As Teesta is Jailed, Here's a Reminder of the Official Record; Qualified Muslim Women Half As Likely To Be Hired
India’s crypto winter to deepen, Chinese LAC capacity hiked 600% in two years, startups laid off 10,000 this year, Mann returns from the political wilderness, Vishwanathan Anand in running for FIDE VP
A newsletter from The Wire & Galileo Ideas | Contributors: MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia, Sushant Singh and Tanweer Alam | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
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Snapshot of the day
June 27, 2022
UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Mary Lawlor has spoken up for renowned human rights activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad, who is in police custody till July 1, after the Gujarat Police took her into custody from her home in Mumbai. Lawlor said; “Deeply concerned by reports of [woman human rights defender] Teesta Setalvad being detained by Anti Terrorism Squad of Gujarat Police. Teesta is a strong voice against hatred and discrimination. Defending human rights is not a crime. I call for her release and an end to persecution by [the] Indian state.”
The Supreme Court on Monday took up the plea of rebel MLAs led by Eknath Shinde challenging disqualification notices issued by the deputy speaker to his flock. A vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala heard Shinde’s counsel Harish Salve, issued notice to the deputy speaker and agreed to extend to July 11 the deadline the rebels have to reply to the disqualification notice served on them. Today, the Allahabad High Court will hear the plea of the wife of Javed Mohammed against the demolition of her home.
Vastly expanded troop accommodations within 100 km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the western sector, long range artillery and rocket systems, upgraded air defence systems, expanded runways and hardened blast pens to house fighter aircraft — these are some of the major upgrades undertaken by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the past two years, reports The Hindu, based on intelligence inputs. There was accommodation capacity for 20,000 troops in 2020, before the standoff began, and there are 1.2 lakh billets now. Four PLA divisions under the Xinjiang military district are being rotated on the Chinese side facing eastern Ladakh. In 2020, the fourth and sixth divisions were deployed, which were rotated with eighth and 11th divisions in 2021. This year, the fourth and sixth divisions have been redeployed.
Five charts by Scroll show how the protests against Agnipath are a symptom of India’s unemployment crisis. Amidst that, the short-term defence recruitment scheme took away the chance to make a career. We should expect more agitations.
Medical students evacuated from Ukraine sat on a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar in Delhi yesterday demanding admission in domestic medical colleges as a one-time measure. They said there are approximately 12,000 students, barring those in the final year, and as there are at least 600 medical colleges in the country, each institution needed to accommodate only about 20 students.
Soon after taking office 2014, Modi set the ambitious target of almost doubling goods and services exports to $900 billion by 2020. That misfired, but now India is shooting for a $500 billion export target in FY2022-23, nearly $100 billion more than the previous year. After criticising them, the government is going the whole hog on Free Trade Agreements once again to push bilateral trade.
On August 7, Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu will serve as the unlikely venue for a Russia-Ukraine battle. Representatives of more than 180 countries will vote ― on the sidelines of the upcoming Chess Olympiad, which India is hosting ― to elect the chief of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), the apex body for global chess. The frontrunner is Arkady Dvorkovich, current president of FIDE and former deputy PM of Russia, who is seeking a second term. Up against him is Ukrainian Grandmaster Andrii Baryshpolets, who announced his candidacy in late May. Apart from the faceoff between two warring countries, Dvorkovich has also chosen five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand to become FIDE’s deputy president if he wins. Anand’s opponent on the Ukrainian side is his former coach, Peter Heine Nielsen.
Fire-fighting criticism online, actor R Madhavan said yesterday that it was ignorant of him to say that the panchang almanac was used by ISRO to launch the Mars Orbiter Mission. At a promotional event of his upcoming film Rocketry: The Nambi Effect in Chennai last week, Madhavan had said the panchang has a celestial map of the positions of planets, their gravity wells, solar flares, etc, which was used to inserting the Mars Orbiter Spacecraft into orbit in 2014.
