Doctors Trash Attempts To Blame Medical Students Trapped in Ukraine; Russian Attack Rekindling Akhand Bharat Mania
India slides on SDGs & Freedom House report, Swadeshis deboard Air India CEO, TOI may split, Adani in media, cosmic dawn was false, find SARAS astronomers, India’s Olympic pool size paan spittle
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
March 2, 2022
India has fallen further in the latest report on global freedoms from Freedom House. Its score is at 66/100 now and it is described as ‘partly free’, like last year. Read more here.
Given India’s abstention, the Ukrainian ambassador in Delhi is perhaps being advised to appeal to Hindutva: “It’s like the massacre arranged by the Mughals against Rajputs. We are asking all influential world leaders, among them Modi Ji, to use every resource against Putin to stop bombing and shelling,” said Igor Polikha. If he only knew the military record of the Rajputs, or that Rajput generals served as Mughal commanders.
Is India falling between two stools? The Indian Embassy has shut down temporarily in Kyiv, and the embassy’s staff has shifted to Lviv in the west of Ukraine. With tensions escalating between Russia and the West, India, which has major defence cooperation with both Moscow and Kyiv, faces both uncertainty about timely deliveries and the lingering threat of US sanctions under CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) over the S-400 missile deal with Russia.
Indians stuck in Ukraine have started returning on government-organised flights from neighbouring countries, but thousands of Indian students are still stranded in the eastern part of the country, unable to travel to bordering countries to find safety. About 40% of the 20,000 Indians in Ukraine before Russia invaded on February 24 are yet to be evacuated, and nearly half of them are stranded in conflict zones like Kharkiv and Sumy, Foreign Secretary HV Shringla said. A timeline of the Indian government’s inaction challenges the narrative led by the PM, blaming the students for their predicament. Italy, the US, the UK and Middle Eastern countries had started evacuating their nationals two weeks before the invasion.
The Progressive Medicos and Scientific Forum has hit out at attempts to blame students or deflect blame for their getting stuck in a war zone: “These Indian students are in the most desperate hour of their lives. By asking insensitive and inappropriate questions like ― why do they go to small foreign nations to become doctors instead of pursuing education here in their motherland India, the Government of India is feigning ignorance of the rampant commercialization of medical education and health care here in India. GoI is shifting the blame for the current situation and responsibility for their safety onto these Indian Foreign Medical graduates.”
The death of Naveen SG, 21, yesterday has heightened panic among Indian students still in Kharkiv, which is under heavy bombing, many of them stuck in bunkers where food and water are running out. Some Indians are also facing racism. Medical student Akshay Sudheer told TNM that he was barred from boarding eight trains in Kyiv on Monday. “When we asked why we weren’t allowed to board, they called the security. He pointed a gun towards us and also threatened us with a rod.” Most supermarkets have shut down, he added, and drinking water is out of stock. Students are drinking juices and boiling tap water. ATMs are running dry. Students have limited cash, which they are saving to leave the country. The Indian government has asked students to find their own way to the western borders.
The government yesterday issued a memorandum promising “a one-time relaxation measure” for bringing back pets along with stranded Indians. The measure followed an appeal from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India after the nonprofit noticed a video on social media on Saturday.
India is one of the biggest hubs for the production and export of the Russian Sputnik Covid-19 vaccine. It seems that sanctions may slow down its manufacture and export.
BBC reports that day-to-day discrimination in India is marginalising Muslims, who number 40 million and constitute nearly 20% of UP’s population. As the state votes to elect a new government, Muslims tell the BBC that under the BJP’s Hindu nationalist rule, they have become “second-class citizens”.
It’s now accepted that India’s caste problem has crossed the seven seas. Aware of this, Hindutva groups abroad are pushing back. Wired magazine follows up stories of Silicon Valley workers under the scourge of one of the world’s worst discriminatory practices. In December, Harvard became the first Ivy League university to recognise caste-based discrimination.
Diesel sales last month ― a measure of industrial activity ― fell to 5.75 million tonnes, down about 1% from a year earlier and about 5% lower than in February 2020. Petrol sales in February hit about 2.3 million tonnes, up 23.8% from January and about 3.3% higher from a year earlier.
Hindustan Unilever hiked prices across its portfolio of products by 3-13% in multiple tranches in February, with the sharpest increase of 13% seen in the 100 gm Lux soap pack, which rose to Rs 35 from Rs 31. The 125 gm pack of Lifebuoy was hiked from Rs 31 to Rs 33, or 6.5%. In January, the company had hiked the price from Rs 29 to Rs 31. It had raised prices even in January by 3-20% for Wheel, Surf Excel, and Lifebuoy.
Government data shows that in FY21, companies spent Rs 20,360 crore on CSR commitments. In FY20, they had spent Rs 24,864 crore, a 24% rise over FY19. Investments are skewed towards education, health and rural development, which account for 59.9% of total spending on CSR in FY21, compared with 54.6% in FY15. Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu accounted for over one-third of total CSR spending in FY21. But the share of more populous and poor states like UP, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand has remained negligible. They accounted for just 6% of total CSR spending in FY21.
The New York Times says Pankaj Mishra’s Run and Hide is “a novel of modern India that takes some of the big-picture phenomena from [his earlier non-fiction book] Age of Anger and brings those abstractions to human scale… Mishra’s characters have been unmoored from themselves, without even a past to regress into: “…his home village has been razed by developers, and he encounters his father these days only on Facebook, where the old man posts pro-Modi messages of fury and ethnic hatred that make him more of a New India man than his son will ever be.”
Kannada actor Chetan Kumar is defiant after his release on bail yesterday. He said he is determined to speak his mind and work to build an equal and free world in the tradition of Buddha, Basava, Ambedkar, Periyar and Kuvempu. Kumar was jailed for a tweet concerning the ability of the judge hearing the hijab matter, since in another case, he had asked how a woman could sleep at night after having been raped.
During its four-month long re-look at the October 2 raid on the Cordelia cruise, the Narcotics Control Bureau’s SIT has found no evidence that Shahrukh Khan’s son Aryan was involved in a conspiracy, reports The Hindustan Times in an ‘exclusive’. But he seems to be permanently tainted in the popular imagination. However, according to Pinkvilla, Aryan may debut as a film writer and is working on multiple story ideas.
In 2018, astronomers working in the Australian desert had cut through the radio noise of our neighbourhood in space to capture what they believed was the echo of the cosmic dawn ― the birth of the first stars of the universe. Now, the Shaped Antenna Measurement of the Background Radio Spectrum (SARAS) project led by Ravi Subrahmanyan at the Raman Research Institute in Bengaluru has determined that it was not the background radiation, but instrument error. Their shaped antenna floated on water bodies in Karnataka and found no significant signal.
Virat Kohli’s 100th Test for India, to be played at Mohali from Friday
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