As Polls Near, Karnataka More Polarised Than UP; Over Half Of Adityanath’s Ministers Turncoats
Wang Yi visit hardened positions, states can declare Hindus minority, TB eradication target unrealistic, Google to be probed but not Aadhaar data ‘theft’ incident, War Minus the Shooting back in print
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
March 28, 2022
As the 2023 Assembly elections near, Karnataka is veering towards a new form of aparthied, and the government insists it’s legal. Deep social prejudices are being calcified into polarisation and the legal denial to some people of several fundamental rights ― to equality, to a livelihood. The Newsminute has this short film: “This didn’t happen even in UP,” say vendors spurned by Karnataka.
Bagalkot police arrested Kuthma Sheikh for wishing Pakistan well on their Republic Day. Her WhatsApp status on March 23 read, “Allah Har Mulk Me Ittehad, Aman, Sukoon ata farma Maula… Ameen” (“May God bless every nation with peace, unity and harmony.”) What is criminal about wishing neighbours well? The Karnataka government has made uniforms compulsory for students appearing for the SSLC (Secondary School Leaving Certificate) or Class 10 board exams beginning today, which will again disbar young Muslim women wearing the hijab in some schools.
Authorities in Bahrain have shut down an Indian restaurant for denying entry to a veiled woman. The Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority has begun an investigation into the matter. The alleged incident took place at the Lanterns restaurant in the capital Manama, and the manager who stopped the hijab-wearing patron is reportedly from Karnataka. He forgot his place.
Miss Universe 2021, Harnaaz Sandhu of Chandigarh, has appealed to society to stop targeting girls, especially on the issue of hijab: “Let them live the way they choose to, let her reach her destination, let her fly, those are her wings, don’t cut them. If you must, cut your own.”
But some images break the hate-filled maelstrom being whipped up by bigots. It’s a goal!
In a significant development on how religious minorities are to be defined, the Union government has told the Supreme Court that states where Hindus are in a minority can notify them as such, for the purposes of Articles 29 and 30. Its view was sought in a petition arguing for minority status for Hindus in Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab, Lakshadweep, Ladakh and Kashmir.
UP Governor Anandiben Patel has set a new record in partisanship. She has said that nobody can break the Modi-Yogi pair, and that the BJP retained power in UP with the support of a lot of people, including a large number of north Indians settled in Surat, Gujarat. Patel was the BJP chief minister of Gujarat before moving to Raj Bhavan in Lucknow.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi came, said his piece and left. Sushant Singh (a contributor to The India Cable) writes that “if Wang Yi’s visit was an attempt to cut that Gordian knot, it has only ended up hardening divergent positions on both sides.” Suhasini Haider has assessed the visit. The Financial Times has a report on how the spectre of “Indo-Pacific Nato” has accelerated “China’s decoupling from the West.” The report quotes Xi Jinping’s diplomats as saying: “The Indo-Pacific strategy is as dangerous as the Nato strategy of eastward expansion in Europe… If allowed to go unchecked, it would bring unimaginable consequences and ultimately push the Asia-Pacific [region] over the edge of an abyss.”
India and Russia may keep the rouble out of the proposed rupee-rouble trade, given its volatility following sanctions. Payments are likely to be settled in the rupee pegged to the dollar, and deposited in an Indian bank account, reports Business Standard.
Petrol prices were today hiked by 30 paise a litre, and diesel by 35 paise. This was the sixth increase in a week taking the total hike to Rs 4-4.10/ltr. Prices were frozen on November 4, courtesy Assembly elections in five states. A detailed analysis shows that since 2014, when crude prices crashed, the Centre upped the cess to keep prices high. When crude prices rose, customers had to pay more. Petrol cost in relation to a day’s wage was the highest in India among all countries reviewed, except Pakistan. IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva, speaking on rising fuel prices straining the poor disproportionately, has said: “When prices jump, the poor people cannot feed their families, they will be on the streets… One thing we know about trouble in one place: it travels, it doesn’t stay there.”
State-run oil marketers must hike petrol and diesel prices by Rs 22 and Rs 25 per litre for a margin of Rs 2.7 per litre, if a barrel of crude reaches $120, according to Hemang Khanna of Kotak Institutional Equities. In October 2014, excise duties on them were Rs 9.48 and Rs 3.56 per litre. By November, it was Rs 32.90 and Rs 31.80 per litre. On November 3, the duty was cut to Rs 27.90 and Rs 21.80 per litre, providing some relief. From the petroleum sector, the Union collects excise duties, income tax, dividends paid by oil companies to the central government, dividend distribution tax, customs duty, cess and royalty on crude oil. It was 1.38% of GDP in FY15, 2.3% in FY21 and has been 2.01% this year. This was primarily driven by the excise duty hike on petroleum products, up from 0.79% of GDP in FY15 to 1.88% in FY21. To curb inflation, the government must cut duties. Since it benefited from low crude prices from late 2014 by raising excise duties, it is only fair to cut back now, says Mint.
India’s industrial workers, employees, farmers and agricultural labourers are observing a two-day general strike today and tomorrow, under the slogan ‘Save People, Nation’. This is why.
The Indian economy appears to have struggled again in February, according to the latest update to Mint’s monthly macro tracker. Half of its 16 high-frequency indicators were in the red. Only three were in good health last month. Five were in the amber zone, in line with its five-year average trend. All India Radio deleted this tweet.
The National Tuberculosis Prevalence Survey, released by Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya last week, disagrees with the minister’s claim that India will end TB by 2025.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma says that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise should be carried out afresh in Assam, and the one already done should be reviewed. The BJP has moved the Supreme Court for re-verification of 20% applications in districts bordering Bangladesh and 10% in the rest of the districts. It’s like wanting to pick who stays in and who does not. When will the NRC be ‘acceptable’?
MBBS aspirants who had pinned their hopes on vacant NRI quota seats have been beaten by students with lower NEET scores “helped” by NRI sponsors. Overnight, 152 aspirants, many of them with ranks in six digits, submitted documents, including consular certificates confirming sponsorship by an Indian abroad. Aspirants with much higher scores, who were banking on the addition of vacant NRI seats to the relatively cheaper management quota — with fee differential is Rs 25-35 lakh — have been done in by a clause that allows for NRI sponsors. Careers 360 had earlier pointed out how NEET counselling data had shown NRI quota applicants ‘buying’ MBBS seats without the uproars that caste quotas inspire.
A recent study, ‘Predicting wasteful spending in tree planting programmes in Indian Himalaya’, published in World Development, auditing the success of tree plantations in Himachal Pradesh, has found that “more than half of all spending is likely to be wasteful”, that is, at least Rs 20 crore.
Multiplex giants PVR and Inox Leisure yesterday announced a merger to create PVR Inox, the largest multiplex chain in India with more than 1,500 screens.
Ace badminton player PV Sindhu clinched her second women’s singles title of the season with a straight game win over Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan at the Swiss Open Super 300 badminton tournament. India is out of the women’s Cricket World Cup, after its loss to South Africa.