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21 Jan, 2021

46 Min Read

Uganda Political crisis

GS-II : International Relations International issues

Uganda Political crisis

  • Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s 76-year-old leader who has been in power since 1986, won another five-year term in the January 14 presidential election, but the contested result has pushed the country into its worst political crisis in decades.
  • According to Uganda’s Electoral Commission, he won nearly 59% of the vote, while his main rival, Robert Kyagulanyi, a pop musician better known by his stage name Bobi Wine, secured 34%.
  • Mr. Wine has alleged voter fraud, which the government was quick to dismiss, while putting him and several other leaders of his National Unity Platform under house arrest.
  • The government cracking down on the opposition is not new, but this time, there were widespread reports of state repression of Mr. Wine’s movement in the run-up to the election.
  • He was detained several times, his rallies broken up by security personnel, and the Internet shut down and social networks blocked before the election.
  • Mr. Museveni’s government refused to accredit election monitors from the West, saying the U.S., after its election crisis, did not have the authority to monitor the elections.
  • Observers from Africa have documented irregularities, including the illegal opening of ballot boxes and arrests of members of civil society groups observing elections.
  • According to Ugandan law, Mr. Wine has 15 days to prove election irregularities, which is unlikely to happen as he is under house arrest and party offices have been raided by security personnel.

  • The Internet was restored almost a week after the shutdown, but social media platforms, which his campaign used to connect with the public, are still blocked.
  • It appears that Mr. Museveni, whose National Resistance Movement came to power by waging a guerrilla war in the 1980s, seems determined to prevent Mr. Wine from even coming close to power.
  • Uganda has long been torn by coups and violence before Mr. Museveni’s rise.
  • Even after Idi Amin, the infamous dictator was overthrown in 1979, politics remained volatile and violent. Mr. Museveni, when he captured power, promised reforms and stability. Consolidating power rather quickly, he offered a stable government and made Uganda an ally of the West in the fight against radicalism in East Africa.
  • But his grip on power tightened and he forcefully kept the opposition below the radar.
  • In 2005, Mr. Museveni amended the Constitution to remove the presidential term limits and in 2017, signed a law scrapping the age limit of 75 for presidential candidates.
  • He might continue in office, but his greed for power and disregard for a fair electoral process and rights, coupled with economic woes, have already left cracks in his support base.
  • Mr. Wine, in a short span, has emerged as the President’s most potent political rival. Mr. Museveni must realise that short-circuiting the democratic process might force Uganda to repeat its history of violent transfer of power.

