EC Makes Its Peace With Amit Shah’s ‘Permanent Peace’; Congress Campaign in Gujarat and Himachal a Study in Contrast
Surge in Indians giving up citizenship, Air Chief warns of long conflicts, Railways & forces short-staffed, e-Re has low traction, Tories goosed by Nithyananda, a Dilip Kumar movie remains to be seen
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Snapshot of the day
December 12, 2022
An unnamed senior Election Commission of India official has told The Telegraph that nothing in Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s “permanent peace” speech in Gujarat had violated the Model Code of Conduct or any other law. Shah had said at an Assembly election rally on November 25 that the BJP had “established permanent peace in Gujarat” in 2002 by teaching “a lesson” to those emboldened by the Congress to engage in rioting. The poll panel official, who asked to not be identified, said: “No community was mentioned in the speech, and hence it was not found to be violative.”
Incidentally, the EC had banned Shah from campaigning during the 2014 general election for an inflammatory speech in Shamli even though no community was mentioned:
“This is not just another election. This is the time to avenge the insult meted out to our community. This election will be a reply to those who have been ill-treating our mothers and sisters.”
That ban was lifted after Shah promised “on oath that I shall not use abusive or derogatory language in the campaign and shall not make any utterances violative of model code of conduct.”
In other news, former chief election commissioner SY Qureshi has said that the heart of democracy is an autonomous Election Commission. “Nowhere else in the world is an election commissioner unilaterally appointed by the ruling government,” he said.
“…we wanted to take the Quad to the leader level, the Indians were ambivalent about it and there were voices in their bureaucracy against it. But when President Biden made the direct appeal ‘repeatedly’ to PM Modi, they decided this was in their interests. We had a meeting last week… and the Indian claimed that of course it was our idea to take it to the leader level,” said Kurt Campbell, US Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs at the National Security Council. “The US side explored whether the Quad could develop military teeth and the Indian side restated its discomfort,” reports Economic Times. It also reports that three years after the US agreed to have Indian liaison officers at the Indo-Pacific Command and Special Operations Commands, the Modi government has not been able to nominate even one.
India and other countries should “respect” and follow ASEAN’s policy on Myanmar rather than adopting a “different” path, said Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi. In comments to The Hindu about India’s decision to engage the Myanmar military government that came to power in February 2021 after deposing the elected National Unity Government and jailing thousands including Aung San Suu Kyi, Marsudi said that this appproach could make the 10-member ASEAN’s efforts towards democracy “less effective”.
Russia welcomes India’s decision against the G7 price cap on Russian oil, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak told India’s Ambassador Pavan Kapoor last week. In the meeting, Russia has reportedly offered India help with “leasing and building large-capacity ships” as insurance on Russian tankers is done away with. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Russian oil exports to India rose to 16.35 million tonnes in the first eight months of 2022.
The Washington Post looks closely at Gautam Adani’s ability to swing the government to change rules and shift goalposts. The world's third richest man has built an empire on coal. The story of his Jharkhand power plant is used to demonstrate how “political will in India bends in favour of the dirty fuel and Adani.” And Foreign Affairs reminds us: “As of August 2022, nearly 80% of the $160 billion year-to-date increase in India’s stock market capitalisation was accounted for by just one conglomerate, the Adani Group.”
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India has seen a huge surge in people giving up its citizenship in 2022. “The exodus in 2022 is likely to take the total number… in the past nine years close to 12.50 lakh.” The trend has been generally upward except in 2016, 2017 and 2020 (due to Covid travel restrictions).
In Maharashtra, police SUVs bought using the Nirbhaya Fund to fight crime against women (Nirbhaya was raped and murdered ten years ago, this month) were apparently “diverted to provide Y-plus security to Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s legislators.” The recipient of ‘Y-plus with escort’ gets an escort vehicle and five policemen on duty round the clock.
For the Tories, it hasn’t been a happy Diwali. The “UK representative of a fugitive Hindu guru”, Nithyananda, attended a glamorous Diwali party at the House of Lords at the invitation of two senior Conservatives, the Observer has reported. Atmadaya was invited to the function by the MP Bob Blackman and the peer Rami Ranger. Nithyananda’s organisation also took out a full-page advertisement in a brochure handed out to attendees. Nithyananda was charged in 2010 with raping a devotee. In 2011, Gujarat police raided one of his ashrams and arrested two people, on the allegation that kidnapped children were held there. An arrest warrant was issued against him in August but he is said to have escaped India in 2019 and founded his own nation, named Kailaasa.
After sitting on the recommendation to make him a judge for 75 days, Law Minister Kirin Rijiju tweeted yesterday that Justice Dipankar Datta has been appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of India. He was sworn in this morning. The Centre’s notification followed the Supreme Court repeatedly criticising the government for not acting in good time on recommendations of the Collegium.
The controversial law, now prevalent in 11 states at least, mandating prior notice to state authorities for changing one’s religion exposes people who want to switch for personal reasons to harm by third parties, former Supreme Court judge Justice Deepak Gupta tells Live Law.
Indian Air Force chief VR Chaudhari said on the weekend that new forms of threats have emerged and there is a need to prepare for prolonged wars instead of short and swift operations. “We have to increase logistics footprints, technology and tactics,” he said. Defence expenditure has been falling. The majority goes into salaries (31%) and pensions (23%). Only 24% is applied to weapons and modernisation. And now, only short-term contractual soldiers will be hired.
Despite over two million tourist arrivals this year, there has been no reduction in the killing of militants, security forces personnel and civilians in Kashmir from 2021. According to official figures, 180 militants, 31 security personnel and 31 civilians have been killed in Jammu and Kashmir in 123 terror incidents this year. Among the slain civilians, 14 belonged to minorities, including three Kashmiri Pandits.
For over a month, the government has been sitting on a Supreme Court judgment that allows members of the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) to contribute more than they now can to the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS), to assure a higher pension. CPI(M) member Elamaram Kareem and DMK member M Shanmugam raised the matter in the Rajya Sabha last week.
Two weeks after it was launched, usage of the eRupee (e-Re), the central bank digital currency or CBDC, remains low because of doubts about the anonymity of transactions. The RBI has said that eRupee transactions are anonymous, but is the implementation so?
Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh have chief ministers with fresh terms. Bhupendra Patel was sworn in today in Gujarat and Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu yesterday in Himachal Pradesh. The latter is the son of a bus driver and once sold milk to sustain his family. Now 58, a postgrad with a law degree, he is being described as self-made and pedigree-free. (Quiz: Guess whose swearing-in ceremony was shown live by most big TV channels?). The Telegraph has a report on Rahul Gandhi at the swearing-in ceremony. Scroll explains how the BJP’s electoral sweep leaves Gujarat with least political representation for Muslims among India’s large states. Earlier, this dubious mantle was held by Madhya Pradesh, also ruled by the BJP.
The Editors Guild of India held a day-long seminar on December 10, Human Rights Day, to evaluate the press@75. Veterans weighed in on the Indian media’s responsibilities and rights: the threats, setbacks and opportunities for the fourth estate. Hear N Ram, Sashi Kumar, Seema Mustafa and others.
No one cycles in India’s capital, so it doesn’t need cycle lanes? Really? The invisibilised working class pedals