ED Chief's Third Extension 'Illegal', says SC Amicus; RSS-Backed Hindusthan Samachar Prasar Bharati’s Primary News Agency Now
Economic growth ‘very fragile’, says RBI monetary policy man, fireworks expected in G20 FMs’ meet over Ukraine, mobile internet shut in Nuh, foreign correspondents being harried by government
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Snapshot of the day
February 27, 2023
The CBI, which yesterday arrested Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in connection with alleged corruption in the now-scrapped liquor excise policy, told a Delhi court that it needs the Aam Aadmi Party leader in its custody for five days as he was “not cooperating”. Sisodia’s arrest, one of the most serious actions against an Opposition leader, follows that of Satyendar Jain, Delhi’s then health minister, in June last year. Every opposition party other than the Congress has condemned the arrest; the Congress, bested by Sisodia’s AAP in Delhi and Pubjab, has welcomed the CBI’ss action.
Congress leader Pawwan Khera, who faces criminal charge in Assam and Uttar Pradesh for calling the PM ‘Narendra Gautamdas Modi’ in a dig at his proximity to controversial businessman Gautam Adani, has been granted an extension of his interim protection from arrest till March 3 as the Supreme Court agreed to hear what counsel from the two states wish to say in the matter before ruling on confirming Khera’s bail.
The Enforcement Directorate, accused by the opposition of being the BJP’s battering ram, may soon have a change of leadership forced on it if the Supreme Court accepts the assessment of its amicus KV Viswanathan that the unprecedented extension granted to the current director, Sanjay Kumar Mishra – his third – is “illegal”.
India’s state broadcaster Prasar Bharati will now entirely rely on RSS-backed news agency Hindusthan Samachar for its daily news feed. On February 14, 2023, Prasar Bharati, which runs Doordarshan and All India Radio, signed an exclusive contract with Hindusthan Samachar, two years after it cancelled its subscription with the Press Trust of India (PTI), India’s largest and oldest professional news agency. Hindusthan Samachar has been providing its wire services to Prasar Bharati for free since 2017 on an “evaluation basis”. Now, the two parties have entered into a formal agreement in which Prasar Bharati will pay nearly Rs 7.7 crore to Hindusthan Samachar for a period of two years ending in March 2025.
Multilingual agency Hindusthan Samachar was founded in 1948 by a senior RSS pracharak and co-founder of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Under the Modi government, it has been a regular beneficiary of government advertisements. Hindusthan Samachar, which has a declared mission of presenting news from a “nationalist” perspective, was forced to shut shop in 1986 after a financial crisis. However, it was revived by the RSS in 2002 during the Vajpayee government.
Sandeep Ravindranath writes in The Independent that the censorship of the BBC documentary on Modi and Gujarat “has personal resonance for me, since Section 69A of the Information Technology Act that was used to ban the BBC documentary was the same law used to block my short film.” Read more here.
Financial experts have sought an urgent intervention by the National Stock Exchange (NSE) board and market regulator SEBI to review an NSE subsidiary’s move to include five Adani group firms in 14 Nifty indices, which would drive lakhs of investors’ savings into the group’s sinking stocks from March 31. The NSE’s most popular market benchmark, the Nifty 50, already includes Adani Ports and SEZ and Adani Enterprises. Following this review, the number of Adani Group stocks in the Nifty Next 50 and the Nifty 100 will rise to six and eight, respectively. Adani Enterprises, which was already part of the Nifty 100, has been added to the Nifty 100 Liquid 15 index.
The beleaguered Adani Group is in talks with global credit funds to raise $400 million (Rs 3.3 lakh crore) in debt against Australian coal port assets that make up a large portion of its exports of the fossil fuel from Carmichael mine, reports the Economic Times. North Queensland Export Terminal (NQXT), which is controlled by the Adani family trust, is being considered to raise funds for the group, according to the report on Monday.
Of the 33 funds that were allocated shares worth Rs 5,984.9 crore in the anchor round of Adani Enterprises’s now-cancelled FPO, 13 are based in Mauritius. They collectively invested Rs 1,728.18 crore, or 28.87% of the anchor round. Data with the Corporate and Business Registration Department in Mauritius reveals that five of the 13 funds have several commonalities including directors, addresses and management companies. All five funds are ultimately linked to one Jayechund Jingree, a taxation and investment structure specialist in Mauritius who was a director of the Adani Group’s local subsidiary 20 years ago. The Morning Context reports that directors of a sixth fund — the Great International Tusker Fund — are closely linked to Mauritius entities associated with Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani’s older brother Vinod Adani and Subir Mittra, head of the Adani Family Office.
