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News in Short

News in Short - 28-December-2020

Cold war era British Agent George Blake dies

Date: 28 December 2020 Tags: Obituaries
  • George Blake, a famous "mole" in British intelligence who spied for the Soviet KGB during the 1950s before fleeing to Russia, has died aged 98.
  • A former member of the Dutch resistance during World War II then an agent of the British foreign intelligence service MI6, Blake offered his services to the Soviets in the 1950s after witnessing US bombings against the civilian population during the Korean War.
  • He provided the names of hundreds of MI6 agents to the KGB and revealed the existence of a secret tunnel in East Berlin that was used to spy on the Soviets.

Chinese ships enter Japanese waters near Senkaku island

Date: 28 December 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous
  • Two Chinese ships have illegally entered the Japanese territorial waters near the disputed Senkaku Islands, according to Japan’s security service.
  • The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan’s territory, in terms of history and international law. It says there is no issue of sovereignty to be resolved over them.
  • Beijing’s rising assertiveness against counter claimants in the East and South Sea has resulted in unprecedented agreement across the Indo-Pacific.

Oxford vaccine set to get approval in India

Date: 28 December 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous
  • India is likely to approve Oxford/AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use by next week after its local manufacturer submitted additional data sought by authorities.
  • This could be the first country to give the regulatory green light for the British drugmaker’s vaccine as the British medicine regulator continues to examine data from the trials.
  • The AstraZeneca-Oxford shot is considered vital for lower-income countries and those in hot climates because it is cheaper, easier to transport and can be stored for long periods at normal fridge temperatures.
  • The expected approval comes after data from AstraZeneca’s late-stage trials in the UK and Brazil released earlier this month showed the vaccine had efficacy of 62% for trial participants given two full doses, but 90% for a smaller sub-group given a half, then a full dose.

Dance historian Sunil Kothari passes away

Date: 28 December 2020 Tags: Obituaries
  • Padma Shri dance historian and critic Sunil Kothari passed away in Delhi after suffering a cardiac arrest. He was 87.
  • Kothari authored more than 20 books on the subject of Indian dance forms including "Sattriya Dances of Assam", "New Directions in Indian Dance", and also on Bharatanatayam, Odissi, Chhau, Kathak, Kuchipudi, and Photo Biographies of Uday Shankar and Rukmini Devi Arundale.
  • The dance scholar held the Uday Shankar Chair in Rabindra Bharati University, and taught in the Dance Department of New York University as a Fulbright Professor.
  • Kothari received numerous titles and awards for his contribution to Indian dance forms including the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1995); the Gaurav Puraskar conferred by the Gujarat Sangeet Natak Akademi (2000); the Padma Shri bestowed by the Government of India (2001); and the Life Time Achievement Award of the Dance Critics Association, New York, USA (2011).

India to become fifth largest economy by 2025

Date: 28 December 2020 Tags: Reports & Indices
  • India will again overtake the U.K. to become the fifth-largest in 2025 and race to the third spot by 2030, according to a report by UK based think tank.
  • India had overtaken the U.K. in 2019 to become the fifth-largest economy. The U.K. appears to have overtaken India again during 2020 as a result of the weakness of the rupee.
  • The report forecast that the Indian economy would expand by 9% in 2021 and by 7% in 2022. Growth will naturally slow as India becomes more economically developed, with annual GDP growth expected to sink to 5.8% in 2035.
  • The report also forecast that China would overtake the U.S. to become the world’s biggest economy in 2028, five years earlier than estimated due to the contrasting recoveries of the two countries from the pandemic.