Chinese Firm Linked to Adani Handling Key Infra Projects in India; Govt Can’t Make National Security Threats Out of Thin Air: SC
India has been buying a Pegasus alternative for over 3 years, SC asks BJP leader to apologise for fake tweet, lottery winner thinks it’s a prank, Amazon to stream sarkari content, lokpal falls flat
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Snapshot of the day
April 6, 2023
A Chinese company linked to Adani Group is involved with building critical infrastructure in India, potentially posing a threat to national security, reports adaniwatch.org. The firm, PMC Projects (India) Private Limited, has been developing seaports, container terminals, airstrips, electricity transmission lines and railway tracks, among other public utilities. It operates from premises owned by Adani Enterprises, the flagship of Adani Group, but is owned by Chang Chien-Ting, aka Morris Chang, son of Chang Chung-Ling, who has been a director of many Adani companies over the years and is said to be a business associate of the "elusive" Vinod Adani, brother of Gautam Adani. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi reacted to the news by calling PMC the ‘Pradhan Mantri Chinese Company’.
Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the opposition of taking out a ‘supari’, or contract, to harm him. We have no doubt the name of this shop is a mere coincidence:
The Supreme Court decision yesterday to quash the Centre’s ban on the broadcast of MediaOne, a Malayalam news channel, will hopefully limit the government’s ability to violate fundamental rights by raising the claim of national security in a “cavalier manner”. MediaOne is owned by Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited, many of whose investors are reportedly members of the Kerala chapter of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind. The apex court said such a link, which itself does not have material proof, cannot be legitimate grounds to deny the channel a licence. A bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said “national security claims cannot be made out of thin air”. The court remarked that denial of security clearance to a channel for its views produces “a chilling effect on free speech and particularly on press freedom”.
The government says the NREGA attendance app, made mandatory by the Union ministry of rural development since January 1, increases transparency. But an analysis by Scroll of images uploaded on the rural employment guarantee scheme’s website suggests they provide no check against potential fraud. In fact, the app is causing a massive disruption at worksites across the country, with supervisors struggling to upload images in areas with poor connectivity. “If the network is poor, we are unable to capture the attendance,” one supervisor said, adding “many times, my phone takes blurry photos.”
An Indian defence agency has been buying equipment from an Israeli spyware rival of the notorious NSO Group for over three years, according to trade data reviewed by the Hindu. The supplier in question is Cognyte Software Ltd, whose spyware has been billed as a potential Pegasus alternative. Cognyte was flagged in a Meta – Facebook parent – report as a “Surveillance for Hire” firm; it also faces a class-action lawsuit in the US from investors.
“Cognyte regularly targeted journalists, dissidents, critics of authoritarian regimes, families of opposition, and human rights activists around the world, without their knowledge, and collected intelligence on these people by manipulating them to reveal information and/or by compromising their devices and accounts,” the newspaper says, quoting the US law firm Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check LLP. A few days ago, the Financial Times reported that the Indian government was seeking bids for spyware which rivals NSO Group’s Pegasus, and that Cognyte was one of the firms being considered.
The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed displeasure at Uttar Pradesh BJP spokesperson Prashant Patel Umrao for sharing wrong information on Twitter regarding alleged attacks on Bihari workers in Tamil Nadu, Live Law reports. Observing that Patel should be more responsible, especially as a lawyer, the court asked him to tender an apology for his fake tweet. However, giving relief to Patel, the court modified the condition imposed by the Madras high court that required him to appear before the police for 15 days. “He shall appear on Monday at 10am, thereafter as and when required by the investigating officer,” the court ordered.
About one lakh workers and peasants staged a protest march at the Ramlila ground in New Delhi on Wednesday under the auspices of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, the All India Kisan Sabha and the All India Agricultural Workers’ Union. They demanded monthly minimum wages of ₹26,000 and pension of ₹10,000 to all workers, legally guaranteed minimum support price based on the Swaminathan Committee’s recommendation for all farm produce with guaranteed procurement. The demands also included the repeal of the four labour codes and the Electricity Amendment Bill.