Source: TH

Indian Diaspora in USA - Biden Cabinet

GS-II : International Relations USA

Indian Diaspora in USA - Biden Cabinet

  • US President-elect Joe Biden has either nominated or named at least 20 Indian Americans, ahead of the historic inauguration.
  • Of those named, 13 are women who are likely to hold key positions in Biden's administration, setting a new record in itself.
  • While, 17 of them would be part of the powerful White House complex.
  • Biden would be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States is already historic in the making as for the first time ever a woman Kamala Harris would be sworn as the vice president of the country.
  • It is also for the first time ever that so many Indian-Americans have been roped into a presidential administration ever before the inauguration. Biden is still quite far away from filling all the positions in his administration.
  • Harris, 56, is also the first ever Indian-origin and African American to be sworn in as the vice president of the United States.
  • Topping the list is Neera Tanden, who has been nominated as Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget and Dr Vivek Murthy, who has been nominated as the US Surgeon General.
  • Vanita Gupta has been nominated as Associate Attorney General Department of Justice, and on Saturday, Biden nominated a former foreign service official Uzra Zeya as the Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.
  • “The dedication that the Indian-American community has shown to public service over the years has been recognised in a big way at the very start of this administration! I am particularly pleased that the overwhelming majority are women. Our community has truly arrived in serving the nation,” Indiaspora founder M R Rangaswami told PTI.
  • Mala Adiga has been appointed as Policy Director to the future First Lady Dr Jill Biden and Garima Verma would be the Digital Director of the Office of the First Lady, while Sabrina Singh has been named as her Deputy Press Secretary.
  • For the first time ever among the Indian-Americans include two who trace their roots to Kashmir: Aisha Shah, who has been named as Partnership Manager at the White House Office of Digital Strategy, and Sameera Fazili, who would occupy the key position of Deputy Director at the US National Economic Council (NEC) in the White House.
  • White House National Economic Council also has another Indian American, Bharat Ramamurti, as Deputy Director.
  • Gautam Raghavan, who served at the White House in the previous Obama Administration returns to the White House as Deputy Director in the Office of Presidential Personnel.
  • Among Biden’s inner circle is his top confident for the year Vinay Reddy, who has been named as Director of Speechwriting.
  • Young Vedant Patel is all set to occupy a seat in the White House lower press, behind the briefing room, as Assistant Press Secretary to the President. He is only the third-ever Indian American to be part of the White House press shop.
  • Three Indian-Americans have made their way to the crucial National Security Council of the White House, thus leaving a permanent imprint on the country’s foreign policy and national security.
  • They are Tarun Chhabra: Senior Director for Technology and National Security, Sumona Guha, Senior Director for South Asia, and Shanthi Kalathil: Coordinator for Democracy and Human Rights.
  • Sonia Aggarwal has been named Senior Advisor for Climate Policy and Innovation in the Office of the Domestic Climate Policy at the White House and Vidur Sharma has been appointed as Policy Advisor for Testing for the White House COVID-19 Response Team.
  • Two Indian American women have been appointed to the Office of the White House Counsel: Neha Gupta as Associate Counsel and Reema Shah as Deputy Associate Counsel.
  • Also, for the first time in any administration, the White House would have three other South Asians in key positions.
  • Pakistani-American Ali Zaidi as Deputy National Climate Advisor White House; Sri Lankan American Rohini Kosoglu as Domestic Policy Advisor to the Vice President and Bangladeshi-American Zayn Siddique: Senior Advisor to the White House Deputy Chief of Staff.
  • During the campaign, Biden had indicated that he would rope in a large number of Indian Americans.
  • “As President, I'll also continue to rely on Indian-American diaspora, that keeps our two nations together, as I have throughout my career,” Biden had said in his address to the Indian-American community during a virtual celebration of India’s Independence Day on August 15, 2020.
  • “My constituents in Delaware, my staff in the Senate, the Obama Biden administration, which had more Indian Americans than any other administration in the history of this country and this campaign with Indian Americans at senior levels, which of course includes the top of the heap, our dear friend (Kamala Harris) who will be the first Indian American vice president in the history of the United States of America,” Biden said in his video address.

Source: Outlook India

India sends COVID-19 vaccines to 6 countries: Vaccine diplomacy and SAARC


India sends COVID-19 vaccines to 6 countries: Vaccine diplomacy and SAARC

  • India on Wednesday began the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to six “neighbouring and key partner countries”. They are Maldives, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles.

  • The delivery began with two special flights carrying the first consignments of Covishield to the Maldives and Bhutan. Sources said Bangladesh and Nepal will receive two large consignments of the same vaccine on Thursday followed by supplies to Myanmar and the Seychelles.
  • As part of the vaccine diplomacy, a consignment of 1,50,000 doses reached Thimphu on Wednesday. Bhutan is the first country to receive the vaccine manufactured by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII).
  • The vaccine is part of an overall programme to build Bhutanese capacity to fight the pandemic. On the request of Bhutan, India has also fast tracked the release of Rs. 501 crore for Thimphus reprioritised projects to meet the emerging challenges caused by the pandemic.
  • Later, a consignment of 1,00,000 doses was received at the Male airport by Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid and Health Minister Ahmed Naseem.
  • Maldives is [among] the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s a gift from India. India has proved to be a solid friend of the Maldives. India gave us support when our students had to be evacuated from Wuhan in China. In these difficult circumstances, India is the first country. We thank India for supporting us always in our challenging moments,” Mr. Shahid said.
  • In a press statement, the High Commission of India in Male said, “India gifted 1,00,000 doses of the India-manufactured COVID-19 vaccine to the Maldives today to meet the immediate requirements of vaccinating healthcare workers, frontline workers and those with co-morbidities.”
  • India will ‘gift’ one million doses of Covishield to Nepal and two million doses to Dhaka.
  • The Health Department of Bangladesh had earlier announced that it was expecting the vaccine on Wednesday but the delivery was finally slotted for Thursday. Nepal said the announcement of the ‘gift’ of the vaccine from India is a ‘wonder’.
  • The announcement came days after Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali placed requirement of the India-manufactured vaccine to fight the pandemic in the Himalayan country.
  • The Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday declared that India will continue to supply vaccine to “neighbouring and key partner countries”, “keeping in view the domestic requirements of the phased roll-out”.
  • “It will be ensured that domestic manufacturers will have adequate stocks to meet domestic requirements while supplying abroad,” said the Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday informing that India has also carried out capacity building and training workshops for neighbouring countries.

