BJP’s Two-Face Act Flops In The Face Of West Asian Anger; Stonewalled By Parliament, Facebook Whistleblower Goes To Indian Press
After Pandits, Dalits protest and flee Valley, new forces recruitment plan to be cleared this week, Ukraine evacuation flights not paid for, 71% Indians can’t afford healthy diet, Aadhaar fraud rising
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
June 6, 2022
India has been severely embarrassed globally by Islamophobic spokespersons of the ruling party. Even as Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu was in Doha, the Government of Qatar on Sunday summoned India’s envoy and lodged a strong protest against “insulting remarks” made by the ruling BJP’s leaders Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal about the Prophet Muhammad. Qatar demanded a public apology from India and immediate condemnation of the remarks. Ahead of the Iranian Foreign Minister’s first-ever trip to New Delhi next week, Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has summoned the Indian ambassador over what state media called “insult against Prophet of Islam in an Indian TV show”. (See The Long Cable below for an analysis)
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the Organisation of Islamic Countries have condemned the matter. Apart from Iran, Qatar and Kuwait summoned India’s ambassadors and handed them protest notes of “rejection and condemnation” of the remarks against the Prophet. “The State of Qatar affirmed that these insulting remarks would lead to incitement of religious hatred, and offend more than 2 billion Muslims around the world, and indicate the clear ignorance of the pivotal role that Islam has played in the development of civilizations around the world, including in India,” said the government of Qatar. The ruling BJP tried to save face, but its statement is half-hearted and has caused heartburn amongst hardened supporters, and opprobrium outside India. Nupur Sharma withdrew her comments after her suspension.
Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai has dissolved the controversial school textbook review committee after several seers, activists, academics and writers raised objections about attempts to saffronise textbooks.
As Delhi struggles to prevent a Pandit exodus from the Valley, massive protests by Dalit government employees in Jammu highlight Scheduled Caste issues in the region that have been overshadowed by the higher-caste Pandits’ plight. Like the Pandits, hundreds of Dalit employees too have fled the Valley in recent days for fear of militants. Whereas the Pandits were persuaded to go to Kashmir with a resettlement package, the Dalits were forced to accept routine postings in the Valley because of a skewed reservation policy that artificially shifted a chunk of their job quota from Jammu to Kashmir, benefiting Jammu’s caste Hindus. Over the past few days, the Dalit employees who have fled Kashmir with their families have been demonstrating on Jammu’s streets, demanding transfers to their home districts.
Google executives abruptly cancelled an employee-organised event about caste bias in April because it “was actually pulling employees apart”, the company’s top diversity officer said during a monthly all-hands meeting on Thursday, reports Business Insider. It’s Indian-style polarisation.
A top-voted question at the meeting asked if Google wanted to alter more diversity initiatives to “not cause others discomfort”. “This was a really difficult situation,” Google’s Chief Diversity Officer Melonie Parker said in response to another question about how employees could discuss discrimination at Google after this. Parker said the company was “deeply opposed” to caste discrimination, which “has no place here or anywhere… In this case, it was clear that a talk that was organised by a Googler was actually pulling employees apart,” Parker added. “And in fact, a large group of employees felt that they were being vilified. And this resulted in a lot of internal concern, heated threads, as well as escalations.”
The Indian Railways are in a shambles after eight years of Modi. Its finances are wrecked and no major project has progressed. The CAG finds that food served on trains is unfit for human consumption. Passengers should avoid the flavoured milk, juices, sandwiches and biscuits. Purified water was not available at many stations. Coffee, tea and soups in 22 inspected trains were made from dirty water. Inspections of 14 depots revealed that no blanket had been dry-cleaned for two years. Surely, this legacy could have been overturned in eight years.
The Railways cancelled almost 9,000 train services this year, of which over 1,900 were to accommodate coal movement in the last three months, according to an RTI response. In response to a query filed by Chandra Shekhar Gaur, the Railways have said that 6,995 train services were cancelled for maintenance work or construction, while 1,934 services were cancelled from March to May due to coal movement.
On Saturday, the three service chiefs briefed PM Modi about the new Agnipath recruitment scheme. The scheme for the induction of soldiers in three defence services is likely to be approved by the Union cabinet this week. It will include contractual recruitment for four years, followed by discharge. A quarter of those discharged will then be taken for full-time employment as soldiers, to reduce the burden of defence pensions and salaries.
Rabindranath Tagore and APJ Abdul Kalam are reportedly in the race to feature on Indian banknotes, alongside Mahatma Gandhi.The Father of the Nation’s watermark figure occupies the pride of place on all denominations of Indian currency notes. However, the Finance Ministry and the RBI are reportedly considering using the watermark figures of Tagore and Kalam on new series of some denominations.
A FIFA ban on India is possible following the Supreme Court’s ruling to oust Praful Patel as AIFF president. Indian striker Sunil Chhetri said it would be “catastrophic”. Read more on the trend of administrators taking over sports bodies.
India’s new taste for local whisky is shaking up the global drinks market, reports The Observer, London. Sales of Indian single malts are booming as a new generation sheds old notions about the superiority of imported brands.
Read about the Indian Air Force officer who became Top Gun.