Hindutva Seers Threaten ‘War Far Scarier Than 1857’; Violently Evicted Assam Families Were Legitimate Residents
Markets shed $4 billion, job creation down 22%, FMCG prices to rise, Dalit school students retaliate with midday meal boycott, Roger Waters speaks for Khurram Parvez while Pragya Thakur plays cricket
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
December 27, 2021
Following a meeting attended by the Nagaland and Assam Chief Ministers, and without consulting the Army, the Home Ministry has constituted a committee headed by secretary-level officer Vivek Joshi to look into withdrawing AFSPA in Nagaland. The killing of at least 14 civilians by the Army has the Northeast up in arms. Officials involved will be suspended till the court of inquiry completes its work. The Northeast is angry about the mandate being limited to Nagaland. Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma wants it removed from the entire region.
To protest the sacking of a Dalit cook after Savarna students refused to have midday meals prepared by her at Sukhidang village in Uttarakhand, 23 Dalit students boycotted meals cooked by her upper caste replacement. The chief education officer of the district had termed the appointment of the Dalit woman illegal, and dismissed her.
Calls for ghar wapsi and a Hindu nation are now ‘mainstream’. BJP Youth President and Bengaluru MP Tejasvi Surya has brought great clarity with his hate on display yet again, saying that India must be “fully” Hindu now. He has now unconditionally withdrawn his statements, whatever that means. Meanwhile Pragya Thakur – the BJP’s Bhopal MP and Godse supporter charged with terrorism in the Malegaon case and out on bail for medical reasons – was caught playing cricket on the weekend. Earlier, the invalid has been found dancing and playing basketball.
The Indian media documented several acts of violence against Christians on Christmas and the world has taken note. The Guardian reports that “festive celebrations were disrupted, Jesus statues were smashed and effigies of Santa Claus were burned in a spate of attacks on India’s Christian community over Christmas”. The intimidation of Christians on and before Christmas, and the desecration of a statue of Christ in Ambala, has turned the focus firmly on the BJP top leadership, which provides the enabling environment. The irony of wanting to protect Christians from Pakistan in India has never been sharper.
Also on Monday came news of the Modi government’s Christmas gift to the Missionaries of Charity, the NGO founded by Mother Theresa that looks after thousands of indigents around India: it has frozen their bank accounts.
Barely a month after Narendra Modi invited Pope Francis to India, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has demanded that he apologise for the ‘crimes’ of Christians. At the meet of its board of trustees, VHP International Working President Alok Kumar said that the Pope should address the issue of religious conversions. “Christians have persecuted, conducted genocides and mass executions for 350 years. So, when the Pope comes visiting, he should apologise for all this, and showing respect for all religions, should declare to stop horizontal religious conversions,” Kumar said.
Seventy-six Supreme Court lawyers have written to Chief Justice of India NV Ramana about two events organised last week in Delhi (by the Hindu Yuva Vahini, founded by UP CM Adityanath) and Haridwar (by Yati Narsinghanand), where inflammatory speeches featured open calls for the genocide of Muslims, and a virtual call for the assassination of former PM Manmohan Singh.
Three of India’s neighbours are now operating Chinese submarines. Myanmar appears to have commissioned a Ming class submarine as UMS Minye Kyaw Htin last week. India had gifted a Sindhughosh class submarine last year to preempt precisely this. A recent visit by the Chinese Ambassador in Colombo to Sri Lanka’s Tamil majority Northern Province has drawn attention to what is widely seen as a heightening geopolitical contest between India and China, now manifesting in the island nation’s north.
The Chinese Chamber of Commerce in India and the India China Mobile Phone Enterprise Association have urged New Delhi to change its “irregular tax probe practice and treat foreign investors equally, and to actively create an open, fair, and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese enterprises operating in India.” They claim to have “invested $3 billion and created 500,000 local jobs.” Indian tax authorities have launched an ‘investigation’ of Chinese-run companies in India, including Oppo, Xiaomi and OnePlus.
Formal job creation fell by 22% in FY21, down to 8.55 million jobs from 11 million in FY20. In FY19, job creation in the formal sector was higher, with the addition of 13.9 million Employees' Provident Fund subscribers. In FY21, 6.6 million men joined the formal job market, but only 1.95 million women. And India’s labour force participation is abysmally low.
Expect FMCG manufacturers to raise prices again next month owing to high or rising costs of inputs. Across the board, packaged wheat flour, basmati, biscuits and shampoos will become 2-10% dearer. Other economic indicators do not portend well either. Only ATF consumption is closing its gap with pre-pandemic consumption levels, while the consumption of other fuels has dipped. Passenger car sales revived sharply in the first quarter, but not two-wheelers. The CMIE index shows that the poor are less likely to spend.
India has overtaken China as the largest source of international students after the pandemic, according to a new report, ‘Student, Interrupted: International Education and the Pandemic’. New international students from India increased by about 27% over pre-pandemic levels, along with shifts in student choice. The number going to Australia fell by 62% in the 12 months to September 2021, compared to 2019, but numbers headed for the UK jumped 174%.
Telangana BJP president Bandi Sanjay on Saturday asked the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) to stop the show of stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui in Hyderabad on January 9. His show ‘Dhando’ is to be performed at the invitation of Telangana Industry and IT Minister KT Rama Rao.
The uniquely Indian pandemic of spitting was on the back foot as a far more dangerous pandemic spread, and people became concerned about infection. But it’s back, and so are the citizen warriors fighting the disgusting habit.