‘Hunger Watch’ Reports Pervasive Food Insecurity; United Press To Protest Arbitrary Accreditation Rules
Russian sanctions won’t affect S400 deal, AIADMK cadres say no to NDA, Rotarians across borders to develop Indus Peace Park, crypto/NFT ads to carry warning and Modi takes ill-advised stab at Manipuri
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
February 24, 2022
Russia has invaded Ukraine and what Europe and the world will look like from here on is anybody’s guess. Countries around the world have condemned the Russian action but India has not said a word yet. The primary concern in official quarters right now is what the economic fallout will be. Prime Minister Modi will be holding a meeting Thursday evening with the finance minister and others to take stock of the situation.
India’s GDP will be just 1% above the pre-pandemic level even after the estimated 9.2% growth in FY22, said RBI Deputy Governor MD Patra, who oversees the core area of monetary policy. Making it clear that India’s slide began in 2017, much before the pandemic, he said that India has lost perhaps 15% of output forever, and it is reflected in the loss of livelihoods.
The National Statistical Office’s second advance estimates for FY22, due on February 28, may peg the current fiscal year’s real GDP growth at 8.6%, compared with 9.2% projected in the first advance estimates, India Ratings has said. The reason is the recent upward revision in FY21 GDP contraction, to -6.6% from -7.3%.
The Hunger Watch report released by the Right to Food Campaign yesterday offers worrying numbers about food, nutrition and equity. Nationally, 80% of people reported food insecurity, and 66% reported lost incomes post-pandemic. About 45% of families are in debt, a quarter report severe food insecurity and 67% can’t afford cooking gas ― a much-publicised thrust area in PM Modi’s first term.
The Union government has received Rs 2,000 crore in dividend from just two public sector units. Rs 1,939 crore has been secured as dividend from state-owned IOCL and Rs 67 crore from CONCOR. The total dividend receipts of the government from Central Public Sector Enterprises exceed Rs 43,000 crore. In 2016, the government revised the dividend distribution policy of PSUs, asking them to pay 30% of post-tax profit or 5% of net worth, whichever is higher, as dividend.
The Centre told the Supreme Court yesterday that Rs 18,000 crore have been returned to banks in the cases of runaway industrialist Vijay Mallya and businessmen Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, who faced charges of loan fraud and money laundering and were allowed to escape the law in India. This was used as an argument to support a draconian money laundering law that goes against basic constitutional tenets and has been challenged in court. For context, recall that Rs 10.72 lakh crore of bad loans have been written off in 10 years, most of it since 2014-15, when the Narendra Modi government assumed office.
A special plea over the jurisdiction of the General Court Martial (GCM) trying a Group Captain for alleged lapses that resulted in an Mi-17 helicopter being shot down in friendly fire near Srinagar in February 2019 was raised by the officer when the trial commenced at Chandigarh yesterday. Group Captain SR Chowdhury contended that the GCM could not try him on account of violation of various rights and irregularities in pre-trial procedures.
PM Modi took a sharp turn on a core RSS/BJP tenet last week when he proposed a new cattle policy, suddenly waking up to the awara pashu or stray cattle menace which has been a poll issue for years. But Chief Minister Adityanath is staying the course: “We have completely stopped illegal slaughterhouses. I promise that we will not let Gaumata be slaughtered, while we’ll also protect fields of farmers from stray cattle,” he said at a rally in the Tiloi Assembly constituency of Amethi.
The Telegraph visited the home of Raman Kashyap, the journalist who was mowed down by Ashish Mishra’s car, as Lakhimpur Kheri went to the polls. While no violence was seen, the men of Ajay Mishra Teni were everywhere, creating an undercurrent of fear.
Welcoming India’s “independent” stand at the UN Security Council on Moscow’s moves in eastern Ukraine, Russia’s Acting Ambassador to India Roman Babushkin said yesterday that the new sanctions imposed on his country would not affect the delivery of the S400 missile system and other defence equipment that India had purchased.
Indian-American US economic advisor Daleep Singh is leading the efforts of the Biden administration to impose sanctions on Russia. Singh is deputy national security advisor for international economics and deputy director of the National Economic Council.
The Election Commission is keeping its head below the parapet, but a notice it sent to Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma long ago has found its way to the courts. Sarma and his wife Riniki Bhuyan, chairman and managing director of an Assamese news channel, must present themselves before the chief judicial magistrate of Kamrup Metropolitan tomorrow, over alleged violation of the model code of conduct during the 2019 Lok Sabha poll.
Tomorrow, the Editors Guild of India, Press Club of India, Press Association, Indian Women’s Press Corp, Delhi Union of Journalist, Working News Cameraman Association and the Indian Association of Foreign Affairs Correspondents will jointly protest the new and restrictive accreditation guidelines of the Press Information Bureau, which can arbitrarily suspend access to government offices and functions.
Continuing the new tradition of casual censorship, in Telangana, an Additional District Judge at Ranga Reddy District Court has asked The Wire to take down 14 articles on Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, which has been controversy-ridden, due in large measure to the manufacturer’s failure to release trial data. The order was passed without seeking the journalists’ version of the story. It is the media’s duty to question big pharmaceutical companies during a pandemic.
AFP reports that hundreds of news stories covering decades of violence and killings in Kashmir are vanishing down a “memory hole”. BBC covers the frustration of young job-seekers in UP, in the midst of an election in which unemployment and underemployment are serious issues.
Ashwini, the sister of 26-year-old Bajrang Dal worker Harsha who was killed on Sunday night in Shivamogga, has made an impassioned plea for people to stay away from political agendas and said that blood, whether a Hindu’s or a Muslim’s, must not be shed.
As schools reopen, Kolkata teachers observe that confinement during the pandemic has made children “less agile and even lethargic”, that they slouch in class and even speak less. Bad news for a population already burdened with lifestyle disorders.
Beena Sarwar reports that Indian and Pakistani Rotarians will meet at Kartarpur this week in an effort to develop an Indus Peace Park, along with the Chakwal International Group.
Former Pakistan interior minister Rehman Malik has died of complications following Covid. A leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, he was earlier director of the Federal Investigation Agency, in which he ran counter-terrorism operations which are understood to have agitated the ISI.
The Kenyan emissary to the UN explains how all countries born out of colonialism should view the situation in Ukraine.
Meet Priyadarshini, 21, the youngest councillor elected in Tamil Nadu’s urban body polls, to the Chennai City Corporation.
Aryan Khan, Shah Rukh Khan’s son, may debut as a film writer. According to Pinkvilla, Aryan has been working towards developing multiple ideas that have the potential of being developed into feature films and web series.
The apex court has suggested that the name of the Alia Bhatt-starrer Gangubai Kathiawadi should be changed in view of cases seeking a stay on its February 25 release, which were earlier junked by the Bombay High Court.
The pandemic isn’t exactly over but on Shivratri on March 1, the Pashupatinath shrine in Kathmandu expects 1 million visitors, including sadhus from India, a reflection of pent-up demand for grace. The temple has been closed for two years.
In Imphal, PM Modi stands accused of yet another linguistic excess: he addressed a poll gathering in Hindi, which very few would understand there, instead of English and then took an ill-advised stab at Manipuri. No extra 2ab was discovered in the speech.