India Asked US Not to Talk About Chinese Ingress; Growing Unemployment Points to Social Pain Ahead
Indian students marooned in Ukraine expose uncaring govt, Stalin’s memoir launch Opposition rallying point, Mumbai to face rising sea levels by 2035 and Kerala objects to Malayalam FM being Hindified
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
March 1, 2022
As tragic news comes in of the death of an Indian student in Kharkhiv, Ukraine, there have been amazing scenes on Indian media and of one TV anchor in particular, who was visibly rattled when an Indian student interrupted a ra-ra session on the success of the Modi government in bringing back students from Ukraine ― with the truth.
Moscow has issued diktats to its media and now the Russian embassy in Delhi is lecturing the Indian media about being accurate and ‘objective’. No eyebrows were raised, nor has the government protested, unlike its reaction when the Chinese embassy last year tried to tell the Indian media how to do its job.
To the argument on social media that India’s reluctance to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a tit-for-tat for the US not supporting India publicly on the Chinese ingress into Ladakh two years ago, former US Ambassador to India Ken Juster told a news channel that the US did not speak on the matter “because the Indian government has asked us not to”. That is understandable, given PM Modi’s claim that no one had entered Indian territory and foreign minister S Jaishankar’s euphemistic use of “friction points” and Chinese deployment “on the border” when Indian troops have been denied access to hundreds of squares of kilometres of territory in Ladakh.
“The government and the Indian media are patting their backs on the evacuation of 420 students who were not even in the war zone, while students on the eastern border are facing constant attacks,” an Indian student in Ukraine told Scroll. Indians fleeing Ukraine are being assaulted and harassed but the government had not asked its citizens to leave before February 15, while the US had been mulling evacuations since December, and repeatedly telling its citizens to leave. BBC’s Jugal Purohit tracks the timeline of Indian government’s response ― or lack of it ― but the BJP’s WhatsApp groups are in their own alternate reality, where India is a superpower under Modi.
In the midst of the students’ travails, Minister of State for External Affairs Meenakshi Lekhi was seen comparing notes on soil health with controversial business guru Jaggi Vasudev in Coimbatore yesterday, raising eyebrows. She is one of three junior ministers working under S. Jaishankar but oddly enough, four other ministers have been packed off in a bid to ferry Indian students back. Former diplomat KP Fabian, who was joint secretary of the Gulf division in the Ministry of External Affairs in 1990 during the world’s biggest civilian evacuation out of Kuwait, told The Telegraph that “there is no need to send ministers”. “Strengthen the embassies with more officers and staff having the necessary language skills. By sending a minister, you are not solving a problem… This is being done with headlines in mind. We did not do this during the Kuwait evacuation. There were no cellphones, even, back then.”
Al Jazeera has pointed out that India and Pakistan have taken “a similar diplomatic path on Russia-Ukraine” and have both stressed the importance of de-escalating hostilities. The language of Pakistan’s statements on the crisis has been similar to that of India’s at the United Nations Security Council. Yesterday, it joined India in abstaining on a resolution urging the UN Human Rights Council to take up the Ukraine crisis, as did all African members of the UNHRC.
Inflation, whose growth was predicted in the Long Cable yesterday, is accelerating. Prices of 19 kg commercial LPG cylinders were increased this morning by Rs 105 in Delhi and by Rs 108 in Kolkata. The price of 5 kg commercial LPG cylinders has also arisen by Rs 27. This follows the poll schedule and indicates that most phases are over. Is the Election Commission even aware that the government setting fuel prices by the poll schedule constitutes serious malpractice?
Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid, Kashmir’s largest mosque will be reopened for Friday prayers this week. It has been largely shut for congregational prayers since August 2019, when the state was made into a Union Territory and Article 370 was revoked, and Covid restrictions also played a role in keeping it shut for 30 weeks.
The delimitation panel for Jammu & Kashmir is learnt to have accepted 15 of the 22 “suggestions, objections and concerns” from MPs pertaining to changing the names of proposed Assembly and parliamentary constituencies, the Economic Times reports. However, suggestions on inclusion of some areas within another constituency have largely been rejected by the panel on grounds of contiguity among other factors. The NC’s objection to inclusion of Assembly segments from Jammu in the freshly drawn Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha constituency of Kashmir is also rejected.
Contrary to what many journalists report, “only 7% of the unemployed said that they have no specific occupation. Possibly, these are the ones who hang out at the street kerbs or tea stalls,” notes Mahesh Vyas, looking at CMIE data. He reminds us that “an overwhelming proportion of the unemployed declare their nature of occupation as students. In the quarter ended December 2021, 77% of the unemployed who were actively looking for jobs were students. This syncs well with another data, that 77% of the unemployed are between 15 and 24 years of age. About 15% of the unemployed who are actively looking for employment declare their occupation as homemakers.” (See Long Cable below)
In Delhi, anganwadi workers are fighting for higher pay and social security. The workers, who are crucial for delivering critical health and nutrition programmes in the last mile, are not adequately compensated and protected against Covid-19.
The new UN report on global warming has bleak news: risk of sea-level rise in Mumbai by 2035. Ahmedabad is likely to become an urban heat island. Climate change impacts will continue to increase, reducing the window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future, if drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are further delayed. Read the full report here.
On the 20th anniversary of the Gujarat riots Article 14.in spoke to Zakia Jafri, wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was murdered by a mob in a massacre in north Ahmedabad. In the ‘Gulbarg Society Massacre’, Jafri’s residential society was set ablaze by rioters on February 28, 2002, killing her husband and 68 others. Jafri has challenged the report of the Special Investigation Team, set up to probe the “larger conspiracy” in the riots. The SIT gave a clean chit to Narendra Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat and now PM.
A group of Chinese startups are pulling out of India, following the lead of short video platform operator TikTok and other mainland tech firms, as New Delhi maintains that China-developed apps are unwelcome, reports South China Morning Post. Before the Indian government’s crackdown, Chinese firms accounted for
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to The India Cable to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.