Fearing Panic, Government Concealing Extent of Friction on LAC in Arunachal; Stop PMGKAY, Release Food Grains to the Open Market
Shades of communalism in Karntaka, India to keep G20 off Ukraine and slums off G20, India has highest incidence of cervical cancer, massive Gujarat win relieved BJP’s headline headache
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
December 15, 2022
The silence of PM Modi and the complete inability of his government to name China conceals more than it reveals. “Faceoffs with the People’s Liberation Army have become a common feature along the border in Arunachal Pradesh, particularly in the Yangtse area,” said a senior Indian Army officer. “They have happened on average two or three times a month, recently, and the incursions have increased in frequency over the last two years.” In The Telegraph, London, there are damning voices from within the armed forces at ground zero. India is covering up the true extent of border clashes with China to avoid panicking the public, senior Indian Army sources have told them. “Several incidents are taking place in Arunachal Pradesh every month, the sources said, with soldiers from the two nuclear-armed countries sometimes engaging in violent hand-to-hand combat, often using clubs and other homemade melee weapons,” adds the British newspaper.
On the clash at Yangtse, Deccan Herald reports that “a 100 m wall remains as a bone of contention”. As per The Tribune, “Since the onset of summer, the PLA has been overtly aggressive along the LAC in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh”. While China attempts to create a “new normal” along the border in the two states, physical contact during the face-offs increased gradually. CNN reports that the popular video, shared by BJP supporters on social media, of Chinese and Indian soldiers clashing “was filmed in the mountainous Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh at the Line of Actual Control – the de facto border between the two countries – on September 28, 2021.”
At Doklam, where Indian troops had prevented the PLA from building a track to Jampheri Ridge in Bhutan in 2017 with a 72-day long standoff, Navbharat Times reports that the Chinese have constructed a bridge on the Tora nalla to access the ridge and put pressure on the Siliguri Corridor. The Siliguri Corridor, also known as Chicken’s Neck, is a stretch of land around Siliguri in West Bengal, 20-22 km wide at the narrowest section, connecting the seven Northeastern states to the rest of the country.
Even as the Modi government struggles to deal with the optics on the clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers at Tawang, Manipur BJP MP Maharaja Sanajaoba Leishembaw said in Rajya Sabha yesterday that India is losing territory along the Manipur-Myanmar border due to faulty border pillars and sought a diplomatic solution. He said Chief Minister N Biren Singh has made a request to Home Minister Amit Shah to reexamine the contentious boundary issue. “Meanwhile, boundary fencing work along the Indo-Myanmar border has been stopped by local people because the border pillars are shifting towards Manipur, to India’s territorial loss. The discrepancies are along the new border pillars 64-68, 75-79 and 88-95,” he said.
The list of India’s abstentions gains another entry: Iran is no longer a member of the UN Commission on the Status for Women, a body whose mission the Iranian regime “repudiates through its treatment of women”, said the US Special Envoy for Iran. Women’s rights and human rights activists were vital in pushing for today’s vote, a clear message to the women and girls of Iran, but India abstained.
There are around 9.79 lakh vacancies in the Union government for different posts and departments, the Lok Sabha was informed yesterday. The Annual Report of Pay Research Unit of Department of Expenditure says that 9,79,327 posts were vacant under various ministries/departments as on March 1, 2021, Union Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said in a written reply. In another reply, the minister said there were 1,472 vacant posts for IAS officers, out of 6,789 authorised posts.
The Union government told the Delhi High Court yesterday that the controversial Agniveer scheme to induct temporary soldiers is a totally different cadre and the four years that Agniveers serve with the Indian armed forces will not be counted as regular service on joining the Indian Army, Navy or Air Force. The court then asked the additional solicitor general about the issue of equal work and equal pay ― an Agniveer cannot be paid less than a sepoy if they have the same responsibilities. The reply: their responsibilities are not the same and Agniveers will have to salute sepoys. The bench asked the ASG to file an affidavit to that effect.
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The Press Council of India has issued show cause notices to two prominent media houses for carrying misleading advertisements in national dailies claiming a cure for diabetes, blood pressure, and other ailments, released by Divya Pharmacy of Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali group. This follows complaints filed by Kerala-based RTI activist Dr KV Babu, an ophthalmologist who says the advertisements violate the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act. The media houses have been given two weeks to respond.
Over 58% of the world’s cervical cancer deaths are in Asia and India has the highest incidence of the preventable disease, according to a Lancet study.
Domestic workers in Bengaluru and Chennai have to work in six low-paying households to earn the state minimum wage, found a study released on December 12. Some 55% of employers surveyed in Bengaluru believed that they paid their domestic workers “generously”, while 51% in Chennai believed they paid “adequately”, found the study by the Indian Institute of Human Settlements.
Amidst comprehensive mismanagement at Delhi airport, the facial recognition system rollout at Indian airports has raised other important privacy concerns. Experts caution that “collected passenger information could be misused, shared or stolen.” Maybe all of the above.
Russia’s Sputnik News reports that in its G20 presidency, India will not allow the Ukraine conflict to be discussed, and expects the full participation of Russia in meetings. Economic Affairs Secretary Ajay Seth said: “Effect of sanctions on Russia is not on the table for to be studied and G20 is not a forum to get into geopolitical issues. It is about systemic issues and how to address those.” In sharp contrast, Ukraine was top of the mind during Indonesia’s presidency. The full effect of India trying to steer clear of the Russia issue is yet to play out.
The G20 summit effect on Mumbai: slums are apparently being hidden away behind metal sheets.
That takes care of the living. During the Covid disaster in UP, even Lucknow’s dead were similarly concealed by the authorities.
Madhya Pradesh Home Minister and spokesperson Narottam Mishra is plumbing the depths with his vicious and malicious tweet about a song from the film Pathan. This is not the first time this senior BJP leader has behaved shamefully, without even a rap on the knuckles from the party leadership. Brinda Karat puts Mishra’s attack on Deepika Padukone in perspective.
Others of Mishra’s inclinations attacked actor Ranbir Kapoor for his interest in collaborating with Pakistani artistes. Speaking at an ongoing film festival, he addressed a question on his desire to feature in a Pakistani film. “Of course, sir. I think there are no boundaries for artistes, especially for arts. Many congratulations to the Pakistan film industry for [the film] The Legend of Maula Jatt. It is one of the biggest hits we have seen in the last few years. Of course, I would love to.”
Senior citizens will not get back their rail travel concessions, which were suspended during the pandemic. Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the Railways are not in good shape.
In a conversation with Sidharth Bhatia, veteran journalist N Ram points out the larger consequences and the design behind the change in ownership of NDTV, which has gone to Adani.
On the sidelines of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had a discussion on “crypto, stocks, next-gen revolutions and unlocking India’s full potential,” as Rahul Gandhi put it.
Vinay Choletti, head of WhatsApp Pay in India, has quit after less than four months on the job as the digital payments industry soars. Choletti replaced Manesh Mahatme, who joined WhatsApp from Amazon in September this year.
The 100th birthday celebrations of the doyen among subaltern historians, Prof Ranajit Guha, kicks off today and promises to be historic.
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