After Rumours of Mathura & Ayodhya, Yogi Home Safe in Gorakhpur; Birju Maharaj and Saoli Mitra dead
Assemblies rival Parliament for work days lost, forest surveys dubious, for women, work begins and often ends at home, song battle breaks out about what’s up in UP, pandemic singles prefer ‘dry dates’
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
January 17, 2021
Gregory Stanton, president of Genocide Watch, a former US diplomat who predicted the Rwandan genocide of 1994, has issued a heads-up for India. Discussing the implications of the Haridwar Dharam Sansad and the lack of legal action by the government, he recalled that the events in Rwanda had happened with the full awareness of its leader ― exactly like it’s happening in India. “Genocide begins with words, with incitements like this. If you are serious about maintaining law and order, then you have to get serious about these men and women,” Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde has said about hate assemblies. After The Economist, CNN asks: “India’s Hindu extremists are calling for genocide against Muslims. Why is little being done to stop them?”
“I am confident that our military character, built on secular credentials…” said Army Chief General MM Naravane on Army Day, Friday. Completely routine, but we have reached a point in India when an Army Chief who speaks of secularism attracts attention.
The wealth of India’s richest families soared during the pandemic in 2021, while the incomes of 84% of households declined, reports Oxfam India in ‘Inequality Kills’. The richest 98 Indians own as much as the bottom 552 million, it says. The average wealth of the top 100 families is Rs 5.7 trillion and a 4% tax on the wealth of just 98 billionaires can fund the midday meal programme for 17 years. A 1% wealth tax would pay for all of school education, or fund Ayushman Bharat for over seven years.
At the request of Punjab, the Election Commission has pushed back the Assembly election date from February 14 to February 20.
Yesterday, Kathmandu asked New Delhi to refrain from “unilateral construction” in what it claimed to be Nepalese territory, as PM Modi’s promise to upgrade a border road ratcheted up the territorial row yet again. PM Sher Bahadur Deuba’s government re-asserted Kathmandu’s claim on Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani on the border.
Techarc, which tracks the market share of Indian vs Chinese mobile brands, says that the share of the former has fallen from 68% in 2015 to just 1% in 2021. In the same period, the Chinese brands’ volume share rose from 32% to a staggering 99% in 2021.
The Assam Rifles have “temporarily suspended” counterinsurgency operations in the Mon district of Nagaland following the uproar over the killing of 14 civilians by the Special Forces. Officials in Nagaland told The Telegraph that the operations could remain suspended till the inquiry is complete.
Playing it super safe, UP CM Adityanath will after all contest the Assembly elections from Gorakhpur, which the BJP has not lost since 1989, barring 2002, when a Hindu Mahasabha candidate supported by Adityanath won. The BJP hopes that Adityanath’s presence in Gorakhpur could give it a leg up in eastern UP, where it faces a tough challenge from the SP. But it could also give the SP ammunition to target Adityanath as party supporters themselves put out stories about Yogi fighting from Ayodhya or Mathura ― is he afraid of losing elsewhere? There are tremors in Uttarakhand too. Harak Singh Rawat, a minister in the State cabinet, once praised by Modi for disaster relief, has said he will join Congress without any conditions and work for its victory in the Assembly elections.
BJP’s Ravi Kishan had sung a paean to UP. A Bhojpuri singer has joined battle with a tell-all. What’s up in UP?
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), which has been mum about videos of young children being taught to wield swords and exposed to hateful sermons, has asked the UP government to probe Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband’s website for allegedly publishing “unlawful and misleading” fatwas. The apex child rights body has asked the state’s chief secretary to block access until the content is removed. The NCPCR is acting on a complaint.
India lags far behind the rest of the world in vaccination status. Deutsche Welle TV focuses on the Magh Mela as a possible event of concern. Pilgrims have been allowed to gather for a festival, despite a huge jump in infections. Last year’s festival was a ‘superspreader’ event.
The Union government has informed the Delhi High Court that marital rape cannot be criminalised until the Centre’s consultation with all stakeholders is complete.
Madurai MP Su Venkatesan has questioned a notification of Prasar Bharati that prescribed knowledge of Hindi as the “desirable qualification” for multimedia journalists to be recruited for Doordarshan Kendra and All India Radio in Tamil Nadu. He wants it dropped.
The death of Saoli Mitra brings down the curtain on an era of political theatre in West Bengal, where the stage remains as powerful as the screen. Daughter of influential theatre personalities Sombhu and Tripti Mitra, she mentored generations of actors and will be best remembered for her play Naathabati Anathbat, which she wrote, directed and acted in.
Legendary Kathak dancer Birju Maharaj died at home in New Delhi in the early hours today, his granddaughter said. Maharaj-ji, as he was popularly known, would have been 84 next month. The Kathak exponent, one of India’s best-known artistes, had been suffering from a kidney ailment.
A blueprint based on ‘sacred geometry’ was designed to build Auroville, a perfect city of unity in Tamil Nadu. But 50 years on, the Galaxy Plan has created anger and division, with bulldozers, violence and politics in the mix, reports The Guardian.
In badminton, Lakshya Sen has defeated reigning world champion Loh Kean Yew to win the men’s singles title of the India Open.
Authorities in the US have arrested and charged with hate crime a man who attacked an Indian-origin Sikh cabbie at JFK International Airport in New York, knocked off his turban and yelled at him: “Turbaned people, go back to your country.”
Singer-songwriter Palash Sen has put out a video message asking Virat Kohli to reconsider giving up his captaincy of the Indian Test team. He has added ‘Saurav da’ to the mix, asking him to set things right.