Government Censors Stumble at High Court; Despite Talk of Free Agri Market, Export Policies Are Ad Hoc, Whimsical
Income gap widening, PLA building new bridge, Lanka Tamil civilian victims remembered, heatwaves 100 times more likely and after Taj and Qutab, Srirangapatna mosque undermined by putative temple
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 19, 2022
The Gyanvapi Mosque case is encouraging Hindu groups to demand that mosques are opened for prayers and to search mosques or Islamic monuments for evidence of temples, like at the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Qutub Minar in Delhi. In Karnataka, members of the Narendra Modi Vichar Manch sought permission from the local administration in May to pray at the two-century-old Jamia Masjid in Srirangapatna, which they claimed stands on a Hanuman temple.
The income gap between the average Indian household and top promoters and business families has widened. The top layer enjoyed a leap in income from equity dividends and share buybacks in FY22, of a whopping 50.6% or Rs 37,000 crore year-on-year, as against a 12.6% increase seen in FY21. In comparison, India’s per capita income is estimated to grow by 16.7% in FY22 after contracting by 4% in FY21. The country’s top 50 promoter families earned Rs 709.4 crore on average from their companies in FY22, while their median income was Rs 123.2 crore in the last fiscal, reports Business Standard.
Analysing the World Bank’s World Governance Indicators, a key input for India’s sovereign ratings, the Ministry of Finance’s Economic Division has found that India’s scores were “much below” its peers’ on all counts, reports Anisha Dutta. The indicators rank 215 countries on six dimensions of governance: Voice and Accountability, Political Stability and Absence of Violence, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law and Control of Corruption. The government analysed all 15 data sources whose ratings have the maximum impact on India’s overall WGI scores including the Economist Intelligence Unit, Varieties of Democracy Project, Freedom House and Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom, and all had downgraded India under PM Modi.
A cooking gas cylinder costs Rs 1,003 this morning in Delhi. It’s Rs 1,029 in Kolkata and Rs 1018.5 in Chennai. Prices were centrally raised, amidst raging inflation.
The flow of money into deposits of non-resident Indians (NRIs) shrank to $2.3 billion during April 2021-February 2022 from $8.88 billion in the year-ago period. The outstanding deposits were down to $139.58 billion at the end of February 2022 compared with $142.35 billion a year ago, according to RBI data. The foreign currency or FCNR deposits declined most sharply, from $22.09 billion in February 2021 to $17.29 billion in February 2022. Outward remittances under the RBI’s liberalised remittance scheme (LRS) were at an all-time high in FY22 ― $19.61 billion, up 54.6% from FY21, RBI data showed. Outward remittance under the scheme was $12.68 billion in FY21, $18.76 billion in FY20 and $13.78 billion in FY19.
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The rupee yesterday closed at its fresh lifetime low of 77.60 against the US dollar amid unabated foreign fund outflows. Foreign institutional investors remained net sellers in the capital market, offloading shares worth Rs 2,192.44 crore.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is building a second bridge on the Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh for better movement of troops and armour, satellite images reveal. The new bridge could improve connectivity between the lake and the depth areas on the Chinese side by creating a shorter and more direct route to the Finger 8 area on the northern side of the lake, currently the boundary of the buffer zone. Such infrastructure constructions from the PLA side, according to army officials, are indications of China’s unwillingness to move away from flashpoints near the LAC, necessitating permanent deployment of Indian troops like on the Line of Control with Pakistan.
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar is attending a BRICS video meeting of foreign ministers chaired by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. This is the prelude to the BRICS summit to be hosted by China, which PM Modi will attend virtually. In March, after a bilateral meeting with Wang in Delhi, Jaishankar had proclaimed that Sino-India ties “cannot be normal if the situation in the border areas is abnormal”. How does this sentiment square with Modi’s presence at the BRICS summit?
The Indian Navy will start flight trials of Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet carrier-based multi-role fighters at the shore-based test facility (SBTF) at INS Hansa in Goa on May 23. The US model is a contender for 26 fighters to be on board the INS Vikrant indigenous aircraft carrier, which will soon be commissioned. Two US Navy fighters will land in INS Hansa towards the end of this week for takeoffs from the 283-metre mock-up deck of India’s sole aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. The aircraft carrier is expected to come out of a major overhaul and become operational next month.
The public unity on display at Shaheen Bagh, coupled with political activism on the ground, resulted in a demolition drive being withdrawn last week. But beyond the romanticisation of Shaheen Bagh, Fatima Khan of The Quint reports on what its residents think. Sadaf, an office worker born and raised there, said that the last few years have rendered her “immune to the endless demonisation.” But there is dread about the future.
People gathered in Mullivaikkal village, in Sri Lanka’s northern Mullaitivu district yesterday, to remember the tens of thousands of Tamil civilians who were brutally killed in the final stages of the civil war in May 2009, when the armed forces crushed the LTTE. Dozens came together to express solidarity in a rare public remembrance event in Colombo, at Galle Face, amid sharp divisions between the Sinhala majority south and Tamil majority north. The Financial Times writes that Sri Lanka is bracing for a debt default as dollars run out. The grace period for interest payments on two international bonds expired yesterday.
The climate crisis has “made extreme Indian heatwaves 100 times more likely”, says a new study. The Guardian says that the latest analysis adds to evidence that the impacts of human-caused global heating are already damaging lives around the world.
The Railways can’t provide bed linen to passengers even two months after restoring the facility. The facility was available in 1,114 pairs of trains before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, but now it is being provided only in 520 pairs. A lot of linen went into making masks and 60% of the stock was damaged during the Covid years. Orders for 15 lakh bedroll items have been placed.
Indian boxing star Nikhat Zareen has reached her first World Championship final, defeating Brazil’s Caroline de Almeida 5-0. The 25-year-old is assured a silver but will have all eyes on the gold in the final today.
Actor Taapsee Pannu says she is “proud” of her partner, Mathias Boe, India’s Thomas Cup Doubles Coach. He’s perhaps the only one, says Pannu, to win the cup both as a player and as a coach.
Read an interview with Ruskin Bond as he turns 88. Bond was born on May 19, 1934.
BPCL sale stalled as bidders withdraw
The privatisation of second-largest state oil refiner and marketer Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), which was
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