Chandrayaan-3 to Land Soon Near Lunar South Pole; The Republic at the Crossroads
Study doubts nano urea claims, new code recognises ‘flood jihad’, NEP curriculum ready, govt offers to lift onions, BRS fields only seven women in Telangana, America discovers isabgol and overdoses
A newsletter from The Wire | Founded by MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sushant Singh, Sidharth Bhatia and Tanweer Alam | With inputs from Kalrav Joshi and Anirudh SK | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
Snapshot of the day
August 23, 2023
Chandrayaan-3 is expected to touch down near the lunar south pole at 6:04 pm IST this evening. Live telecast of the 17-minute descent begins at 5:27 pm on ISRO’s website, YouTube page and social media pages.
Goosed by farmers’ protests following the imposition of a 40% deterrent tax on onion exports, the government has committed to procuring 2 lakh tonnes of onions ― or as much as it takes ― at a “historic” rate of Rs 2,410 per quintal. National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation and National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation will do the heavy lifting. Pending a deal about shipments stuck in ports by the sudden application of export curbs, the onion wholesale mandi in Nashik is to restart operations tomorrow. Onions may hurt Modi’s bid for re-election more than tomatoes, says Bloomberg.
The Modi government is considering additional curbs on rice exports to cool domestic prices as it prepares for general elections in months. India is the leading producer with 40% of the market, and the present restrictions have already driven Asian prices to a 15-year peak. Now, the government wants to restrict the outflow of parboiled rice. “Worst hit by the curbs are the poor in countries like Bangladesh and Nepal, who depend on Indian white rice, and those in African countries like Benin, Senegal, Togo and Mali, which import broken rice — the cheapest and most filling variety,” reported Al Jazeera.
The curriculum following the New Education Policy is ready, according to The Hindu. The highlights of the new order ― turning away from rote learning and a de-stressed exam regime. There will be two board exams every year and students can retain the best score. Also, students will have to take two languages, including an Indian tongue.
As BRICS’ 15th annual summit kicked off in Johannesburg yesterday, Xi Jinping was conspicuously absent from its business forum, which Modi addressed and promised a $5 trillion Indian economy “soon”. Xi and Modi are at their first bilateral meet together since November 2022. After a couple of days of optimistic reports about bilateral talks, officials are now non-committal. Earlier, PM Modi received a warm welcome in Johannesburg.
Indian Express reports that following the 19th round of military-level talks on Ladakh, Indian commanders at the Line of Actual Control are “discussing possible modalities for limited disengagement at certain mutually-accepted points along the boundary.” But they await the green light.
The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill (BNS) says that causing “floods” is a terrorist offence, and any police officer can bring a terrorist charge against anyone, an expert tells The Hindu. It may be recalled that last year, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had attributed floods in Silchar to human intervention, and four Muslim men were arrested after “flood jihad” became a thing on social media and news channels.
At least 17 people died after a railway bridge collapsed near Mizoram’s capital Aizawl. The bridge was part of a project of ‘national importance’ meant to connect Mizoram with the rest of the country by broad gauge rail.
The Economist’s Mumbai bureau chief Thomas Easton says that while 25 major US companies are now run by members of the Indian diaspora, the news is that the diaspora is also helming Indian firms like Tech Mahindra, HCLTech and Wipro.
Combing operations by security forces in Manipur in search of weapons snatched during the Meitei-Kuki clashes have met with limited success so far.
Asked on Times Now if the BJP-led government in Manipur can handle the situation in the state, Union minister Kiren Rijiju admitted that the “situation is an extraordinary one… the ranks of the police force are vertically divided. Even the people who are working in different offices are also vertically divided.” He said that the chief minister cannot function unless the security forces work in unison. The CM remains triumphantly in office.
“The Meitei refuse to acknowledge the sense of bias in the state government’s actions — especially by Chief Minister N Biren Singh — that have alienated the Kuki-Zo and its representatives, cutting across party lines,” says an editorial in The Hindu. “The Union government’s choices are clear: it can either continue the narrow-minded emphasis on not giving into any critique, even if constructive, and let the situation fester into an uneasy stasis, or take up the gauntlet and bring about substantive changes in the state leadership, heralding steps towards reconciliation.”
The Chinese research vessel Shi Yan 6 has requested permission to dock in Sri Lanka. Last year, a similar request from the satellite-tracking ship Yuan Wang 5 had elicited a strong response from India, which is wary about the Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka had struck a compromise, asking the Chinese not to conduct research in its waters.
Deluged beyond “saturation point” by arguments against the abrogation of Article 370, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud has asked the petitioners’ counsel to wind up quickly so that the matter can proceed.
A meticulously detailed story claiming another “surgical strike” in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir was reported in electrifying language yesterday by Dainik Bhaskar. The Army and the PIB fact-checkers have denied it. The newspaper has kept the story on its site nevertheless. Only references to a “surgical strike” have been surgically removed.
“The Narendra Modi government is spending high on advertisements in states not governed by the BJP, and a lot of these funds are going to newspapers which publish content aligned with the party,” says Newslaundry. In Rajasthan, the Union government has spent Rs 180 crore on advertisements in print newspapers between April 2015 and July 2023. Five papers which cornered Rs 44.24 crore carry plagiarised or pro-BJP content, or have marginal circulation. Two, which received 23 crore, are linked to the BJP.
The Nordic Institute of Asian Studies of Copenhagen University, which serves all the Nordic states, will close down at the end of this year for want of core funding. It was founded in 1968.
Violence erupted at England’s Derby Kabaddi grounds, with gunshots and a gruesome sword assault. Crowds scattered, abandoning vehicles. Four were arrested and three injured. Police are probing social media videos.
Over the last few years, rampant illegal riverbed mining by unlicensed contractors and violations of environmental guidelines by licensed players have been reported across Jammu and Kashmir, finds Scroll. Experts point out that mechanised riverbed mining damages aquatic life, interrupting nourishment and breeding.
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