The Supreme Court has directed the government to place on record within six weeks steps it has taken to implement its judgement of nearly 10 years ago which banned the “inhuman practice” of manual scavenging and made entry into sewers without safety gear a crime, even in emergencies.
India stalled a request by the Western countries to permit Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko to address a G20 meeting of Finance Ministers, reports The Tribune. The G7 settled for a separate meeting in Bengaluru, which Marchenko addressed via a video link. The Indian move means that New Delhi is not in the mood to have Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy participate in the G20 summit to be held here in September.
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With the conflict in Ukraine dominating the global discourse, a tense and perhaps acrimonious meeting is expected this week when the G20 foreign ministers gather in Delhi. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, and the other foreign ministers at the G20 will be in the same room along with the host, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, to address major challenges. The G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Bali last year under the Indonesian presidency ended in sharp exchanges and walkouts. There was no joint communique as the members failed to agree on the text.
The meeting of G20 finance ministers which ended on Saturday brought to the fore the differences among member countries in describing the Ukraine war, and the meeting concluded without a joint statement, the first time this has happpened in the G20’s history. In its place, a G20 Chair’s Summary and Outcome Document was released, underlining the positions of member countries on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Earlier, Russia and China had asserted that no joint statement referring to the Ukraine war would be signed. They had expressed disappointment about the G20 platform being used to discuss political matters. In the press conference, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman refused to say whether India was among the members that condemned the war. The Congress’s Shashi Tharoor has said the Bangalore G20 meeting is an “absolute setback for Indian diplomacy”.
The killing of Umesh Pal, a prime witness in the 2005 murder of BSP MLA Raju Pal in Prayagraj, has highlighted the deteriorating law and order situation in UP. The 43-year-old lawyer was shot dead at his residence in Prayagraj’s Sulem Sarai area on Friday evening. Pal’s two bodyguards were also injured in the attack and one of them, Sandeep Nishad, succumbed to bullet injuries. The six heavily-armed assailants escaped.
“Won’t answer their questions”, said folk singer Neha Rathore after the UP police issued a notice to her. In a song, Neha has mentioned the Kanpur incident in which a mother and daughter were allegedly burnt to death.
India’s economic growth appears to be “very fragile” and may not fulfil the aspirations of its growing workforce, RBI Monetary Policy Committee member Jayanth R Varma has said. He said rising EMI payments are dampening spending, and exports are sluggish due to global factors. While noting that high interest rates make private capital investment more difficult, Varma said the government is in fiscal consolidation mode, reducing support to the economy.
As the deadline set by the Supreme Court for employees and pensioners who retired after September 1, 2014, to submit the joint options with employers to the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) to claim higher PF pension based on actual salary ends on March 3, the EPFO has approached the Labour Ministry seeking an extension till May 4. The ministry, however, has not taken a decision.
A Kashmiri Pandit man was shot dead by militants in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district yesterday, say police. Sanjay Sharma worked as an armed guard in his village in the Achan area of the south Kashmir district.
The Haryana government yesterday ordered mobile internet to be shut down in Nuh district for three days over apprehensions of communal tension and breach of the peace following a call for more protests over the abduction and murder of two men from Rajasthan, allegedly by cow vigilantes. There have been ‘Hindu panchayats’, rallies on behalf of victims, escalations of tension and more attacks after the incident.
“Trafficked, rescued, re-trafficked”: The Quint tracks the plight of minor girls in Jharkhand’s Simdega.
There are reports of fresh air raids by the Myanmar junta near the Indian border in Chin state.
More than 50 planes of IndiGo and Go First are grounded due to trouble with their Pratt & Whitney engines, amidst supply chain problems, forcing airlines to explore wet leasing to minimise disruptions.
Actress Zeenat Aman has spoken up on the issue of pay disparity in Hindi cinema. She shared footage of her interview from nearly 50 years ago during the shoot of Qurbani, while she was rehearsing for Laila O Laila. Aman says the gender pay gap remains.
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