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Expresso Top National and International Headlines of the Week on 18 May 2024

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Expresso Top National and International Headlines of the Week on 18 May 2024 Transcript

In top national news: The caste polarisation between the Marathas and the OBCs (Other Backward Class) in the Marathwada region, so evident during the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, is detrimental to the state’s social fabric, said BJP leader and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. “The most disturbing aspect in the ongoing elections has been the caste conflict in parts of Marathwada. Such development does not augur well for the state. My worry is post-polls. Once the elections are held, it will set in process an analysis on who worked for whom. It would require greater vigilance in terms of law and order,” Fadnavis told The Indian Express and Loksatta during an interaction on Thursday.


More than halfway through the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress Wednesday announced a new poll promise — if voted to power, the INDIA bloc will give 10 kg free ration every month to the poor, doubling the BJP government’s 5 kg scheme. The Congress manifesto ahead of elections was silent on free ration, and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s announcement surprised many leaders in the party. Criticising the BJP for claiming credit for distributing free ration, Kharge said, “We brought the food security Act where anyone could go to court if it was stopped. You gave nothing, but still talk about feeding 80 crore people.”


Multiple government employees, including a Deputy Superintendent of Police and a Deputy Director in the Directorate of Health Services, are among 21 people arrested by Arunachal Pradesh in a crackdown on a child trafficking and prostitution ring operating in the state. Five minor girls — one aged 10, one aged 12, and three aged 15 — have been rescued by police from three different locations in and around state capital Itanagar over the course of the past 10 days. All five girls had been trafficked to Itangar from villages in Assam. Two of them — the 10-year-old and the 12-year-old — had been trafficked to Itanagar when they were only 8 years old, the police said.


The Infosys Science Foundation announced that it had reduced the age limit for nominations to under 40 years for the Infosys Prize in order to encourage more young talents to take up research. Further, the foundation has also created a separate prize category for Economics, which was earlier part of Social Sciences. From 2024, the six categories that the Infosys Prize will be awarded in are Economics, Engineering & Computer Science, Humanities & Social Sciences, Life Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, and Physical Sciences. The foundation has added a new direction to the Infosys Prize after 15 years and has awarded 92 researchers so far.


Shifting focus to international news: Britain’s food watchdog has applied extra control measures on all spice imports from India, becoming the first to ramp up scrutiny of all Indian spices after contamination allegations against two brands sparked concerns among global food regulators. Hong Kong last month suspended sales of three spice blends produced by MDH and one by Everest, saying they contained high levels of a cancer-causing pesticide ethylene oxide. Singapore also ordered a recall of the Everest mix, and New Zealand, the United States, India and Australia have since said they are looking into issues related to the two brands.


Japan and the United States on Wednesday signed an arrangement to jointly develop a new type of missile defence system as the allies seek to defend against the growing threat of hypersonic weapons, which are possessed by China and Russia and being tested by North Korea. The project was initially agreed between Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and US President Joe Biden at their summit in Washington last August. The Glide Sphere Interceptor is planned for deployment by the mid-2030s. Wednesday’s agreement determines the allocation of responsibility and decision-making process, a first major step in the project, Japanese defence ministry officials said. They hope to decide on Japanese contractors and start the development process by March 2025.


In news from the US: The Justice Department on Thursday formally moved to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug, a historic shift in generations of US drug policy. A proposed rule sent to the federal register recognises the medical uses of cannabis and acknowledges it has less potential for abuse than some of the nation’s most dangerous drugs. The plan approved by Attorney General Merrick Garland would not legalise marijuana outright for recreational use. The Drug Enforcement Administration will next take public comment on the proposal in a potentially lengthy process. If approved, the rule would move marijuana away from its current classification as a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin and LSD.


And lastly: France imposed an emergency in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia for at least 12 days, boosting security forces’ powers to quell deadly unrest in the archipelago where indigenous people have long sought independence. Armed clashes and other violence that erupted Monday following protests over voting reforms have left four people dead, including a gendarme, and injured more than 300, French authorities said. French military forces were being deployed to protect ports and airports, to free up police and security forces battling looting, arson and other violence, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal announced as the emergency measures kicked in at 8 p.m. Paris time on Thursday.

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