Reacting to instances of communal violence during Ram Navami processions in various parts of India, Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs said on Wednesday that it was “deeply concerned at the alarming rise of violence against Muslims in today’s India”. The terrifying rise in Islamophobic and hateful acts against Muslims in India is a consequence of the pursuit of a majoritarian Hindutva agenda and anti-Muslim rhetoric rife in Indian politics, it said in a statement.
Despite the Supreme Court ruling that denial of emergency medical care is a violation of the constitutionally guaranteed right to life, public health in India remains patchy and underfunded, grappling with shortages of money, doctors and nurses. India spends a little over 2% of its GDP on public healthcare, one of the lowest in the world. Most people have to pay around half of healthcare spending – especially medicines – out of their own pockets.
Yesterday, a delegation led by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind chief Mahmood Madani met home minister Amit Shah and called for nationwide action to curtail growing incidents of communal violence against the minorities. The faith leaders also raised concerns around Uniform Civil Code and attacks on madrasas by BJP leaders. However, Shah reportedly remained tight-lipped when the Muslim delegation raised the issue of withdrawal of the Maulana Azad Scholarship.
The Karnataka police on Wednesday said that five Hindutva vigilantes – including Puneeth Kerehalli – who are accused of lynching cattle trader Idris Pasha have been arrested from Banaswara in Rajasthan.
The Supreme Court pulled up the Nagaland government and the state election commission for violating its previous direction to hold local body elections with 33% reservation for women and stayed the order to cancel the polls, which were scheduled to be held on May 16. Hearing a contempt petition filed by PUCL, the court said: “You (Nagaland government) as well as the state election commission are in breach of the order of this court. Our March 14 order is quite clear that any endeavour to tinker with the election process would be in breach of the order of this court.”
The ministry of home affairs told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that it was looking into charges that an NGO called The Other Media had misused foreign funds to stage protests and demonstrations outside Vedanta's Sterlite copper facility in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu. The ministry said it had received some representation and complaints alleging violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, by the New Delhi-based NGO. The NGO has said this charge is baseless.
Ahead of the Badrinath yatra scheduled from April 27, locals at Joshimath continue to protest demanding “complete scrapping” of NTPC’s under-construction Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project and the Heland bypass road. Community members have also been asking for rehabilitation of all 3,000 families of Joshimath while the government has agreed to rehabilitate only 300 of them.
An Indian who won the 20 million dirham top prize in Abu Dhabi’s Big Ticket lottery has overnight become a “crorepati”. However, when the Bengaluru resident Arun Kumar Vatakke Koroth was phoned by the hosts of the show to share the good news, he hung up and blocked the number as he thought it was a prank call. As the Series 250 Big Ticket Live draw winner, Kumar will receive a cheque for 20 million dirham, or roughly Rs 44 crore.
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In India today, journalists and activists who punch holes in the carefully crafted narrative set around Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image are often dubbed enemies of the state and accused of being collaborators in “anti-national” plots by foreign governments. These and other such tactics were tried and perfected during Modi’s time in Gujarat, say journalists who worked in the state during those days. The NewsMinute spoke to over eight journalists, but none of them were willing to go on record.
Earlier this week, a Kerala court convicted 14 men involved in the lynching of Madhu, a mentally ill adivasi man. However, five years after the horrible incident, the state has made little effort to address the mental health crisis among adivasi communities.
The Times, London, delves deeper into India’s love of big statues. The latest, a 38m, or 125ft, bronze statue of BR Ambedkar in Hyderabad is to be unveiled in time for his birth anniversary on April 14. Nearly 40,000 people will be bussed in for the ceremony in the city, when officials will rain down flowers on the statue from a helicopter after a crane removes the cloth covering it.
As the BJP government goes on purging textbooks deleting every truth inconvenient to Hindutva, it is pertinent to point out that one of the people in Sardar Patel’s crosshairs after Gandhi’s assassination in 1948 was Mahant Digvijaynath, the spiritual grandfather of Yogi Adityanath.
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