German envoy calls China’s claim on Arunachal ‘outrageous’; For Abhijit Sen, Facts and Data Were His Only Religion and Ideology
Pakistan floods highlight melting Himalayan glaciers, only 12% have taken Covid booster dose, Delhi women most unsafe, Rabbi Shergill recalls ‘Bilqis’, Graham doesn’t ring a bell in Kashmir University
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
August 31, 2022
“The pandemic has pushed millions back into poverty, at least for now. Social progress is lagging behind average prosperity, with dramatic weaknesses in environmental quality and the quality of basic education,” the ‘Competitiveness Roadmap for India@100’ report released yesterday by the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister has said. Rising inequality, a lack of convergence across regions and very low and constantly falling labour mobilisation, especially of women, are key challenges. But you would never find out if you read the government spin.
BJP leader Seema Patra makes domestic help lick urine off the floor, and the National Commission for Women has stepped in. The BJP has ‘suspended’ Patra, it is reported. But what does that mean? Seema Patra is on the BJP women’s wing’s national working committee. Maheshwar Patra, her husband, is a retired IAS officer. Patra is also state convenor of the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign, according to her Facebook profile.
Nepal expects the forthcoming (though unannounced) visit by Indian Army chief Gen Manoj Pande to help clear the air on the recruitment of Nepalese citizens under the Agnipath scheme. But Hindustan Times reports that Indian Army officials said Agnipath is unlikely to be taken up during the army chief’s first visit to Nepal on September 4-8. India sought Nepal’s approval to recruit its citizens under the Agnipath scheme in July, but there has been no official response from Kathmandu. Nepal Foreign Minister Narayan Khadka called Indian envoy Naveen Srivastava to his ministry on August 24 and asked for recruitment plans to be deferred until there is consensus on the issue among all political parties in Nepal and further clarity from the Indian side. There was no official word from the Indian side.
With both Modi and Xi likely to attend the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit at Samarkand in Uzbekistan on September 15-16, speculation is rife about the possibility of a bilateral meeting between the two leaders. It would be the first since the military standoff along the LAC started in April-May 2020, and relations nose-dived. The last bilateral engagement between Modi and Xi was at Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu, in October 2019. An editorial in the Hindustan Times says, “The impasse in India-China relations cannot be overcome by more talks through diplomatic and military channels, and possibly require the intervention of the top leadership of both countries. However, even here, it will be difficult for India to go back to something like the informal summits of 2018 and 2019, given that information which has emerged in recent years suggests China was preparing for its actions along the LAC at the time of the second such summit.”
The Indian government may be avoiding mentioning Chinese ingress into Ladakh but former Australian PM Kevin Rudd has said, “The evidence in recent times, and since Deng Xiaoping and certainly under Xi Jinping, is over time to change the reality on the ground with the border, in order to enhance China’s overall territorial position along the border and, of course, this is being reinforced by infrastructure construction on the Chinese side. Therefore, I do not see any evidence from China’s generic strategic behaviour, either on the Sino-Indian border, in the South China Sea, over Taiwan or in the East China Sea that China is about to land upon a diplomatic compromise.”
China’s claim on Arunachal Pradesh is “outrageous” and its infringement on India’s northern border is unacceptable as it amounts to a violation of the international order, German Ambassador Philipp Ackermann said, while twisting the knife on the Ukraine issue. “We are very well aware of the Indian problems at the northern border. We should not forget that China claims that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of China. This is outrageous, in a way. Therefore, we see very clearly that infringement at the border is extremely difficult and should not be accepted,” he said. “I think that the Indian side very well recognises the problem of the violation of international law. Basically, it’s [the Ukraine crisis] also an Indian problem. You have it at your northern border. That’s something you have been experiencing every couple of years.”
Huawei Telecommunications (India) CEO Li Xiongwei’s departure from India cannot be “detrimental to sovereignty, security and integrity of India,” nor is it “detrimental to bilateral relations or strategic and/or economic relations of India,” a Delhi court said on Monday while setting aside a lookout circular (LOC) issued against him by the Income Tax department. Permitting Li to travel abroad, Anurag Thakur, additional chief metropolitan magistrate (ACMM) further observed that “it is highly unlikely that applicant will indulge in act of terrorism or offence against Indian state. Thus, an apprehension that Li may leave India and may never come back cannot be grounds to keep him in India till the culmination of all legal proceedings.” The IT department pointed out that India doesn’t have an extradition treaty with China. The court said six months has passed since the LOC was issued but the investigation is nowhere near completion.
Litigants who approached the Gujarat High Court to challenge the forced closure of Ahmedabad’s only slaughterhouse for 12 days in deference to a Jain religious festival were asked by the judge why they could not simply “restrain” themselves from eating meat for “1-2 days”.
Only around 12% of the eligible 77 crore population aged 18-59 have taken the booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine. Besides, only 35% of the most vulnerable 16.80 crore population aged 60 and above, healthcare and frontline workers have been administered the so-called precautionary dose. Even the PM has not taken one. According to Health Ministry data, 98% of India’s adult population has received at least one dose and 92% are fully vaccinated.
The Supreme Court has granted three weeks to the Union government to clarify its stand on pleas seeking Scheduled Castes (SC) reservation benefits for Dalits who have converted to other religions, like Christianity and Islam. A PIL seeks reservation for converted Dalits like that extended to Scheduled Castes following Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. Another petition concerns Christians of Scheduled Castes origin. A bench headed by Justice SK Kaul was told by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the issue has social ramifications and he would submit the stand of the government in three weeks. The petitioners must file a response, if any, within a week thereafter.
The Centre’s amended rules allowing lifetime court staff for retired Chief Justices of India and Supreme Court judges – earlier they were entitled to cash, which they could use to hire staff of their own – have become a cause of concern among judges who choose a quiet retired life in their home villages, reports The Hindu. “What would such qualified people do in a small village like mine where the activity is predominantly farming? The help of such staff would be invaluable for retired CJIs and judges living in metros… But the government should also think of former CJIs like me who … have retired to our villages,” said former chief justice P Sathasivam who, by the way, was appointed a governor immediately after retirement. Of course, no one is asking why the public should fund such perks for retired judges.
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Dibrugarh arm-wrestler Afiya Khan had qualified to represent India at the World Championship in France in September 2022 and the Asian Championship in Malaysia in June 2022, after winning three silver medals in three different categories at the Second National Arm-wrestling Championship in May 2022 in Goa. However, financial constraints have prevented her from representing India at the Asian Championship in Malaysia. Her father died long ago and there is no earning member in her family. No help is forthcoming, she says.
Singer Rabbi Shergill wrote the song ‘Bilqis’ over a decade ago to present a picture of a modern India which crushed many under its wheel. The song is about Bilkis Bano, who was gang-raped during the Gujarat riots of 2002, and whose 14 family members, including her three-year-old daughter, were killed before her eyes. Now, when 11 of those convicted of raping her and murdering her family were released on Independence Day, Shergill said: “My father was beaten up and left to die on the streets of Delhi in 1984. What happened to one girl, Nirbhaya, happened on an epic scale in 1984. So ‘Bilqis’ became a vehicle, a medium for me personally to marshal a lot of these unresolved emotions.” Hear it here.
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