"Miracle of democracy"?

Written by Scarlett Regan, Researcher

Edited by Iain Gibson, Associate Partner

Good morning,

What better moment to mispronounce the name of India’s most famous cricketer, than in India’s largest, brand new cricket stadium. The culprit? Why, Donald Trump, of course. The US president arrived in Gujarat yesterday, greeted by a crowd of 125,000 cheering, singing and dancing Indians, to kick-start his tour of the country over the next few days. India’s prime minister Narenda Modi gave him an extremely warm welcome, complete with a traditional bear hug. Compliments were exchanged incessantly between the two leaders. Modi hailed Trump as a “true friend of India”, and Trump returned the praise, commending Modi as “an exceptional man”, “father of India”. Trump applauded Modi’s policy achievements, such as every village in India now having access to electricity, and 600 million more people experiencing access to basic sanitation. Hailing India as a “miracle of democracy”, Trump announced that together they will be “making a very, very major – almost the biggest ever made – trade deal”. They are expected to announce new trade agreements and a $3 billion arms deal today. What he failed to mention, unsurprisingly, was the escalating tension in India triggered by Modi’s amendments to the citizenship laws. The New Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), introduced last year, allows fast-track citizenship for non-Muslim migrants. It is utterly discriminatory against Muslims, many of whom do not have the required documentation. Large detention centres are being built for those declared ineligible for citizenship. This law is disturbingly reminiscent of the Jim Crow anti-miscegenation laws. And India is meant to be the world’s biggest democracy. Hours before Trump arrived in India, three people – a policeman and two Muslims - were killed in Delhi amid protests about the controversial law. Modi is an extremely contentious leader, and this has been alarmingly underreported by media in the West. Modi’s party believes that India is a fundamentally Hindu state, they have deleted religious pluralism out of history textbooks, and introduced Indian supremacy into primary school textbooks. It seems that Trump has ulterior motives. Ahead of the American election, might Trump be securing votes from the affluent Indian-American population of four million, who traditionally vote Democrat? Might he be encouraging ties with India as a counterbalance to an increasingly dominant China? Trump needs to read the history books himself. He might learn that it was Mahatma Gandhi, acknowledged for decades to have been the ‘father of India’, who campaigned for a real democracy.


Harvey Weinstein has been found guilty of sexual assault, facing up to 29 years in prison. He has been convicted for sexually assaulting Miriam Haleyi, a production assistance, in 2006, and raping Jessica Mann, as aspiring actress, in 2013. The film producer’s conviction has been deemed a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement. Aged 68, he now faces an additional rape and sexual assault prosecution in Los Angeles.  A landmark review reveals that life expectancy has stalled for the first time in more than 100 years, and has reversed for the poorest women in society. It shows that the gap in health inequalities is widening more than it did a decade ago, as a result of income cuts and austerity. Sir Michael Marmot, the director of the UCL Institute of Health Equity, said that this “shocking” damage “need not have happened’.  Countries worst affected by the coronavirus outbreak are intensifying their methods to contain the virus. South Korean officials want to check 250,000 members of a sect for the coronavirus, whilst Italy has quarantined some of its northern towns. Yesterday, the World Health Organization said that the world should do more to prepare for a possible pandemic, as the number of cases globally rose above 80,000.  A car drove into a carnival crowd in the western German town of Volkmarsen yesterday afternoon. Thirty people were injured, some seriously. A 29-year-old German citizen has been arrested on suspicion of attempted homicide, and eyewitnesses said that the driver accelerated towards the crowd, appearing to target children. The suspect will later be brought before an investigating judge.

Business and economy

The chief executive of the Bank of England, Andy Haldane, has suggested Britain make “legislative change” to shift corporate governance rules. He advocates a focus on considering consumers, workers and social goals rather than solely shareholders. He also announced that Britain needs a “rethink” about its banking sector, suggesting regional banks could help to re-balance finance towards smaller businesses across the country.  One of Britain’s largest drug companies, Glaxosmithkline, has announced that it is partnering with a Chinese biotech company to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus. Their partnership with Clover Biopharmaceuticals, one of the largest “inhouse, commercial scale” biomanufacturing capabilities in China, could mean a relatively rapid production of a new vaccine. (£)  The UK’s biggest retailer, Tesco, is to sell plasters in a variety of skin tones in an effort to give a better reflection of racial diversity. Tesco’s health, beauty and wellness director said that she hopes this will be replicated by other retailers and supermarkets across the country.

