Government Bodies To Partner With RSS Foundation On Education ‘Mahakumbh’; Five Measures To Address Hunger And Malnutrition
India sliding on rule of law index, MG Motor being probed, WhatsApp banned 26 lakh Indian accounts, MGNREGA demand signals growing unemployment, Mahoba hospital patients turn from doctors to tantriks
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
November 2, 2022
The Supreme Court will hear on November 14 a plea for a judicial commission to probe the horrific bridge collapse in Morbi, Gujarat, three days ago, which claimed at least 135 lives. The PIL wants the commission to be headed by a retired Supreme Court judge. PM Narendra Modi – who is in Gujarat ahead of the Assembly polls due by year-end — visited Morbi. “On behalf of the Chinese government and the Chinese people, I would like to express our deep condolences to the victims and extend our sincere sympathy to their families and the injured,” Xi Jinping said, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif reached Beijing yesterday on a two-day official visit to meet the top Chinese leadership, including President Xi Jinping, for talks to boost business and strategic all-weather ties. The “door remains open for India” in the RCEP pact, Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan has said. India has lost out by suddenly turning its back on the RCEP.
India stayed out of the joint communique reference to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which all other countries supported. Connectivity projects must respect sovereignty issues, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said at a virtual meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Heads of Government hosted by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang yesterday.
The government is probing MG Motor India for alleged financial irregularities, deepening the scrutiny of Chinese firms. The probe against the local unit of the Chinese carmaker SAIC Motor has been initiated by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, on suspicion of related-party transactions, tax evasion, under and over-invoicing and other irregularities. Similar action was earlier taken against other China-based firms including Xiaomi, ZTE, Oppo and Vivo Mobile Communications.
Seema Chishti writes in The Caravan on the forthcoming 30th anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid this December 6, which she reported upon as a young journalist. The monument lives on in the form of unresolved questions and has left its imprint on India’s soul. The Karnataka High Court has held that protesting against the 2019 Supreme Court ruling in the Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid case amounts to promoting enmity between groups on the ground of religion. The High Court was hearing one Safwan, who sought the quashing of suo motu criminal proceedings against him and five others for protesting and sloganeering against the SC judgement.
Rahul Gandhi was yesterday joined by the mother of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit student of the University of Hyderabad who died by suicide in 2016 following alleged harassment, in the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Hyderabad. Radhika Vemula walked with Gandhi briefly during the morning leg of the Yatra.
Top government bodies will partner with RSS affiliate Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas for a three-day national event on the National Education Policy. The Nyas, headed by Dina Nath Batra, former general secretary of RSS education wing Vidya Bharti, today described the event as an education “Maha Kumbh” that will focus on self-reliance through education and discuss promoting teaching in the mother tongue.
The Indian Navy has not landed a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier for nearly two years, and the first landing on board INS Vikrant is due early next year. INS Vikramaditya, the other aircraft carrier, has been undergoing repairs and a refit for two years. A fire on board the carrier in July, during sea trials after refit, added to the delay in its operationalisation. The Russian-origin carrier will be fully operational by the end of this year or early next year. Even while undertaking joint exercises with other countries, including the US, Indian fighters can’t take off from their aircraft carriers because they don’t have a ski-jump, unlike the Vikramaditya and Vikrant.
The unemployment rate climbed in October, led by a sharp rise in rural unemployment after the end of harvest of monsoon-sown crops. Unemployment rose to a two-month high of 7.77% last month, from a four-year low of 6.43% in September, Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy data showed. The rural unemployment rate climbed to 8.04% from 5.84% in September, while the urban rate was 7.21%.
The Ministry for Rural Development has sought an additional Rs 25,000 crore for MGNREGS, indicating more demand for work. The budgetary allocation was Rs 73,000 crore.
Oil marketing companies are believed to have retracted a decision to reduce retail prices of petrol and diesel by 40 paise from Tuesday. Late on Monday night, state-run Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) notified a price cut but retracted on Tuesday morning. The fuel price revision mechanism may be restarted in the second half of this month. Assembly elections are due, including in Gujarat.
