EC Investigating Voter Data Sale by Private Company in Bengaluru; Three-Fifths of India Has Never Listened to ‘Mann ki Baat’: Study
20 companies take home 80% of India’s profits, SC asks how same-sex couples can get social benefits, Adani to miss 5G rollout obligation, SCO fills Saarc vacuum, Hindi songs inspired by Belafonte
A newsletter from The Wire | Founded by MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sushant Singh, Sidharth Bhatia, Tanweer Alam and Pratik Kanjilal | With inputs from Kalrav Joshi | Editor: Vinay Pandey
Snapshot of the day
April 27, 2023
As the electoral battle in Karnataka intensifies, the Election Commission is investigating whether a dubious private company in Bengaluru could have been used to bribe lakhs of voters by depositing money in their bank accounts using UPI, the News Minute reports. The company, whose owners are yet to be traced, openly advertises on its website that it has sensitive information including mobile numbers and WhatsApp numbers of voters. The website claims on its dashboard that it has data of 6.50 lakh voters, including 3,45,089 male, 2,93,000 female and 5,630 other voters. It provides login access to potential clients who can then enter the site and buy information and services of their choice for as little as Rs 25,000. In November, it was reported that representatives of a private company called Chilume had collected personal data from lakhs of voters in Bengaluru by posing as Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike officials.
At least three-fifths of the Indian population has never listened to Prime Minister Modi’s much-hyped radio address “Mann ki Baat”, according to a CSDS study titled “Media in India: Access, Practices, Concerns and Effects”, with respected social scientists, Sanjay Kumar, Suhas Palshikar and Sandeep Shastri as advisers, reports Meetu Jain. The study was published in November and assumes significance in the light of the concerted push to drum up an audience for the 100th episode on April 30.
The Congress on Thursday filed a police complaint against Union home minister Amit Shah for making provocative statements and promoting enmity. “If the Congress comes to power, dynastic politics will be at an all-time high and Karnataka will be afflicted with riots,” the minister had said in an election speech – comments being seen by many as a threat rather than a ‘prediction’.
On Day 6 of the marriage equality hearings before a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Thursday, the bench threw the government a rope, asking it to suggest how same-sex couples could avail of social benefits if the court leaves the question of marriage to the wisdom of the legislature. Earlier, solicitor general Tushar Mehta argued that permitting same-sex marriage would be to the detriment of those in heterosexual marriages. Yesterday, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, heading the bench, told Mehta that he could not rely on the US Supreme Court’s 2022 Dobbs v Jackson ruling to argue for judicial restraint as “in India, we have gone far beyond that”. “Dobbs represents a view of the American Supreme Court that a woman has no control over her bodily integrity. This theory has been debunked long back in our country,” the Chief Justice added.
India has evacuated at least 534 Indian nationals from Sudan and is looking to rescue more of its citizens from the strife-torn African nation before the end of a tenuous ceasefire between the regular army and a paramilitary force. Two C-130J military transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force brought to Jeddah 256 Indians from Port Sudan on Wednesday, a day after an Indian Navy ship rescued 278 citizens from that country. However, many are still waiting for the Indian embassy to rescue them. Two Indian citizens decided to escape the city on their own, because despite multiple requests, the Indian embassy did not act, they said.
After taking India’s telecom players by surprise and buying 5G spectrum when it was auctioned last year, the Adani Group now says it is unable to use what it bought and is going to miss the year-one rollout obligations set by the government. According to the Financial Express, Adani Data Networks has decided to approach the department of telecommunications seeking additional time to meet rollout obligations, the deadline for which is August. For missing timelines, penalties are levied on the companies concerned. Unless an exception is made now.
Ukraine and Pakistan are upgrading their defence partnership, with Kiev launching the process to supply Mi-17 helicopter engines and auxiliary spare parts to Pakistan military in lieu of Islamabad’s regular supply of defence equipment and tanks to Ukraine via European states. Pakistan has signed a deal worth $1.5 million to take supplies of Mi-17 helicopter engines and spare parts for the helicopters, the Economic Times reports.
The wrestlers protesting at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, “Why are you not listening to our ‘Mann Ki Baat’?” They urged him to urgently address the sexual harassment allegations made by them against his party’s MP and WFI chief, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. In an interview with Arfa Khanum Sherwani of The Wire, Sakhi Malik said: “There is no action taken because the accused is from the ruling party and has protection. The names of the victims who have complained have been leaked to the accused.”
The 20 largest profit generators in India now account for an astounding 80% of the country's profits, up from about 40% a decade ago. This is due to improvements in transportation infrastructure (the highway network, for example, has doubled over the past decade), the implementation of GST, and new business models that have migrated from the developed world to India over the past decade. The stock market is becoming more divided as a result of this. The newsletter Urbancomics dives deeper into the issue. Writing for Nikkei Asia, Dev Chatterjee says,“India is increasingly a winner-take-all economy.”
The Madras high court recently set aside an order passed by a special National Investigation Agency court that had referenced Wikipedia while rejecting a Muslim preacher’s discharge plea in a UAPA case. According to Bar and Bench, Justices M Sundar and M Nirmal Kumar said the Supreme Court had cautioned against citing Wikipedia while deciding legal disputes. The special NIA court must decide on the discharge plea afresh, this time relying on witness statements and legal evidence, the high court said.
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Looking at the BJP’s approach to reshaping Jammu & Kashmir’s political legacy and governance model, Himal SouthAsian says it is based on exclusionary measures that have raised concerns about the erasure of Kashmiris from the region’s history and identity.
It turns out a medieval monument dating back to 1418 was demolished in Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar area to make way for the official residence of the CEO of the Delhi Jal Board, the Indian Express reports. And at Mandi House, a revered and much loved shrine in the heart of New Delhi of the Sufi saint Nanhe Mian Chishti was demolished in the early hours of April 26, 2023, the third such Muslim shrine to be officially uprooted in the past one month.
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