72 Top Posts in PSUs Vacant, Priming Them For Sale To Cronies; Post-Racial Society a Myth in UK Universities Due to Unconscious Bias
IMF warns of wave of sovereign defaults, no lowering age of consent, Nepal to release and deport ‘bikini killer’, chicken tikka masala inventor dies, BJP minister dons face shield to ink-proof himself
A newsletter from The Wire & Galileo Ideas | Contributors: MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia, Sushant Singh and Tanweer Alam | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
Snapshot of the day
December 22, 2022
Despite a year-long recruitment drive to hire faculty positions reserved for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes positions at IITs and central universities, only 30% of vacancies were filled, the Education Ministry has told Parliament. This year till September 5, 2022, 23 IITs and 45 central universities were directed to fill reserved teaching vacancies. Just 449 recruitments were made though there were 1,439 vacancies. Of the 45 central universities, 33 had 1,097 vacancies, of which just 212 were filled. And 18 of them had recruited no SC, ST or OBC teaching faculty at all.
India joined China and Russia in abstaining on a UN Security Council resolution on Myanmar that calls for an end to violence and release of political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi. It was the first UNSC resolution on Myanmar to be passed in 74 years; in 1948, the Council had recommended its admission to the UN.
Foreign portfolio investors have pulled out Rs 1.22 trillion ($16.58 billion) from the Indian stock market this year, the highest-ever outflows in a calendar year. FPIs turned net sellers in 2022 after being net buyers for three years. Sustained FPI outflows could increase pressure on markets. However, with FPI ownership of Indian equities at a multi-year low, the potential for incremental outflow is limited.
“It is only when we get back to the same labour force participation we saw before Covid that the economy will have truly recovered. That recovery would still leave us with deep employment problems: a workforce dominated by informal (over 80%) employment, the lowest female labour force participation ratio (at 21%, below even Saudi Arabia’s) of any country in the G20, and the lowest skilled workforce in the G20 (at 5%, compared with 96% in South Korea, 75% in Germany and 52% in the US). Overtaking Germany and Japan ― population 6% and 9% of ours ― will follow in a few years even if we continue muddling along,” writes Naushad Forbes.
“We heard late last night that there were some Indian vessels approaching the boat. We hope the Indian Navy or Coast Guard will manage to rescue and disembark the boat. These people have been adrift on a damaged boat for more than 2 weeks without food and water. We have heard that up to 16 may have already died,” said Lilianne Fan, chair of Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network’s Rohingya Working Group, of the boat with about 100 Rohingya, adrift in Indian waters off the Andamans. The Rohingya have been targets of a vicious hate campaign in India for years. They are mostly garbage scavengers, with no rights or status in the country.
“There are certain critical deficiencies like shortage of fighter squadrons and force multipliers which must be addressed on priority,” said the IAF chief this morning, in his inaugural address at the Subroto Mukherjee seminar. “The IAF needs to evolve into an aerospace power; there is a need to develop the capability to fight and win tomorrow’s wars.”
Stressing the importance India attaches to counter-terrorism, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar travelled to New York to preside over the December 15 UNSC meeting on ‘Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts’. He invited high level representatives — normally he would have sent invitations to his counterparts. The lukewarm response showed that while all major powers assert the importance of eliminating terrorism, they have really moved on to other issues,” reminds Vivek Katju.
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Days after Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud urged Parliament to address concerns about the age of consent under the POCSO Act, which criminalises consensual sex even in romantic relationships of under-18s, the Centre denied any process to reduce it to 16 years from 18. The question “does not arise”, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Z Irani told the Rajya Sabha.
Senior RJD MP Manoj K Jha urged Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar to remove from the record Union Minister Piyush Goyal’s “contemptuous and condescending remarks” on Bihar in the House: “Inka bas chale, toh desh ko Bihar hi bana de,” (if they have their way, they will turn the country into Bihar). Jha and Shiv Sena (Thackeray) MP Priyanka Chaturvedi immediately objected. His back to the wall, Goyal has now withdrawn his remarks.
A recent study published in the Elsevier journal Gene suggests that antibiotics effective against Helicobacter pylori in south India may not be as useful in the eastern regions. H pylori is a bacterium that can cause chronic gastritis and peptic ulcers, as well as gastric cancer in extreme cases. India has a high prevalence of infection and over 20 million people are estimated to suffer from peptic ulcers.
On Sunday, the Uttar Pradesh government announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with “Austin University in San Francisco, USA, to build a Knowledge Smart City at the cost of $42 billion (about Rs 35,000 crore)”. Official records from the US, reviewed by The Indian Express, show that the university’s approval to operate was revoked barely 10 days earlier. On Wednesday, UP’s Additional Chief Secretary Arvind Kumar clarified that the MoU was signed not with the university but “Austin Consulting Group”. The face behind the university and the group is the same: Ashraf Al Moustafa, who told The Indian Express that he is a US citizen of Egyptian royal descent. The incident lends credence to opposition allegations that phantom MOUs are being signed to create the impression that UP is a magnet for investment.
Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut has said, “Like China entered India, we will also go to Karnataka,” amid the state border dispute with neighbouring Karnataka. The Rajya Sabha MP said that there was a weak government in Maharashtra that was not taking a stand on the matter.
Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) chairperson Sonia Gandhi yesterday spoke of a calculated attempt to delegitimise the judiciary. She also attacked the Modi government for evading the India-China border issue in Parliament, which shows “disrespect to democracy and poorly reflected the government’s intentions”. Silence on matters of serious concern had become a defining feature of this government, she added.
Three cases of Omicron subvariant BF.7 have been detected in India, in Gujarat and Odisha. “The BF.7’s high transmissibility in China might be attributed to a low level of immunity in the Chinese population from the previous infection, and possibly vaccination too,” an official source said. BF.7 has developed in several countries, but spread rapidly only in China. Hindustan Times reports though that this particular variant has been in India since July this year. Why it is triggering concern only now is anybody’s guess.
IMF Chief Economist Indermit Gill has said in an interview that the existing framework for dealing with unsustainable debt burdens is no longer fit for the purpose and “needs to change”. He has called for an urgent overhaul, as the IMF warns of a coming wave of sovereign defaults by developing countries.
More than 100 million Netflix viewers watch the service using borrowed passwords. But the happy days are over: from early 2023 in the US and then elsewhere, Netflix will ask people to pay to share accounts. Markets like India, where people stream over cellular connections more than broadband, present a problem. It’s harder for Netflix to determine who lives in a household.
The IPL is now a $11 billion property. A valuation report by D&P Advisory states that the league has grown 75% this year to reach $10.9 billion. Last year, it was valued at $6.2 billion. The growth is largely driven by the price of the media rights, which were sold at $6.2 billion earlier this year, a three-fold jump over the previous five-year cycle in 2017.
At an event in Maharashtra, someone threw ink at BJP minister Chandrakant Patil. He had a journalist who recorded it on his phone arrested, then proceeded to another event nearby and arrived there wearing a face shield. Rumour has it that the minister was told by the police that he could be attacked again.
Ali Ahmed Aslam, a Scottish curry chef credited with inventing Britain’s chicken tikka masala, has died, reports The Times (London). Aslam said he had invented the dish during the 1970s after one customer complained about the dryness of his meat. Known to friends and customers as “Mr Ali”, he was born in Pakistan but moved with his family to Glasgow. He opened his Shish Mahal restaurant in 1964 and “created a sauce using spices and a tin of Heinz tomato soup which he had bought to eat while recovering from a stomach ulcer.”