After Atiq Killing, SC Finally Questions Yogi’s Encounter Raj; Headline-Hunting, Diversion of Safety Funds Hurting Indian Railways
Sarva Dharma prayer stopped in Gandhi school, Hindutva Watch in govt sights, SC wants TV channels to pay for sins, plea now filed for Mathura 'survey', Ashoka prof resigns, why AI is racist, sexist
A newsletter from The Wire | Founded by MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sushant Singh, Sidharth Bhatia and Tanweer Alam | With inputs from Kalrav Joshi and Anirudh SK | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
Snapshot of the day
August 14, 2023
The takeover of Gandhian institutions is on course. At the Gujarat Vidyapeeth 10 days ago, a Hindi teacher prevented students from offering the Sarva Dharma Prarthana, the syncretic prayer which has been a tradition ever since Mahatma Gandhi founded the institution. Girl students were publicly insulted and responded with a black-ribbon protest. “The project of taking over Gandhian institutes all over the country is a mission accomplished. From the demolition of Sarv Seva Sangh at Varanasi to conferring the Gandhi Peace Prize on the Gita Press, the scheme was very well thought out,” writes Mehul Devkala in The Telegraph.
The RBI has selected McKinsey and Accenture to develop systems employing artificial intelligence and machine learning to augment regulation and analysis from its gigantic financial database. The contract will be worth Rs 92 crore, reports PTI.
Expressing its displeasure at the relatively puny fines TV channels which fall foul of their own guidelines have to pay, the Supreme Court said penalties imposed against TV channels should be ‘proportionate to the profits’ they make from offending programmes and that a fine of one lakh rupees is ‘ineffective’. “We don't want to impose pre-censorship or post-censorship on the media,” said Chief Justice DY Chandrachud. “But the self regulatory mechanism has to be effective… While we appreciate the fact that there has to be self regulation, that has to be the principle – that self regulatory body must be effective.”
He added,"This court has to consider whether steps taken to frame the self regulatory mechanism need to be strengthened with regard to framework and final orders to be passed."
Now that the Supreme Court allowed a ‘scientific survey’ of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi to be conducted – as demanded by Hindu plaintiffs who want the Muslim place of worship turned into a temple – a petition has been filed seeking a similar survey of Mathura’s Eidgah. Hindutva groups have long been campaigning for the two Muslim places of worship in Varanasi and Mathura to be handed over to them on the grounds that they were both built after a pre-existing temple was demolished centuries ago. Though an act of parliament prohibits changing the character of places of worship as they existed on August 15, 1947, these ‘surveys’ are being seen as preludes for a replay of what eventually happened in Ayodhya, where a Ram temple is coming up where the Babri Masjid once stood until its illegal demolition in 1992.
The Manipur government has ordered all police and administrative personnel, who are divided on ethnic lines, to quit groups on social media. The Commissioner (Home) says that several social media groups are “engaged in furthering separatist, anti-national, anti-State, anti-social, communal and divisive agendas”.
The Manipur High Court has told the state government to find ways to restore mobile internet services in the state, perhaps “by whitelisting mobile numbers on a case to case basis and in a phase-wise manner,” reports EastMojo.
Meitei and Tamil properties were targeted in the border checkpost town of Moreh in Tengnoupal district when violence broke out in Manipur on May 3. In the confusion, Meitei people fled into the jungles of Myanmar and are now stranded there, reports The Hindu. The government has brought back only a few, and the resources of the 230 living in the jungle for 100 days are running out. Moreh is on Asian Highway 1, which runs from Tokyo to Istanbul, and on to Lisbon. In India, much of its length is covered by the Grand Trunk Road. Moreh is important for India’s Look East policy. For now, perhaps India needs to look inwards.
Naga People’s Front MP Lorho S Pfoze has revealed that he was dissuaded from speaking on Manipur by friends ― especially from the BJP ― during the no-confidence motion because Union Home Minister Amit Shah would be speaking extensively. Elected from Outer Manipur, he represents both Kuki-Zo and Meitei voters. In Manipur itself, eight out of the state’s 10 Naga MLAs say they are opposed to the Kuki demand for a ‘separate administration’.
Doctors in Manipur have been coming to terms with professional skills that are out of syllabus, like dealing with gunshot wounds and a slew of psychological problems brought on by trauma.
