Adani the Biggest Beneficiary of India-Oz Trade Pact; Across South Asia, the People are in the Driving Seat, Except in India
Indo-US 2+2 dialogue, Vyapam whistleblower suspended and arrested, China building roads in Depsang, Ambedkar Jayanti is Equity Day in Colorado, Pune cops nix atheist meet, and have you read Ghaleeb?
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Snapshot of the day
April 11, 2022
A thread compiled by Fatima Khan of The Quint lists reports of provocation and violence from several parts of the country on Ram Navami ― including, surprisingly, in Siliguri. As usual, they are being reported as “clashes”, though one party is clearly the aggressor.
India and the US will hold their fourth annual ‘2+2’ Defence and Foreign Ministry dialogue later today in Washington, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine looming over the discussions. The last such meeting was in October 2020. The meeting slated for 2021 was deferred multiple times owing to scheduling conflicts, including with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to New Delhi in December 2021. “Obviously, [this week’s 2+2] could cover a range of topics, but we expect [the war in Ukraine ] to be a central one,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. In addition to meeting in the 2+2 format, the defence and foreign ministry principals will hold bilateral meetings today. PM Narendra Modi will hold a virtual interaction with US President Joe Biden before the 2+2 meeting. AP reports that the White House said President Biden will press Modi to take a hard line against Russia’s Ukraine invasion.
India’s proposed data localisation requirements “will serve as significant barriers to digital trade” between the two countries, says the US in its National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers, “especially for smaller firms”. If implemented, the rules will “raise the costs for service suppliers that store and process personal information outside India” by forcing them to construct unnecessary and redundant data centres here.
The CBI has denied media reports that sleuths from the US FBI are in India to probe the Karnataka Bitcoin scam, in which BJP politicians and police officials reportedly received digital kickbacks from a hacker arrested by the Bengaluru Central Crime Branch police in connection with a drug case in November 2020.
The India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement signed last week provides zero-duty access to more than 96% of Indian exports, and the biggest beneficiary is the Adani Group. Duty on coal, which constitutes two-thirds of Indian imports from Australia, has been reduced to zero. The Adani Group, which has survived years of opposition from environmentalists, is ready to export coal from its Carmichael mine in Queensland, Australia. The trade deal aims to double volumes from $27 billion to $50 billion in five years. To reach this target, India needs to import a lot of coal from Australia ― good news for Adani.
New Delhi is unlikely to publicly announce an agreement over payment mechanisms with Russia until there’s a ceasefire in Ukraine, given the threat of a strong US response to such a move. An inter-ministerial group headed by the Finance Ministry has been meeting regularly for over a month to discuss payment mechanisms. Apart from the rupee-ruble mechanism, linking the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) with the Bank of Russia’s Faster Payments System is contemplated.
The Indian Air Force has completed an inquiry into the accidental launching of a missile that landed in Pakistani territory on March 9. The report will be submitted to the government after internal review.
India has lost Rs 100 crore to bank fraud every day for seven years, said the RBI. That’s public money ― our money.
Passengers on a Delhi-Guwahati flight yesterday witnessed a heated argument between Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani and acting chief of the Mahila Congress Netta D’Souza over fuel price hikes. D’Souza filmed the interaction and shared it on Twitter: “Faced Smriti Iraniji on a Guwahati-bound flight. Listen to her answer on the rising price of LPG. Do watch the video and the truth of Modi government.” In the video, Irani skirts the issue altogether.
Though India racked up its highest ever agriculture exports – over $50 billion in FY22 – old faithful basmati rice seems to have fallen from favour. Provisional figures show that for three years, basmati exports have fallen in value terms. In 2021-22, India exported basmati worth $3.53 billion, the lowest since 2019-20. It is losing market share to Pakistan, its main rival.
Colorado will celebrate Dr Ambedkar’s birth anniversary this week on April 14 as Equity Day. The decision, “has brought cheer to Dalit groups and academics”. In his most forthright, political and pointed assertion on the subject, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has said in a seminar on the sidelines of the CPI(M)’s 23rd Party Congress that southern States must get together and resist attempts by Modi to throttle diversity in India until it boils down to “one person”. The Hindu has the essence of what he said.
The Vyapam scam whistleblower, Dr Anand Rai of Indore, was arrested in Delhi by the Bhopal Police on Thursday night, hours after he was suspended from the post of medical officer. Rai has sought a hearing in the Supreme Court today on his petition to the Supreme Court against the Madhya Pradesh High Court order dismissing his plea for quashing of the FIR and vacating its order granting him interim protection from arrest. Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant are to hear the case today.
The Supreme Court termed as “unfortunate” the “new trend” of governments maligning judges, if their rulings are not to their liking. “Whatever fight you may take … do not try to malign the courts. I am watching in this court also, it is a new trend,” the Chief Justice of India said.
Fahad Shah, founder and editor-in-chief of The Kashmir Walla, filed a plea at the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, challenging his detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA) since March.
Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sales slowed in the March quarter following a sharp rise in prices, especially of edible oils, retail Intelligence platform Bizom has said. Consumers are cutting back ― and more sharply in the cities.
Electoral watchdog ADR’s Jagdeep Chhokar has spoken on the opacity of electoral bonds and why his association filed a PIL against them in 2017, which is yet to be heard. How can keeping donors anonymous bring transparency to electoral and political financing, he asks.
The Competition Commission of India has found that Google’s monopoly, information asymmetry and lack of transparency violates the Competition Act, and imposes unfair conditions on news publishers.
The India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) Twitter handle, which has been seeing heavy traffic with the early onset of summer, was hijacked on Saturday by someone in the NFT business.
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