China's Planned Tibet-Xinjiang Highway Will Graze the LAC; New India and Hindu Rashtra: Two Faces of the Same Coin Cover All Bases
India tops inward remittances with $87 billion, China’s new highway to graze LAC hotspots, Great Nicobar ‘developing’ a crisis, criminal cases for shooting civilians stayed, Sunak finalist for No 10
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Snapshot of the day
July 21, 2022
Mohammed Zubair was finally freed from Tihar Jail yesterday evening after being maliciously framed by the Delhi and UP Police in as many as seven cases. The Supreme Court’s guidelines on not amending an FIR were wilfully ignored by the police. Yesterday, in unsuccessfully demanding Zubair not be allowed to tweet as a bail condition, the State of UP claimed he was “not a journalist”. But as Fatima Khan explains well, Zubair “didn’t just become a journalist, he often also doubled up as a news agency, disseminating urgent information, often nudging the news cycle in a direction that needed urgent attention”.
It is not just the BJP that is filing cases against the media. In Kerala, a TV anchor with the Asianet channel, Vinu John, has been charged by the police for making comments against Rajya Sabha MP Elamarom Kareem, who is a leader of CITU – the trade union affiliated the the CPI(M), which is in power in the state. According to Hindustan Times, John, while speaking about the attack on an auto-rickshaw driver who was carrying some patients during a bandh called by CITU, asked what would have happened “if such an attack had taken place on the relatives of Kareem”. The case was filed three months ago but only surfaced now when John applied for a passport.
“My friends tell me to beware and be careful of criticising the fascists for fear of my personal freedom. To hell with that,” says Anish Kapoor. India Today first commissioned an interview with the internationally renowned artist and sculptor, and then refused to run it unless he deleted or toned down his comments about the present dispensation in India.
Counting is underway and Droupadi Murmu, nominee of the ruling BJP and NDA, is well ahead of the opposition’s Yashwant Sinha in the race to be the next President of India. Results will be declared later this evening.
The RBI may be prepared to spend $100 bn of its reserves of around $580 bn to defend the rupee but could not secure the political objective of keeping it under 80 to the US dollar. In the interbank forex market, the rupee opened at 79.91 and slid to a low of 80.05, trading in a range of 79.89 to 80.05. It finally settled at 80.05, losing 13 paise over the previous close. The New York Times has a graph of the value of the rupee against the dollar since the 1950s.
The RBI’s notification of July 11 to inter alia facilitate payments to Russia for oil, defence spares, ammunition and associated equipment imports has failed to break the payment deadlock between the two countries. The RBI had authorised Indian banks to open Vostro accounts in a foreign partner bank where payments for imports could be made in rupees. Logically, payments to Russia, pending since its invasion of Ukraine, should have started flowing, but the new sticking point is the rupee-rouble exchange rate. India has reportedly offered to clear pending payments at the pre-Ukraine war rate of about 78 roubles to a dollar. Russia insists on payment at the current rate of about 55, and the quantum of payments due to Russia is accumulating. Besides oil, India imports over 6,000 defence spares from Russia, and about $2 billion is pending on account of Russian defence imports.
The Supreme Court has stayed criminal proceedings against 30 Army men for the killing of 14 civilians in Nagaland in December last year, noting that the Union Government has not provided mandatory sanction under AFSPA.
Around 9.79 lakh posts were vacant in Union government departments, of the sanctioned strength of 40.35 lakh, as on March 1, 2021, the Lok Sabha was told yesterday. According to the annual report of the pay research unit of the Department of Expenditure, there were 40,35,203 sanctioned posts under various ministries/departments of the central government, as on March 1 last year, and 30,55,876 central government civilian employees were in position on that date.
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The Union Home Ministry has said individual information collected for the census is not made public or used for preparation of any other database including the National Register of Citizens (NRC), and only aggregated data is released. Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai told the Rajya Sabha that the census scheduled in 2021 was postponed due to the pandemic. It will be the first digital census permitting self-enumeration.
India received $87 billion in remittances in 2021, the top remittance recipient globally, way ahead of countries like China and Mexico at $53 billion each, according to a WHO report on refugees and migrants.
The Henley Passport Index ranks India 87th globally out of 199 countries. Asian countries like Japan, Singapore and South Korea have climbed up this year and are at the top. The index says that “peaceful countries have more powerful passports.”
The Union government was under attack through the day following news that GST on crematoriums had been upped to 18%, and had to issue a late denial ― the tax is only on crematorium work contracts. However, new taxes on hospital beds remain, despite the pleas of the Indian Medical Association. Spiralling inflation is forcing poor workers to give up on small pleasures like vegetables and detergent.
India’s gold jewellery demand is likely to fall by 5% to 550 tonnes this fiscal. Crisil says the hike in customs duty on gold by 5% to 12.5% on June 30 will cause flat revenue growth for gold jewellery retailers this financial year, compared to the exceptional demand seen in the year-ago period.
The UPSC recommended 4,119 candidates for different central government jobs in 2021-22, the lowest in 10 years, according to Personnel Ministry data shared in the Lok Sabha. Some 4,119 candidates were recommended in 2021-22 against 5,153 advertised vacancies. A total of 4,214 and 5,230 candidates were recommended in 2020-21 and 2019-20, respectively, against the advertised vacancies of 4,997 and 5,913. Similarly, 4,399 candidates were recommended in 2018-19 against 5,207 advertised vacancies. During 2017-18, 6,294 candidates were recommended for government jobs, 5,735 in 2016-17, 6,866 in 2015-16, 8,272 in 2014-15, 8,852 in 2013-14 and 5,705 during 2012-13, according to the data.
The world’s most expensive fungus, caterpillar fungus, is sparking a crisis in the Himalayas. Kumaon residents once earned lakhs selling it, but they picked the Uttarakhand hills clean.
Amidst the furore over saffronisation of school textbooks, the government brazenly told Parliament that it was a rationalisation exercise to compensate for academic loss during Covid-19, and to remove overlapping content. Minister of State of Education Annpurna Devi said that NCERT followed specific criteria for rationalising content load. They also rationalised content as irrelevant in the present context, or outdated, and took care of learning outcomes already developed across classes.
The government has told Parliament that while India has 13.24% of the world’s vehicles, its share in road fatalities was 26.37% in 2020.
India denied playing any role in the internal political process in Sri Lanka and promised to continue supporting its people as Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected president yesterday. Just before voting began in the Sri Lankan Parliament to elect the new president, the High Commission of India in Colombo tweeted denials of media reports about its role in influencing the political process in the cash-strapped nation.
Rishi Sunak yesterday clinched his place for the final leg of the race to succeed Boris Johnson and will go head to head with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss as one of two finalists to take charge as Conservative Party leader and British Prime Minister. Bemoaning the talent crisis in Western democracies, Jainan Ganesh writes in the Financial Times: “Rishi Sunak does politics as though he is just back from a residential course called How to Do Politics. There is something rote-learnt about the gestures of hand and speech. There is something formulaic about the tactics: now woo the right, now pivot. In a thriving democracy, he would be a good Downing Street chief of staff with a hawk’s eye for a vacant parliamentary seat. As it is, the former UK chancellor is plainly the best candidate for prime minister in a dire Conservative field.”
In Kolkata, Jadavpur University Pro Vice-Chancellor Prof Samantak Das, 57, was found dead yesterday at his home, apparently a suicide.
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