An excerpt from Ninety Days: The True Story of the Hunt for Rajiv Gandhi’s Assassins by Anirudhya Mitra provides a meticulous account of how an LTTE death squad murdered former PM Rajiv Gandhi and the SIT’s cat-and-mouse game that brought the killers to justice.
Shanta Gokhale has won the Sahitya Akademi Translation Prize 2021 for her rendering of Lakshmi Bai Tilak’s Smritichitre: The Memoirs of a Spirited Wife.
This week, the GST Council will probably examine a proposal to levy 28% in taxes on the gross receipts of casinos, online gaming and horse racing.
Utricularia furcellata, a rare carnivorous plant, has been seen in the western Himalayas for the first time.
Indian Test captain Rohit Sharma has Covid, making it likely that fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah will lead the side in the Test match against England this week.
Mann returns from the wilderness
A by-election has returned Simranjit Singh Mann to Parliament after nearly two decades; he defeated the Aam Aadmi Party’s Gurmail Singh by 5,822 votes in Sangrur. It was a rude comedown for AAP, to lose the Lok Sabha seat held by the CM Bhagwant Mann for two consecutive terms, after winning a thumping majority in the Assembly election. Kejriwal’s party now has no MP in the Lok Sabha. On TV, Mann recalled the death of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and others during Operation Blue Star in 1984. Now, Mann’s main poll plank was securing the release of Sikh prisoners behind bars even after the expiry of their jail terms.
Mann’s political journey started when he resigned from the IPS in protest against Operation Blue Star in June 1984. The same year, he was arrested on various charges, including conspiracy to murder Indira Gandhi, and jailed for five years. In 1989, while in Bhagalpur Jail, he won the Tarn Taran Lok Sabha seat (now Khadoor Sahib) by a margin of 4.6 lakh votes. Elected with 88% votes, Mann never entered Parliament because he wanted to attend the House with a sword, which became his trademark. After almost a decade, he became MP from Sangrur by defeating former chief minister and Akali stalwart Surjit Singh Barnala in 1999, but has been in the political wilderness since.
Digital tax sapping crypto sentiment
India’s digital assets exchanges face a cryptocurrency winter, reports Bloomberg. Value is plummeting, customers can’t transfer money to their accounts, a transaction tax on crypto is imminent, and exchanges like Binance-backed WazirX have put expansion plans on hold. Unocoin and BuyUcoin are also dealing with tepid trading, though India was second in the world for crypto adoption last year. WazirX’s daily volume has slumped about 95% since October, data from CoinGecko shows. Last year India was one of the hottest crypto markets, growing sixfold, according to Chainalysis.
Banana republic of Karnataka
After watermelons, bananas, used in various temple rituals, are heightening emotions in Karnataka. A controversy erupted after the contract to supply bananas to Ananthapadmanabha Temple in Kudupu, on Mangaluru’s outskirts, was awarded to a Muslim trader, whose bid was lowest. Hindu organisations raised objections after the news went viral.
Weeks ago, the cart of a watermelon trader alongside stalls were vandalised near the Nuggikeri Anjaneya temple in Dharwad. He has sold melons outside the temple for over 15 years.
Muslim women half as likely to be hired as Hindus
Muslim women face a hiring bias in entry-level jobs, and it’s no surprise. A new study shows that for every positive response a Muslim woman gets, a Hindu woman gets two responses. With exactly the same CV and no photograph, Priyanka got 208 positive responses while Habiba got just 103, for the same jobs. While 41.3% of prospective employers called Priyanka, only 12.6% contacted Habiba. The net discrimination rate for Indian Muslim women relative to Hindu women is 47.1%, representing significant bias.
The Long Cable
As Teesta is Jailed, Here's a Reminder of What the Official Record Says
The Supreme Court on Friday condemned the petitioners who had pursued the case against Narendra Modi for “16 years” in various courts – i.e. Zakia Jafri and Teesta Setalvad – of abuse of process and demanded legal action be taken against them. The court found no fault with the way the Special Investigation Team which probed Modi’s role had done its work, and it said that ‘mere failure or inaction of state administration’ in the face of communal violence was ‘no basis to infer conspiracy’.
