India and China Clash at LAC, Opposition Demands Discussion; Keen on GM Mustard, Government Plays Tug-of-War With RSS
World’s worst measles outbreak in India, RBI evading scrutiny on inflation, ‘conversion therapy’ is professional misconduct, Kochi-Muziris Biennale delayed, MPLADS funds used for ‘spiritual awakening’
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 13, 2022
Indian and Chinese troops clashed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at Yangtse in the Tawang Sector of Arunachal Pradesh in the early hours of December 9. Some Indian soldiers were injured in the clash, as per the official statement. India Today reports that Chinese troops came to uproot an Indian army post from a 17,000-feet high peak in the area. Ajay Banerjee has the image of the Chinese deployment at the base of the peak. “The Chinese soldiers came inside Indian territory and attacked our soldiers,” local BJP MP Tapir Gao said, adding that at least 20 Indian soldiers were wounded by unarmed Chinese troops in hand-to-hand combat. PTI reported that at least six of the injured soldiers had to be airlifted to Guwahati for treatment. There was no confirmation whether rounds were fired during the clash. The government went public with the news nearly four days after it happened and may have been prompted to break it silence after a UP policeman’s anguished tweet.
There was another faceoff in October 2021 at Yangtse, when a Chinese attempt to get access to the top of the same peak was thwarted. The area is now under snow and will remain so till March. As per the statement, a flag meeting was held between the two sides after the clash, and the soldiers subsequently disengaged. The PM in an all-party meeting, shortly after the Galwan clash in 2020 that left 20 Indian soldiers dead, had said: “No one has entered and there is no one in Indian territory”. After an uproar, the claim was edited out of his statement on his YouTube channel.
“Take nation into confidence”, Opposition parties are categorically saying. Multiple notices have been given for a discussion in Parliament on the latest India-China clash. In Parliament today, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that “China tried to change the status quo in its favour”, but its forces were “forced to retreat to their positions”. No deaths or serious injuries were suffered by Indian forces in the “scuffle”. Opposition MPs walked out as the Speaker moved on to other business, without a discussion. Singh will meet the three service chiefs today.
As Beijing-based analyst Ananth Krishnan said this morning: “How can we not see it as further signalling of how Beijing is bringing the border back to the front-and-centre of the relationship, and seems to be clear that it’s going ahead with enforcing its claims in border areas more forcefully, and as it sees fit…” China’s own narrative is that the Tawang clash was provoked by Indian soldiers “illegally crossing the LAC”.
According to government data, industrial output crashed 4% in October, “the worst performance in over two years.” For April-October 2022, India’s industrial output is up 5.3% on a year-on-year basis, down from 20.5% in the first seven months of FY22. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman flew off the handle in the House yesterday. Her remark comparing Opposition MPs to “enemies in foreign countries” is not recorded in the ‘uncorrected debate’ put up on the House website, reports The Telegraph.
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Fuel pricing data shows that the Modi government has almost abandoned the dynamic fuel pricing reform it had adopted in 2017 and is now totally in control. Prices are frozen for weeks, sometimes months, before Assembly elections, and changed soon after for the political benefit of the ruling party. While ministers say that oil marketing companies (OMCs) set prices, India’s largest public sector OMC, Indian Oil Corporation, has told The Print that questions about pricing should be directed to the Petroleum Ministry.
Bloomberg reports that “India is racing to contain the world’s worst measles outbreak” after millions of children missed routine vaccinations during Covid.
Ballia’s BJP MP Virendra Singh ‘Mast’ has directed officials to use his MPLADS fund for organising “bhajan-kirtans” at temples, though it is meant for development work in his constituency. The ruling party MP said he wants to generate "spiritual awakening”. Under the MPLADS, MPs have Rs 5 crore every year, to be applied through the district collector to development projects of their choice. Spending guidelines direct funds to building durable assets for the community, like roads, schools and clinics.
The MP High Court’s Gwalior bench on Monday ordered the quashing and confiscation of the Nat scheduled caste status of Ashok Nagar (SC) legislator Jajpal Singh Jajji of the BJP with immediate effect. His disqualification as an MLA from the reserved seat will follow. This follows an order of the principal bench of the MP High Court in Jabalpur on December 7, which set aside the 2018 election of Khargapur (Tikamgarh) MLA Rahul Singh Lodhi of the BJP over improperly filed nomination papers.
By its own account, the BJP became the world’s largest party in 2019, claiming to have 18 crore members, 64% more than in 2015. But election result data doesn’t reflect these numbers. Why is it that crores of BJP’s ‘new members’ don’t seem to be voting for the party in Assembly elections?
Student activist Umar Khalid will walk out of prison after over two years, with interim bail in a UAPA case. The court has asked Umar to surrender back on December 30. He has been granted time out for seven days to attend his sister’s wedding, but must stay home and not speak to the press.
Around 45% of respondents in a pan-India survey have found ratings and reviews on Google were inaccurate while 37% said reviews are positively biased, online survey platform LocalCircles said. The survey found that 88% of those who go on Google to find contact details or location of a business often go through reviews and ratings on the platform.
The CBI had told a Delhi court: “US citizens lost over $20 million in fraud calls, India’s reputation has been lowered.” The agency added that fake callers who duped US citizens operated from various call centres in Indian cities since 2015.
The Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB), the biggest art event in Kerala, which was supposed to begin yesterday, has been postponed by 11 days. The organisers released a statement saying that it will now open on December 23, due to “organisational and structural delays along with the onset of heavy rains with cyclone Mandous.” The main venues of the fest, including Aspinwall House, Anand Warehouse and Pepper House, will be open from December 23. “We apologise for all the inconvenience and look forward to welcoming you to Fort Kochi in due course,” said the brief note. “This change does not affect the respective opening events of the Students’ Biennale, invitations Programmes, and the Satellite Exhibition. We welcome our guests to visit these venues at Fort Kochi,” the KMB statement added.
The driver of an autorickshaw transporting 4,000 eggs to the Indian Air Force mess in Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh has allegedly