Concerning the violence in Manipur, Kuldeep Singh Shekhawat, President of Overseas Friends of BJP told BBC Newsnight, “If ... something happens in say Scotland, is Rishi, our prime minister here, responsible for that?” PM Sunak is indeed responsible for the state’s response. What are the BJP’s friends thinking?
Today, on the eve of India’s Independence Day, India and China are to hold their 19th round of talks on the standoff, at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point, on the Indian side. According to the Tribune, the talks have been scheduled after almost four months. The last, held on April 23, ended in a stalemate. The Indian delegation is likely to be headed by Lt Gen Rashim Bali, Commander of the 14 Corps at Leh, while the Chinese side is led by the commander of the South Xinjiang Military District.
The Delhi High Court has stayed income tax reassessment proceedings against Oxfam India, which says that the government did not share its survey report, and that its action is barred by the statute of limitations. The matter will be heard next on November 22.
India is considering joining the trade pillar of the 14-member US-led Indo Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). It has joined the other three but stayed out of trade because of implications for digital, the environment, labour and agriculture. “The IPEF framework is structured around the four pillars of trade, supply chains, clean energy and tax & anti-corruption, but there are no provisions for tariff cuts on goods,” reports Hindu Business Line. The next IPEF negotiations will be in Bangkok on September 10-16.
The ‘Hindu’ Mahapanchayat in Palwal, Haryana, decided that though a Hindu procession had triggered the violence in Nuh, it would resume on August 28. It also wants the investigation to be handed over to the National Investigation Agency, and for the state to be more enthusiastic about granting firearms licences to Hindus.
New high school textbooks of history, political science, sociology and economics in Kerala retain portions that were recently deleted by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), including those pertaining to the Mughal Empire. The history of hunger and famine in the region are also explored, along with the Global Hunger Index, on which India stands at the 107th place among 121 nations, to the irritation of the government.
To strengthen its credentials, NCERT has included Sanjeev Sanyal, Sudha Murthy and singer Shankar Mahadevan in a committee to finalise curricula, textbooks and learning material for classes 3-12. Its brief is to align curricula with the New Education Policy.
Sabyasachi Das of Ashoka University has resigned, The Wire has learned. The assistant professor of economics had found signs of possible electoral manipulation in the 2019 general elections, which brought the BJP back to power with an even better score, and the predictable backlash followed. When the university makes a formal statement, it will rekindle anxieties about academic freedom in India.
In New India, if the government keeps a judge out of the Supreme Court, it’s high commendation of their abilities and probity.
A room in a circuit house, a director and two clerks ― and no doctors, students or patients at all. This is the sum total of the AIIMS at Darbhanga, rashly announced in 2015 for electoral reasons. It isn’t alone ― there are similar ghost AIIMSes in West Bengal and Haryana, reports The Print.
Nepal is willing to start the bulk export of tomatoes to India over the long term to contain food inflation, provided it gets market access and facilities. Nepal tomatoes have been coming into India ever since prices surged, but mostly through unofficial channels (read smuggling). The outflow of 70,000-90,000 kg per day has caused shortages in Nepal, where the usual price of Rs 40-50 per kg soared to Rs 200-250, reports Mint.
Maharashtra has ordered a probe after 18 patients died in 24 hours at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial (CSMM) Hospital run by the Thane Municipal Corporation. Patients’ families say there is nothing to probe: the doctor-patient ratio is 1:100.
Before resigning as an auditor of Adani Ports, Deloitte had sought an independent external examination of the Hindenburg allegations, but the company said the allegations did not effect financial statements, and Deloitte’s reasons for quitting did not warrant such a move, reports Bloomberg. In a 163-page filing with stock exchanges relating to Deloitte Haskins & Sells’ resignation, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) said that Deloitte had indicated concern over the lack of a wider audit role as auditors of other listed Adani companies.
Four major rivers above the danger mark, eight districts facing floods and 75,000 people displaced ― the flood situation in Assam has deteriorated sharply. But in Arunachal Pradesh, anti-dam activist and advocate Ebo Mili was picked up by the police for staging a peaceful protest outside the banquet hall in Itanagar on Saturday, in which the state government and hydropower PSUs were signing contracts for 12 stalled hydel projects in the state. Dams could worsen the situation downriver, including in Assam.
A 26-year-old Indian national has been sentenced to more than 15 years in prison in the US by a federal court for his role in leading a major fraud scheme that targeted and threatened elderly victims across the US.
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