Article 370's End Did Not Bring Peace to J&K; In All Matters Debatable, Opposition Owned the Monsoon Session
Modi sees 1000-year raj, India ‘legacy emerging producer’ of fighters, first dollar-free UAE-India oil trade, Army on buying spree, Everest expedition fee hiked, govt pushing but not making khadi
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 15, 2023
Prime Minister Modi’s Independence Day speech was incredible, as always. For example, he praised Anaganwadi and ASHA workers for making 200 crore Covid vaccinations possible (Truth: underpaid and unprotected, they had threatened a national strike). Central funding to the states has more than trebled (Truth: states accuse Modi of undermining federalism). The Mudra Yojana has “provided opportunities for self-employment, businesses, and ventures for the youth of our country” (Truth: youth unemployment is a persistent crisis, and disappointed job-seekers are quitting the job market altogether. Most of his response to the no confidence motion was also about the youth). And finally, there were the mandatory jabs about dynastic politics and minority appeasement, a reminder that an election lies ahead. He also spoke of a 1,000 year horizon for the future. This kind of long-term vision didn’t end well for the last leader who spoke of it.
In the Indian Express, Harikrishan Sharma traces the evolution of PM Modi’s posture through his Independence Day speeches, from 2014, when he presented himself as a stranger at the gates of Delhi. And the ‘news’ agency ANI has a short clip of Modi walking an imaginary ramp before delivering his speech.
Rising vegetable prices sent up retail food inflation to 11.51% and propelled the Consumer Price Index inflation to a 15-month high of 7.44% in July, beyond the Reserve Bank of India’ comfort zone of 2-6%. This is the highest retail inflation since April 2022, when it was 7.79%, reports Business Standard. A year ago, when food inflation was only 6.69%, the CPI inflation was 6.71%. The rise is much higher than expected, and the RBI may be expected to intervene yet again. Mint has mapped fluctuations in inflation over the last year.
The Economic Times tracks the endless slide of the rupee, from under Rs 5 to the dollar after Independence to the low eighties, where it now flits about listlessly.
Five days ago, the government had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in which it claimed, on the basis of cherry-picked data, that Jammu and Kashmir has been witnessing an “unprecedented era of peace, progress and prosperity” after the reading down of Article 370. The Hindu does the due diligence and finds, for instance, that internet shutdowns have soared and that the incidence of terrorism-related deaths has increased in districts like Poonch and Rajouri. “The first half of 2023 has seen a dramatic shift, with these two districts recording around 50% of all such deaths, similar to the levels seen back in 2000 to 2003.”
Eight Naga MLAs have backed Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh’s plan to urge the Union government to disregard the Kukis’ demand for a separate administration. At the special session of the Assembly on August 21, Singh’s government is likely to forcefully seek to maintain the territorial integrity of the state.
But the United Naga Council, a powerful Naga tribal body in Manipur, has decried this decision, pointing out that their opposition to a separate Kuki administration is antithetical to the Nagas’ own long-standing demand for a separate administration for themselves.
While India’s tie-ups with the US for critical defence technologies help it to counter an assertive China, an American business interest lobby in India says that the border dispute is distracting India from investing in key areas like infrastructure and education.
A month after India and the UAE agreed to settle trades in their national currencies, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and Indian Oil Corporation Ltd have settled the sale of 1 million barrels of oil. This was the first trade under the Local Currency Settlement deal.
Shortly before the Indian government restricted the import of computers like laptops and servers, domestic production in the sector fell sharply, finds Moneycontrol. The output of optical, computer and electronic products was down by a third. The government announced the restrictions (though they were deferred following an outcry) before releasing the data.
As demand slows down in India’s major trading partners, including China and the US, the government is seeking to diversify both import and export geographically to spread the risk.
The apex court has granted protection from coercive action for two weeks to Hyderabad University professor Kham Khan Suan Hausing, who is accused of trying to defame the Meitei community in an interview he gave to Karan Thapar for The Wire. The complainant is a member of the Meitei Tribes Union, the same body that had secured the Manipur High Court’s nod to Scheduled Tribe status for the Meitei community, which had lit the spark.
Under the fourth tranche of Emergency Procurements, the Army has signed 49 contracts worth Rs 7,600 crore, and another 34 contracts worth as much are lined up, reports The Hindu. The purchases are for mobility and energy solutions, communication systems, individual protective equipment, drones and armaments and simulators. The forthcoming purchases are of niche technologies like logistic and nano drones, counter-drones, loitering munitions, UAV-launched precision guided missiles and automatic spectrum monitoring systems.
At the Etawah Lion Safari, three out of five cubs born to the lioness Sona have died. The distressing news, initially kept confidential, was confirmed by Mamta S Dubey, principal chief conservator of forests. Sona gave birth to the cubs in July 6-10, and only two survive. Experts from Gujarat have been called in to investigate because lionesses typically give birth in a span of 24-30 hours, not of five days.
Perhaps India’s oldest global brand is P Vencatachellum Condiments, founded in 1860 in Chennai by a Dalit family, which was to Madras curry powder what Cadbury’s is to milk chocolate. For at least a century, it was the provider of curry powders of choice to Buckingham Palace. And long after it was overtaken by other brands, it is still remembered fondly by the families of colonials from the US to Australia.
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