Global Inflation Could Slow Big Infra Push; Farmers Call Budget ‘Government’s Revenge’
Moody’s downgrades budget, forests the size of Nagaland vanish, Army rejects film about gay officer, governors lording it over chief ministers, and PM tending to divinity through new Northeast scheme
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Snapshot of the day
February 2, 2022
The Guardian quotes Indian health workers who say that because of pressure to meet vaccination targets, 20-35% of people in urban areas and 40-60% in rural areas are being falsely reported as fully vaccinated, bypassing a security feature on the CoWIN portal. To make up the numbers, even the dead are reportedly being vaccinated.
The Indian Air Force yesterday received three of the last four Rafale fighter jets ordered, at Istres-Le Tubé air base of Dassault Aviation. They are equipped with 13 India-specific enhancements, for which Dassault levied exorbitant fixed costs. The ensuing high price tag of each fighter sparked off a major controversy and the deal remains under investigation in France for corruption and kickbacks. The three fighters will arrive in India on February 15-16 while the last unit, built first and used for training IAF personnel in France, will arrive in April.
Ananth Krishnan looks at a new history of the 1962 Sino-India war published in China ahead of the 60th anniversary of the conflict in October. The timing of publication, amid a downturn in relations and the resurgence of the border dispute three decades after normalisation of relations, is no accident. Three long extracts were published in Guancha on January 7, 14 and 21. The book, approved by the authorities, is about how the PLA wants to portray the war, rather than an accurate historical account. Krishnan’s translations of the three extracts are illuminating.
Meanwhile, Qi Fabao, a PLA regiment commander who sustained head injuries in the Galwan Valley border skirmish with India, was a torchbearer today at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Torch Relay, as per Global Times. Another not-so-good sign of detente.
The directors of the Peace Research Institute of Oslo have made it a tradition to offer their personal shortlists for the Nobel Peace Prize every year, and this year it includes Harsh Mander and Karwan-e-Mohabbat. Pratik Sinha and Mohammad Zubair of AltNews get honourable mention.
In just two years, Indian forests the size of Nagaland were either cut down or thinned down. This area of degraded forests is nearly 10 times the area of new ones that the recent India State of Forest Report claims were added.
The Goa polls seem to be the BJP’s stiffest challenge in over a decade. Twenty-eight years after it opened its account in the coastal state, the BJP faces its toughest election because of infighting and administrative failures in the last five years. In UP, the ruling party has named former Enforcement Directorate Joint Director Rajeshwar Singh as a candidate from a seat in Lucknow, a day after he voluntarily retired. He has handled several politically sensitive cases and he and several in his family were among those targeted by Pegasus.
Moody’s has given a thumbs down to the budget, saying that it lacks tangible measures to increase revenue generation. Among the plethora of opinion pieces the morning after, three stand out: by Jayati Ghosh, Yamini Aiyar and Dipa Sinha.
If the government plans to tax transfers of cryptocurrency assets (which are ‘virtual digital assets’, as are NFTs), has the Modi government changed its mind about banning trading in private cryptocurrencies? Seems logical, but it’s not necessarily the case. Under a curious feature of tax law, even income earned from illegal activities can be taxed.
PM-DevINE is the acronym of the latest scheme in the PM’s name ― not quite PM-DIVINE but close enough. The PM Development Initiative for North East (PM-DevINE) will “promote the growth of the region.”
Diesel may cost Rs 2 per litre more from October 1 while petrol in a few places like the Northeast may see a price hike after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her budget speech, levied additional excise duty on fuel sold without blending with ethanol or biodiesel.
The budget proposal to classify data centres and energy storage as infrastructure assets, to allow firms to access cheap long-term credit, is a big boost for billionaires Gautam Adani, Sunil Mittal and Mukesh Ambani’s plans to aggressively grow in these segments, reports Bloomberg.
Coincidentally, Kashmir’s Arif Khan, 31, who learned skiing in Gulmarg, is the only Indian to qualify for the Beijing Winter Olympics. Muhammad Karim of Gilgit-Baltistan in PoK is the only Pakistani qualifier. They will compete in the same event ― Alpine Skiing Slalom on Feb 16.
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