80% Indians Drink Water Laced With Toxic Metals; Cheery Lifter Jeremy Wears Heart on Sleeve, Story on Arm
Collegium ‘tense’ about CJI succession, ‘piecemeal’ extensions of ED chief questioned, Amit Shah's latest chronology, Owaisi attackers welcomed home, Railways' Sahyog booths encounter Tamil resistance
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Snapshot of the day
August 3, 2022
Chief Justice of India NV Ramana’s term ends on August 26, but it transpires that the government is yet to ask him about his successor. Also, there are reports that a meeting yesterday of the Supreme Court Collegium was “tense” and went on for 75 minutes with judges failing to agree on nominating names. There is a view that judges may be reluctant to see all positions filled just yet, and want to give the successor Chief Justice a say with more names. The Collegium will meet again this evening.
The opposition has pulled together despite recent dissonance to jointly condemn the Supreme Court’s controversial judgment upholding the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Lawyer Nitya Ramakrishnan explains precisely what is wrong with the court’s ruling, calling it a blow for ‘undue process’.
The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha has extended its support to Margaret Alva for the vice-presidential election. And West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has inducted Babul Supriyo, the former BJP minister who switched to the Trinamool Congress, in her cabinet today.
Under public scrutiny, the Union government has quietly withdrawn orders making Aadhaar compulsory for infants and children to receive rations. Only 23% of children aged five or less have Aadhaar.
Banks have written off loans worth about Rs 10 lakh crore in the last five financial years, the government told Parliament yesterday. It was Rs 1,57,096 crore in 2021-22 and Rs 2,02,781 crore in the previous year. In 2019-20, the Rs 2,34,170 crore was written off, down from Rs 2,36,265 crore, the five-year high recorded in 2018-19. During 2017-18, the writeoff was Rs 1,61,328 crore. In all, bank loans worth Rs 9,91,640 crore have been written off in the last five years, from 2017-18 to 2021-22.
India’s trade deficit ballooned to a record high in July as elevated commodity prices and the depreciating rupee inflated the import bill. The exim gap widened to $31.02 billion in July from $26.18 billion in June. The trade deficit was at a record high in June before the latest figures for July were released. That’s after the government raised the import duty on gold last month to discourage buyers in the world’s second-largest gold market, to rein in the yawning trade deficit.
The Supreme Court yesterday issued notice and called for the government’s response on petitions challenging the “piecemeal” tenure extensions given to Enforcement Directorate Director Sanjay Kumar Mishra. The post is enormously important after the apex court gave the agency carte blanche. Appearing before a bench led by CJI NV Ramana, the petitioners questioned the legality of amendments made to the Central Vigilance Commission Act via an ordinance in November last year. Promulgated within days of a Supreme Court order barring further extensions to Mishra, this ordinance allows extensions of up to five years for the ED Director.
Overall household spending has increased for 61% of families in July, consumer data intelligence company Axis My India has found. While spending on essentials like personal care and household items has increased for 45% of families, consumption of health-related items has increased for 38% in July.
Government data presented in Parliament shows that more than 80% of Indians are likely to be drinking ‘poisonous water’. The data presented says that most districts of almost all states have groundwater overloaded with toxic metals and metalloids. In some parts of 209 districts of 25 states, there’s over 0.01 mg arsenic per litre of groundwater. In some parts of 491 districts of 29 states, iron in groundwater is more than 1 mg per litre. In some parts of 29 districts of 11 states, cadmium in groundwater has been found to be more than 0.003 mg per litre. In some parts of 62 districts of 16 states, there’s more than 0.05 mg of chromium per litre of groundwater. More than 0.03 mg per litre of uranium has been found in groundwater in 152 districts in 18 states.
Sri Lanka yesterday brushed aside Indian concerns about a scheduled visit by a Chinese ship, saying it is coming only to refuel and replenish supplies. The research and survey ship Yuan Wang 5 is due to dock in the Chinese-run Hambantota Port in southern Sri Lanka on August 11, reports AFP. New Delhi fears the vessel would be used to spy on its activities and it had lodged a complaint with Colombo. A Sri Lankan government spokesman said that the cabinet discussed the ship’s visit on Monday and it would still be allowed to dock. A minister told the same press conference that Chinese research vessels had visited Sri Lankan ports 18 times already, and that the Yuan Wang 5 was stopping “only for bunkering”.
Investors are worried that India’s IT outsourcing juggernaut is slowing down, reports the Financial Times. Shares in Tata Consultancy Services, the back office group that is the country’s second-biggest company by market capitalisation, have fallen 14% this year, compared with 6% for the benchmark Nifty 50. Rival Infosys had tumbled 20% before reporting strong results in July. This year, Nomura says, a slowdown in growth for Indian IT services is “likely sooner than expected”. It forecasts “tough days ahead for tech spending”. JP Morgan deemed the industry’s “peak sector growth behind [it]”.
Bahutva Karnataka, a forum for justice, harmony and solidarity, held a press conference regarding the murder of three youths in Dakshina Kannada. The forum held the Basavaraj Bommai government and his council of ministers responsible for the state of affairs in Karnataka. They demanded an apology from Chief Minister Bommai for his comment on the ‘UP Model’, and action against Information and Technology Minister CN Ashwath Narayan for advocating encounter raj.
The ruling BJP in Meghalaya said Governor Satya Pal Malik had promised an “independent” probe into the case of its arrested state vice president Bernard Marak. The police had accused the militant turned politician of running a “brothel” at his farmhouse at Tura in West Garo Hills district. The BJP sniffed the hand of its ally National People’s Party (NPP) in the events leading up to Marak’s arrest. The BJP and the NPP, which Sangma heads, are constituents of the state’s coalition government.
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The Railway Ministry’s recent instructions to all Zonal Railways to modify the nomenclature of enquiry (cum information) booth/counter to ‘SAHYOG’ has been condemned by Madurai MP Su Venkatesan. On Tuesday, he tweeted: “I strongly condemn these orders passed by Hindi fanatics.” He mentioned that apart from practical difficulties, this decision is a contravention of the Official Language Implementation Rules, 1976.
The appointment of Sriram Venkitaraman, an accused in the death of journalist PK Basheer, as Alappuzha District Collector, had elicited protests from many groups. But a recent demonstration across the state by certain Muslim groups was given a communal colour by several right wing handles ― Hindu and Christian ― on social media. The protest was specifically against Sriram’s appointment. Basheer had parked his bike on the road on the night of August 4, 2019, and Sriram’s car rammed into it, killing him. What triggered anger against the young IAS officer, who was once hailed for his bravery in ousting encroachers in Munnar, was that he was accused of being drunk, tried to escape the accident scene and would not give a blood sample for hours.
Watch this short, biting film on safai karamcharis. The government is not really moving to enforce an absolute ban on manual scavenging.
And Amit Shah of “chronology” fame offers up another timeless jewel:
Chinese being deported for visa violation
Eighty-one Chinese nationals were given ‘Leave India’ notices and 117 others were deported for violating visa conditions and other illegal acts between 2019
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