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HC Cites Savarkar Charge to Deny Rahul Gandhi Relief in Modi Surname Case; Canny Swede Has More Stomach for India than Many Indians
RSS industry body says inspections giving Indian pharma a bad name, Collegium recommends high court chief justices, Indian public WiFi doesn’t reach far, ‘Bheem Patrika’ publisher dead, ‘Satya’ is 25
A newsletter from The Wire | Founded by MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sushant Singh, Sidharth Bhatia and Tanweer Alam | With inputs from Kalrav Joshi | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
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Snapshot of the day
July 7, 2023
Today, the Gujarat High Court dismissed Rahul Gandhi’s plea for a stay on his conviction by a Surat magistrate’s court for a satirical remark about the PM while on the campaign trail, which disqualified him from Parliament. Now, the Congress will approach the Supreme Court. Justice Hemant Prachchhak said “the conviction is just, proper and legal”. There needs to be “purity in politics”, he said, noting that “as many as 10 cases are pending against (Gandhi)” and that a complaint has been filed against him “by the grandson of Veer Savarkar… after Gandhi used terms against Veer Savarkar at Cambridge.” As a lawyer, Prachchhak had once defended Maya Kodnani, a BJP minister convicted by a trial court of involvement in the 2002 riots but subsequently acquitted on appeal.
While quashing sedition proceedings against a Bidar school for staging a children’s play with political content, the Karnataka High Court said that it did not constitute sedition because violence against the state was not advocated. But it said that it was not all right to insult people like the PM who are in high office. Also, dramatic performances in school should be about knowledge, not current affairs, which “imprints or corrupts young minds”. So, no Macbeth, King Lear, Kamala or Ghashiram Kotwal.
India has refused to accept the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling that it is competent to look into Pakistan’s case about the Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects under the Indus Waters Treaty. The Hague court gave an award to Pakistan in 2016. India asked the World Bank to appoint a neutral expert. Based on its objections, the Court of Arbitration observed that it could adjudicate on the matter. India’s Ministry of External affairs responded that it has been New Delhi’s “consistent and principled” position that the “constitution of the so-called Court of Arbitration is in contravention of the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty”.
Indian diplomats declined to dignify the “venomous comments” of Pakistan’s UN envoy Munir Akram with a reply. In an open debate on Children and Armed Conflict at the UN Security Council, Akram had said that it was odd that the latest report of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Children and Armed Conflict does not include India.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative deal’s extension is due to run out in 10 days, and US envoy to Ukraine Bridget Brink appealed to India, in a special press conference for Indian journalists, to use its influence with Russia to ensure that grain exported from Ukraine isn’t blocked. In response to a question from The Hindu, she said: “The threat posed by a neighbouring country with rising ambitions and no respect for territorial integrity is not only felt by Ukraine.” The comment is being read as an allusion to the India-China standoff in the Himalayas.
The G20 summit in India is one of the “most important” events for Moscow, said a senior Russian diplomat, suggesting that Russian President Vladimir Putin could attend. Furthermore, Russian Deputy Ambassador Roman Babushkin accuses the US of trying to weaken India-Russia ties.
The US is ready to help in Manipur if asked, says Ambassador Eric Garcetti. “You don’t have to be Indian to care when you see children and individuals die in the sort of violence that we see [in Manipur].”
The violence in Manipur refuses to die down. Manipur Police, along with central security forces, destroyed four bunkers in Kangpokpi, Imphal West and Churachandpur Districts. Other districts are also destroying bunkers in fringe areas. According to the Manipur Police, the situation remains tense in some places with sporadic firing and congregation of unruly mobs. A mentally ill Kuki woman was shot dead by an unidentified gunman on the outskirts of Imphal. Yesterday, a 30-member delegation from adjoining Nagaland visited the state.
Calling it an “evasion of responsibility”, Congress and Trinamool Congress MPs walked out of a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Home after their demand to discuss the Manipur crisis was denied, on the plea that the agenda for July was already set.
The CBI has arrested three railway employees for ‘destruction of evidence’ following the recent Balasore train accident.
For lack of paperwork and by quibbling over the cause of death, the Madhya Pradesh government has denied compensation to the kin of 78% of frontline workers who died during the pandemic.
Election data may explain the BJP government’s response to the recent incident in Madhya Pradesh where an upper caste man with links to the party was seen urinating on an adivasi. Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan rushed to have the culprit arrested and then invited the victim to Bhopal to wash his feet. The Indian Express reports that “STs account for over 21% of the population, and have 47 of the state's 230 seats reserved for them. In 2018, BJP won just 16 of them, to Cong's 30 – in a reversal from 2013.”
