First S-400 Battery Operational in April; Tamil Kids’ Satire Hits Tender Spot, BJP Defends Dear Leader
BJP blackmailed by UP OBCs, consumer confidence at record low, Indians killed in Abu Dhabi attack, almost 1.5 lakh orphaned by Covid, and the best birthday cake Sudha Bharadwaj ever had was in jail
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
January 18, 2021
Yesterday, the illusion of the great orator fell all of a heap when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s teleprompter appeared to die on him while he addressed the Davos meet, leaving him speechless.
(from 4:27 - for 3/4 minutes)
The fact-checkers at AltNews think there could be a simpler reason – his staff weren’t sure Davos could hear him and thus got him to stop, though it is odd that a technically advanced PMO had no other means of checking the quality of the connection other than to get the PM to stop and ask for himself. Of course, as an explanation for why Modi won’t face the press, teleprompter failure was too good for the Opposition to let pass.
Consumer confidence has touched historic lows, with Covid-19 influencing sentiment in Indian households across strata, according to the January bulletin of the RBI, released yesterday. Household income was sharply impacted by restrictions imposed to contain the pandemic. Vehicle registrations dropped, people spent more time at home, power generation dipped and the number of flights shrank last week as economic activity took a beating in the third wave.
India’s unemployment problem is not reflected in its unemployment rate. Its problem is a low employment rate and a discouraged young female workforce, explains Mahesh Vyas of CMIE. If only 38% of the working-age population is employed, as per CMIE, and only another 3% want work but can’t find it, then implicitly, 59% of the working-age population does not want to work. India must find work for not only the 3% who are unemployed, but also a significant chunk of the remaining 59%. To reach global employment rate standards, India needs to employ an additional 187.5 million people. Since 406 million are employed, that’s a tall order, warns Vyas.
Two Indians and a Pakistani were killed and six injured in what appeared to be a drone attack on Abu Dhabi airport, in which oil tankers exploded. About the same time, Houthis backed by Iran took responsibility for an attack “deep in the UAE”. The Indian envoy tried to induce calm, saying that the UAE is a “very peaceful place”.
In a strategic move to corner UP Chief Minister Adityanath in Gorakhpur, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav yesterday offered his party ticket to Radhamohan Das Agarwal, the BJP’s four-term sitting MLA from the constituency, who has been denied renomination. Agarwal, once a close confidante of Adityanath, had of late turned critical of his government. He had earlier accused his own government of being “casteist”, an allegation often levelled by the Opposition.
Delhi is testing much less after the new ICMR guidelines, and positivity is falling accordingly. Only 44,762 tests were conducted yesterday, the lowest since November 29, when 43,499 tests were done. In the week before the new ICMR guidelines kicked in on January 10, 87,792 tests were conducted on average each day. The new ICMR testing guidelines do away with the testing of asymptomatic persons on demand, low-risk contacts, and asymptomatic persons undergoing other procedures at hospitals.
“Finally, I also learnt the value of good food. Women had very interesting ways of making prison food edible. They would buy peanuts and crush them and make them into a chutney, and they would do this and that to make things better. I remember on my birthday, the women made a cake for me ― they had crushed Marie biscuits and made it into a dough and spread it out. And on top of that, they had this Britannia toast, which they had soaked in a sugar syrup. And on top of that they had got Bournvita to make a chocolate thing. And then they used jam to write my name. It was the most wonderful cake I have eaten in my life,” says lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, out on bail after three years in jail, in an interview with Article-14.
Syed Isaaq, 63, of Mysore, whose public library was burnt down on April 8 last year, has rebuilt it with over 1,800 books on his own, using funds from the public, after civic agencies failed to deliver on their promise. Deprived of a formal education, Isaaq worked as a bonded labourer before he became an underground drainage cleaner and did odd jobs. He did not get an opportunity to study and does not want anyone to be unable to learn. Though the library is yet to be officially inaugurated, Isaaq said he is happy to see children coming and studying there. “I am grateful to all those who have helped me to build this library in the form of money as well as books.”
Children’s skit draws I&B notice
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued a notice to Zee Entertainment Enterprises, seeking comments regarding the complaint filed by the BJP in Tamil Nadu about a recent episode of the reality TV show ‘Junior Super Stars Season 4’ on Zee Tamil, alleging that two child contestants performed a skit to mock their leader, Narendra