Covid May Have Sent Half of Urban Men Back to Villages; UP Gets Three Days to Show Home Demolitions Were Lawful
SC reiterates long-term live-in ties as good as marriage, rupee & trade deficit at record high, Agnipath fires up protests, Cong attacked by Delhi Police, Indian seniors face neglect, violence
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Snapshot of the day
June 16, 2022
The Supreme Court has given Uttar Pradesh three days to submit an affidavit backing official claims that recent home demolitions of activists in the state were carried out lawfully and reminded it of its obligations in this regard. The Jamiat Ulema i Hind has said the punitive demolitions were carried out in violation of law and procedure, and were a vindictive step aimed at Muslims.
The rupee again hit a new all-time low yesterday, closing at 78.07 per dollar ― the previous close was at 78.00. India’s trade deficit hit a record $24.3 billion in May, the highest ever and higher than estimated, amid a sharp jump in gold imports, shows Commerce Ministry data.
A day after the Narendra Modi government announced the Agnipath scheme for recruitment into the armed forces for contract soldiers for four years, ostensibly in order to cut down salaries and pension, thousands of jobless youths protested the decision in several districts of Bihar, including Muzaffarpur, Buxar, Begusarai and Bhojpur. About 45,000 aspirants in the 17.5-21 age group are set to be recruited as ‘Agniveers’, or soldiers, into the Army, Navy and Air Force for four years. Only 25% of them will be absorbed for regular service, based on merit and performance. The rest will get a one-time tax-free package but no gratuity or pension.
Protests broke out in Rajasthan, too, and there is a significant backlash from veterans. Under fire from Opposition parties, the government said it would offer continuity of employment by prioritising uptake to the Assam Rifles. The Education Ministry has said it would launch a special three-year skill-based undergraduate degree programme for ‘Agniveers’ through the Indira Gandhi National Open University, to equip them for civilian jobs.
A Washington Post editorial urges the US to take a stand on “rising Islamophobia” in India. It isn’t just West Asia any more ― the BBC and France 24 also question Indian democracy about bulldozer politics in UP. Incidentally, lawyers for demolition victims Javed Mohammad and his wife Parveen Fatima say that backdated demolition notices were pasted on their house ― after it was razed.
India’s anxiety to downplay tension with China was underlined by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval attending a virtual BRICS meeting hosted by Chinese NSA Yang Jiechi to strengthen “political and security cooperation” within the group. Coincidentally, the meet marked the second anniversary of the Galwan clashes, in which India lost 20 soldiers. “Multilateralism and global governance, new threats and challenges to national security, and governance in new domains” were on the agenda. Yesterday, New Delhi hosted another meeting with China and Pakistan in attendance: the border security conference of SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) countries, which include China, Russia, Pakistan and Central Asian countries.
Covid-19 may have forced 51.6% of men in urban India to return to their villages in what could be the country’s worst reverse migration, according to a report released by the National Statistical Office. The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) conducted in July 2020-June 2021 collected information on migration and temporary visitors to households. The report, ‘Migration in India, 2020-21’, is based on information collected in the PLFS survey.
Nearly 12,000 Aadhaar enrolment operators have been suspended in Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh due to a glitch in the document verification process. Many protested outside the Unique Identification Authority of India’s HQ in New Delhi, demanding better systems.
A fortnight after the southwest monsoon arrived, its progress is not encouraging. Though the IMD had predicted “above normal rainfall”, raising hopes for agricultural output, there’s a 32% deficit. Northwest India has a deficit of 77% with just about 5.8 mm pre-monsoon showers. The country has recorded 42.33 mm of rain against a normal of 136 mm.
Setting aside a Kerala High Court order, the Supreme Court has ruled that the children of a long-term live-in couple are entitled to a share of the family property. The top court was hearing a plea against a High Court order, and noted that the relationship was as good as marriage. “It is well settled that if a man and a woman live together for long years as husband and wife, there would be a presumption in favour of wedlock. Such a presumption could be drawn under Section 114 of the Evidence Act. Although the presumption is rebuttable, a heavy burden lies on him who seeks to deprive the relationship of legal origin to prove that no marriage took place,” it said.
Rahul Gandhi has been summoned back to the Enforcement Directorate tomorrow, for the fourth time. Yesterday, the Delhi Police shone in use, manhandling Youth Congress leader Srinivas BV and treating Sachin Pilot particularly brusquely. The police barged into the party headquarters, intent on breaking up any gathering. Today, the Congress has filed an FIR against officers of the Delhi Police, saying that their actions bring shame to the country.
The Kolkata Municipal Corporation is on alert after type-1 polio was detected in a sewage sample from the Metiabruz area, according to the Deputy Mayor Atin Ghosh. Authorities plan large-scale sampling although experts said there is no significant threat, because this could be a variant mutated from the oral polio vaccine. India, along with all of Southeast Asia, was declared polio-free by the WHO in 2014.
According to ‘Bridge The Gap’, a HelpAge India report, 35% of senior citizens in India suffer abuse by sons, and only 21% by daughters-in-law. Some 82% live with their families, but suffer “verbal abuse”, “neglect” and “physical violence”, and the income of 42% is inadequate for survival.
Why is Disney paying so much for traditional media? The Financial Times says: “Disney’s decision to write a cheque for traditional television rights [to the IPL] even as it passed on streaming was not anticipated.” It quotes a rival bidder: “Why would Disney commit $3bn to TV when they have [been] globally going underweight on TV? It baffles me and everyone I know.”
LinkedIn has signed a deal with UN Women to “empower women digitally and make them job-ready” with a 15-month pilot project in Maharashtra. The project will later scale it up to other Asia-Pacific countries.
Severe siltation and pollution in Kashmir’s freshwater Wular Lake is eroding local livelihoods, and the natural habitat of native plants and fish species.
Eminent Urdu scholar and former president of the Sahitya Akademi Prof Gopi Chand Narang (91) died yesterday in Charlotte, North Carolina. Born in Duki in Balochistan, he taught at St Stephen’s College, Delhi University, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Oslo. His accomplishments and his presence were equally formidable. Watch him here, speaking on Faiz.
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