Disaster-Struck Pakistan May Reopen Land Trade With India for Essentials; Kejriwal Can Teach Opposition How To Do a BJP On the BJP
PLA picks holes in INS Vikrant, suicide rate highest ever & students and daily wagers most vulnerable, youth unemployment rampant, Adani world’s third richest, and BJP corporator bought kidnapped boy
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Snapshot of the day
August 30, 2022
For the first time in many years, two Constitution benches were established yesterday. They will sit on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for two and a half hours, the Chief Justice of India announced this morning. As the top constitutional court, the Supreme Court is expected to have a Constitution Bench at all times. Several constitutional questions including the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, Kashmir and electoral bonds await a hearing.
This morning, the Supreme Court closed contempt cases against advocate Prashant Bhushan and former Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal for an interview alleging that several chief justices have been corrupt. CJI UU Lalit and Justices S Ravindra Bhat and JB Pardiwala also disposed of 10 pleas from the National Human Rights Commission, the NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace and riot victims for proper, independent investigation of the 2002 Gujarat riots. It noted that the SIT had investigated and prosecuted eight cases out of nine, and only the Naroda Gaon matter remains.
India lost Prof Abhijit Sen (72) last night. He was one of our most renowned agricultural economists and teachers, and twice member of the Planning Commission and chairperson of the Commission of Agricultural Cost and Prices.
PM Modi has not yet offered help to Pakistan, where a sixth of the population is displaced by unprecedented floods and over 1,000 have died, but he has tweeted his concern. He said he was “saddened” to see the flood situation and wished an “early restoration of normalcy” in the country. Pakistan Finance Minister Miftah Ismail is considering reopening overland trade to import essentials from India. It was closed by the Imran Khan government in protest against the removal of special status of Kashmir. Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar has said that as the largest country, India should have “non-reciprocal” aid relations in the neighbourhood, as it has with Sri Lanka. Pakistan received Indian aid during disasters, especially an earthquake, under the UPA government. It may be recalled that similar diplomacy for disaster mitigation had helped to end old enmities between Greece and Turkey.
CMIE data shows that “in fiscal 2016-17, the employment rate among the youth (aged 15-24) was 20.9%. This fell to 17.9% in 2017-18 and then to 15.5% in 2018-19. Just before the pandemic, in 2019-20, it fell a little more to 14.7%. Then, in the first year of the pandemic, 2020-21, it fell dramatically to 10.9% and slipped a little again in 2021-22 to 10.4%.” While the overall unemployment rate averaged 7%, the youth experienced an unemployment rate of over 34% between 2016-17 and 2021-22. India has the world’s largest youth population ― its demographic dividend. It also has among the lowest youth employment rates.
In contrast to the common people, India’s oligarchs or “Modigarchs” are doing very well. Gautam Adani, with a net worth of $137.4 billion, has beaten Bill Gates and Louis Vuitton co-founder Bernard Arnault to become the world’s third richest person. A sharp Al Jazeera report shows that Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance was the primary gainer from India’s knee-jerk wheat export ban and is now the second-largest exporter. Meanwhile, the data-hoarding Modi government admits that 800 million need dry rations to subsist. The divide is dangerously wide. In his ‘Mann ki Baat’, PM Modi has promoted bhajans as one of the solutions for malnutrition.
Indian graziers were stopped by the Chinese army at Demchok in Ladakh on August 21, The Hindu reports. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) objected to their presence within India’s perception of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) near Saddle Pass. Meetings between commanders of both sides followed. Satellite imagery from Pangong Tso reveals that China may be digging in, with the construction of a new radome structure, perhaps for “providing early warning or surface monitoring data” to PLA troops at the disputed border.
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar’s latest statement against ‘narrow Asian chauvinism’ is a bit of a googly: the state of the border will decide India-China ties. He said that substantial disengagement has been achieved at standoff points, but former Australian PM Kevin Rudd says China’s infrastructure and installations show it’s there to stay. Jaishankar dwelt on the past and perhaps driven by the need to denigrate Jawaharlal Nehru, termed Bandung an exercise in romanticism.
As the Indian Navy prepares to launch its first indigenously built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant – which will be operational only by the end of 2023 – the PLA media has commented on it on its official website, highlighting four major capability deficits: “Although India has great expectations for the first indigenously produced aircraft carrier, in fact, the aircraft carrier still faces many problems, and it will take time to develop a complete combat capability… Even so, the aircraft carrier design still has major flaws. During the previous sea trial, the aircraft carrier had obvious pitching under high-speed sailing, and the bow was up and down.”
