‘Dharma Sansad’ Raises Bar for Hate Speech; World Reports on Anti-Christian Hysteria
Indian ambassador to Beijing has Chinese name, Amazon sues ED for ‘fishing and roving’, Zydus Cadila shipped tainted Remdesivir, million Ashas to strike and the other NRIs ― ‘Not Really Indians’
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
December 23, 2021
This afternoon, an explosion at the Ludhiana District Court, believed to be an IED, took two lives. Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi reportedly fears a pre-election effort to shape the narrative.
The Karnataka Assembly has passed the controversial Anti-Conversion Bill, showing how rapidly freedom of religion has transformed from fundamental right to cognisable offence. At least 40 socio-political organisations protested in Bengaluru. It may not become a law in the session ending tomorrow, since the BJP doesn’t have a simple majority in the Legislative Council. However, its numbers will go up to 37 after January 5.
Religious leaders, right-wing activists, fundamentalist militants and Hindutva organisations gathered at Haridwar for a ‘Dharma Sansad’, or ‘Religious Parliament’ on December 17-19. Scenes from the hate speech conclave organised by Yati Narsinghanand are shocking. Attendees were urged to kill minorities and attack their religious spaces. The extraordinary quantity of hate speech is drawing global attention, with religious leaders (many with BJP connections) calling openly for genocide against Muslims. No one was arrested. Two former service chiefs have called for action against the Hindutva groups.
This morning, a Lucknow court ordered the UP Police to register an FIR against Salman Khurshid of the Congress for allegedly comparing Hindutva with terror organisations like IS and Boko Haram in his book Sunrise Over Ayodhya. It was released two months ago.
“Our democracy and Constitution are being destroyed. What is the difference between General Zia-ul-Haq’s rule and today’s India? They are poisoning our country like the Pakistani ruler did there,” Mehbooba Mufti said at a rally in Jammu. Farooq Abdullah, President of the National Conference, told The Wire that Kashmiris feel “rejected”, “as if they are being pushed away”. The situation is like “a volcano which could explode” … “It will take the nation with it… nothing will survive”. Speaking about what it’s like to be a Muslim in Narendra Modi’s India, Farooq Abdullah answered: “It’s terrible.”
UN human rights experts have urged the Indian authorities to stop targeting Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez. “We are concerned that one month after Mr Parvez’s arrest, he is still deprived of liberty in what appears to be a new incident of retaliation for his legitimate activities,” they said. “In view of this context of previous reprisals, we call on the Indian authorities to immediately release him.”
While central agencies have filed almost 570 cases against the BJP’s political rivals and critics since 2014, the number of cases against the BJP and its supporters is a paltry 39, finds an NDTV analysis.
As the year-end deadline nears for the Assam and Meghalaya governments to resolve six of 12 border disputes, Assam’s Border Areas Development Minister Atul Bora told the Assembly that some residents in disputed areas were instigated by Meghalaya to take its side. Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma has denied it.
The Washington Post reports: “Following 13 rounds of inconclusive negotiations between military commanders since June 2020, the [India-China] standoff is entering a second winter, an unprecedented development that is stretching logistics and budgets — especially for India”. The Tribune reports: “China ramped up military-related infrastructure near the border in August 2019, just after J&K was bifurcated,” echoing revelations in the exclusive interview of geospatial intelligence expert Chris Biggers with The India Cable on Tuesday.
Global Times appraises new Indian ambassador to Beijing Pradeep Kumar Rawat, a fluent Mandarin speaker and a China expert. He has a Chinese name, ‘Luo Guodong’, and Chinese experts on India studies are familiar with him. “Knowing China well doesn’t necessarily mean being friendly to China. Some former Indian ambassadors to China also showed positive signs before coming to China, but eventually played very limited roles in saving China-India ties from getting worse,” said Lin Minwang of the Institute of International Studies of Fudan University.
South China Morning Post reminds us that Rawat was one of the most senior Indian officials, in charge of China affairs as Joint Secretary for East Asia in 2014-2017, and was involved in talks to end the 73-day Doklam standoff. It was a turning point, after which the two countries became increasingly antagonistic despite years of talks aimed at settling their disputed borders.
The Centre has told Parliament that it “has not enumerated” caste-wise populations other than those of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes since Independence, contradicting its September 21 affidavit in the Supreme Court. Then, the Ministry for Social Justice had acknowledged that a Socio-Economic Caste Census had been conducted to “collect the caste of all persons”, but had thrown up defective data. The SECC economic data was released in July 2015, but the caste data was not. The government may fear that it would lead to demands for increasing OBC quotas.
In trying to keep costs in check at loss-making airline SpiceJet, its politically connected chairman Ajay Singh may have created a toxic work atmosphere and poor safety culture, reports The Morning Context.
In The Lancet Infectious Diseases early Thursday, researchers led by Ramanan Laxminarayan of Princeton University looked at mortality data from the government’s civil registration system alongside census-based measures of affluence. Researchers from Berkeley and Chicago, and top bureaucrats in Tamil Nadu, collaborated. Chennai recorded nearly 26,000 excess deaths between March 2020 and June 2021, a 40% increase ― over five excess deaths per 1,000. Mapping PIN codes on death certificates with economic indicators, neighbourhoods of lower status showed substantially higher excess mortality. Belonging to a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe also increased the risk of mortality.
Delhi yesterday recorded 125 fresh Covid cases, the highest in six months, and 57 Omicron cases, the highest yet in India. But markets are jam-packed with shoppers without masks and no booster policy is in sight.
Mint reports that in March, at the height of the second wave, Gujarat-based Zydus Cadila shipped a batch of Remdesivir, which regulators in Bihar found to be tainted with bacterial endotoxins which caused fever, chills and septic shock in critical patients in five states. The regulatory response was almost absent.