Columns of note

In The Atlantic, Marina Koren writes an obituary of Katherine Johnson, after her death at age 101 yesterday. Katherine Johnson was an African American woman who worked for NASA for more than 30 years, providing complex calculations for the country’s most important missions. Koren notes that although Johnson’s talent is well documented now, such as in Margot Lee Shetterly’s book – and later film - Hidden Figures, her efforts went largely unrecognised in her lifetime. This piece is well worth a read, to discover Johnson’s role, working as a “computer” at the Langley Research Center, for the agency that would become NASA. (£)  In The Times, Hugo Rifkind argues that even though Julian Assange is ‘unlikeable for many reasons’, we should try to care about his fate. Assange, the Wikileaks founder, currently faces 18 charges, 17 of which relate to Wikileaks’ role as a publisher of classified US documents. Rifkind questions why the many newspapers and online publications who reported on the leaked US documents are not being targeted as well. “If we cannot bring ourselves even to care while it happens, then this is the biggest problem with Julian Assange of all”. (£)

Source: The Guardian


What happened yesterday?

A surge of new coronavirus cases outside China caused stock prices and bond yields to tumble, with European markets worst hit. The UK stocks had their worst day for five years, and Italy’s MIB index dropped 5.4 per cent, with the news of the seventh person dying in Italy from the virus and a quarantine across at least 10 towns. The Stoxx 600 fell 3.8 per cent, and the FTSE 100 finished 3.3 per cent lower, the sharpest drop since January 2016. Tourism was badly affected, with shares in easyJet falling 17 per cent and Ryanair tumbling 13 per cent. In contrast, the price of gold – considered less risky – hit its highest level in seven years, climbing two per cent. In the US, travel companies including American Airlines and Norweigan Cruise Line led the sell-off. The S&P 500 was down 3 per cent, and Nasdaq down 3.5 per cent, their worst figures since August.

What's happening today?

Finals Croda International Hammerson Meggitt Petrofac Romgaz S Synectics AGMs Image Scan Holdings Invesco Perpetual Enhanced Income Sage Group

Annual Report Tertiary Minerals UK economic announcements CBI Distributive Trades Surveys Int. economic announcements (7:00) Gross Domestic Product (GER) (14:00) House Price Index (US) (15:00) Consumer Confidence (US)

Source: Financial Times

Did you know?

Due to the spread of coronavirus, a Chinese AI firm had to develop new software to allow their facial recognition software to identify faces covered by masks.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons Oral questions Justice (Including Topical Questions) Opposition day debate Tax avoidance and evation Opposition day debate Social care House of Lords Oral questions Reinstating the war widows’ pension for those widows who were required to surrender that pension due to marriage or cohabitation – Baroness Crawley Oral questions Insulating existing housing in order to contribute to ending fuel poverty and achieving net zero carbon emissions – Lord Teverson Oral questions Review of security clearance policies for Afghan interpreters who have been relocated to the UK – Baroness Coussins Oral questions Compensation for households and local businesses that have been affected by flooding caused by recent storms and heavy rainfall – Lord Greaves Legislation Sentencing (Pre-consolidation Amendments) Bill – Committee stage – Lord Keen of Elie Legislation Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill – Committee and report stage – Baroness Barran Orders and regulations Electricity and Gas (Energy Company Obligation) (Amendment) Order 2019 – motion to regret – Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Scottish Parliament Topical Questions To ask the Scottish Government how the recently published analysis of SQA exam attainment will influence the remit of its review of secondary education. Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee Debate: Proposal for a Committee Bill – Assistance for Political Parties Stage 1 Debate: Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill Committee Announcements Business Motions