IB Bought Pegasus-Related Hardware From NSO; Congress Must Market Kharge The Way BJP Marketed Draupadi Murmu
NCB officers guilty in Aryan Khan case, no foreign trade data for two weeks, Gujarat leads in Meta advertising, Mamata says CPI(M) pushed Tatas out of Singur, Andhra donkey meat makes the law an ass
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
October 20, 2022
The Indian government has refused to answer questions on the use of the Pegasus Israeli spyware on its own citizens, according to the global investigation led by Forbidden Stories. Now, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project has tracked down a purchase of hardware by India’s Intelligence Bureau from Israeli firm NSO Group, which matches specs of Pegasus deployments elsewhere. The finding bolsters the claim, reported by the New York Times early this year, that the Indian government purchased Pegasus in 2017 as part of a major arms deal with Israel.
Today, it’s exactly 60 years to the beginning of the India-China war in 1962. There are many myths around it. Sushant Singh argues that Modi may have drawn the wrong lessons from the war.
The early release of 11 convicted in the Bilkis Bano case looks more sordid. In 2017-2021, prime witnesses in the case repeatedly complained of intimidation, harassment and assault by four convicts. The administration and the police were made aware of this, but no action was ever taken. On the contrary, the men were released for “good behaviour”. No security or protection has been provided for Bilkis Bano. The chief minister and home minister of Gujarat at the time, who were responsible for security are now Prime Minister and Home Minister. The latter is an MP from Gujarat. The courts had shifted the case out of Gujarat.
Siddique Kappan has been in jail for 745 days since he was arrested by the UP Police on the way to Hathras, and it’s 40 days since he was granted bail by the Supreme Court on September 9. This is because the Enforcement Directorate added him to an older money laundering case dating back to 2018, linked to a 2013 case, neither of which he has any connection with. His co-accused and “main conspirator” in the present case has already been granted bail by a Kerala court.
In extraordinary remarks in IIT-Bombay, UN Secretary-General António Guterres yesterday, urging Indians to condemn hate speech. He said India’s global standing would benefit if “concrete actions” are taken in support of the “rights and freedoms of journalists, human rights activists, students and academics”.
Air quality in the Indo-Gangetic plain is about to plummet. An important report by the Centre for Policy Research finds that in 10 state pollution boards, 53% of members are linked to potential polluters. Only 7% are scientists or experts.
The Department of Commerce has not been able to generate foreign trade data for nearly two weeks, due to differences with the revenue department over secrecy of customs data. The Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCIS), which compiles and publishes trade statistics, has not been able to process and validate daily and weekly trade data because the Indian Customs Electronic Gateway (ICEGATE) has not been sharing key information since October 7.
The favourable trade balance that China has enjoyed with India, since bilateral commerce began to boom in the early 2000s, has crossed $1 trillion.
While it dithers and abstains in the UN, India has not been able to secure the lives of its citizens in Ukraine. The Indian mission in Ukraine has issued the second advisory in the last nine days asking nationals to leave the country “at the earliest”.
Pages from Gujarat paid Rs 5.27 crore to advertise on Meta in the last three months, making the state the top spender. The Punjab government is the top spender after the Paltu Express page, closely followed by Aam Aadmi Party Gujarat. The two had spent Rs 77.79 lakh and Rs 75.53 lakh on Meta ads in 90 days. The fourth largest advertiser is the UN and AAP’s ‘Make India No. 1’ campaign holds the fifth position. Next is the Gujarat Congress, which spent Rs 37.81 lakh on Meta ads. Interestingly, BJP Gujarat is only the tenth largest advertiser with Rs 25.86 lakh. However, they have 748 ads in the library, 275 more than Paltu Express. INC Gujarat has 685 of them.
The government yesterday reshuffled 16 IAS officers working at the Centre. New secretaries have been appointed to 15 ministries, and the announcement made for a new Registrar General of India and Census Commissioner in the Ministry of Home Affairs. Financial Services Secretary Sanjay Malhotra, a 1990-batch IAS officer of the Rajasthan cadre, has been appointed as Revenue Secretary Tarun Bajaj’s successor. Bajaj will retire on November 30. Vivek Joshi, a 1989-batch IAS officer of the Haryana cadre, will take over as the financial services secretary. Meanwhile, the government has appointed Mritunjay Kumar Narayan, an IAS officer of 1995-batch Uttar Pradesh cadre, as the registrar general of India & census commissioner in the home ministry. Road Transport and Highways Secretary Aramane Giridhar will be the new defence secretary as part of the top-level bureaucratic reshuffle. A 1988-batch IAS officer of the Andhra Pradesh cadre, Giridhar will succeed Ajay Kumar, who retires this month.
India and France yesterday discussed accelerating the construction of six new European Pressurised Nuclear Power Reactors (EPRs) with a capacity of 9,900 MW at Jaitapur in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. The project could make Jaitapur the world’s biggest nuclear power hub, surpassing Japan’s 7,965 MW Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant. The Indian government had confirmed in December 2021 in-principle approval for installing the reactors of 1,650 MW capacity each. India’s now produces 6,780 MW of nuclear power. The government plans to more than triple this to 22,480 MW by 2031.
“Vande Bharat has been designed at 160 kmph operation, and for this speed, it is mandatory to have a fenced track. As a second line of defence, the safeguard of a ﬁbre reinforced plastic (FRP) nose ensures the damage can be restored quickly. The issue is that infrastructure development has not kept pace,” Sudhanshu Mani, former GM, Indian Railways and leader of the initial Vande Bharat team tells Hindu Businessline.
Mukesh Ambani has bought another beach-side villa in Dubai, smashing his own record for the city’s most expensive residential real estate deal, set just months ago. Ambani bought the Palm Jumeirah mansion last week for about $163 million from the family of Kuwaiti tycoon Mohammed Alshaya.