Many Indian students applying for Chinese visas to return to their universities after more than two years are not getting an NOC from their Chinese colleges. Some mailed them the soft copy of the NOC, but the Chinese visa officials in Delhi want the original document.
Russia announced yesterday that India and China will take part in a military exercise in Russia. There were, however, no immediate comments from the Indian Army or the Ministry of Defence in New Delhi on participation at the Vostok-2022 military exercise.
Pakistan has expressed “serious concern” over reports in the international press that the Indian government had attempted to “infiltrate the security system” of Twitter by forcing it to employ an Indian “agent/representative”. “Pakistan deplores India’s brazen abuse of state power and strong-arm tactics to manipulate and force-regulate the Internet sphere,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad. India’s IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw denied this – the claim was first made by Twitter whistleblower Peiter Zatko – and cites the company’s own deposition before an Indian parliament committee as his source.
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The rupee touched a fresh low of 80.13 per dollar yesterday but with the RBI stepping in to protect it, ended the day at 79.97 per dollar. The rupee had closed at 79.87 on Friday. RBI was said to have been aggressively selling dollars at 80.05-80.10. From $631.53 billion as on February 25, reserves fell to $564.05 billion as on August 19. RBI said earlier this month that reserves worth $573 billion were equivalent to 9.4 months of imports projected for the current financial year.
The J&K Police have informed the Supreme Court that it is not feasible to hand over bodies of people killed by security forces to their families, as it would open the floodgates to similar litigation. The J&K administration also said it could lead to law and order problems. Since April 2020, the police have not handed over bodies of militants and civilians killed in anti-militancy operations to their families, citing Covid restrictions. They are instead buried in remote graveyards in border areas. In 2020, at least 158 people, mostly militants, were buried thus, and nearly 180 last year. On November 15, Amir Magray, civilians Altaf Bhat and Mudasir Gul and a militant were killed in an encounter at Hyderpora, Srinagar. They were buried in Zachaldara Wudar in Handwara, nearly 100 km away, triggering protests and forcing authorities to return the bodies of Bhat and Gul. Magray’s father Muhammad Lateef filed a petition for his body. Lateef claimed Magray was innocent but the police say he was a militant. Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala reserved judgement in the case.
In Gujarat, girls of certain communities face regressive diktats. Eighteen-year-old girls who wish to marry partners of their choice must seek written permission from the parents. Girls marrying without their consent must be at least 25 and would lose rights to her parents’ property.
Dalal Street crashed yesterday as global markets faltered after the US Fed’s hawkish remarks, and investors lost Rs 2.39 lakh crore. India’s volatility index climbed nearly 9% during the day on fears of foreign investors pulling out. There was a broad-based selloff across sectors excepting FMCG, energy and oil and gas stocks. IT and banking stocks were the worst hit.
BJP corporator Vineeta Agarwal and her husband have been arrested in Firozabad in UP for buying a boy stolen by a gang from the railway platform in Mathura, while his parents slept. The couple said they needed a son. The police are probing a possibly larger racket.
Jamia Millia Islamia has cancelled activist and research scholar Safoora Zargar’s admission days after she accused its administration of stalling her requests for an extension of her M Phil thesis submission. Zargar, who was jailed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in the Delhi riots conspiracy case and was released on bail in June 2020, said the action has broken her heart but not her spirit. She accused the university of abandoning due process. The office of the Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, on Friday said the cancellation was approved on recommendations of the Research Advisory Committee and the Department Research Committee. Her supervisor says Zargar has simply taken too long to submit her thesis.
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative has shown that while on average, 34% of jail inmates globally are undertrials, and 35% in Commonwealth countries, in India, the figure is 76%, the world’s sixth-highest. India ranks as second-worst, next only to Bangladesh, among the 54 Commonwealth countries.
TMC MP Jawhar Sircar said yesterday that a part of his party is “completely rotten” and the BJP cannot be fought in the 2024 elections with such elements.
The Ambani group tying up with Meta is old news, but now the implications of two behemoths uniting are becoming evident. Yesterday, they launched the first end-to-end shopping experience on WhatsApp, allowing Indians to shop from the JioMart catalogue from within the messenger.
The Finance Minister of Madhya Pradesh wielded a sword and shield yesterday. Slashing inflation? Felling unemployment? Who knows.
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