With state elections around the corner, the BJP has appointed new leaders in charge of their strategy: Union Minister Pralhad Joshi (Rajasthan), senior party leader Om Prakash Mathur (Chhattisgarh), former Union Minister Prakash Javadekar (Telangana) and Union Minister Bhupender Yadav (Madhya Pradesh).
Ambedkarite Lahori Ram Balley of Jalandhar passed away yesterday. He had spread the message of Ambedkar all his life, especially through his Bheem Patrika. The longest-running Ambedkarite periodical, it has been in print since 1956, on a personal promise made to Ambedkar not long before his death.
The interaction of a western disturbance with a monsoon low pressure system may cause severe weather in north-western India from tomorrow, including cloudbursts, flash floods and landslides.
Chandrayaan-3 will be launched on July 14 from Sriharikota, and carry several scientific payloads to the moon.
Indian public WiFi doesn’t reach far
India has fallen far short of its target for installing public WiFi hotspots, reports The Economic Times. The National Digital Communications Policy-2018 had set a target of 10 million units by the end of 2022, but the actual number is a pitiful 0.5 million. According to Statista, the number of the UK has 175 times more public WiFi hotspots, the US has 50 times more, and China, 75 times more in India on a per million population basis. By 2030, India is expected to fall short of the more ambitious goal of 50 million public WiFi hotspots set forth in the most recent Bharat 6G Vision paper.
Industry executives complained about outrageous fees for Internet leased lines that telecom operators or ISPs charge public data offices (PDOs) and public data office aggregators (PDOAs). These are the main unlicensed organisations responsible for purchasing bandwidth in bulk and providing end users with free WiFi. The annual fee of Rs 4-8 lakh is a major factor in the failure of public WiFi.
Indian middle class to continue broadening
India’s middle class will nearly double to 61% of its population by 2047, from 31% in 2020-21. as continuing political stability and economic reforms with a sustained annual growth rate of 6-7% over the next two and half decades will make the country one of the largest markets in the world, as per a recent report published by People’s Research on India’s Consumer Economy (PRICE). The middle class is anticipated to grow from 432 million in 2020-21 to 715 million (47% of the population) in 2030-31 and then to 1.02 billion of India’s anticipated 1.66 billion inhabitants in 2047. The study assumes that the middle class constitutes Indians earning Rs 1.09-6.46 lakh per year (or Rs 5-30 lakh in household terms), based on 2020-21 pricing. At the lower end, that means an income of at least Rs 41,666 a month for a family of five.
Collegium recommends high court chief justices
Based on seniority, regional representation and the need for more women judges in the upper judiciary, the Supreme Court Collegium led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud has recommended to the government judges for appointment as new chief justices of seven major high courts. The new appointments will fill existing and future vacancies in the high courts of Kerala, Orissa, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Bombay, Telangana, and Gujarat. Justice Ashish J Desai of the Gujarat High Court has been recommended as the new chief justice of the Kerala High Court. The Collegium suggested that the current CJI of the Kerala High Court, Justice S Venkatanarayana Bhatti, be elevated as a Supreme Court judge. Following the retirement in August of the current Chief Justice of Orissa High Court, Justice S Muralidhar, he may be replaced by Justice Subhasis Talapatra. Delhi High Court’s Justice Siddharth Mridul has been recommended to be Chief Justice of the Manipur High Court.
Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya has been recommended for appointment as Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court. Allahabad’s senior-most puisne judge Justice Sunita Agarwal has been recommended for the position of Gujarat Chief Justice. Justice Alok Aradhe of the Madhya Pradesh High Court has been recommended for appointment as Chief Justice of the Telangana High Court.
South India reservoirs still at low level
While there has been an overall improvement in reservoir levels across India, around 40 dams in South India are still in deficit, reports Financial Express. The data reveals that despite recent monsoon showers, these dams are yet to be recharged. Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are particularly affected. Meanwhile, water levels in major dams in eastern regions especially in West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha, have been 3% above last year’s level, but 3% less than the last 10 year-average level. In these states, a large segment of farmland is still rainfed.
Zac O’Yeah has more stomach for India than many Indians
Most accounts by Western travellers in India mention Delhi Belly, after a sordid encounter with spicy food, or an infected street snack or just an ordinary, normal Indian meal that is too exotic for a delicate stomach used to bland cuisine. The end result is explosive, with dashes to the nearest toilet, and often to unusual privies behind bushes. It’s a rite of passage for the traveller, after which the system gets used to what India has to offer.
