5 THINGS FIRST

SC to hear plea against divorces under ‘Talaq-e-Hasan‘; Reliance Industries to hold its 45th AGM; Delhi court to hear plea against ‘Kaali’ producer; TN cabinet to take up Justice Arumughaswamy Commission’s report on Jayalalithaa’s death; Bombay HC hearing on status of people in mental health facilities

1. India’s tallest buildings to fall are now a pile of dust
1. India’s tallest buildings to fall are now a pile of dust
In less time than it used to take Usain Bolt to complete his 100 metres sprint, two synchronised blasts ripped through the twin residential towers located in real estate developer Supertech’s Emerald Court society, reducing them to a heap of rubble.

How it happened

  • At 2 pm on Sunday, amidst tight security and contingency preparations, including for pollution, silence followed the siren that sounded an all-clear for the demolition expert to press the trigger to bring down India’s tallest building, the 103-metre tall, 41,720 tonne Apex and its shorter and much ‘slimmer sibling’, the 94-metre tall Ceyanne, weighing 18,150 tonnes.
  • While there was no major collateral damage, glass panes of Tower 6A in neighbouring ATS Village as also a segment of the boundary wall of ATS housing society were damaged by the blasts, which took place at 2:30 pm. The demolition was a joint effort between Mumbai-based Edifice Engineering and South Africa’s Jet Demolitions.
  • The demolition was first ordered by the Allahabad High Court and last year confirmed by the Supreme Court for violation of minimum distance requirement, building regulations and fire safety norms. The debris, which at almost 15 metres is equivalent to a four storey building, will take at least three months to clear.

What went in

  • The 3.7 tonnes of explosives were packed into 9,642 holes drilled into the columns with an average length of 2.2 metres to hold the explosives. The entire process of planning and planting the explosives took 187 days and was completed on August 22. The two companies which carried out the planning and execution of the demolition also took out an insurance of Rs 100 crore for covering any damages to buildings in the vicinity of the twin towers.

What went out

  • The 7,000 odd residents living in the society and the adjacent ATS Greens Village, the last of whom were evacuated on Sunday morning — along with stray dogs who were evacuated by animal welfare NGOs.
  • Also going out, from Supertech’s bank accounts will be the full refund along with 12% interest to the buyers of the flats in the two buildings, originally scheduled to be built up to 40 storeys though only 32 and 31 storeys were completed of Apex and Ceyanne, respectively. Last week on Friday, the SC ordered Supertech to submit a schedule of the disbursal of the refund by October.
2. Congress’ date with ‘democracy’… October 17
2. Congress’ date with ‘democracy’… October 17
Ending days of speculation, the embattled Congress party on Sunday announced that the election to its president’s post will be held on October 17 and the winner will be declared two days later. It also asserted that the Congress is the only party in the country which undertakes such a democratic exercise.

The family

  • The party, which last held the election for the post in November 2000, has often faced criticism from the ruling BJP over dynastic politics due to the control of the Gandhi family over its affairs.
  • Sonia Gandhi is the longest serving party president and has been at the helm since 1998 barring a two-year period between 2017-19 when Rahul Gandhi took over.

Setback

  • The poll schedule was announced amid a fresh upheaval in the party due to the shock resignation of veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday and his stinging letter to the party president in which he lashed out at Rahul Gandhi for “demolishing the party’s entire consultative mechanism”.
  • Azad was part of the group of 23 dissident leaders who had written to Sonia Gandhi in 2020 seeking large-scale reforms, including elections at all levels of the organisation.

Rahul or Gehlot?

  • Several leaders, including Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, have publicly exhorted Rahul Gandhi to return as the party chief. However, party insiders say Rahul is persisting with his stance that he will not be the AICC president.
  • Gehlot had earlier played down reports about him being the frontrunner for the Congress president’s post.

And a warning…

  • Former Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan cautioned that the Congress will not survive if someone is made a “puppet president”.
3. Forensic probe to be made compulsory for…
3. Forensic probe to be made compulsory for…
The government aims to make forensic investigation “compulsory and legal” for offences attracting punishment of more than six years, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Sunday.

