The First Forum is an initiative which focuses on covering the latest happenings in a brief format. This is in lieu with the importance of knowledge about current happenings in this fast changing world.
In the Eighth Edition of The First Forum we would be covering the following:
1. Politics
2. Society and Culture 
3. History


(By Ankita Punjani, Divyansh Gupta, Mehak Gupta)

Jammu and Kashmir panchayat elections postponed
The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Tuesday deferred the panchayat by-polls scheduled on March 5 for a few weeks citing security concerns raised by law enforcing agencies. Read MoreThe opposition parties People’s Democratic Party and National Conference told election officials that there can only be a level playing field when leaders are released from detention. However, authorities have cited “inputs from law enforcement agencies” for the reason of postponement. J&K Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shailendra Kumar on Tuesday issued a notification saying that the home department’s letter raised security concerns about panchayat elections based on credible inputs. The CEO informed that his office withdrew all the notifications regarding preparedness and schedule of elections announced earlier.

Intelligence block over Huawei: US diplomat
US’ ambassador to Germany has said that President Donald Trump had threatened to cut off intelligence-sharing with countries that dealt with Chinese tech firm Huawei. Read MoreWashington has been pressing allies to ban Huawei, one of the world’s largest tech firms, from next-generation 5G mobile data networks, saying it is a security risk. Ambassador Richard Grenell said that Trump had instructed him to make it clear that any nation who chooses to use an untrustworthy 5G vendor will jeopardise their ability to share intelligence and information at the highest level. A US indictment on Friday laid more criminal charges against Huawei related to theft of intellectual property, adding to earlier allegations.

Prashant Kishor launches ‘Baat Bihar Ki’ campaign, targets Nitish Kumar
Poll strategist Prashant Kishor on Tuesday launched the ‘Baat Bihar Ki’ campaign claiming he would work towards making Bihar one of the 10 best states in the country. Read MoreKishor’s political advocacy group I- PAC handled Narendra Modi’s Prime Ministerial campaign in 2014 Lok Sabha elections and Nitish Kumar’s chief ministerial candidature in Bihar in 2015. Later, I- PAC worked for Congress in Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. It also worked for Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh, Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi and Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal. Before I-PAC started working with Reddy’s YSR Congress, Kishor was inducted into JD(U) in September 2018 and made party’s national vice-president a month later.

Bhim Army’s Chandrashekhar Azad Denied Police Permission for Rally
The Mumbai Police on Tuesday denied permission to Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad to hold a rally in South Mumbai’s Azad Maidan on February 21, an official said. Read MoreThe police cited law and order to deny permission to Azad who was expected to lead the rally and speak on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) as well as on other issues. His outfit had held a march in New Delhi on Sunday to protest against a February 7 Supreme Court ruling which instructed that state governments were not bound to provide reservation in promotions in public services.

Election Commission Makes Fresh Push for Electoral Reforms
The Election Commission on Tuesday made a fresh push for electoral reforms with the government, including making paid news and false affidavits electoral offences. In a meeting with Legislative Secretary G Narayan Raju, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and fellow Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra also discussed linking of voters list or electoral roll with Aadhaar numbers to clean up duplicate entries. Read MoreIn a letter to the Law Ministry, the commission recently proposed that provisions of the Representation of the People Act be amended to allow EC to seek Aadhaar numbers of those applying to be voters and those who are already part of the electoral rolls, the poll panel explained. Accepting the proposal to give it legal backing to collect Aadhaar data, the Law Ministry is learnt to have asked the poll panel to ensure that the data is protected at multiple levels. The EC recently listed out steps to protect the data from possible leaks.

Guarantee Card a priority for Arvind Kejriwal Government
The ‘Kejriwal ka Guarantee Card’, released by Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal ahead of the Delhi Assembly polls is the top priority of the newly formed government. Read MoreJust a day after taking charge of the Departments, Kejriwal and his Cabinet have started working to ensure the 10 guarantees are provided to the people. Kejriwal and his Cabinet took oath on Sunday and the top priorities of the Delhi government are the guarantees. It has already started to decide the plans for the implementation. Among the 10 guarantees promised in the guarantee card, reducing air pollution by three times is one of the guarantees.

Society and Culture

(By Shruti Jha, Nikunj Gulati, Kanika)

Trump will be the first US President to visit Sabarmati Ashram
Donald Trump will be the first President of the US to visit Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad on February 24. He will be accompanied by First lady Melania Trump. The Ashram is a place closely associated with India’s freedom struggle and it is also known as Gandhi Ashram. Read MoreIt is now managed by the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust. Ashram trustees Kartikeya Sarabhai and Amrut Modi said the American President, US First Lady and PM Narendra Modi would spend around 30 minutes at the Ashram. He will be gifted a spinning wheel, Gandhi’s autobiography and a book named ‘My Life My Message’. Moreover, Trump will reach the Ashram after a 22 km roadshow from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport along with PM Narendra Modi.

