‘Clean Chit’ to Adani a Worrying Template for Future Probes; RSS’s Early Order was Modelled on ‘Balilla’, Fascist Italy’s Youth Brigade
On May 28 Modi will receive a king’s sceptre, 186 fatal encounters in UP under Yogi, Modi’s Australia visit and BBC docu, Indian-origin ‘Nazi’ teen arrested in US, forest bill could jeopardise forests
A newsletter from The Wire | Founded by MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sushant Singh, Sidharth Bhatia, Tanweer Alam and Pratik Kanjilal | With inputs from Kalrav Joshi | Editor: Vinay Pandey
Snapshot of the day
May 25, 2023
A public interest petition was filed in the Supreme Court on Thursday challenging the inauguration of the new parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and not the “First Citizen of India”, President Droupadi Murmu. The petition, filed by advocate CR Jaya Sukin, said the President has not even been invited to the inauguration ceremony. The petition comes soon after 19 opposition parties said they will boycott the inauguration on May 28. They have accused the government of sidelining the President, terming it as an “insult”.
In Tamil tradition, when a new king was crowned, he was given a “sengol”, or sceptre, during the coronation by the high priest as a symbol of transfer of power. The sengol reminded the recipient that he had the “aanai” (decree) to rule justly and fairly. On the advice of C Rajagopalachari, this ritual was enacted, at the time of India’s Independence to symbolise the transfer of power from Britain to India. On May 28, when Prime Narendra Modi inaugurates the new parliament building, he will receive from a priest the same sceptre that was given to Jawaharlal Nehru. The five-foot-long intricately carved, unbending gold-plated silver sceptre, with a finial of Nandi (divine bull deity) on top, was kept in the Nehru gallery of the Allahabad Museum and has been moved to Delhi now. So, is May 28 coronation day for Modi? And from whom is power being transferred to him?
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who faced a barrage of uncomfortable questions from at least two TV hosts over his bonhomie with a prime minister with an extremely poor human-rights record, namely, Narendra Modi, has a defender in Sydney Morning Herald journalist Matthew Knott, who writes: “Albanese’s primary job is to advance Australia’s national interests, not to ‘call out’ his fellow world leaders for their failings.” How Albanese was questioned is not something we get to see in Modi’s India. Here’s a sample:
Michael Rowland of ABC News: “Prime Minister, there’s a small protest happening outside as we go to air at Kirribilli House, there was a protest outside the rally last night. It’s clear not every member of the Indian-Australian community is entirely happy Mr Modi is here. He’s accused of repressing his political opponents, he’s accused of repressing the media, he’s accused of discriminating against Muslims. Does any of that trouble you?”
Albanese: “Well India is, of course, the world's largest democracy. Here in Australia, of course, people have a right to express their views in a peaceful way, and people, we all have different views about people in politics. Australia, of course, always stands up for human rights, wherever it occurs anywhere in the world.” Rowland persists and goes on to ask the question four more times in different ways. Albanese does not budge, neither does he walk out when faced with tough questions as his Indian counterpart famously did.
AAP leader and former Delhi minister Satyendar Jain, who has been in Tihar jail since May last year, was hospitalised and put on oxygen support on Thursday after he collapsed at the prison due to dizziness, the party said. The party said Jain was first admitted to the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital and later, shifted to the Lok Nayak Hospital due to breathing problems.
The US has issued an unprecedented official warning to Bangladesh saying it would restrict visas to anyone involved in preventing a free and fair election in that country, reports the Telegraph. The tough warning issued by US secretary of state Anthony Blinken could apply to thousands of government officials and police officers and anyone who interferes with elections in Bangladesh.
An investigation of Uttar Pradesh police records by the Indian Express shows that since March 2017, when Yogi Adityanath took charge, the state has witnessed 186 fatal encounters. This works out to more than one alleged criminal being killed by the police every 15 days. In these six years, when it comes to police firing to injure (usually in the leg), the number goes up to 5,046 – more than 30 alleged criminals being shot at and injured every 15 days.