While it has reproduced 150 pages from the SIT’s final report as an annexure, it ignored what the National Human Rights Commission and the Supreme Court itself had said in May 2002 and 2004 respectively (which suggest what had happened was not “mere failure or inaction” on Modi’s part), the Gujarat High Court’s observations on the shoddy quality of the work done by the SIT and glaring inconsistencies in Modi’s answers to the SIT that its investigators failed to follow up. Taken together, they render absurd the charge of Setalvad and Jafri deliberately keeping the “pot boiling” for an “ulterior motive” — as the Supreme Court claims they had done.
The India Cable presents some relevant excerpts for its readers:
1. NHRC final report, May 31, 2002. This report is significant for a variety of reasons but especially because it shows the systematic way in which Narendra Modi’s government in Gujarat was sabotaging the prospects of justice for the victims of the riots:
“The Commission had recorded … that there were numerous allegations made both in the media and to its team that FIRs in various instances were being distorted or poorly recorded, and that senior political personalities were seeking to influence the working of police stations by their presence within them. The Commission had thus been constrained to observe that there was a widespread lack of faith in the integrity of the investigating process and the ability of those conducting investigations…
“The report of the State Government of 12 April 2002 … fails to rebut the repeatedly made allegation that senior political personalities - who have been named - were seeking to influence the working of police stations by their presence within them. It states that the Government "fully accepts the view that there should be transparency and integrity in investigating instances of death and destruction" and adds that "this is being taken care of". The Commission's Special Representative, Shri Nampoothiri, however, has reported to the Commission on 24 April 2002 in a totally opposite vein. He has stated that, in respect of most of the "sensational cases," the FIRs registered on behalf of the State by the police officers concerned, the accused persons are shown as "unknown". His report adds that "this is the general pattern seen all over the State. Even when complaints of the aggrieved parties have been recorded, it has been alleged that the names of the offenders are not included. In almost all the cases, copies of the FIRs which the complainant is entitled to, has not been given."
“There has been widespread public outrage, in particular, in respect of atrocities against women, including acts of rape, in respect of which FIRs were neither promptly nor accurately recorded, and the victims harassed and intimidated. The Commission must conclude, therefore, that until the time of Shri Nampoothiri's 24 April 2002 report, the victims of the atrocities were experiencing great difficulty in having FIRs recorded, in naming those whom they had identified and in securing copies of their FIRs.
“Further - for far too long - politically-connected persons, named by the victims of the crimes committed, remained at large, many defying arrest. These are grave matters indeed that must not be allowed to be forgiven or forgotten. Based on Shri Nampoothiri's reports the Commission would therefore like to warn that the danger persists of a large-scale and unconscionable miscarriage of justice if the effort to investigate and prosecute the crimes that have been committed is not directed with greater skill and determination, and marked by a higher sense of integrity and freedom from 'extraneous political and other influences' than has hitherto been in evidence.”
2. Supreme Court judgment in Best Bakery case, April 2004
The verdict delivered by Justices Arijit Pasayat and Doraisamy Raju was a ringing indictment of the state government and its leadership in the Best Bakery case and eventually led to the apex court refusing to entrust other major cases to the Modi-run administration:
“If one even cursorily glances through the records of the case, one gets a feeling that the justice delivery system was being taken for a ride and literally allowed to be abused, misused and mutilated by subterfuge. The investigation appears to be perfunctory and anything but impartial without any definite object of finding out the truth and bringing to book those who were responsible for the crime. The public prosecutor appears to have acted more as a defence counsel than one whose duty was to present the truth before the Court. The Court in turn appeared to be a silent spectator, mute to the manipulations and preferred to be indifferent to sacrilege being committed to justice. The role of the State Government also leaves much to be desired. One gets a feeling that there was really no seriousness in the State's approach in assailing the Trial Court's judgment. This is clearly indicated by the fact that the first memorandum of appeal filed was an apology for the grounds. A second amendment was done, that too after this Court expressed its unhappiness over the perfunctory manner in which the appeal was presented and challenge made. That also was not the end of the matter. There was a subsequent petition for amendment. All this sadly reflects on the quality of determination exhibited by the State and the nature of seriousness shown to pursue the appeal. Criminal trials should not be reduced to be the mock trials or shadow boxing or fixed trials. Judicial Criminal Administration System must be kept clean and beyond the reach of whimsical political wills or agendas and properly insulated from discriminatory standards or yardsticks of the type prohibited by the mandate of the Constitution.
