‘Free’ Is a Funny Way to Spell ‘Public Money’; Govt Eyes ‘Surplus’ PSU Land as Cash Cow
Akhilesh accuses BJP of stealing votes, Bihar liquor law crowding courts and jails, FIIs withdraw $1.05 bn, 500 Indians join Ukraine Legion, and finally, Army chief calls the war a war
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
March 9, 2022
India’s employment sub-index declined to 48.3 in February from 48.7 in January, shows Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index data from IHS Markit. A reading below 50 indicates contraction of the job market ― a reduction in the actual number of jobs. For India, this index has largely reflected contraction ever since coronavirus hit the country in 2020.
Assembly poll votes will be counted tomorrow, and at a press conference yesterday, former chief minister of UP and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav alleged that the ruling BJP is trying to “steal” votes by whisking away EVMs. He said exit polls are meant to create the perception that its victory is inevitable. He also alleged that officials in Lucknow are directing subordinates in the districts to slow down counting and prolong the process till late at night, especially in 47 seats where the BJP won by less than 5,000 votes last time.
Party workers protested outside the strongroom in Varanasi. The district magistrate acknowledged deviations from protocol but said the voting machines in question had not been used in the election and were being moved for ‘training purposes’.
The RBI will launch a digital currency this year, said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, but avoided questions about it, since the Modi government has not taken a stand on cryptocurrencies.
The Hindu reports that over 500 Indians from across the country, including some veterans, have volunteered to join the International Legion created to fight Russian forces in Ukraine. A 21-year-old aerospace engineering student from Coimbatore, who was unable to join the Indian Army ― his application was rejected twice ― is understood to have joined the paramilitary forces in Ukraine to fight the Russians. Sainikhesh Ravichandran has not spoken to his parents for the past few weeks, after he reportedly joined the Georgian National Legion paramilitary unit. Intelligence officials visited his home yesterday.
Two Indian Navy veterans have reportedly signed up to join the Ukrainian forces against Russia. Their applications were personally received by the Ukrainian Defence Attache in New Delhi. The Ministry of External Affairs objected to a tweet by the Legion using the official handle of the Ukrainian embassy in Delhi, asking Indians to join the war effort against Russia. It was deleted, reports Economic Times, but it is unclear what stand India will take on its nationals joining international battles. Any different from those in Afghanistan and Syria?
India’s armed forces are a “homogenous unit” that should not be divided on the basis of caste or creed, the Supreme Court said in surprising comments yesterday, rejecting a plea for caste reservations in admission to military schools. But regiments with caste monikers are very much a part of the Army. Here is a piece from 1964 for perspective. Inspired by the Central Vista, the Supreme Court has sought responses from the Centre on a PIL seeking development of a “judicial vista” near the top court’s premises to cater to the growing need for judicial infrastructure for all the courts including the subordinate judiciary, the Delhi High Court, tribunals and the Bar.
The Shiv Sena said yesterday that the Enforcement Directorate is indulging in extortion rackets in Maharashtra and West Bengal, where the highest number of raids have been carried out, and has become the “ATM” of the BJP, with party leader Kirit Somaiya acting as “their collection agent”, it alleged. Sena MP Sanjay Raut said that he has given around 50 names to the ED and Income Tax Department with documentary evidence, but no action had been taken. He had also sent a complaint to PM Narendra Modi.
International flights to and from India will resume fully from March 27, two years after curbs to limit the spread of Covid-19. This should impact ticket prices of the small number of flights that fly in bubbles. “After having recognised the increased vaccination coverage across the globe and in consultation with stakeholders, the Government of India has decided to resume scheduled commercial international passenger services to and from India from 27.03.2022, i.e. start of Summer Schedule 2022,” the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said.
On Monday, the last day of polling for Assembly elections, the services of over 1,944 contractual sanitation workers were terminated by the Lucknow Municipal Corporation, citing “financial bankruptcy”. These workers were among the “Covid warriors” who were showered with flower petals by local political leaders, senior officers, police personnel and medical staff for their services during the lockdown, when no one else dared to work.
A group of Indian students studying medicine in China fear cancellation of their degrees if they are unable to return to China by June to finish their mandatory internship, reports The Hindu. The students have been in India for the past two years, unable to return due to Covid restrictions. They have to finish their course by eight to 10 years.
An expert group convened by WHO said yesterday that it “strongly supports urgent and broad access” to booster doses. Last year, it had said that boosters weren’t necessary and contributed to vaccine inequity. India has not allowed booster doses, except for senior citizens.
Scroll has found a historic collection of Indian and Pakistani art quietly gathering dust in a small room of the