Several journalist associations yesterday expressed concern about the Delhi Police searches against the editors of The Wire news portal, conducted on the basis of an FIR lodged by BJP spokesperson Amit Malviya alleging cheating, forgery, defamation and criminal conspiracy. On Monday, the police searched the premises of The Wire’s founding editors Siddharth Varadarajan, MK Venu, Sidharth Bhatia, Deputy Editor Jahnavi Sen and product-cum-business head Mithun Kidambi in Delhi and Mumbai in connection with a series of reports that appeared on the portal and were later withdrawn.
In a government hospital in UP’s Mahoba district, patients are being treated by tantriks. A video on social media purportedly showed tantriks treating two patients in the emergency ward of the Mahoba district hospital. According to reports, the attendants of patients who had been admitted after being bitten by a scorpion, roped in the tantriks when their condition did not improve. The medicine-men performed their rituals in the emergency ward of the hospital in full view of other patients and staff. One of the tantriks, Santosh Pujari, said that he had “treated” two patients in the hospital and claimed that their condition “improved” after the rituals. He also said that the attendants of patients often seek their services.
On August 19, PM Modi said, “Goa has become the first Har Ghar Jal certified state in the country, where every household is connected to piped water.” Modi delivered a speech virtually at the Har Ghar Jal Utsav event held in Panaji, organised by the Goa government. According to a government statement, all 2,35,000 households in Goa have access to potable water through taps. However, locals in Goa, mainly in villages, say that they still face water shortages. Mongabay has a fact-check.
The Samajwadi Party is collecting evidence regarding the alleged deletion of voters’ names in the recent Assembly elections. The Election Commission of India (ECI) has asked SP president Akhilesh Yadav to “submit documentary proof” to substantiate his allegation about the deletion of voter names in 2022 UP Assembly polls. The SP president has now asked all party candidates and district units to gather evidence of names that were “wrongfully struck off voters’ lists”. The deadline ends tomorrow.
There is a sudden spike in dengue cases across UP, and experts say that more mosquito breeding habitats may increase it further. The state has reported more than 18,000 dengue cases and two deaths between January and September this year, compared to 11,097 cases and three deaths in the same period in 2021.
Meta-owned WhatsApp has said it banned over 26 lakh accounts in India in September in compliance with the new IT Rules, 2021, which are now amended to put more responsibilities on social media platforms. The messaging platform, which has nearly 500 million users (according to third-party data) in India, received 666 complaints in September in India, of which 23 were ‘actioned’.
The controversial government-appointed Government Appellate Committees, or GACs (consisting of three government appointees) which will settle issues that users may have about the response of social media platforms to complaints, will come into force by the end of this month.
The leading role in a Hindi film about a transgender activist has been given to the non-trans actress, Sushmita Sen, a former Miss Universe. The decision has sharply divided opinion in India’s trans community.
India sliding on rule of law index
India is down on the Rule of Law Index, ranking 77th out of 140 countries with a score of 0.50. Interestingly, Nepal has topped the neighbourhood, scoring 0.52 and ranking 69. Ted Piccone, Senior Advisor to the World Justice Project, noted: “Since 2015, we have seen major drops in criminal justice in India.” Piccone added that India has seen “big declines in fundamental rights and checks and balances.” India’s performance on individual factors does not look very promising, either. Globally, India ranks 94 out of 140 on adherence to fundamental rights, 111 out of 140 in civil justice, 89 out of 140 in criminal justice and 93 out of 140 in the absence of corruption.
Commission blames ‘Vedic philosophy’ for caste system
The Justice HN Nagamohan Das Commission, whose report led to the increase in SC/ST reservation in Karnataka, has blamed the “emergence of Vedic philosophy” for social inequality and the caste system. “All these happened because of Brahmins, Upanishads, epics like the Mahabharata and Ramayana...” the commission said in its July 2020 report, which the BJP government formally accepted recently. In a chapter titled ‘Origin of Castes’, the report stated that every caste has an ethnic character. Quoting the Anthropological Survey of India, the report said that India has 4,635 ethnic communities, each with its own hereditary traits, languages, food habits and so on. “The truth is that ethnic system has disintegrated with the advent of the caste system. From the very inception, Karnataka came into contact with North India, there entered the Vedic system into Karnataka. Its influence has been greater than that of other religions…” it said.
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