Congress Presidential Poll Unravelling; Civilising TV Slanging Matches, the ‘Chief Medium Of Hate Speech’
Ayushman Bharat covers fraction of CGHS, new trade policy dies in darkness, 44.3 million displaced by lockdowns, Indonesia, not India, is star emerging economy, in UP wedding, show Aadhar for food
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
September 27, 2022
Three days to go before nominations close and the Congress presidential poll is in utter disarray. Shashi Tharoor is in the fray and seems to be the only party leader actually aspiring for the job. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was expected to be the Gandhi family’s unofficial nominee but his insistence on picking his successor in Jaipur as the price for heading the Congress has led to this behind-the-scenes arrangement collapsing. Now the Gandhi family is reportedly looking at former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath as a candidate.
Based on mobile roaming data, a new paper calculates that 44.3 million Indians migrated during the first wave of lockdowns. The distress movement was triggered by the sudden announcement of a country-wide lockdown by the PM in March 2020.
The Business Standard Weekly Recovery Tracker shows that power consumption has dipped. Vehicle registrations declined to 296,000 in the last week, 22.7% lower than the 383,000 registrations in the same period in 2019. Google location data showed a decline in mobility. Retail and recreation spots, groceries and pharmacies, transit stations and parks all saw fewer visitors. Workplace visits increased by 3.1 percentage points. Traffic congestion was lower than before in major metros, showed GPS firm TomTom International.
Google’s head of public policy for India has resigned just five months after her appointment, two sources told Reuters, at a critical time as it awaits the outcome of two antitrust cases here. The reasons for Archana Gulati’s resignation were not immediately clear. Gulati, who previously worked at Niti Aayog and the Competition Commission of India, declined to comment. So did Google.
Twitter yesterday told the High Court of Karnataka that the government asked it to block certain accounts during the farmers’ protests in 2021. Senior advocate Aravind S Datar, appearing for Twitter, said that Section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act does not contemplate wholesale blocking ― only specific tweets can be blocked. The counsel said that the farmers’ protests were being reported by newspapers and TV channels. And anyway, 50-60% of tweets which the government wanted blocked were “innocuous”.
Ostensibly based on intelligence inputs, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has directed YouTube to block 45 videos from 10 channels. Orders were issued on September 23 under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021. The blocked videos had over 1 crore 30 lakh views. The content apparently included “fake news and morphed videos spread with the intent to spread hatred among religious communities.” These videos, claimed the government, were spreading “disinformation on issues related to Agnipath scheme, Indian Armed Forces, India’s national security apparatus, Kashmir, etc.” Certain videos depicted “erroneous external boundary of India with parts of J&K and Ladakh outside the Indian territory.”
Indonesia, not India, is the new star emerging economy. India has been growing below potential for years, a report says.
A Dalit student of class 10 has died during treatment in Lucknow yesterday, days after being allegedly beaten by his teacher for writing wrong answers in an examination.
The Delhi High Court yesterday refused to stay the termination order of Satish Chandra Verma, the Gujarat cadre Indian Police Service (IPS) officer who was part of the special investigation team that probed the Ishrat Jahan encounter case. The court, however, gave the Union government eight weeks to respond to the officer’s petition against his termination.
After much fanfare about a new foreign trade policy by September 30, the Commerce Ministry yesterday extended the existing Foreign Trade Policy (2015-20) by six months. On September 3, Commerce Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam said that they were about to unveil several measures to boost goods and services exports. Yesterday, it was reported that a new policy would “chart a vision statement for 25 years.” Now, the Ministry says “currency volatility, global uncertainty and the geopolitical situation are not suitable for a long-term Foreign Trade Policy.” The existing FTP (2015-20), which was to lapse on March 31, has been extended for short durations several times. The last six month extension from April 1 was to end on September 30.
Thousands of apple-laden trucks from Kashmir are pulled over near Qazigund on NH44. Drivers complain that they are only allowed to move once a day for a few hours and most of the shipments rot.
State-run UCO Bank will soon open a special rupee account with Russia’s Gazprombank to facilitate growing trade between the two countries. RBI has cleared a special rupee vostro account. Earlier, UCO Bank has served as the payment bank for oil imports from sanction-hit Iran. On the other hand, Gazprombank has so far been spared the harsher sanctions Russia has faced for its invasion of Ukraine. However, there is no indication about when transactions can begin.
The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed Union minister Narayan Rane’s plea to stay a Bombay High Court order to demolish unauthorised portions of an eight-floor family bungalow in Mumbai for violating the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and municipal laws. Last week, the High Court ordered the demolition of parts of the BJP leader’s bungalow in Juhu. The court rejected a petition to consider regularisation, which would become a precedent, and imposed costs of Rs 10 lakh.
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Gujarat BJP president CR Patil hinted at early polls in Gujarat, while an Election Commission team is on a two-day tour of the state. In the meantime, Patil on Monday said at an event in Anand, “I think the election will be completed by November-end.”
Three religious charitable trusts and a Mumbai resident practising Jainism have complained that their families, including children, are forced to watch advertisements for meat products. But the Bombay High Court yesterday asked them why they seek to encroach on the rights of others by appealing for restrictions or a ban on such ads.
The Supreme Court started live streaming proceedings today. Yesterday, the Court said it will have its own live-streaming “platform” and the use of YouTube is temporary. A bench headed by Chief Justice Uday Umesh Lalit said: “These are the initial stages. We will certainly have our own platforms… We will take care of that [copyright issue].”
Kerala has won an award at Arogya Manthan 2022 for providing the highest number of free medical treatments. Through Karunya Arogya Suraksha Padhathi (KASP), Kerala has spent Rs 1636.07 cr on treating 43.4 lakh beneficiaries.
Quick reminder: it is 292 days since India lost its Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Bipin Rawat, in an unfortunate air accident. The post is still vacant, leading to speculation that the government may be quietly doing away with it.
A bakery run by women in Bengaluru has won a trademark battle against Amazon.
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