62% Indians Have Never Heard ‘Mann Ki Baat’; Can Rishi Sunak Keep Passing the Trevor Noah Test?
India second-biggest forex loser, bankers selling FDs door to door, Kharge assumes office, farmers announce march on Raj Bhavans, IPL auction may be in Turkey, people watch reels 45 mins a day
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Snapshot of the day
October 26, 2022
The Competition Commission of India has fined Google Rs 936.44 crore in the second antitrust penalty this month. It has found Google guilty of abusing its dominance to promote its payments app and in-app payment system.
Last week, the IMF spoke of India’s Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme as a logistical marvel. But a Business Standard analysis shows that the cash component under the scheme has reduced, favour of in-kind transfers. In-kind schemes accounted for only 10.8% of total benefits dispensed under DBT when they were introduced in 2017-18, but are 60% now. Nevertheless, the government claims that the DBT has led to savings worth Rs 2.23 trillion. Meanwhile, a study by Dvara-Haqdarshak conducted during the pandemic shows that six in 10 households have cash-out problems. Payment schedules were disrupted for nearly half of respondents ― for one in five, listed bank accounts and Aadhaar were impediments.
The Indian embassy in Kiev issued a fresh advisory yesterday: “In continuation of the advisory issued by the Embassy on October 19, all Indian citizens in Ukraine are advised to immediately leave Ukraine by available means. Some Indian nationals have already left Ukraine pursuant to earlier advisory.”
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) is likely to make a brief visit to India in mid-November, with the focus largely on the fallout of the Ukraine conflict ― energy security, bilateral trade and investments. There is no official confirmation from either country, but the crown prince is likely to stop in New Delhi for less than a day en route to the G20 Summit in Indonesia from November 15-16. On his last visit to India in February 2019, MBS had announced investment plans in energy, infrastructure, agriculture, mining and manufacturing, potentially worth over $100 billion.
The Biden administration has appointed senior foreign service officer Elizabeth Jones chargé d’affaires ad interim at the US Embassy in New Delhi. Jones, 74, who was the coordinator for Afghan relocation efforts, will take over from Patricia A Lacina, who took charge in September 2021. The Biden administration had in July 2021 announced the nomination of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as the next US Ambassador to India, but he awaits Senate confirmation.
Ananth Krishnan finds that the signs of Xi Jinping’s Congress are not encouraging, whether in the language used by the CCP or in the appointments announced. Former foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale writes that “Xi is steadily putting into place the ideological, constitutional and coercive instruments that will keep him in power for the foreseeable future. India will have to deal with him from a long-term perspective.”
India lost nearly $85 billion of forex reserves in the first half of the fiscal year, the second biggest depletion among major emerging markets. Forex reserves were $528.4 billion on October 14, the lowest since July 2020, and sharply down from the record $642.4 billion last year. The rupee has crashed more than 10% against the US dollar this year and crossed 83 for the first time last week. Depreciation may have cost India the most among major EM peers in forex depletion, next only to China, which lost $159 billion in reserves between April 1 and September 30. India is followed by Russia, with a decline of nearly $64 billion in the same period.
The listenership of PM’s ‘Mann ki Baat’ seems to have declined due to low radio use. A CSDS survey indicates that only 10% listen regularly to the programme, and an overwhelming 62% have never heard it at all. And to think that when it was launched, news reporters used to be tasked with distilling the essence of every episode, as if it were holy scripture.
Petroleum Ministry data shows that India’s crude oil imports have increased 1% in September 2022. The net import bill for oil and gas was $10.7 billion in September, and $9.4 billion in September 2021, while exports in the month were at $5.3 billion. The Indian basket crude price averaged $90.71 per barrel in September, as against $97.40 per barrel in August and $73.13 per barrel in September 2021.
Assam’s Goalpara district administration yesterday raised a controversy by sealing the privately promoted ‘Miya Museum’, just two days after it was inaugurated. The Miya Parishad had taken the initiative to showcase and preserve the culture of Bengali-speaking Muslims, but some saw it as a threat to indigenous culture. The BJP’s Dibrugarh MLA Prasanta Phukan had requested the state government to close the museum, while his party colleague and former Hojai legislator Shiladitya Dev called for action against the people behind it. Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told journalists that the police would probe the museum’s funding. He said the museum reflected the culture and heritage of all Assamese, and that all items showcased, barring the lungi, had been used by all. “They (migrant Muslims) have to prove to the state government, with historical backgrounds, that only they exclusively used the plough and not the Assamese,” Sarma said. Ironically, the museum’s curators say they also wanted to demonstrate that Miyahs are not all that different from the ‘mainstream’ Assamese in cultural terms.
‘Desi’ Muslims who have lived in Assam for generations were officially declared ‘indigenous’, and then they were asked to prove their citizenship. Over the last year, many Desi Muslims in Lower Assam have got legal notices in decades-old cases, requiring them to appear before foreigners’ tribunals.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha has called for marches on Raj Bhavans on November 26, 2022, to mark the second anniversary of the historic farmers’ struggle. It condemned changes being made by the Union government to the rules of the Forest Conservation Act. The SKM will also extend solidarity to Adivasi organisations on November 15, Birsa Munda’s birth anniversary. The SKM will meet next in Delhi on November 14.
Last month, Apple said it would manufacture the Apple 14 phone in India, in a bid to exit China. But now, demand is dropping. Apple Inc is cutting back production of iPhone 14 Plus and is increasing output of the more expensive iPhone 14 Pro due to lukewarm demand, market research firm TrendForce finds. The report also said that rising US interest rates could crimp consumer spending, undermining the demand for iPhones in the first quarter of 2023. This could lead to a 14% year-on-year drop in production to 52 million units.
Data hacked from Tata Power servers 10 days ago was leaked on the dark web early on Tuesday by Hive, a ransomware gang. On October 14, Tata Power reported the cyberattack to the Bombay Stock Exchange. It said all critical operational systems were functioning and it had “taken steps to retrieve and restore its systems.” On Tuesday, Hive claimed responsibility for the cyberattack and began to release the hacked data.
Calling an unknown girl an “item” and pulling her hair amounts to outraging her modesty, which is punishable under Section 354 of the IPC, a special court has held while sentencing a 25-year-old businessman from Mumbai to a year and a half in prison.
Popular Kerala band Thaikkudam Bridge has said that they will sue the makers of the Kannada film Kantara for allegedly plagiarising one of their songs. The band shared a post alleging that there are “unavoidable similarities” between Kantara's song ‘Varaha Roopam’ and the band’s ‘Navarasam’. Thaikkudam’s classic rock number, released in 2015, was a tribute to Kathakali and about the commercialisation of this art form, whereas ‘Varaha Roopam’ in Kantara features the beliefs and worship of Bhoota Aradhane in Dakshina Kannada.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is contemplating holding this year’s IPL auction overseas, most likely in Turkey. A final decision is expected in the first week of November, and regular venue Bengaluru is also being considered. However, the Istanbul option is currently the authorities’ first choice. With a new BCCI regime in place, new chairman Arun Singh Dhumal taking charge and a new broadcaster on board ― Viacom won the rights for the digital rights with Star retaining the linear property ― BCCI has offered the option of Turkey to franchise executives. As reported by Cricbuzz, the auction is tentatively scheduled for December 16.
ICC T20 Cricket World Cup tickets have been sold to residents in 82 countries. Australians booked the most ― 500,000 till October 22. Among the overseas markets, the UK is now at No 1 with 22,000 tickets, followed by India at 16,000 tickets.
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