BJP Sharpens Knives After Rahul Gandhi's Defamation Conviction; Delhi Budget Brouhaha: A Background Check
Almost half of Adani FDI is Adani money, cantonment board erases 35,000 voters, SC Collegium publicly expresses ‘grave concerns’, millets mania infiltrates Army kitchens, India low on happiness index
A newsletter from The Wire | Contributors: MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia and Sushant Singh | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
Snapshot of the day
March 23, 2022
During the 2019 Lok Sabha campaign, Rahul Gandhi had clubbed together the fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, the disgraced former cricket administrator Lalit Modi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi – whom he accused of corruption in the Rafale deal – and said:
“I have a question. Why do all thieves have Modi in their names whether it is Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi or Narendra Modi? We don’t know how many more such Modis will come out.”
On Thursday, a court in Surat found him guilty of criminal defamation in a case filed by a Gujarat BJP legislator with the last name ‘Modi’.
He has been sentenced to two years imprisonment, the maximum punishment prescribed. The court granted him bail and also suspended the sentence for two months to allow Gandhi to file an appeal. This will allow the Congress leader to stave off immediate disqualification as a parliamentarian, as the Representation of Peoples’ Act says individuals sentenced to two years or more cannot serve as legislators for six years. But if the higher courts do not extend the suspension, it is hard to imagine the BJP not pressing home its advantage.
The Congress says it will fight things out legally and have accused Modi of trying to silence Rahul Gandhi any which way.
Analysis by the Financial Times of India’s foreign direct investment remittance data reveals that offshore companies “linked to the Adanis” and “bearing funds of unclear provenance” have invested almost half of all the FDI that came into the Adani Group. “Offshore companies linked to the Adanis” invested at least $2.6 billion in the group between 2017 and 2022 ― 45.4% of the more than $5.7 billion FDI it received over the period. The newspaper has found that “most offshore shell companies supplying FDI to the conglomerate have been disclosed as part of Adani’s ‘promoter group’, meaning they are closely tied to Adani or his immediate family.” The biggest investments were from two companies directly or indirectly linked to Gautam Adani’s elder brother Vinod.
Gautam Adani’s fortunes took a beating after allegations of accounting fraud and shed Rs 3,000 crore every week over the last year. His overall net worth fell 60%, as per the M3M Hurun Global Rich List, which put his overall fortune at $53 billion (as of March 15). and Mukesh Ambani has displaced him to (again) become the richest Indian.
President Xi’s Russia visit ended yesterday. What did it mean for the Ukraine conflict and what does it mean for India?
The India-China relationship is facing difficulties due to the situation in the Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), but neither side wants war or confrontation. The most senior Chinese diplomat in New Delhi, Chargé d’Affaires Ma Jia, sought to play down the impression that China and Russia’s insistence on not raising the Ukraine crisis at the G20 has divided the grouping, and said it has become “more difficult to reach accommodation” on this issue as the situation has intensified since the G20 Summit in Indonesia in November. She also said a decision on Xi coming to Delhi for the SCO summit this summer would be taken when the dates are finalised.
The Supreme Court Collegium has expressed “grave concerns” over the Centre undermining seniority by withholding or overlooking names recommended earlier for appointment as High Court judges. Striking a defiant note in the face of grave and routine provocation from the Law Minister, the Supreme Court in its Collegium resolution uploaded today has said that “the names which have been recommended earlier, including the reiterated names, ought not to be withheld or overlooked as this disturbs their seniority whereas those recommended later [a] steal march on them,” said the Collegium of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph, led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud. In a public statement, it asked the Union government to take “necessary action for the issuance of a notification for the elevation of persons who have been recommended earlier in point of time has been noted by the Collegium and is a matter of grave concern.”
Flagging the dangers of fake news, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said misinformation can create tensions between communities, endangering democratic values. Speaking at the Ramnath Goenka awards ceremony, where he was chief guest, the Chief Justice also said the vibrancy of a democracy is compromised if the press is prevented from speaking truth to power and stressed that the press must remain free if a country is to remain a democracy.
For the sixth year running, Finland was named the world’s happiest country in an annual UN-sponsored index. India was ranked 126th of the 137 countries on the list.
The Indian Army is introducing millets flour in military rations and has sought government sanction to procure up to 25% of the authorised entitlement of cereals from FY2023-24. “Millets would now form an integral part of the daily meal for all ranks,” the Army has stated. Millets are being promoted because the UN has declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets.
Enforcement agencies under the Finance Ministry have attached immovable properties worth about Rs 1.11 lakh crore in the last six years, Parliament was told. In the current fiscal, immovable properties worth Rs 10,683 crore were attached by various central agencies ― ED, DRI (Directorate of Revenue Intelligence), Income Tax Department, etc. under the ministry in 204 cases from 2017-18 till January 31, 2023. In 2021-22, immovable properties worth Rs 19,832 crore were attached in 1,657 cases.
To understand the rising incidence of heart attacks among seemingly fit people following the Covid pandemic, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare has asked the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) “to give evidence-based clarification based on the findings of its planned studies on this”. It also said, “Currently, there is insufficient evidence/data to prove whether rise of myocardial infarctions and sudden deaths have been due to Covid-19 vaccines — but these cases of sudden deaths due to myocardial infarctions have increased post-Covid.”
The India Cable is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar has called for a meeting of all Opposition parties at his residence on Monday to discuss Remote Electronic Voting for Migrants (RVM), proposed by the Election Commission earlier this year. All Opposition parties had expressed their misgivings about fraudulent voting since it would be difficult, especially for smaller parties, to post representatives in every booth across the country for scrutiny. While RVM is the main agenda of the meeting, The Hindu speculates that discussion about the deadlock in Parliament may feature.
The Indian Railways is running on less than empty. In 2021-22, it recorded a loss of Rs 15,024.58 crore, which it has attributed to higher staff expenditures, apart from the pandemic. It’s a spike in a persistent downward trend in revenue over the years, a sign of poor planning and management, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways said.
The Guardian reports that the Women’s Premier League has captured the public imagination, launched its own iconography and is the beginning of something big.
Restofworld.org profiles Harsha Sai, India’s most popular stunt philanthropist – a YouTube genre where kind deeds are made into spectacles that receive millions of views and make money from ads.