G20 Demolitions Made Lakhs Homeless, Facelifts Vandalised Monuments; Kashmir and Manipur: Double Standards of Modi’s New India
M20 on media freedom, Gandhian stir against Varanasi demolitions, India withdraws US duties before Biden talks, Chandni Chowk deploys women translators for G20, Akshay Kumar Bharat-ises film’s name
A newsletter from The Wire | Founded by MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sushant Singh, Sidharth Bhatia and Tanweer Alam | With inputs from Kalrav Joshi and Anirudh SK | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
Snapshot of the day
September 7, 2023
Immediate G20 invitation fallout: noted Modi interviewer Akshay Kumar has changed the name of his forthcoming film based on a 1989 mine disaster from Mission Raniganj: The Great Indian Rescue to Mission Raniganj: The Great Bharat Rescue. However, the rumour about panic at IndiGo because it will soon become ‘BhaGo’ is an exaggeration.
With just two days left for the G20 summit to commence, a senior EU official has said that the text drafted by India on the Ukraine war does “not go far enough” to be accepted by G7 and EU members. In a background briefing, he told reporters that talks were still on to find a compromise which would allow for a joint statement to be released at the end of the summit on September 10, but admitted that he was not optimistic. Stating that there had been “very tough negotiations”, especially on geopolitical issues like Ukraine, the official said, “The text, as it is presented by India, is not enough. The G7, the EU and its member countries feel it is not going far enough.” No joint statements have been forthcoming under India’s presidency. Instead, India has been issuing ‘chair’s summary and outcome documents’ at the conclusion of every ministerial meeting, which have recorded Russia and China’s objections in the footnotes.
At the request of India’s G20 presidency, the IMF and the Financial Stability Board (FSB) have prepared a policy paper stating that a ban on cryptocurrencies cannot be implemented because they are borderless. Instead, it suggests the obvious: a global crypto framework for licensing, which respects Financial Action Task Force (FATF) anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CFT) standards. Days ago, the finance minister had spoken of the need for a framework.
Western democracies are wrong to overlook a country’s descent into electoral autocracy because they believe they need it to contain China. India, under the “dangerous authoritarianism” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has gone from bad to worse. In its scathing editorial on the “backsliding democracy [getting] to play host,” The Guardian warns: “But if Mr Modi desires successful outcomes then he, like all autocratic leaders, should understand why his actions at home undermine the arguments he wants to promote abroad.”
Editors from over a dozen G20 countries took part in a special online summit, M20, to reinforce the fact that the G20’s leaders cannot solve the world problems unless they respect media freedom. Read the convener’s opening remarks here.
Since China had petulantly objected to the use of Sanskrit in G20 texts since it’s a non-UN language, India is using only the English rendering of the Sanskrit phrase vasudhaiva kutumbakam.
Ahead of bilateral talks between Modi and US President Joe Biden, India has withdrawn tit-for-tat import duties on 28 American products. These additional duties were imposed in 2019 in response to the US hiking rates for steel and aluminium products.
Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina, who will be in Delhi on a three-day visit for the G20 summit, will meet PM Modi for an hour and a half at his residence. They have been on talking terms since 2015, when the Land Boundary Agreement was sealed, rationalising chhitmahals or enclaves. Hasina has been under pressure from India’s ally America to conduct free and fair elections, but Modi has been silent on the issue.
In Old Delhi, Chandni Chowk’s traders have partnered with women entrepreneurs, designers and influencers fluent in the G20 languages who will work as translators to give visitors a smooth shopping experience, reports Deccan Herald.
The Gandhian organisation Sarva Seva Sangh, which lost 12 buildings to a demolition drive by the Varanasi administration last month to make room for a hotel, will start a month-long ‘Virasat Bachao Nyay Yatra’ on Vinoba Bhave’s birth anniversary, September 11, and end it on October 11, JP’s birth anniversary.
Over 40 people including three RAF jawans were injured in a stampede at Manipur’s Bishnupur district, after tear gas was used to disperse over 10,000 people who had converged to demand the removal of an Army barricade in the buffer zone between Bishnupur and Churachandpur.
Former Manipur health minister Dr M Nara Singh has told The Wire that in the absence of preventive measures in the refugee camps, there could be outbreaks of Japanese encephalitis and dengue. Cramped living quarters with substandard water and sanitation facilities contribute to the problem.
Sri Lanka will appoint a parliamentary committee to investigate allegations made by an interviewee on Channel 4 that he had “arranged a meeting between a local Islamic State-inspired group, National Thowheed Jamath, and a top state intelligence official to hatch a plot to create insecurity in Sri Lanka and enable Gotabaya Rajapaksa to win the presidential election” in 2019. The Easter church bombings that year took 269 lives.
Fanning rumours of early simultaneous polls, the Election Commission has said that it is prepared to hold elections at any time according to the law. The law is that polls can be announced six months before the five-year tenure of the Union and state governments.
In Delhi, areas near the Yamuna have been flooded because thanks to the concretisation of the riverbed, by the construction of a highway, a metro station, the Akshardham Temple and the Games Village, rising waters have nowhere to go, finds PARI. The original master plan for Delhi had barred construction in the flood plain, deeming it to be dangerous, but it is being observed in the breach. Now, the people who have farmed the land for over a century have had their lives swept away, and must seek alternatives.
If you have read the newsletter this far, please consider joining our thousand-plus subscribers whose modest subscription fees help pay for the work that goes into The India Cable.