Centre Denies Targeted Attacks on Christians, Sees 'Hidden Oblique Motive'; Despite Environmental Damage, Green Revolution Brought Food Security
Northeast students revive anti-CAA stir, landmark Madras HC ruling: violent husband can be removed from home, grain stocks low, Balkrishna being edged out of Patanjali and crocodile visits Shivpuri
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Snapshot of the day
August 17, 2022
“Apple ahead of the game as it tackles discrimination based on India’s caste system” read the headlines as Big Tech globally confronts caste discrimination, the camel in the tent. Officially India ― and upper caste Indians ― are eager to deny its very existence. Apple’s main internal policy on workplace conduct added a reference to caste in the equal employment opportunity and anti-harassment sections after September 2020. Apple confirmed that it “updated language a couple of years ago to reinforce that we prohibit discrimination or harassment based on caste.” Now, training provided to staff explicitly mentions caste, reports Reuters. Meanwhile, in India, it’s business as usual:
Former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar has written on the persistence of caste, 100 years after her father Babu Jagjivan Ram experienced atrocious acts of segregation. “Incidents such as Hathras, Jalore make headlines for some time, but it feels like nothing changes. That I believe is because the caste system is rooted in our society. It’s not just a social problem, it has its roots in religion. If something has its roots in religion then it takes a very long time, and a consistent effort, to really remove it.”
Rice and wheat stocks in the Central Pool are at a ﬁve-year low, mainly due to lower procurement of wheat. Rice stocks are above the 2020 level but may deplete fast if kharif production falls ― paddy transplanting is down 12%. The rice and wheat stocks as on August 1 were 545.97 lakh tonnes (lt), whereas the previous low was 499.77 lt in 2017. Rice stocks were 279.52 lt and the previous low was 253.40 lt in 2020. Current stocks are 11.5 lt lower than a year ago. Wheat stocks on August 1 were 266.45 lt while the previous low was 243.80 lt in 2008. Unmilled paddy stocks on August 1 were at 194.57 lt and 145.63 lt in 2020.
A higher volume of trade via Iran between India and Russia through the INSTC has been recorded over the last three months, amid Western sanctions on Moscow. Iran Shipping Lines has transported 3,000 tonnes of goods and 114 containers along the INSTC in May-July, the Economic Times reports. And NSA Ajit Doval is on an unannounced two-day visit to Moscow.
As the Chinese ballistic missile and satellite tracking ship Yuan Wang 5 was festively welcomed by Sri Lanka at Hambantota port, the usually abrasive Foreign Minister S Jaishankar sounded unusually timid in an interview. “As the region gains prominence, we will see many countries getting active in the Indian Ocean, trying to expand their influence. There will be crises. We need to take care of our national interests but can’t claim exclusivity in the region,” he told the New Indian Express.
The PLA’s Xinjiang Military Command has tested an updated surface-to-air defence missile in the high-altitude plateau, state broadcaster CCTV reported, as the US and India prepare for joint Himalayan military drills in October. Military observers said that the weapons appeared to be HQ-17A air defence missiles, part of an integrated system that can fit in a single vehicle, and is very mobile and accurate. One said the tests in Xinjiang were a show of deterrence in the countdown to the India-US drills.
Who will be the next Pakistan Army chief after Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa retires in the last week of November? Dawn has the details on the post, whose incumbent matters to India.
After a lull of about two years, student organisations in the Northeast will resume the anti-CAA agitation from Wednesday. The North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) will protest in every district and sub-division headquarters with a renewed demand to scrap the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and enforce constitutional safeguards for indigenous communities. NESO comprises student bodies representing communities and tribes in Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura. The CAA, which was passed in December 2019, allows non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, who moved to India till 2014, to seek Indian citizenship. Organisations in the Northeast say this would allow a “large number” of post-1971 migrants to get Indian citizenship, reducing the indigenous communities to minorities.
The Unique Identification Authority of India has said that the Centre and state governments can ask citizens to furnish their Aadhaar number to get government subsidies and benefits. Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act states that governments have the authority to do so, the regulatory body noted in a memorandum issued on August 11. In a separate office memorandum, UIDAI stated that certificates issued by government departments for a nominal price have an “embedded subsidy in their delivery”, and therefore come under the ambit of Section 7. In a judgment in September 2018, the Supreme Court had upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar, and most of the provisions of the Act. However, the court had said that phone numbers and bank accounts do not need to be linked with Aadhaar.
The DMK has moved the Supreme Court to be impleaded in the ‘freebies’ case, saying that “a welfare scheme providing a free service is introduced with an intent to secure a social order and economic justice under Article 38 to minimise inequalities in income, status, facilities and opportunities.”
Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) leaders yesterday opposed the upcoming meeting of the committee on Minimum Support Price (MSP) next week, called the panel a “farce” and said that it is a pointless exercise. The leaders said they have already rejected the “anti-farmers panel” and will not attend the August 22 meeting. SKM is an umbrella organisation of over 40 farm unions.
In denial of numerous media reports, the Centre told the Supreme Court that there have been no targeted attacks on Christians in the country, and suggested a “hidden oblique motive” behind a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by Christian organisations and individuals demanding an independent probe. “There appears to be some hidden oblique agenda in filing such deceptive petitions, creating an unrest throughout the country and perhaps for getting assistance from outside the country to meddle with internal affairs of our nation,” the Union Home Ministry said in an affidavit. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna that the affidavit is only a “preliminary note” and not a detailed response to the petition. Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, who appeared for the petitioners, sought time to file a response. The petitioners cited a report titled ‘Hate and Targeted Violence against Christians in India, 2021’. Gonsalves said there were 500 attacks on Christians across the country in 2021 alone and sought guidelines similar to those the Supreme Court issued in 2018 for preventing mob lynching and hate crimes. The court gave both sides a week to prepare responses. The next hearing is on August 25.
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“If the removal of the husband from the home is the only way to ensure domestic peace, the courts need to pass such orders irrespective of the fact whether the respondent has or has not any other accommodation of his own,” Justice RN Manjula of the Madras High Court ordered on August 11 while hearing an appeal filed by a woman in a divorce case.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai defended Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister JC Madhuswamy, whose comments in a leaked audio recording landed the BJP government in Karnataka in a major embarrassment. Madhuswamy’s cabinet colleagues had asked him to resign for expressing displeasure over the government’s functioning in a phone conversation. But Bommai said the minister had made the statement three months back while specifically referring to a particular subject in the Cooperative Department.
Nitin Gadkari, a former BJP president and perhaps the only minister in Narendra Modi’s cabinet with a support base of his own, has been dropped from the party’s parliamentary board – it’s highest decision-making body. He was last seen dozing off during Modi’s long Independence Day speech.
A power shift in Patanjali favours Ramdev’s brother Rambharat. Ramdev’s aide Balkrishna is slowly being removed from all decision-making posts, says an exposé by Newslaundry. The businessman yogi has been pulled up by Justice Arun Bhambani of the Delhi High Court for his tall claims about ‘Coronil’, a preparation Patanjali has marketed as a Covid cure. “My concern is to save the good name and reputation of Ayurveda. My aim [also] is nobody should be misled against allopathy,” the judge said. “It’s one thing to say that I choose not to take the vaccine but it’s quite another thing to say ‘forget the vaccine, it’s useless but take this”’.
Mother Dairy has been “compelled” to raise its milk prices by Rs 2 per litre with effect from today, across all variants. Amul has also hiked prices by the same amount.
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