Full Economic Recovery 13 Years Away; Aarogya Setu, Opaque Tyrant App on Which Sun Never Sets
Forex reserves $3.271 billion down, government wants access logs of social media and websites, Muslim countries banning hyper-nationalist Indian films and Modi ‘nominated’ for a spread of Nobel Prizes
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
May 2, 2022
The National Human Rights Commission and its chief, Justice (retd) Arun Mishra are on the job, diverting attention from serious criticism that the government and its institutions face. But EU Special Representative for Human Rights Eamon Gilmore, on a visit to India, cut through the fog of peace to discuss “the NHRC’s role in relation to FCRA, detentions, bail, sedition and anti-terrorism laws, UAPA, minorities and individual cases.” The American Bar Association has written to the Chief Justice of India on the denial of habeas corpus hearings to Kashmiris and the arbitrary detention of journalists Fahad Shah and Sajad Gul.
Never mind these migratory birds of ill omen, the Bombay Stock Exchange chief wants PM Modi to get the Nobel Prize for Peace for the war against Covid. He is obviously clueless about what it’s awarded for, not to speak of the dear leader’s questionable handling of the pandemic. In response, citizen satirists have nominated Modi across the spread of Nobels. One suggests a final solution, for the prize.
The People’s Commission on Public Sector and Services calls the LIC IPO a “scandal, perhaps the biggest in the annals of privatisation in India.” They estimate a loss of Rs 50,000 crore to the nation.
The regressive ‘Charak Sampath’, which the BJP-led Union government is promoting as an alternative to the Hippocratic Oath, was administered recently to new doctors at a medical college in Tamil Nadu. Also present was the state’s finance minister, PTt Thiagarajan, who immediately objected. The Charak Sampath says, inter alia, that male doctors will not treat female patients. The college principal has since been suspended by the state government, a rare instance of rationality prevailing over pseudo-science.
In recent months, Vijay’s Tamil film Beast, Dulquer Salmaan’s Kurup and Vishal’s FIR have been banned in some overseas markets like Kuwait for portraying Muslims as extremists. Trade experts said their censor boards are increasingly strict about hyper-nationalist films. Bans in key Gulf nations or Malaysia (a key Tamil cinema market) could make a 10-20% dent in overseas box office collections.
While asserting that the situation is normal on the Line of Actual Control, the new Army Chief also spoke of the aim of restoration of status quo. He sounded like a military commander constrained by political directions to underplay the continuing Chinese ingress. Listen:
The Enforcement Directorate on Saturday seized $725 million from Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, accusing it of making illegal foreign remittances. Earlier this month, the agency had questioned Xiaomi’s global vice-president, Manu Kumar Jain. The smartphone company said it complied with Indian laws and that its “royalty payments and statements” were “legit and truthful”.
Supriya Sharma of Scroll and Vijeyta Lalwani for Article-14 report from Khargone in Madhya Pradesh where state-backed hatred for and violence against Muslims has been unleashed by Hindutva groups and shows no signs of abating.
Sessions Judge Aparesh Chakraborty of Assam deserves a gallantry medal. Dismissing the case against Jignesh Mevani as a state fabrication, he urged the High Court to implement police reforms ― or India will become a “police state”. The Assam chief minister has said that the policewoman whom Mevani is accused of assaulting has sought his permission to file an appeal in the High Court.
The Chief Justice of India addressed a conference attended by PM Modi, many state CMs (Nitish Kumar of Bihar skipped the event) and chief justices of High Courts. He said, “The decisions of courts are not implemented by governments for years together. The resultant contempt petitions are a new category of burden on the courts… Deliberate inaction by the governments, despite judicial pronouncements, are not good for the health of democracy… The judiciary is also confronted with the issue of the executive willingly transferring the burden of decision-making to it. Policy-making is not our domain, but if a citizen comes to the court with a prayer, the courts cannot say no,” the CJI said.
Foreign portfolio investors have been net sellers of domestic equities for the seventh straight month in April — the longest streak since the Wall Street crash. Since October 2021, FPIs have sold Indian stock worth a record $22 billion (about Rs 1.7 trillion). In 2008, FPIs shed nearly $10 billion over seven months and the Sensex fell 50%. Now, it’s down 7.4% from its mid-October peak.
Shipments from Russia rose nearly 33% to $1.1 billion in March from $831.17 million in February, when sanctions began, the Business Standard finds. Shipments from India to Russia sharply declined to $79 million in March from $325 million in February.
Indian oil refiners are negotiating a six-month deal with Russia to import millions of barrels per month, reports Reuters, despite Western sanctions. India has already bought more than twice as much crude from Russia since the invasion of Ukraine began as it did in all of 2021. IOC is negotiating with Russia’s Rosneft to import 6 million barrels per month with an option on another 3 million barrels, while BPCL and HPCL seek 4 million barrels and 3 million barrels per month, via unsanctioned companies and countries.
Roman Script for Kokborok-Choba (RSKC), comprising 56 indigenous socio-cultural organisations of Tripura, has opposed making Hindi compulsory till Class 10 in the Northeast. It opposes the Union’s proposal to impose Devanagari on languages without scripts.
The technical committee constituted by the Supreme Court in the Pegasus spyware case has asked all state Director Generals of Police (DGPs) to inform it whether they procured the software from Israel’s NSO Group. The Andhra Pradesh Assembly last month passed a resolution to set up a committee to find out if the Chandrababu Naidu government bought and used Pegasus on its political opponents. This was refuted on April 5 by a police officer, who got a show cause notice for his pains. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee earlier said that her government rejected an offer to buy Pegasus 4-5 years ago.
Indian-origin Nand Mulchandani, schooled in Delhi, is the first-ever Chief Technology Officer of the CIA. Read what he had said on the changing nature of warfare in 2020, when he moved to the Pentagon from Silicon Valley: “We can’t digitise infantry, but we can digitise information about the infantry.”
Media education programme BBC Young Reporter India has taught 8,000 students in 160 Indian schools about fake news and why they shouldn’t share it. It has now released the course material to the public.