For complete news on SAARC: click here

Source: TH

Dragonfruit renamed as 'Kamalam'

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Flora

Dragonfruit renamed as 'Kamalam'

The Gujarat government has decided to rename the dragon fruit as ‘kamalam’, and comments have flooded the Internet and social media platforms. According to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, the fruit’s outer shape resembles a lotus, which is also the election symbol of the BJP.

“We have applied for a patent of the dragon fruit to be called ‘kamalam’, Mr Rupani said at the launch of the Chief Minister Horticulture Development Mission, a scheme to promote horticulture in unproductive land parcels.

Farmers in Kutch, Navsari and other parts were growing the fruit and it should, therefore, have a local name too. “Though it is known as dragon fruit, it does not sound appropriate. The word ‘kamalam’ is a Sanskrit word and the shape of the fruit does resemble the lotus flower,” he said, adding that the renaming had nothing political about it.

What is a Dragonfruit?

Dragon fruit is the fruit of a species of wild cactus indigenous to South and Central America, where it is called pitaya or pitahaya. The fruit’s flesh is usually white or red — although there is a less common yellow pitaya too — and is studded with tiny seeds rather like the kiwifruit.

The world’s largest producer and exporter of dragon fruit is Vietnam, where the plant was brought by the French in the 19th century. The Vietnamese call it thanh long, which translates to “dragon’s eyes”, believed to be the origin of its common English name.

Dragon fruit is also cultivated in — apart from its native Latin America — Thailand, Taiwan, China, Australia, Israel, and Sri Lanka. It was brought to India in the 1990s and is grown in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It grows in all kinds of soil and does not require much water.

Kamalam is also the name of the BJP headquarters in Koba in Gandhinagar, and the kamal — lotus — is the BJP’s election symbol. Rupani, however, said no politics was involved in the renaming. “Gujarat government has decided that dragon fruit is not a suitable word. Across the world, it is known as dragon fruit and one thinks of China. So we have given the name Kamalam. It is a fruit like a lotus,” he said.

Source: IE

Dr. V Shanta passed away

GS-III : S&T Health

Dr. V Shanta passed away

  • A pioneer in cancer care in the country, and the chairperson of the Adyar Cancer Institute, V. Shanta breathed her last in Chennai early on Tuesday morning. She was admitted to Apollo Hospitals after she complained of chest pain on Monday night. She was 93.

  • A crusader for cancer research and making cancer care affordable for all, Dr. Shanta and her mentor S. Krishnamurthi built the Cancer Institute from a cottage hospital into a 500-plus bedded institution, offering state-of-the-art care to people across the income spectrum. Only 40% are paying beds and the remaining are general beds where patients are boarded and lodged free of cost.
  • Dr Shanta was the recipient of several honours and awards throughout her life, recognising her devotion to oncology care and research. The Padma Vibhushan and Ramon Magsaysay awards were among them. Dr Shanta encouraged research into cancer care, even as she stressed building awareness in the community, to prevent cancer.
  • She was laid to rest with State-accorded police honours in the evening, with thousands participating in the funeral procession.

Source: TH

Joe Biden inaugurated as 46th US President, Kamala Harris sworn-in as first female US Vice President

GS-II : International Relations USA

Joe Biden inaugurated as the 46th US President, and Kamala Harris sworn in as first female US Vice President

  • Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States in the 59th inauguration ceremony at the West Front of the US Capitol on January 20, 2021.
  • He is the oldest US President to take the oath, as he turned 78 years old in November 2020.
  • Kamala Harris also created history by becoming the first female, African-American and Asian-American to be sworn in as Vice President of the United States.
  • Her husband Doung Emhoff has become the first-ever 'second gentlemen' of the United States.
  • Doung Emhoff has also become the first Jewish spouse to the US vice president.

Source: TH

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