Delimitation Report Is In, Next Elections to See Jammu Gain at Expense of Kashmir; How Facebook Broke Every Promise Made While Buying WhatsApp
For platforms, free speech is not a principle but a business model, facing antitrust heat, Google taps ex-CCI official, citizens slam ‘irrational attacks’ on food habits of poor, minister told fib
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
May 5, 2022
Expect fairly rapid developments on the Jammu and Kashmir political front now that the Delimitation Commission has submitted its final report on the redrawing of constituencies in the former state. Its draft recommendations were controversial because they involve reducing the relative voice of Kashmir, a Muslim majority region. According to an official release, J&K will have 90 legislative constituencies, out of which Kashmir will elect 47 and Jammu 43. Of these, seven seats have been reserved for Scheduled Castes (all in the Jammu region) and nine for Scheduled Tribes (six in Jammu and three in Kashmir). In the old assembly, out of 83 seats for J&K, Kashmir had 46 and Jammu 37, and there was no reservation. In addition, the commission has suggested the government nominate two MLAs from among the Kashmir migrants (i.e. Kashmiri Pandits) and give them the same rights as nominated members to the Puducherry assembly. Whether those members have the right to vote in a confidence motion is still an open question.
The boundaries of the five parliamentary seats have also been redrawn; controversially, the Valley region of Anantnag has been clubbed with the Rajouri and Poonch regions in Jammu. Once the report is accepted, elections are likely to be held. The people of J&K have not been ruled by elected representatives since 2018.
Google has hired a new public policy head in India, Archana Gulati, a 1989 batch Indian civil services officer who was a joint secretary for digital communications at Niti Aayog till March 2021. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a senior official at the Competition Commission of India. A week ago, the CCI ordered a probe into allegations that Google is abusing its dominance in online news and advertising to seize the entire revenue chain, and deny news websites their due for content.
Neeraj Arora, who was chief business officer of WhatsApp when it was an apolitical service connecting diasporas almost for free, regrets the sale to Facebook, which he helped to negotiate, and lists out what went wrong.
VPN companies are now required to collect user data and hand it over to the Indian government, or face a ban in India and the imprisonment of executives. Companies are apparently required to map IP addresses to verified street addresses and track usage patterns. This defeats the very purpose of a VPN – which is to allow anonymous browsing – and reveals that the government views the privacy of citizens as an inconvenience.
The Economist has an informative film on the nature of pressure on the media globally. India is the first case examined.
Hindutva activists made an unsuccessful attempt to stir up communal tension in Burhanpur, Madhya Pradesh by damaging Hindu idols in a temple and hoping Muslims would be blamed.
A large group of activists, doctors, nutritionists, parents, advocates and researchers have made a statement against “irrational attacks on the food habits and nutrition rights of poor people, in the form of laws, bans and calls to boycott the sale and consumption of meat”, with a specific focus on “food fascism” in Karnataka. The fact that violent food politics is affecting the diet and livelihoods of the poor is highlighted.
Caste exclusion is threatening a 2,000-year-old art form which bears a UNESCO tag, reports The News Minute. It’s been 87 years since Kerala allowed people of all castes to enter temples but koothambalams (temple halls) on the premises, where Kutiyattam and Koothu are performed, remain the exclusive preserve of the Chakyars and Nambiars. Families with customary rights for the Kutiyattam performance in major temples like Vadakkumnathan in Thrissur and Koodalmanikyam in Irinjalakuda do not allow members from other castes to perform inside a koothambalam.
After projecting itself as a big gainer in wheat exports due to the Ukraine crisis, India is now considering restricting wheat exports as severe heat has damaged crops, reports Bloomberg, as the government slashed its production estimate for the current season to 105 million tons from a record 111 million tons forecast earlier. The government may set a minimum export price for wheat to guarantee domestic supply and control prices.
For lack of updated ID documents on a new system, some retired military personnel were denied their pensions. Following massive criticism, the Defence Ministry yesterday capitulated and is releasing the April pension of 58,275 veterans as a one-time measure.
The puzzling five-month delay in appointing a new Chief of Defence Staff in place of the deceased Gen Bipin Rawat “is bad for India, (and the) political leadership is to blame”, former Army chief Gen VP Malik has told Karan Thapar.
Some three dozen eminent citizens have written to the Delhi government and the municipal corporations, urging them to immediately stop “illegal and unlawful” demolitions in the national capital. Signatories include the economist Jayati Ghosh, All India Democratic Women’s Association members Malini Bhattacharya and Mariam Dhawale, social activist Anjali Bhardwaj and All India Progressive Women’s Association member Kavita Krishnan. In the letter to Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, they said it was “appalling” that bulldozers hired by civic authorities are targeting temporary structures essential to the livelihood of people.
The National Commission for Minorities yesterday took exception to the use of the term ‘love jihad’ for certain cases of interfaith marriage and said there was no bar on couples of legal age professing different faiths tying the knot with mutual consent. “What is love jihad? I have not found this term in any dictionary,” the NCM chairperson said when asked for his comment on the BJP’s campaign against ‘love jihad’ in Kerala and other parts of the country.
Intrepid young UP journalist Pawan Jaiswal, who broke the story of midday meals in UP consisting of just rotis and salt in 2019, and faced the wrath of a vindictive Adityanath, died of cancer early this morning. He was being treated in a Varanasi hospital.