The violent clashes that gripped Manipur earlier this month, and continue to reverberate in the state, were referred to in a statement issued by the United Nations commissioner for human rights Volker Turk as he marked 75 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN initiative “Human Rights 75”, which he launched in December. “The recent violence in Manipur, Northeast India, revealed the underlying tensions between different ethnic and indigenous groups. I urge the authorities to respond to the situation quickly, including by investigating and addressing root causes of the violence in line with their international human rights obligations,” Turk said in a statement on Wednesday.
The India Cable is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
The G20 delegates wrapped up their three-day tour of Srinagar with a visit to some scenic spots in the city on Wednesday, hours after American academic Noam Chomsky questioned the conscience of the grouping for holding such a meeting in “brutalised” Kashmir, reports the Telegraph. The G20 meeting had started on a controversial note on Monday after three member countries – China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – and guest country Egypt boycotted the event. It was the first major international event in Kashmir after the 2019 scrapping of its special status.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai says building AI responsibly and making sure that as a society we get it right is the only race that matters. Writing for the Financial Times, he also affirms that fulfilling AI’s potential is not something that one company can do alone. Insisting that AI is too important not to regulate and too important not to regulate well, he says: “Developing policy frameworks that anticipate potential harms and unlock benefits will require deep discussions between governments, industry experts, publishers, academia and civil society.”
The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill 2023 could jeopardise vast tracts of ecologically important forests and leave out large “unclassed forests” that account for around 15% of India’s total forest cover, reports the Hindustan Times, quoting the report by a high-level working group on the bill, constituted by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy. Unclassed forests are recorded as forests but not included in the reserved or protected forests category. Their ownership varies from state to state. The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in March and subsequently referred to a joint parliamentary committee. The JPC, headed by BJP MP Rajendra Agrawal, invited public suggestions on the bill.
The “clean chit” to Adani by the Supreme Court-appointed expert committee raises questions and creates a worrying new template for future investigations, writes Sucheta Dalal. “A Supreme Court-appointed expert committee could well become a preferred choice for corporate India, when faced with a major financial scandal requiring a ‘systemically important investigation’. On 6th May, an expert committee submitted a report on the Adani saga making a masterly, point-by-point legal case for exonerating the group and the market regulator, while also suggesting that, if the ‘letter of the law’ were to be followed, there is no case for repeated and never-ending investigation based on ‘suspicion’ that various actions of the group violated the ‘spirit of the law’,” she says and asks: “What more could any corporate group want?”
An Indian-origin teen from Missouri, Sai Varshith Kandula, has been arrested in Washington after he drove his rented box truck and crashed into security barriers at the Lafayette Square, near the White House on Monday night. While there were no injuries or ongoing danger, the investigators found a Nazi swastika flag that apparently came from inside the truck. According to the charges, Kandula,19, later told the Secret Service that he had flown from St Louis on a one-way ticket the night of the incident. He wanted to “get to the White House, seize power, and be put in charge of the nation”. Kandula also said he would “kill the president” if that’s what he had to do.
India’s PC market, comprising desktops, laptops, and workstations, declined 30.1% in the March quarter, compared with the same period last year, reports the Hindu, quoting IDC data. During the quarter, only 2.99 million units were shipped. While the demand for desktops remained positive, laptops witnessed a weak quarter, declining 40.8% during the period.The consumer market is expected to gradually recover with back-to-college demand, to be followed by aggressive online sales expected during the festive months, Bharath Shenoy, senior market analyst, IDC India, said in a blog post.
The chairman of Tata Group is reportedly scheduled to meet UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak next week for talks that are expected to result in the Indian group building a flagship electric car battery factory in the UK. Ministers hope Natarajan Chandrasekaran’s visit will lead to Tata choosing Somerset over a competing location in Spain to supply Jaguar Land Rover, the company’s UK-based manufacturer.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to The India Cable to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.