Morning Digest | U.S. shoots down Chinese balloon; Adani saga worries India’s neighbourhood, and more

Here’s a select list of stories to read before you start your day

February 05, 2023 07:43 am | Updated 07:43 am IST

People photograph a suspected Chinese spy balloon as it floats off the coast in Surfside Beach, South Carolina, U.S. on February 4, 2023.

People photograph a suspected Chinese spy balloon as it floats off the coast in Surfside Beach, South Carolina, U.S. on February 4, 2023. | Photo Credit: Reuters

U.S. downs Chinese balloon, a flashpoint in U.S.-China tensions

 The United States downed a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast on orders from President Joe Biden after it traversed sensitive military sites across North America, becoming the latest flashpoint in tensions between Washington and Beijing. The debris landed in 47 feet of water, shallower than they had expected. Still, it was not immediately clear how long the recovery would take.

Adani saga worries India’s neighbourhood

With the Adani Group’s slide in fortunes and the cancellation of the Adani Enterprises FPO, governments in neighbouring countries are watching the company’s market situation closely, even as the Ministry of External Affairs made it clear that any setback to projects would not affect ties, emphasizing that the Adani stock’s fall was “not a foreign policy issue”.

Insurance companies under scanner for rampant tax evasion

The Income Tax Department is likely to start prosecuting insurance companies soon, as it has found rampant industry-wide irregularities and “tax evasion” in the commission payments made to agents while bypassing norms laid down by the insurance regulator, India’s direct tax department head said.

ISRO-NASA built NISAR satellite ready to be shipped to India for launch

An earth-observation satellite jointly developed by NASA and ISRO that will help study Earth’s land and ice surfaces in greater detail is all set to be shipped to India later this month for a possible launch in September. ISRO and NASA joined hands in 2014 to build the 2,800 kg satellite. In March 2021, ISRO sent its S-Band SAR payload developed in India to NASA for integration with the L-Band payload built by JPL.

Pradhan, Mandaviya and Annamalai given charge of BJP’s Karnataka Assembly poll campaign

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Karnataka on Monday, BJP president J.P. Nadda announced that Minister for Education Dharmendra Pradhan will be party in-charge of the upcoming State Assembly elections, with Minister for Health and Family Welfare Mansukh Mandaviya and BJP Tamil Nadu president K. Annamalai as co-incharge. Karnataka is to go to polls in April-May.

PM Modi, M.K. Stalin, music industry condole passing of Vani Jairam

Political leaders and icons of the music industry expressed their condolences at the passing of veteran playback singer Vani Jairam, noting her influence and contribution to the industry. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “The talented Vani Jairam Ji will be remembered for her melodious voice and rich works, which covered diverse languages and reflected different emotions.” Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, in a statement, said that Vani Jairam’s death was an irreplaceable loss to the music industry.

Nagaland Assembly polls | Congress announces first list of 21 candidates

The Congress released its first list of 21 candidates for the Nagaland Assembly polls, fielding its State unit chief K. Therie from Dimapur-I. The list was released after a meeting of the Central Election Committee, headed by party chief Mallikarjun Kharge. Other candidates in the party's first list are S. Amento Chisti from Dimapur II(ST), V. Lasuh from Dimapur III(ST), Akavi Zhimomi from Ghaspani-I and Rosy Thomas from Tenning (ST).

Grenade explodes near Sunny Leone’s fashion show venue in Manipur

Unidentified miscreants exploded a grenade near a spot in Manipur’s capital Imphal in the early hours of Saturday, close to where Bollywood actor Sunny Leone is scheduled to participate in a fashion parade on February 5. The venue of the fashion show, which is in the heart of Imphal, was empty. Officials in Imphal East district said the blast occurred a little after 6 a.m. on Saturday in the Hapta Kangjeibung area under the Porompat police station.

Activist files complaint against Ramdev for controversial remarks against Muslims in Bihar

A Bihar-based rights activist filed a complaint against yoga guru Ramdev for allegedly hurting religious sentiments of Muslims with his remarks at a recent meeting of seers. At a meeting of seers in Rajasthan’s Barmer on Friday, the yoga guru had accused Muslims of resorting to terror and abducting Hindu women, while comparing Hinduism to Islam and Christianity.

Crackdown on child marriages; 139 people arrested in Assam's Biswanath

Assam police have arrested 139 people in Biswanath district as part of its State-wide crackdown on child marriages after CM Himanta Biswa Sarma directed to end the problem. Addressing a press conference, Assam Director-General of Police (DGP) G.P. Singh said that in the last two days, police arrested 2,044 people across the State, as part of the crackdown on child marriage, and 4,074 cases have been registered so far.

Dipa Karmakar handed 21-month ban after failing dope test

Star gymnast Dipa Karmakar has been handed a 21-month ban for failing a dope test conducted by the International Testing Agency, contrary to claims made by Indian officials that her "suspension" last year was not related to doping offence. Her ban period will, however, end on July 10 this year as it was counted from the day (October 11, 2021) the sample was collected.

Budget's main focus is growth; Mumbai should be liking proposals: FM

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said growth is the main focus of the Budget for FY24 presented by her recently. The Budget proposals establish both fiscal consolidation and growth, especially inclusive growth, Ms. Sitharaman said during her maiden interaction with stakeholders outside the National Capital. She also thanked the Budget-making team for making it possible to devote such a high quantum of resources for the task amid the myriad challenges like the need for fiscal consolidation. “Mumbai should be liking it [the proposals],” Ms. Sitharaman said.

ED questions Rahul Gandhi's aide in money laundering case against TMC functionary

The Enforcement Directorate has recorded the statement of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s aide Alankar Sawai in connection with the money laundering case against Trinamool Congress spokesperson Saket Gokhale, whose crowd-funding campaigns have been alleged to have irregularities. The money laundering investigation is based on a case registered by the Cyber Crime police station in Ahmedabad City against Mr. Gokhale and others.

Twitter will share ad revenue with creators who pay for Twitter Blue

Twitter has started sharing advertising revenue to compensate creators for the advertisements which are visible in their threads, according to CEO Elon Musk. The new initiative is likely meant to encourage more users and creators to sign up for the paid Twitter Blue service, as well as engage with others on the platform more frequently.

ChatGPT, fastest-growing consumer app, in spotlight as EU bats for tougher AI rules

EU industry chief Thierry Breton has said new proposed artificial intelligence rules will aim to tackle concerns about the risks around the ChatGPT chatbot and AI technology, in the first comments on the app by a senior Brussels official. "As showcased by ChatGPT, AI solutions can offer great opportunities for businesses and citizens, but can also pose risks. This is why we need a solid regulatory framework to ensure trustworthy AI based on high-quality data," he told Reuters in written comments.

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