Despite SC’s Scrutiny, ‘Love Jihad’ Rallies Continue; Mustard, Mangoes and Climate Change
Eight farmer suicides every day in Maharashtra, ALH fleet grounded, Indian startups feel tremors of SVB collapse, BJP in MP taken aback by pension issue, Indian documentaries open new Oscars chapter
A newsletter from The Wire | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
Snapshot of the day
March 13, 2022
Parliament resumed today with the Modi government bringing up Rahul Gandhi’s alleged disrespect – while in London recently – for India’s institutions. This was presumably the treasury bench’s cynical way of dealing with the Opposition demand for a debate on the Adani matter and other issues that the government has been ducking these past few weeks. Speaking of disrespect, Badri Raina reminds us of Narendra Modi’s words from 2015, uttered in Shanghai – that Indians were “ashamed” of being Indians before he took over in 2014.
In an affidavit before the Supreme Court, the Union government has opposed a plea seeking recognition of same sex marriage. It says that same sex relations “cannot be compared to the Indian family concept of a husband, a wife and children born out of the union.”
The Elephant Whisperers won the Oscar for the Best Documentary Short Film. Directed by Kartiki Gonsalves and produced by Guneet Monga, it was nominated alongside Haulout, The Martha Mitchell Effect, Stranger At The Gate and How Do You Measure A Year?
The Oscar nominations for All That Breathes and The Elephant Whisperers mark an epoch. Nominated in categories known to be among the most difficult, birthed in a country with a negligible ecosystem for non-fiction, this is nothing short of phenomenal, write Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh.
Deepika Padukone introduced ‘Naatu Naatu’ from RRR at the Awards. She is the third Indian Oscar presenter after Persis Khambatta (1980) and Priyanka Chopra (2016). ‘Naatu Naatu’ is the first Indian track to win the Best Original Song Award.
Moscow is freeing up Vladimir Putin’s schedule around this year’s G20 summit in India in September so that he can participate in the leaders’ gathering, after skipping the last two. However, no final decision has been taken, reports Bloomberg.
India and Russia will soon upgrade their bilateral air services agreement to include more weekly flights. Russian carriers would be allowed to operate up to 64 weekly flights to Indian cities. The limit is now 52. Aeroflot operates seven weekly flights to India and no Indian airline currently flies to Russia. Air India, before its privatisation, was the only Indian carrier flying to Russia.
Ongoing ‘love jihad’ rallies are once again openly spreading hate against Muslims in Maharashtra. Here’s a reminder of what happens at such events.
Even the Supreme Court’s scrutiny has done little to stem the flood of provocative speeches organised under the aegis of the Sakal Hindu Samaj. In the weeks after the court order, at least 11 major rallies were organised in Maharashtra. The VHP, Bajrang Dal, Sanatan Sanstha and Durga Vahini, and lesser-known organisations like Vishwa Shriram Sena, Hindu Rashtra Sena, Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and Hindu Pratisthan, as well as trustees and priests of temples have led the events. The organisations say they are part of the Sakal Hindu Samaj.
The One Rank, One Pension (OROP) issue continues to dog the Modi government. The Supreme Court on Monday pulled up the government for seeking to pay the arrears owed to retired veterans in instalments.
Lobbying by Taiwanese Apple phone manufacturer Foxconn led to major changes in labour laws by the BJP state government in Karnataka, reports the Financial Times. It has successfully lobbied for two-shift production, like in China, its main manufacturing base. The Karnataka Assembly on March 1 passed a labour law that permits 12-hour shift production and allows women to work at night. It increased a worker’s legitimate working hours in a day from nine to 12 for four consecutive days before taking three days off. This would encourage more international firms to manufacture in Karnataka. But earlier, labour law violations at the Wistron facility in Kolar had triggered a strike.
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Adani group stocks have been on a roller-coaster ride, falling 30-80% after the Hindenburg crisis and then going up by 11-86 per cent after the vote of confidence from GQG partners. Trade volumes in Adani Group stocks have risen, but data on shares delivered indicates more speculation than investing. While the deliverable quantity, in absolute numbers, too has increased multifold after January 24, as a proportion of total traded quantity, deliverable quantities are still lower for stocks in derivatives such as Adani Enterprises, Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone, ACC and Ambuja.
The Adani Group is seeking to sell part of its stake in Ambuja Cement to reduce its debt and restore the flagging confidence of investors, reports the Financial Times. This would be the group’s first asset sale after the Hindenburg crisis in January. Gautam Adani, the businessman whose stratospheric rise in fortunes coincided with the political rise of PM Narendra Modi, has made a formal request to international lenders to sell 4-5% of his stake in the cement company, raising $450 million.
The Wall Street Journal sees tough times ahead for Adani: its stocks recovery is on shaky ground.
Sluggish industrial growth and subdued mobility reduced India’s consumption of petrol and diesel in February 2023, for the second consecutive month, after rising demand in November-December 2022. While petrol consumption fell by 2% month on month to 2.78 million tonnes (mt) in February, diesel usage declined 2.5% to almost 7 mt. Similarly, LPG demand was also down 4.6% at 2.4 mt. The consumption of aviation turbine fuel also fell by 7% to 0.62 mt.
About eight farmers are reportedly dying by suicide every day in Maharashtra. As many as 1,203 farmers have taken their own lives since the Eknath Shinde government came to power, the Indian Express reported, quoting NCP leader and Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar, speaking in the Assembly on March 10. The New Indian Express reported that while 1,203 farmers died during the seven months of the current administration, 1,660 had died in the two-and-a-half-year period of the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government led by Uddhav Thackeray. Before the MVA government, the state was under BJP rule and Devendra Fadnavis was the chief minister between 2014 and ’19. In that time period, 5,061 farmers ended their lives.
Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav has dismissed as “rumours” the Enforcement Directorate’s claim that proceeds of crime amounting to Rs 600 crore were detected in searches on premises owned by him and close family members. The RJD leader, now in Delhi, also said the BJP would be embarrassed if he made public the panchnama (seizure list) signed after the raids. “Just recall, in 2007, transactions worth Rs 8,000 crore, including a mall and hundreds of land plots, were alleged,” tweeted Yadav, referring to the land-for-hotels ‘scam’ pertaining to his father Lalu Prasad Yadav’s tenure as railway minister. Now facing the heat in the land-for-jobs ‘scam’ pertaining to roughly the same period, Yadav also recalled his name being linked to a mall seized in Gurugram, which was actually owned by a private company.
Tamil Nadu Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Udayanidhi Stalin has told the media to mind their business. He refused to comment on media queries about his son Inbanithi’s photographs with his girlfriend circulating on social media, saying that his son was over 18 years and it was his personal affair. The photographs had circulated in January but Udayanidhi had not responded. His wife Krithika Udayanidhi had tweeted that there was no taboo on loving and expressing it.
Among 14 people, US President Joe Biden on Friday named two Indian-Americans — Revathi Advaithi, CEO of Flex, and Manish Bapna, CEO of Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) — to the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. The Advisory Committee provides overall policy advice to the US Trade Representative on implementation and administration of the trade policy.
Conservationists are up in arms because the electricity regulator plans to allow power companies in Rajasthan to proceed with projects that could endanger the Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps). The species, declared critically endangered in 2011, has poor vision and is so heavy that it cannot change course at the last minute. It fails to see overhead power lines in time, and electrocution is almost certain. About 10 bustards are electrocuted every year across India.