Zac O’Yeah, who is a Swede, has had no dearth of such encounters. He begins his book with colourful descriptions of a “dubious tandoori chicken” in Patna, a fried mussel in a “sour mood” in Thalassery and “dicey seafood” in a five-star hotel in Colombo. The last necessitated a dash to the nearest coconut grove. Which proves that India is not the only country where travellers suffer because of the food — the experienced O’Yeah mentions Beijing burps, Istanbul intestines and Moroccan motions. Digesting India, as the book is called, begins with a lot of indigestion.
After those early incidents, O’Yeah grew hardened and continued to travel around India, trying local cuisines. He now lives in Bangalore and no doubt pooh-poohs those with delicate tummies who come here with tins of baked beans and tonnes of Imodium. His belly-aching days are long past, and one admires not just his sense of adventure, but also his penchant for discovering the grub places that locals may not know about, or prefer not to know about.
Because O’Yeah generally seeks out the downmarket. He is a connoisseur of the street, the cheap joint, the hole in the wall: “…about 10% of my days consist of healthy tourism, 90% are spent on hunting things to eat and drink excessively. The beverage part of my diet is, as always, very straightforward: Zero in on any downmarket bar to sample unbranded beverages…”
The book begins promisingly on that note, in his adopted hometown. At 50 pages, ‘A Town Called Beershop’ is the longest chapter, ruminating over bookshops, local lore and food establishments ranging from the famed Koshy’s to those in the somewhat seedy neighbourhood of Majestic, where three of his detective novels are set. Majestic has changed a lot, O’Yeah laments, and it is a familiar sentiment for denizens of many cities where ‘development’ has meant destruction of the old, where eating and drinking places of the working class are being brought down to service the aspirational classes.
The author’s fondness for Bangalore is visible as he walks in and out of bookstores and bars — he calls himself an “aficionado of unfashionably seedy taverns”. Some of those have regrettably disappeared as Bangalore turned into the home of posh pubs selling craft beers.
From here he proceeds to Mysore, whose dosas he loves and where RK Narayan, one of his favourite writers, lived and worked for years. There is a charming side trip to locate where the real Malgudi could be, all intermingled with food and more food.
And then on to Kerala, where it is fish, fish and more fish; Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu and Hyderabad follow and then on to Goa, and feni. It’s an acquired taste and often Goans look askance if one does not care for it. No such worries for O’Yeah, who quaffs it joyfully and even tries, in a slightly drunken condition, to convert the writer Orhan Pamuk, whom he meets at a party thrown by Amitav Ghosh, who has made Goa his home.
Many writers, from Ibn Batuta to Rudyard Kipling, EM Forster and Somerset Maugham, and to contemporary names, figure throughout the book. O’Yeah relies on their memoirs and retraces their steps to imagine what they would have eaten.
From Goa it is Mumbai, which he knows, where he begins with a vada pav outside the train station, and then to Military Cafe and Sarvi, after which the drinking scene is all but over. He heads to Sevagram, where he comes this close to turning into an austere Gandhian, and then to Ahmedabad where he stays at the elegantly restored House of MG. Ahmedabad has little scope for boozing, leave alone for seedy janta joints, though it has a vibrant bootlegger economy which O’Yeah does not mention.
Moving on to Rajasthan, there is a sudden tonal shift — gone is the grunge; here, it is all havelis and forts, whose owners wine and dine O’Yeah. He admires Alila Bishangarh, an imposing fort which was converted into a hotel without disturbing its character. And he chats with the owner of Malji ka Kamra, an old mansion in Churu, over chilled wine in the desert.
Delhi is all about chats and kebabs in the older parts of the city, checking out the dhabas and recalling chats with Arundhati Roy, who has a small place in the neighbourhood. He knows Delhi well, having visited it often earlier, and savours the street food. Ditto Kolkata, where O’Yeah is once again in familiar surroundings. Ginsberg, the Park Street cemetery, and a lot of fish — it satisfies the mind, stomach and soul.
And then onward to Bhutan for a literary festival, where he ditches the company of other authors and seeks out local grub and beer in out-of-the-way bars. This adds a lot of local colour, though it is a strange add-on, since he has been only writing about India so far.
O’Yeah brings a lot of knowledge and research to his writing though he wears all of it lightly — the tone is light, the puns keep flowing and occasionally we see some of his sly wit, as when he quotes Amit Chaudhari, who forays from his usual haunts of the clubs and five star hotels to the somewhat grungier side streets and observes the poorer residents of Calcutta washing their pots and pans and hands over Rs 50 to an ‘ailing child labourer’. “This is perhaps the best description I’ve read of the city’s elite viewing their less fortunate fellow city dwellers.”
