Blundery Aadhaar Advisory Leaves Government Scrambling; Modi's Export Curbs Illogical ― Unless It’s a Political Decision
New Pangong Tso bridge fresh crisis, Hindutva infrastructure in US revealed, two Indian prelates to be cardinals, an Indian child goes missing every 8 mins, K-pop band Blackswan inducts Odisha girl
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
May 30, 2022
Yesterday, one day after the AAP government in Punjab withdrew his security cover, popular singer Sidhu Moosewala was shot dead in Mansa district. The police said several bullets hit Moosewala, 27, who was travelling with two friends in a jeep when he was attacked at Jawahar Ke village. AAP came under fire from the Congress, as Moosewala was among the 424 people whose security was withdrawn by the Punjab Police on Saturday. The singer fought on the Congress ticket from Mansa in the recent Assembly election. Who are Goldy Brar and Lawrence Bishnoi, suspects in his killing?
The Modi government’s Aadhaar blooper yesterday has left many supporters of the controversial biometric identity system squirming. After issuing a press release ‘cautioning’ citizens to not share Aadhar, to ‘mask’ the digits and not leave photocopies of Aadhaar with others, there was panic. A CEO of UIDAI had put his number in the public domain and challenged others to do the same, and now the government says we must down the portcullis. But to prevent more bad press for Aadhaar, the release was withdrawn and the advisory scaled down to exercising “normal prudence”, whatever that means. Not talking to strangers, maybe.
A flurry of frauds across the country, exploiting vulnerabilities in Aadhaar-based payment networks, have put local investigation agencies and police cybercrime cells on alert, reports The Morning Context. Criminal gangs have been found colluding with bank agents and contractors to clone fingerprints, defraud beneficiaries and siphon off welfare benefits for the poor.
In the first of a three-part series, Snigdhendu Bhattacharya reveals that the SSC recruitment scam has turned out to be the biggest of its kind during the TMC rule of 11 years in West Bengal. Perhaps only the Sarada chit fund scam of 2013 was bigger.
Nonstop flipflops about coal imports (see The Long Cable below for export flops) have fazed state-owned and independent gencos, who supply 108 GW. Two weeks after they were told to import coal for 10% blending, the Union Ministry of Power has asked them to keep tenders “in abeyance”, and the Centre has directed Coal India to import for them. The directive follows a pushback from several states which refused to pay higher power tariffs due to imported coal. UP and Maharashtra lead the pack.
Reporting from Ladakh on the second bridge being built by the Chinese, The Week believes that a thaw in India-China relations is unlikely with Pangong Tso embroiled in yet another crisis. “Latest satellite images show that the new bridge is bigger and wider — it is 450 m long and 10 m wide — and is meant for faster movement of not just troops and vehicles, but even tanks. It is expected to be ready by July. The bridge will cut the distance from Rudok — the PLA’s main base servicing deployments in the Pangong area — to the LAC to about 50km, from over 200 km.” On May 20, India’s Ministry of External Affairs had confirmed reports of China building a second bridge across the lake.
Caught between its own interests and international pressure on how to engage with the Myanmar military junta, the Modi government may exclude the Myanmar foreign minister from the India-ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meeting to be hosted by the External Affairs Minister (EAM) in mid-June. The decision marks a departure from India’s attendance at the regional BIMSTEC meeting in Colombo in March, where Myanmar’s junta-appointed Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin was invited as a virtual participant, though the US protested. New Delhi’s decision is likely to risk a boycott of the India-ASEAN event in Delhi by Myanmar.
Maintaining neutrality about the Ukrainian war poses fresh problems. Members of the Indian community in Russia are mobilising relief supplies to support Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. Earlier this month Abhay Singh, an Indian-origin Deputy of the Kursk City Assembly, handed over the first consignment of medicines to the local commander of the Russian forces in Kursk, near the Ukraine-Russia border. The Indian community has sent two consignments of medicines under the initiative of Disha: Russian-Indian Friendship Society. Earlier, The Economist reported on how “Russia is swaying Twitter users outside the West to its side.” Suspicious accounts churning out pro-Russian content in March were using Indian languages to push hashtags.
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A BBC video report tracks parallels between Hindutva extremism and other far right and violent movements. They say that the “new extremist Hindu movement made up mostly of young men is growing in India. They call themselves “trads” ― short for traditionalists ― and they mimic the tricks and techniques used by the American alt-right.” In remarks which can only energise Hindutva groups fighting for temples in Mathura and Varanasi, UP Chief Minister Adityanath has said: “After Ayodhya, Kashi, Mathura and Vindhyavasini are waking up too.”
Months after its draft ‘Data Accessibility’ policy was severely criticised, the proposal to sell and licence data to private entities has been dropped. The Centre’s new draft law seeks to make “non-personal data” available to public and private entities for better delivery of services. The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has asked for stakeholders’ inputs on the draft National Data Governance Framework by June 11.
An overwhelming 94% of 276.9 million informal sector workers registered on the e-Shram portal have a monthly income of Rs 10,000 or less. In mid-November 2021, 92.37% of informal workers were earning below that benchmark. More than 74% of the enrolled workforce are SC, ST and OBC.
Fiscal prudence, export-oriented industrialisation and policies such as the empowerment of women and girls have allowed Bangladesh to leapfrog India in per capita GDP and other indicators. Meanwhile, passenger train services between the two countries resumed yesterday after a two-year gap due to the pandemic. The Bandhan Express will travel from Kolkata station to Khulna. The Maitree Express (Kolkata to Dhaka) is also scheduled to resume services on Sunday.
Pope Francis said yesterday that he would elevate 21 churchmen to cardinals in a ceremony at the Vatican this summer, including two prelates from India. Archbishop of Hyderabad Anthony Poola is the first Dalit Christian to earn the title and will be an elector for future papal elections.
The Congress yesterday announced its candidates for the upcoming Rajya Sabha election, fielding Rajeev Shukla and Ranjeet Ranjan from Chhattisgarh, Ajay Maken from Haryana and Jairam Ramesh from Karnataka. Randeep Singh Surjewala, Mukul Wasnik and Pramod Tiwari were the prominent names in Rajasthan. Vivek Tankha was fielded from Madhya Pradesh. Former Union minister P Chidambaram is the party’s candidate from Tamil Nadu. The list excludes Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, who had signed a dissent note last year.
In Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has denied a Rajya Sabha seat to RCP Singh, the only member of his Janata Dal (United) to be in Narendra Modi’s cabinet. The move is seen as further evidence of the mounting tension betwee Nitish and the BJP.
The monsoon has reached Kerala three days ahead of its normal onset date of June 1, the Indian Meteorological Department said yesterday.
After Geetanjali Shree last week, another Indian and JNU alumnus, Shaunak Sen, won laurels abroad with the best documentary award at the Cannes Film Festival. Joyland made history, the first Pakistani film to win not one but two awards at Cannes ― the Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard section of the Festival de Cannes as well as the Queer Palm.