8.8 Lakh Quit India Since 2015; More Than Half Of UAPA Detainees Under 30
Fuel taxes only revenue boost, millers rooked govt and the poor, IIT Delhi develops rapid RT-PCR for Omicron, baggage handler flies to UAE in cargo hold, and there’s nothing official about black money
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 15, 2021
Some 8,81,254 Indians have given up their citizenship since 2015, the Home Ministry informed the Lok Sabha yesterday. The highest number, 1,44,2017, fled in 2019. While 1,31,489 Indians relinquished citizenship in 2015, the number was 1,41,603 in 2016, 1,33,049 in 2017, 1,34,561 in 2018 and 85,242 in 2020. Till September 30 this year, 1,11,287 Indians had already renounced their citizenship. Their flight powerfully illustrates the growing lack of public trust in Modinomics.
Asked about concerns about the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, US Ambassador-designate to India Eric Garcetti said: “Human rights would be a ‘core piece’ of my engagement with Indian government”. This should alarm the government, which is keen to showcase India-US bonhomie as part of a democratic compact. He added: “There are groups actively fighting for human rights of people on the ground in India, that will get direct engagement from me.” Garcetti was on the board of Human Rights Watch in California. The word ‘rights’ did not figure in PM Modi’s five-minute-eleven-second address at Biden’s democracy summit earlier this month.
“We should be thankful that the attackers chose Bitcoin as the subject of their tweets, not economic or military destruction,” writes Tim Colpan of Bloomberg about the dangers of Modi’s Twitter account being hacked ― the perpetrator could have declared a second demonetisation or an escalation against neighbours. The PMO has dismissed it with a one-line statement ― on Twitter, where else?
The government allowed millowners to fatten themselves on tonnes of pulses meant for the poor by turning an auction procedure on its head. The Reporters’ Collective’s examination of auction archives shows that Nafed, picks millers to process raw pulses for welfare schemes, has held over 1,000 auctions since 2018 without setting a floor price or a switch to prevent millers from hiding profits. They made Rs 4,600 crore in four years from milling over 5.4 lakh tonnes of raw pulses, hammering government coffers and the quality of the daal. States complained to the Centre about substandard daal provided for the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana during the Covid-19 lockdown. Some states rejected it as unfit for consumption.
The government admits that the only big boost to revenue came from punishing fuel taxes. The Finance Minister told Parliament that Rs 8.02 lakh crore was earned from fuel taxes in the past three fiscal years. Rs 3.71 lakh crore were collected in this financial year alone. Meanwhile, public sector banks have lost Rs 2.85 lakh crore as 13 big corporates defaulted on loans.
The wholesale inflation rate is at a worrying 30-year high of 14.2%. This spectacular achievement failed to make it to the front pages of most dailies.
The unsavoury scramble for the post of the next Chief of Defence Staff, following General Bipin Rawat’s demise, seems to have unnerved the government. A coordinated effort among retired generals was evident, perhaps driven by directions from above. A former top aide of NSA Ajit Doval tweeted in alarm.
The Home Ministry has told the Lok Sabha that 2,501 or 53.32% of the 4,690 people arrested in 2018-2020 under the draconian UAPA were below the age of 30. UP accounted for the highest number, 1,338 arrests in three years. Of this, 69.58% or 931 people were below the age of 30. Manipur came second in the list with 943 arrests under UAPA, out of which 499 or 52.91% were below the age of 30. In Jammu and Kashmir, the figure was 750 and 366 respectively.
Researchers at IIT Delhi have developed an RT-PCR test for detecting the Omicron variant of Covid-19 within 90 minutes, said officials, a significant improvement over sequencing-based methods which take over three days. The institute has filed an Indian patent application.
“I laughed and wondered if they even understood the herculean task ahead of them. Did they not know the Modi government’s approach towards any kind of dissent? And 380 days later, I am here at Singhu border and I look back at my cynicism, and laugh,” remembers Sandeep Singh, the journalist who reported the farmers’ movement live on social media.
Passengers of a private carrier bound for Tirupati yesterday were detoured to Bengaluru, allegedly because of a technical problem. The airlines allegedly demanded Rs 5,000 from each to let them disembark, but gave up after stiff resistance from the travellers, which included ruling YSR Congress MLA RK Roja.
An IndiGo loader fell asleep in the cargo compartment of the airline’s Mumbai-Abu Dhabi flight on Sunday, but arrived safely in the UAE. He was medically examined on landing by Abu Dhabi authorities and was found to be fit to fly back to Mumbai as a passenger on the same aircraft.