminated both anti-Hindu and anti-Muslim messaging, each blaming the other for the violence. The bots were identified based on the time of account creation and the number of repeated tweets, with some tweeting 500 times per minute.
  • Linguistic analysis: Mentions of “Hindu” exceeded mentions of “Muslim” by nearly 40%, and Hindus were largely depicted as aggressors and conspirators in a global project for international dominance, the report said. It said 70% of violent tweets were made against Hindus during the Leicester riot timeframe.
  • The report concluded that after the first instances of fake videos spread on Twitter, a “highly orchestrated echo chamber” from India kicked into amplify tweets “solely blaming Muslims for the events in Leicester,” which in turn spurred even more violence against Hindus.
  • The researchers opined that local community tensions were ripe for exploitation on Twitter by external nationalist groups. The BBC and disinformation research company Logically also found evidence that a lot of the social media posts during the unrest hailed from India, some 5,000 miles away.
7. Thanks to sanctions, Russia is India’s fifth trade partner
7. Thanks to sanctions, Russia is India’s fifth trade partner
  • A big leap: Driven largely by a surge in oil imports, Russia has emerged as India’s fifth largest trading partner during April-September, jumping from the 25th place at the end of the last financial year, official data showed.
  • How big: The large shipments of oil and fertiliser have also meant that the trade deficit with Russia, pegged at just over $20 billion during the first half of the current financial year, is next only to China’s $44.6 billion.
  • The balance: In fact, among India’s top five trading partners, China and Russia are the only countries where exports have taken a beating during the first half of the year, when overall exports had grown by 17%.
  • India’s exports to Russia fell 19% to $1.3 billion while imports surged five times from $4.2 billion to $21.3 billion. The value of Russian oil shipped to India soared 8.3 times to nearly $18 billion, while fertiliser saw an even higher jump.
  • An oiled machine: The government has let oil companies buy more crude from Russia, which emerged as the biggest source for Indian crude in October, despite pressure from the US and other countries to stop imports after the war in Ukraine started in February.
  • The old toppers: The US and China have retained the top two spots. Trade with the US rose 20% due to an increase in exports (15% to $41.5 billion) and imports (29% to $26 billion).
  • The case of China: There has been a decrease in exports of copper, cotton and ores among the major commodities, resulting in India’s shipments to its neighbour falling 36.6% to $7.8 billion, while imports have shot up 23.6% to over $52.4 billion during this period. More here
9. India’s first private rocket goes into space today
9. India's first private rocket goes into space today
Vikram S

  • Named after Vikram Sarabhai, considered the father of India’s space programme, India’s first privately developed rocket is set for a launch today. India’s space industry was liberalised in June 2020 to allow for private sector’s participation.
  • Vikram S — built by Hyderabad-based space startup Skyroot Aerospace — is a small-lift launch vehicle and the first of the series of three rockets.
  • Vikram rockets could be assembled and launched in less than 72 hours.

Mission ‘Prarambh’

  • The mission, named ‘Prarambh’, (the beginning), Vikram-I will carry payloads of two Indian and one foreign customers into space from the Indian Space Research Organisation’s launchpad at Sriharikota.

Technology architecture

  • Vikram-S is a single-stage spin-stabilised solid propellant rocket, built on upgradeable architecture with carbon composite and 3D-printed motors, with a mass of approximately 550 kg.
  • The rocket goes to a maximum altitude of 101 km and splashes into the sea. The overall duration of the launch is only 300 seconds.
  • Its technology offers unique capabilities like multi-orbit insertion, interplanetary missions while providing customised, dedicated and ride-share options covering a wide spectrum of small satellite customer needs.

What is a sub-orbital mission?

  • A sub-orbital spaceflight is when a spacecraft leaves the gravitational field from which it was launched and travels through space on a trajectory that crosses the atmosphere or surface of that body.
  • The spaceflight is unable to complete revolving an orbit. Sub-orbital missions are aimed at lower altitudes than an orbit. These are considered crucial as experimentation before the launch of a spacecraft in an actual orbit.

Skyroot Aerospace

  • The startup company was set up in mid-2018. It has been developing solid, liquid and cryogenic rocket stages for its Vikram series rockets for two years.
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. After Congress leader Rahul Gandhi criticised Savarkar on the Maharashtra leg of his Bharat Jodo Yatra, ally Uddhav Thackeray has struck a note of dissent. At a function in memory of tribal leader Birsa Munda in Washim, Rahul had said, “Despite the British offering him land, [Birsa Munda] refused to bow down. He chose death. We, the Congress party, consider him our idol. For the BJP and RSS, Savarkar ji, who wrote mercy petitions to the British and accepted pension, is an idol.” The BJP has always rejected the Congress’s criticism of Savarkar as “a distorted version of history” arguing that it was his political ploy to stay active for his cause.The BJP has questioned Uddhav for aligning with a party whose leaders openly castigate the hero his father Bal Thackeray idolised. Responding to Rahul’s comments and the BJP’s criticism, Uddhav said, “We don’t agree with what Rahul Gandhi has said. We respect Veer Savarkar. But, at the same time, when you [BJP leaders] are questioning us, the BJP should also have to say why they were in power with PDP [in Jammu and Kashmir]…The PDP would never say ‘Bharat mata ki jai’.” More here
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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Jayanta Kalita, Prabhash K Dutta, Abhishek Dey
Research: Rajesh Sharma

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