“Those who are responsible for protecting life and properties and ensuring that investigation is fair and proper seem to have shown no real anxiety. Large number of people had lost their lives. Whether the accused persons were really assailants or not could have been established by a fair and impartial investigation. The modern day 'Neros' were looking elsewhere when Best Bakery and innocent children and helpless women were burning, and were probably deliberating how the perpetrators of the crime can be saved or protected. Law and justice become flies in the hands of these "wanton boys". When fences start to swallow the crops, no scope will be left for survival of law and order or truth and justice. Public order as well as public interest become martyrs and monuments. (emphasis added)
3. Gujarat High Court judgment in Naroda Patiya case, 2018
Here, the bench passed scathing observations on the conduct of the Special Investigation Team that was meant to be supervising the prosecution:
“However, the inept manner in which the investigation has been carried out both by the police as well as the SIT and the equally inept manner in which the prosecution has been conducted, speaks volumes about the intentions of all concerned, in diligently prosecuting the case…
“It appears that the Public Prosecutors were either incompetent or deliberately did not prosecute the matter diligently. The Supreme Court in the very same order has also observed that it would be open for the Chairman of SIT to seek change of any Public Prosecutor so appointed if any deficiency in performance is noticed. However, it appears that even the SIT has not noticed any deficiency in the performance of the learned Special Public Prosecutors despite there being noticeable deficiency in their performances.”
4. SIT ‘interrogation’ of Narendra Modi, March 2010
The SIT questioned Modi for several hours but the transcript made public clearly shows the nature of the questioning. There were hardly any follow-ups and no attempt was made to confront the then chief minister with facts that were contrary to what he was saying:
SIT investigator Malhotra: Did you receive any information about an attack by a mob on Gulberg Society? If so, when and through whom? What action did you take in the matter?
Narendra Modi: To the best of my knowledge, I was informed in the law and order review meeting held in the night about the attack on Gulberg Society in Meghaninagar area and Naroda Patiya.
[Excerpted from Modi and Godhra: The Fiction of Fact-Finding by Manoj Mitta (2014)]
Note that residents of Gulberg Society had already testified in court that Zakia Jafri’s husband, Ehsan Jafri, had called Modi when an armed mob started gathering outside in the afternoon on February 28, 2002 and was rebuffed: “During a three-day deposition before a fast-track court, witness Imtiyaz Pathan said that when a mob started gathering outside Gulbarga Society and the police refused to come, Jafri had called Chief Minister Narendra Modi for help. ‘When no police help came, as a last resort, Ehsan Jafri called Narendra Modi. Modi did not listen to him, in fact he abused him. This much I remember,’ Pathan said. This was also confirmed by Rupa Mody, who lost her son at Gulberg Society that day.
Yet the SIT chose not to confront Modi with these sworn testimonies, which contradicted the answer he had given.
The question of sundering Karnataka is back. State Minister for Food and Civil Supplies Umesh Katti has said that Karnataka would be divided once Narendra Modi is voted back to power in 2024, and a new state of North Karnataka created. A majority of political leaders, especially from the southern districts, oppose the division. Leader of the Opposition PC Siddaramaiah criticised Katti, terming a division as a betrayal of mother, motherland and mother tongue. Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai also denied any plans of vivisection.
Prime Number: >10,000
In the first six months of this year, over 10,000 staff have been laid off by at least 27 startups, according to Inc42. Ola, Blinkit, Unacademy and White Hat Jr lead the list, pressured by investors who want to see costs slashed.