All through the book, I felt like immediately booking myself a ticket to the place he was writing about and at the end, wanted to undergo the same adventure — try the foods, learn about the place, see the landmarks and talk to the locals. Though I can do without all those gastronomical mishaps.
Zac O’Yeah, Digesting India : A Travel Writer’s Sub-Continental Adventures With The Tummy: A Memoir À La Carte (Speaking Tiger Books, 2023, 394 pages)
Inspections giving Indian pharma a bad name, says RSS small industries body
RSS affiliate Laghu Udyog Bharati (LUB) recently wrote to the central government, urging an immediate halt to inspections conducted at pharmaceutical firms. The organisation, representing micro and small industries across 400 districts, described these inspections as a “death sentence” for such enterprises. LUB expressed concern that these risk-based inspections (RBIs) had garnered negative attention for the Indian pharma industry. “The idea was to collect points for an internal meeting. However, due to some confusion, it was couriered to the health secretary. We later sent a clarification to the ministry explaining the confusion,” the LBU president said.
Prime Number: 1/3
Despite previous claims that manual scavenging had been eradicated across the nation, with the exception of hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks, the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has recently revealed the embarrassing truth. Out of the total 766 districts in the country, only 508 districts have officially declared themselves free from manual scavenging. This alarming statistic implies that approximately one-third of districts in the country still persist in this deplorable and dangerous practice.
Among states where Muslims make up 10-15% of the population, such as Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, the share of Muslim MPs has plummeted. Three of the states have no Muslim MPs at all. The Hindu notes the journey from low representation to complete disempowerment. Also, the Muslim MP share in the Lok Sabha has an inverse relationship with the BJP’s MP count.
Opeds you don’t want to miss
“It is a rule of thumb that multilateral fora should not be used to settle bilateral scores,” says Dawn about the SCO summit. The body could become a “behemoth driving growth”, but if irritants between states are not eased, “it will remain but a talk shop, much like Saarc has become”.
While converting the two-day SCO summit into a two-hour online affair, New Delhi lost a good opportunity to showcase and assert its independent foreign policy orientation, writes Gulshan Sachdeva.
In the view of Moscow, there are limits to the India-US alliance, writes Alexei Zakharov. New Delhi’s reluctance to condemn the invasion of Ukraine lays down the line of self-control.
Mihir Sharma looks at affirmative action in the US and India and notes that while the Indian system of quotas has worked in public universities, the US has done far better at opening up the ranks of the elite. One of the reasons for this: “In the US, universities and institutions fight back against crippling court verdicts to find other ways of addressing historical wrongs. Indian elite institutions feel no such pressure. They go as far as is constitutionally mandated and legally required, but not a step further.”
India wants to be the next China, but Elon Musk is bashing his head against the same brick walls that his predecessors had brained themselves on. Huileng Tan lists five reasons why the Indian market remains hard to crack.
V Sudarshan traces the history of India’s LCA plans and says the euphoria set off by the US agreeing to supple the F414 engine “may be disproportionate to the situation on the ground:.
Read more at: https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/india-us-ties-mou-aeronautics-jet-engine-abdul-kalam-jaishankar-hal-tejas-lca-1234746.html
Harsha Bhargavi Pandiri argues for increasing India’s soft power by encouraging the creative economy via digital technologies, helping artists to “face challenges that are related to economic sustainability, market access, the digital divide, crime in the art world and preservation.”
On the Grand Tamasha with Milan Vaishnav, Pramit Bhattacharya critically assesses India’s statistical system, the best and worst of times for data users in India and what today’s data crisis means for the average Indian.
Satya is 25 years old. Ram Gopal Varma, Manoj Bajpayee, Shefali Shah and Saurabh Shukla joined Anupama Chopra on The Film Companion for a sentimental reunion replete with engrossing anecdotes, behind-the-scenes tales and much emotion.
Over and out
In an interview with Scroll.in, documentary filmmaker Vinay Shukla says, “While We Watched is like the [Hollywood film] Titanic, but it’s not about Jack and Rose. It’s about the musicians who stayed back and continued to play their violins as the ship sank.”
It’s always been taught that the last battle of the American Revolutionary War was fought at Yorktown, Virginia. But CNN reports that historians are arguing that since colonial powers were in the fray, it was actually a world war. And the decisive battle may have been fought in Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, in June 1783, rather than on the American continent.
That’s it for today. We’ll be back with you on Monday, on a device near you. If The India Cable was forwarded to you by a friend (perhaps a common friend!) book your own copy by SUBSCRIBING HERE.