Greater Tipraland Movement Rekindled After Delegation Met Amit Shah; Modi’s US Tech Transfer Deals May Stumble On Export Controls
Data protection bill’s problems remain, UGC scraps PhD requirement, Sen says ‘fraud inherent in UCC’, Hindutva thugs assault Pune principal, child marriage data, Delhi’s most entitled bungalow
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Snapshot of the day
July 6, 2023
The draft data protection Bill has Cabinet approval and should be tabled in Parliament in the monsoon session, six years after the Supreme Court ruled that privacy is a fundamental right. The most problematic parts of the Bill, offering sweeping exemptions to government entities, have probably been retained, reports the Indian Express. The Union government will retain the right to protect “any instrumentality of the state” which relates to national security, foreign relations and public order ― all vague portmanteau terms. The chief executive of the adjudicatory Data Protection Board will also be appointed by the Union government, on its terms. The Bill will serve as the key pillar of India’s future technology regulation framework. Anushka Jain and Prateek Waghre dissect the issues involved.
The Modi government’s new Information Technology Rules – which grant it the right to declare news as fake and order its takedown – is under challenge in the Bombay High Court, and in Thursday’s hearing, the bench said the government had not yet come up with a rationale for the added powers it was seeking. Among the petition being considered is one brought by comedian Kunal Kamra.
Lawyer Apar Gupta says the recent Karnataka High Court ruling that Twitter had no right to challenge the government’s takedown orders “cements and expands executive power at a high cost to fundamental rights”. The judgment reached three dangerous conclusions, he writes:
the government’s power to block includes the ability to block entire accounts rather than individual tweets without prescribing a higher legal threshold
the blocking orders themselves do not need to contain reasons in writing
ordinary users need not be provided notice by the government that their tweets have been made the subject of a takedown order
In a regional spin on non-alignment, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry has told the South China Morning Post that his nation will not take sides between India and China. The island nation was drawn into the fray last year, when India expressed strong reservations about a Chinese ‘research’ naval vessel docking in Hambantota Port, which was built and leased by China.
Alerted by paranoid parents, Hindutva thugs assaulted Alexander Coates Reid, principal of a Pune school, on the suspicion that the school was using material from the Bible in its morning prayer. Police say that the allegation is baseless.
Barely 48 hours after a delegation of the Tipra Motha met Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the Tripura-based regional party announced the resumption of its agitation for ‘Greater Tipraland’ from July 8. Party chief Pradyot Debbarma, the royal scion of Tripura, said in Agartala that the delegation he led conveyed to him the “restlessness” being felt by the indigenous people of Tripura about the non-fulfillment of their plea. It appears that the BJP is keen on Tipra Motha joining the state government. As per an India Today NENow report, Debbarma said he would not repeat the “same mistake as IPFT (Indigenous People’s Forum of Tripura, another regional party and ally of the BJP)” which had joined the government in 2018.
At his ancestral home in Santiniketan, West Bengal, Amartya Sen said that there is a “fraud inherent in the Uniform Civil Code”, in the idea that there is only one way to do anything. “There is certainly a connection between it (the UCC) and Hindu Rashtra. But adopting Hindu Rashtra may not be a good way to guarantee India’s advancement. Adopting the path of Hindu Rashtra may even close down some of the avenues of progress,” he said.
Taiwan has announced that it will open a Taipei Economic and Cultural Center (TECC) in Mumbai, the third such in India. They function as de facto consulates as the two countries continue to increase cooperation in various sectors. In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Taiwan (Republic of China) said that the TECC in Mumbai “will help expand mutually beneficial trade and investment opportunities between Taiwan and India”.
A special court in Mumbai has ordered the remand of Amar Mulchandani of the BJP, former chairman of the Seva Vikas Cooperative Bank, to the Enforcement Directorate’s custody until July 7. The arrest is for bank fraud involving 124 non-performing assets loan accounts, which caused a loss of Rs 429 crore to the bank. The ED’s investigation is based on multiple FIRs registered in Pune against Mulchandani, the bank’s directors and officials, and loan defaulters. In August 2021, he was arrested by the Pimpri Chinchwad police in the same case but was granted bail within six months.
Even as Gujarat is setting up new medical colleges and hospitals so quickly that the recruitment of doctors can’t keep up, the Gujarat government’s health department, in a first-of-its-kind initiative, is looking to raise funds from CSR for the procurement and maintenance of medical equipment in public sector healthcare, Ahmedabad Mirror reports. Gujarat model, indeed!
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The rising mercury is making it difficult for farmers to work. Sanket Jain reports that heat waves are pushing agricultural workers across a wide swath of India to the edge of survival. For two days this week, the world was hotter than ever before since records began to be kept. Antarctica was 4.5°C warmer than the 1979-2000 average.
A joint delegation of CPI(M) and CPI MPs will arrive in Manipur today to express solidarity with the people and understand the situation in the state. The delegation comprises Bikashranjan Bhattacharya, John Brittas, Binoy Viswam, P Sandosh Kumar and K Subba Rayan. They said that the BJP’s claims of “double engine” efficiency had been exposed in Manipur, where the chief minister had lost all legitimacy.
India, an aspiring digital superpower, keeps shutting down the internet, reminds The Economist. It says, “Last year the second-highest number of internet disruptions, 22, were recorded in Ukraine, many of them related to the war there. In India, there were 84.”
Appearing for the directors of the realty group M3M, Senior Advocate Harish Salve told the Supreme Court that the Enforcement Directorate has been vested with “drastic powers” to probe money laundering cases. “If Lordships do not rein them in, no one is safe in this country,” he said.
The Micron deal struck during PM Modi’s US visit is being sold as an achievement, but the truth is that India has missed the bus, says Prabir Purkayastha. The deal is for assembly and packaging, not the core technology areas of chip design and manufacture. Plus, India is ponying up 70% and throwing in land and cheap labour but the US company gets 100% ownership, so it’s a poor deal – whatever the optics.
Smriti Irani and Amit Malviya allege that the ISI and George Soros are acting through Hindus for Human Rights founder Sunita Viswanath to destroy India. The objective of the bizarre campaign is to smear Rahul Gandhi, says Viswanath, who describes hereself as a “practising Hindu”.
Read an excerpt from Varavara Rao: A Life in Poetry – a collection of poems translated from Telugu and edited by Meena Kandasamy and N Venugopal.
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