  • Conviction rate: Speaking at the first convocation ceremony of the National Forensic Sciences University (NFSU), Gandhinagar, Shah said the Centre has set a target of taking India’s conviction rate higher than even the developed countries and integrating the criminal justice system with forensic science investigation.
  • Mobile labs: Shah launched a ‘Made in India’ forensic mobile laboratory and said such labs will be made available in every district.
  • Key changes: The central government will make changes to the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Evidence Act. “These laws need to be reframed from the perspective of independent India,” Shah said.
  • Reforms: Shah stressed the importance of reforms in the criminal justice system and law and order infrastructure. “This is not the age of third degree (interrogation methods)…We will have to stress on convicting criminals on the basis of scientific evidence. This is how we shall be able to increase the conviction rate.”
  • New centres: Shah also inaugurated three Centres of Excellence in DNA Forensics, Cyber Security, and Investigative and Forensic Psychology at NFSU.
4. What’s the importance of NASA’s Artemis programme
4. What’s the importance of NASA’s Artemis programme
  • Back to the moon: 50 years after the last humans — Apollo 17’s Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt — walked on the surface of the moon, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will today set in motion a return to the nearest celestial body to the Earth, with the scheduled launch of the unmanned Artemis 1 at 8:33 am local time (around 6 pm IST).
  • Why’s it special: Named after the Greek Goddess Artemis — twin sister of Apollo, the name chosen for the earlier manned missions to the moon — the space mission will put the first woman and the first person of colour on the moon’s surface, sometime in 2025, carried abroad Artemis 3, with Artemis 2 being the first manned space mission into the lunar orbit, scheduled for 2024. The Artemis programme will also establish a base camp on the lunar surface for long-term human presence along with setting up a space station in the moon’s orbit — both of which will come in handy when sending humans to Mars.
  • Fistful of firsts: The 42-day Artemis 1 mission will also carry the Orion spacecraft that is expected to set a record for the farthest any spacecraft carrying a crew has travelled. While this mission is unmanned, it will however carry three mannequins, including one — nicknamed Helga — designed to test the impact of radiation on soft tissues in women, such as lungs, stomach, uterus and bone marrow. The Orion is also expected to set a record for the fastest re-entry of any space capsule with a speed of 6.8 miles per second (10.9 km per second), with temperatures soaring upto 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,760 degrees Celsius).
6. Central agency to probe Sonali Phogat case?
6. Central agency to probe Sonali Phogat case?
  • Goa CM Pramod Sawant on Sunday said the case of death of Haryana BJP leader Sonali Phogat will be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
  • Why: Sawant said his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar urged him to transfer the case to the federal agency.
  • The death: Phogat (43), a former Tik Tok star from Hisar in Haryana, was brought dead to a hospital in North Goa August 23, a day after arrival in the coastal state.
  • Five held: The Goa police have so far arrested five people in this connection. The accused include two associates of Phogat – Sudhir Sangwan and Sukhwinder Singh — who have been charged with murder and remanded in 10-day police custody.
  • Fresh twist: Another accused Edwin Nunes’ lawyer on Sunday claimed his client didn’t own the Curlies restaurant in North Goa where Phogat and two of her male companions had partied hours before her death.
7. Why IMF needs to bail out Pakistan…again
7. Why IMF needs to bail out Pakistan…again
  • The criticality: The executive board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will meet today to decide on whether to give Pakistan its much needed $1.2 billion in loans or not, as the country totters on the brink of an economic collapse. The loan is much needed for a country whose currency lost over 33% in value against the US dollar this year, touching a new low of Pakistani Rupees (PKR) 232.93 against the dollar last month along with 25% inflation.
  • Empty coffers? Pakistan, which has banned imports of more than 36 “non-essential” and “luxury items” — which includes canned fish, jams and jellies, with Pakistan’s minister of planning and development Ahsan Iqbal infamously calling on people to drink less tea — has about $8 billion in forex reserves, just enough to cover a few weeks worth of imports. For the record, in 2021-22, Pakistanis drank $400 million worth of tea — the country being the world’s biggest tea importer.
  • The need: Pakistan, over 80% of whose GDP comprises foreign debt, is also equally desperate for the release of the IMF loan as the release of nearly $12 billion in loans from countries like China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE is dependent on the IMF’s decision today. Among the world’s most bailed-out countries, this will be Pakistan’s 23rd loan from the IMF — assuming it comes through — since 1950, the year the country joined the multinational lending institution.
  • Best interests: For both the US — the IMF’s biggest donor — and China, Pakistan’s economic failure represents a dreadful scenario, one both nations had rather avoid. While Washington would certainly not want a failed nuclear-armed nation on the border of Afghanistan — where the Taliban administration is known to be inimical to US interests — for Beijing, an economic collapse of Islamabad will throw into peril its $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), part of China’s global infrastructure project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • Troubles compounded: Pakistan is also facing a destructive monsoon, which has claimed 1,033 lives since June — 119 of whom died in the last 24 hours, according to the country’s National Disaster Management Authority — prompting PM Shehbaz Sharif to seek international help as over 3.3 crore people have been displaced due to the flooding caused by the rains, with Balochistan and Sindh the worst affected regions in the country.
8. Two CMs and a Twitter spat
8. Two CMs and a Twitter spat
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday took a dig at his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma and said if schools in the northeastern state were “not good” then “we can together fix them”, prolonging the Twitter spat between the two leaders.

