Govt Shoots Down YouTube, Twitter Links to BBC Documentary; Advani’s ‘A Prisoner’s Scrap-Book’: An Emergency Defence of ‘Basic Structure’ Doctrine
Independent poll predicts Cong win in Karnataka, school kids answer egg query, Badrinath and border may be cut off, TMC getting into media, Gujarat court witnesses apotheosis of cow and its products
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Snapshot of the day
January 23, 2023
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued directions to block multiple YouTube videos and Twitter posts that shared links to the first part of a BBC documentary, India: The Modi Question, on the 2002 Gujarat riots. Twitter was ordered to block over 50 tweets linking to them, and take down future uploads. The directions came from the Secretary, I&B Ministry, who invoked emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021. YouTube and Twitter have complied, drawing even more attention to the documentary.
The Ministry of External Affairs had a couple of days ago trashed the docuseries as a “propaganda piece” lacking objectivity and “reflecting a colonial mindset”. While the BBC did not release it in India, some YouTube channels uploaded it. Senior officials of multiple ministries — External Affairs, Home and I&B — found it to be an attempt to cast aspersions on the authority and credibility of the Supreme Court of India, sow divisions among Indian communities and make unsubstantiated allegations regarding actions of foreign governments in India, unnamed “sources” told reporters.
About the BBC documentary, Hindustan Times reporter Shishir Gupta “raises a fundamental question of why the government allows foreign diplomats a free run during their postings in India, with the Ministry of External Affairs often being kept in the dark.”
He seems to want British and other Western diplomats in Delhi put under the same level of scrutiny as their Pakistani and Chinese counterparts so they don’t wander off the reservation.
The India-UK free trade agreement (FTA) to be clinched this year won’t involve better visa prospects for Indians, the UK Secretary of State for International Trade has said. More student visas are not part of the deal. In an interview with The Times, Kemi Badenoch also ruled out similarities with the UK-Australia FTA ― one of the first post-Brexit trade deals: “We left the EU because we didn’t believe in free movement. This is not a deal that’s negotiating some kind of free movement with India.”
It’s Netaji’s birth anniversary today. Subhas Chandra Bose’s daughter Anita Bose-Pfaff has said that the RSS’s planned celebrations of Bose’s birthday is to “partially exploit” her father’s legacy. According to Hindustan Times, she said that Bose believed in secularism and inclusiveness, and so his ideas and the RSS’s are “poles apart and do not coincide”. In terms of ideology, he would have come closest to the Congress party in today’s India, she continued. Bose believed in different religions cooperating with each other, according to his daughter. “RSS and BJP do not necessarily reflect this attitude … If you want to put a simple label, they are rightists, and Netaji was a leftist,” she told PTI on the phone from Germany, where she lives.
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While sentencing a 22-year-old man to life imprisonment for illegally transporting cattle from Maharashtra, a court in Gujarat’s Tapi recently said that all problems of the earth would be solved and its well-being established the day no drop of cow blood falls on it. Sessions Judge SV Vyas also quoted a Sanskrit shloka which says that if cows became extinct, the universe would also cease to exist, and that the origin of the Vedas is because of cows. He said that science has proved that houses made of cow dung are not affected by nuclear radiation and gaumutra cures incurable diseases.
Innovative education reformist Sonam Wangchuk on Saturday posted a video appeal to PM Modi: “All is not well in Ladakh.” Ladakh, part of the world’s “third pole”, faces dire concerns, he elaborates in the clip, where he refers to the 6th Schedule of the Constitution and protests linked to it. “Ladakh has nearly 95% tribal population while the Constitution seeks 50% tribal population in an area for applicability of 6th Schedule.”
A video of two women, reported to be Koreans, visiting Chauudhary Charan Singh University in Meerut, UP, was circulated in which a group of men is saying, “These are Christian missionaries who are trying to come here.” “Why are you here, madam?” the man recording the clip says, amidst chants of “Jai Shri Ram”. “The claims related to the incident ― in which the allegations about promotion of a religion are being made ― are completely false,” police said. They added that they have registered a case against the unknown group of harassers.
When Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi announced her party’s poll promise of Rs 2,000 per month for every woman head of a household, in minutes, the BJP in Karnataka mocked it. Two days later, the BJP announced the very same assistance scheme to women of Below Poverty Line families. The BJP pooh-poohs a social welfare scheme announced by another party, only to adopt it under a different name or format ― NYAY, PMAY, PMGAY, MGNREGS. It’s a pattern under Modi.
The BJP claimed that 68,136 houses were constructed in Meghalaya under the PM Awas Yojana. Official data says the actual number was 1,100. Its other claims have fared no better.
A survey by an independent agency from outside Karnataka predicts that the Opposition Congress would win 108-114 seats, BJP 65-75 and JDS 24-34 in the upcoming Assembly polls. The survey, carried out by SAS group of Hyderabad in association with the IPSS team in Karnataka from November 20 to January 15, stated that the Congress could increase its vote share from 38.14% to around 40% (plus 1.86%), while the BJP’s could see a dip from 36.35% to 34% (minus 2.35%). JDS too could suffer with a 1.3% drop from 18.3% to 17%. Others, including independents, could bag 6%, and win seven seats.
The National School of Drama found Utpal Dutt’s play Titumir too hot to handle. NSD invited the performance but pulled it from the Rang Mahotsav in February. The director says he was asked if it was anti-government; he said it was ― against the government of British India. The protagonist, the historical figure Titumir, was a practising Muslim and developed a strain of Muslim nationalism.
Indian eggs are doing well. Reuters reports that India is set to export a record 50 million eggs this month, boosted by sales to Malaysia, where there have been acute shortages connected to the Ukraine war. Middle Eastern countries, including Oman and Qatar, are the main buyers of India’s eggs, but large orders have come from elsewhere as output fell in some of the world’s top suppliers. Malaysian Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Mohamad Sabu visited leading hatcheries in Namakkal, Tamil Nadu, to ensure a supply of eggs.
The state of higher education in India: Professor Raj Kumar, whose appointment as Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University in 2018 was controversial, has resigned under pressure following allegations of corruption and malpractice. Faculty members feel that his resignation alone will not undo layers of alleged graft.