China Sees More Confrontation, Competition With India; As Bharat Jodo Yatra Nears End, BJP’s ‘Project Pappu-fy’ is History
Shehbaz Sharif wants talks with India 'but...', 65% of GST paid by poorest 50%, Saab pulls out of Adani fighter deal, Frene Ginwala dead, BJP leader accused of security scare on Indigo flight
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
January 17, 2023
The loss of a tropical forest in Nicobar could end up funding a jungle safari in Haryana. Environmentalists question the legality and the ecological impact of the move.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif of Pakistan told Al-Arabiya in an interview that he wants to discuss peace with India but this would involve a discussion on all “burning” issues like Kashmir, where the “semblance of autonomy” was scrapped by the Indian government in August 2019. His office later tweeted that this meant India must first revoke the steps it took on Article 370 before the two countries can sit down.
“While there is a recovery in the female Labour Force Participation Rate (LPR), India has not been able to reach pre-pandemic levels yet. There is also a long way to go to achieve the levels that existed before demonetisation. Female LPR suffered a much bigger setback following demonetisation than it did during the pandemic,” notes Mahesh Vyas of CMIE. Before demonetisation in November 2016, the LPR for females aged 20-24 was 18.4% in May-August 2016. It declined drastically to 9.5% in May-August 2017 and then recovered to some extent in 2019 to around 12-14%. Following the first nationwide lockdown, it was a mere 8.7% in May-August 2020. In May-August 2021, it was 9.96%. In comparison, the 11.58% LPR in September-December 2022 seems to be a significant improvement.
Swedish aerospace and defence company Saab, which had entered into a partnership with Adani Group to manufacture the Gripen E fighter in India, is backing off. “We have decided not to pursue the arrangement with the Adanis,” said Mats Palmberg, CMD of Saab India. Saab and Adani Group had announced their partnership on August 31, 2017. The deal for 114 medium multirole fighters is worth Rs 60,000-70,000 crore.
Video clips have emerged with the claim that Myanmar Air Force’s China-made JF-17 jets struck 9 km inside Indian territory, while targeting Chin rebels in Myanmar. Angshuman Choudhury writes on why the Myanmar military junta bombed the Chin National Front HQ at Camp Victoria, bordering Mizoram, and why New Delhi should care about panic among people at the border.
China has officially admitted that the mainland population has recorded negative growth for the first time in 61 years, decreasing by 850,000 in 2022.
Japan and India held their first joint air exercise near Tokyo. Both countries have stepped up military exercises with other countries amid worries about China’s assertiveness. About four F-2 and four F-15 fighters are expected to take part in the drills, which will run till January 26 at an airbase in Ibaraki prefecture. While the two have trained together in other countries, this is the first one-on-one event. India is the fifth country Japan has hosted in a bilateral exercise, after the US, Australia, UK and Germany. India is fielding Russian-made Su-30MKI fighters and US-made C-17 Globemaster heavy transporters in the maiden exercise.
Moscow has raised the issue of pending payments for defence supplies during the visit of a senior Russian official to New Delhi last month. Mounting dues could affect future supplies of military platforms to India.
Negotiations for proposed comprehensive free trade agreements with the UK and EU are on track and the next round of talks is near. India recently concluded the sixth round with the UK and the third with the EU. Negotiations with the UK started on January 13 last year and were to be completed by Diwali. After a gap of over eight years, India and the EU formally resumed negotiations on June 17, 2022.
Only 62% of India’s corporate leadership is optimistic about economic growth in 2023 surpassing 6.5%, a recent survey by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India shows — down from 78% in last year’s survey.
The Budget session of Parliament will commence on January 31 and end on April 6. The Union Budget will be presented on February 1. The session will have 27 sittings with a month-long recess from February 14 to March 12 to examine the budget papers.
And something important to remember as big talk about trillions takes centrestage pre-Budget: in 2020-21, 65% of GST revenue of Rs 15 lakh crore came from the bottom 50% of the population, and only 3% of it came from the top 10%, as per Oxfam.
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The Delhi High Court recently stayed the orders of the Central Information Commission directing the Central Board of Direct Taxes to provide information under RTI about the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, set up by the Union government. In its order of November 30, 2022, the CIC reversed the orders of the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), CBDT and Appellate Authority, CBDT, which had denied information to Kailash Chandra Moondra. When Moondraʼs appealed, the CIC directed the CBDT to share the copy of the trust’s complete application for getting exemption/deduction under Section 80G(2)(b) of the Income Tax Act, and the trust deed. Justice Prathiba M Singh stayed the order after the CPIO, CBDT moved the Court challenging the CIC directions.
The latest online initiative to track hate crimes against Muslims, Christians and lower castes in India is anchored by a Kashmiri hiding in the US. Washington Post profiles Raqib Hameed Naik, the man behind HindutvaWatch.
The Supreme Court has slammed the Madhya Pradesh government for its willingness to challenge bail granted to a college principal in a case registered against him because a ‘Hinduphobic’ book was found in the institution’s library. LiveLaw has reported that Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud asked the government if it was “serious” when it asked the bench to record that it intends to challenge the MP High Court’s order granting anticipatory bail to Inamur Rahman – principal of the Indore Government New Law College till he was forced to resign after the RSS youth wing protested a book in the college’s library. The volume, Collective Violence and Criminal Justice System by Sheetal Kanwal and Farhat Khan was ‘Hinduphobic,’ it claimed.
The Supreme Court should refrain from delivering a judgemnt on the feasibility of a law to prohibit religious conversion through force or allurement until the Law Commission of India examines the issue, Attorney General R Venkataramani has argued. The apex court had taken up a batch of petitions pertaining to legislations framed by state governments to penalise religious conversion for marriage. The AG urged the top court to allow the high courts to examine the respective legislations and not let the petitioners vault to the top. The bench said it would hear all the parties first, after two weeks.
“The HAF was very touchy about my use of the phrase “parent organisations”. It goes out of its way to deny its roots in and its ideological connections with Hindu supremacist organisations,” says Sunita Vishwanath about the now-dismissed lawsuit filed in the US against her.
‘Our History, Your History, Whose History?’ Romila Thapar delivered the annual CD Deshmukh memorial lecture at the India International Centre, in which she brought out the primary contradiction between professional historians who depend on methodological analysis that “demands a training in reading sources”, and popular historians who often create an imagined history establishing majoritarian supremacy.
The co-pilot of the flight that crashed in Nepal on Sunday lost her husband in a plane crash 16 years ago, reports the BBC. Anju Khatiwada was co-piloting Yeti Airlines flight 691 when it smashed into a gorge near the tourist town of Pokhara, killing all on board.
Controversial BJP MP Tejasvi Surya has been accused of opening the emergency exit door of an Indigo flight while the aircraft was taxiing to its takeoff point. The alleged incident occurred in December 2022 but has only recently come to light.