Closure of schools

  • The argument between the two leaders in the virtual space began after Kejriwal had on Wednesday tweeted that the BJP-led Assam government’s decision to shut down (worst-performing) schools is not a solution and there is a need to open more schools across the country.

Sarma’s remark

  • On Sunday, Sarma took to Twitter to ask Kejriwal had he not promised to make Delhi on par with London and Paris. “When you couldn’t do anything, you started comparing Delhi with small states of the Northeast. Trust me, if BJP comes to power in Delhi, it will make it the most prosperous city in the world,” he wrote in Hindi.
  • In another tweet, Sarma said Kejriwal was showing a desire to visit Assam, but “I feel sad and regretful that you don’t feel such a desire when Assam struggles with massive calamities like flood”.
  • Both Kejriwal and Sarma have exchanged several virtual verbal volleys in the past four days.
9. US wants to keep the Taiwan pot boiling?
9. US wants to keep the Taiwan pot boiling?
  • The US Navy sailed two warships through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, in the first such transit publicised since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the self-governing island earlier in August, at a time when tensions have kept the waterway particularly busy.
  • What: The USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville are conducting a routine transit, the US 7th Fleet said. China views the island as part of its national territory and opposes any visits by foreign governments as recognising Taiwan as its own state.
  • Where: The cruisers “transited through a corridor in the Strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal state”, the statement said. The 160 kilometre-wide strait divides Taiwan from China.
  • Under watch: China said it tracked the movement of the ships. “Troops of the (Eastern) Theatre Command are on high alert and ready to foil any provocation at any time,” said senior Col. Shi Yi, spokesperson for the People Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command.
  • China’s drills: The PLA has sent many warships sailing in the Taiwan Strait and waters surrounding the island since Pelosi’s visit. It has also sent warplanes and fired long-range missiles.
Answer to NEWS IN CLUES
Answer to NEWS IN CLUES

Rahul Dravid. The head coach of the Indian men’s cricket team tested negative for Covid-19 and joined the team ahead of its opening Asia Cup clash against Pakistan on Sunday, which India won by 5 wickets. Dravid, who scored 10 90s in his Test career, has taken 210 catches in his Test career and plates 120 consecutive ODI innings without scoring a zero.

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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Tejeesh Nippun Singh, Jayanta Kalita, Prabhash K Dutta
Research: Rajesh Sharma

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