In the ‘Thin Red Line’ series by Rate the Debate, the Institute of Perception Studies looks at time devoted to issues by TV debates. The thin red line of time on the pie chart for the Assam floods was a few seconds on June 22. See details here.
Op-Eds you don’t want to miss
MG Devasahayam writes that the Modi government’s assault on democracy is more sinister than the Emergency. That was brutal and sudden, while the Modi government's moves are far more insidious and systemic, and will undermine our society.
Proposed changes to history textbooks specifically target certain areas of India’s past, causing an ideological shift, writes Anubhuti Maurya.
Chander Uday Singh writes that revanchist claims for the right of one denomination to worship in the place of worship of another have no basis in law.
The anti-defection law was enacted not to facilitate defection but to eliminate it, but legislators and the political class seem to have forgotten this. That is the lesson the Maharashtra developments teach us once again, writes PDT Achary.
Vivek Deshpande writes that Droupadi Murmu as President would be a triumph for the Sangh but not for India’s Adivasis. By nominating her as its presidential candidate, the Sangh has completed its last leg of appropriating all of India’s major identities.
A digital app for “improving citizen oversight and increasing transparency” in NREGA works was implemented without discussion, and will make it increasingly difficult for workers to continue under NREGA, eroding the right to work, write Chakradhar Buddha and Laavanya Tamang.
It is heart-rending to see the government trying to hold Hindu families in the Kashmir Valley virtually captive to prove that there is ‘absolute normalcy’ in Kashmir, writes Arun Sinha.
Why did so many young people come out on the streets — mostly spontaneously — to express their extreme anger about the Agnipath scheme? The answer lies in what a soldier’s job means to young people in India’s small towns and villages, writes Aunindyo Chakravarty.
Nikhil Gupta writes that India’s real exports and imports have not grown exceptionally, and inflation has driven trade figures to record highs.
At the WTO ministerial conference, the outcomes have not met India’s expectations because the government made unexpected concessions, writes Biswajit Dhar.
As the government’s ethno-nationalist politics gain purchase, the adrishya dum wags again to prime Hindi, purge Urdu, and create a language supremacy even in parts of India where Hindi is not a primary language, writes Vedita Cowaloosur.
Glorification of the civil services exams and the toppers perpetuates certain myths in society, writes Albert P’Rayan.
Seema Chishti writes that the new play, The Father and The Assassin, is a useful guide for the uninitiated and shows that division and hate propelled Savarkar and Godse. But to completely airbrush organisational links that have such contemporary resonance, and presenting Godse as a counter to Gandhian philosophy, is wrong.
A lesbian couple from Delhi, Rituparna Borah and Amrita Tripathi, speak on whether lesbian lives have changed since Pride became celebrated and cool in India. Usually, when Pride is referred to in India, the focus is on gay men. June is Pride Month.
It was former Prime Minister VP Singh’s birth anniversary this weekend. Here’s one from the archives ― what Singh, then PM, said in his Independence day address from the Red Fort. It starts around 22:00.
Over and Out
There is a direct relationship between the decline in courtesan culture in colonial India and the classical sarangi. In the popular imagination, the sarangi remains linked to the world of courtesans, which has nearly ceased to exist. The stigma and the lack of respect persists.
From miniatures and manuscripts to textiles and photos: art comes alive in BN Goswamy’s Conversations, a collection of mini-essays from the ‘Art and Soul’ column he wrote for 25 years. His is a quiet, thoughtful, tolerant, civilised voice in the midst of the crude, hate-filled cacophony that is all around us today.
A fairytale romance with an African-American jazz sensation, surviving a murder attempt, an epic escape from a Japanese labour camp during World War II — all this after being part of India’s inaugural cricket Test team at Lord’s in 1932. That is the unbelievable tale of Lall Singh.
That’s it for today. We’ll be back with you tomorrow, on a device near you. If The India Cable was forwarded to you by a friend (perhaps a common friend!) book your own copy by SUBSCRIBING HERE.