Permanent Commission for women in the Army
The Supreme Court has ordered that all women Army officers are now eligible for permanent commission in the Army. But now It has to implement the policy within the three months as the earlier case was first filed in Delhi High court by women officers in 2003 and had received a favorable order in 2010. Read MoreBut the order was never implemented and was challenged by the government in SC. The decision made by the court received tremendous attention in the domestic and international media by allowing women permanent commission, the court has demolished gender stereotypes. The SC also criticized the 2019 policy formulated by the Ministry of Defence and on this court said that “Denying permanent commission to women on the ground that they have over 14 years services is a travesty of justice. This policy must apply equally to all women officers, not in terms of years services.

Right to enter Temple not absolute – Center tells Supreme Court
The controversy over the age restrictions of women in Sabarimala Temple. The right of a person to enter a temple wasn’t unrestricted, the centre has said taking a significant stand on the Sabarimala dispute between ‘right’ and ‘tradition’.Read More “The right to enter a temple wasn’t an unrestricted right” and can be subjected to “restrictions by the trustees” of the temple, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta contended in the top court. There is a clash between fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Fundamental rights under Article 14 and 15 seem to be competing with those under Article 25 and 26. Supreme Court Lawyer Atul Kumar said,” If you go by pure jurisprudence then the right to religious freedom should take precedence over the right to equality”.

Global warming to increase violent crime in the United States
Researchers at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder said depending on how quickly temperatures rise, we could see two to three million more violent crimes between now and the end of the century, than there would be in a non-warming world. Read MoreWarmer winters appeared to be setting the stage for more violent crimes like assault and robbery, likely because less nasty weather created more opportunities for interactions between people leading to less incidents. Thus, we find with us another reason to stop global warming as efficiently as possible.

Centre set to increase creamy layer ceiling for OBC’s
A group of ministers headed by defence minister Rajnath Singh will upwardly revise the gross annual income limit of Rs 8 lakh fixed for defining the creamy layer among Other Backward Classes. Read MoreAt present, OBC are entitled to 27% reservation in higher educational institutions and public sector employment if the gross annual income of one’s household does not exceed Rs 8 lakh and they cannot avail such benefits of their income exceeds 8 lakh. Currently it is being planned to have a separate limit for rural and urban areas keeping in mind the income disparity among these areas. Although the move comes ahead of assembly elections in Bihar, where an estimated 41% of the population are OBCs, we cannot be sure as of now regarding how the things will proceed further.


(By Gunika Vij, Manraj Uppal, Somya Yadav)

Walmart gives another $5 Million to Smithsonian National Museum
For the second time in a row, the retail giant, Walmart, has granted a donation of $5 million to promote the diverse heritage of African American History and culture and make it more inclusive. The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, established in 2016, is the largest site in the nation which explores and showcases the African American story and its impact on American and world history. Read MoreThe museum runs various programs such as educational initiatives, visitor services exhibitions, scholar and research, and emerging technologies. The company invested the same amount in 2010 towards the infrastructural development of the place. This latest investment is to highlight the culture of the company which centres around diversity and inclusion, supported through both business and philanthropy channels.

Plymouth Rock vandalized ahead of 400th anniversary of Mayflower Landing
On President’s Day, the residents of Plymouth found the landmark Plymouth Rock and the entire town covered in red paint, just months before the celebration for the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s arrival. Read MoreThe statues, fiberglass sea scallops, art installations and a bench monument, were found soaked in spray paint. It was seen as an unfathomable and unconscionable attempt to deface the important elements and symbols in Plymouth’s history. The police force was set to find the person behind this task and the workers were made to clean up all the vandalism caused to the town. Large red letters were all over the boulder and the date 1620, which marked the year in which the Mayflower ship landed in the New World. This incident was seen as disrespectful and unsettling by the authorities and local people. 

Pathan’s invasion of Kashmir
India was in a highly unstable state in the aftermath of partition. The princely states had a choice between acceding to Pakistan or India. Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir expressed his desire to choose neither of the two options. His intention was to stay independent. Read MoreTo force his hand, Pakistan decided to acquire Kashmir by force. After sponsoring various rebellions in Kashmir in the months of August and September, Pakistan decided to send armed Pathans to capture Kashmir. This invasion began in early October but major attacks were only mounted after 22nd October. In a state of panic, the Maharaja sought military support from India. But he was told that this support would be conditional on him acceding to India. Therefore, the princely state of Kashmir officially acceded to India. The Indian army was able to stop the invasion but could not recapture the conquered part of Kashmir. This part is now known as Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

The Signing of SALT 1
In the late 60s, the cold war between USA and the Soviet Union was at its zenith. Both superpowers were relentlessly manufacturing nuclear weapons and were also developing strategic missiles to carry these weapons. However, this arms race was accompanied by the understanding that a nuclear war would hurt both the countries and their allies. Read MoreHence, both the superpowers decided to pursue arms control measures to limit their arsenals. Such measures, US and USSR felt, would lessen the chances of a full-scale war breaking out. This view culminated in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks of 1972 between President Richard Nixon and Premier Lenoid Brezhnev. Under the ambit of SALT, multiple agreements were made including the agreement to reduce production of missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

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