India Finally Joins Western Panic on Ukraine; Statues Of Equality, Unity Mirror Inequality, Division
IITs may open in UK, Karnataka police profiling Kashmiri students, one-third urban informal workers paid below minimum wage and amidst hijab controversy, Gadkari’s RSS shorts’ aesthetics found wanting
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 15, 2022
The Indian position on the stand-off between the US and Russia over Ukraine has been to sit on the fence and not be stampeded into the panic that a Russian invasion is imminent but the first sign of a shift has now become apparent with the Indian embassy in Kyiv advising Indian nationals and students in the Ukraine to leave immediately. As many as 18,000 Indian students are enrolled for higher studies in the country though it is not clear how many are currently there.
On the first trading day after the government filed the draft IPO prospectus for LIC, the Sensex plunged 1,747 points, or 3%. It looked like an ominous start for the biggest ever IPO. Shares of One 97 Communications, which operates Paytm, fared worse. The digital payments company, whose IPO is the biggest so far, dipped over 4% to Rs 863.50. It had listed at Rs 2,150 in November.
India’s severe jobs crisis amidst the continual economic decline featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal yesterday: “Covid-19 drove tens of millions of migrant workers from cities back to their home villages, often to farm, and its lingering presence threatens India’s decades-long quest to lift its economy from rural poverty to the modern age,” it says.
Mahesh Vyas of CMIE bears even worse news: The unemployment rate fell 1.3% in January, from 7.9% in December to 6.6%. The number of unemployed fell by a hefty 6.6 million. But unemployment did not fall because more people got jobs. “The 6.6 million drop in the count of unemployed does not mean that 6.6 million more jobs were created to employ them. They, rather disappointingly, just stopped looking for jobs. As a result, they were no longer counted as unemployed.”
The export market for organic cotton appears to be booming, but much of this growth is fake, and relies on an opaque certification system, reports the New York Times — a game of “smoke and mirrors” in which nearly the entire supply chain is implicated. India is the single largest producer of the world’s organic cotton, and delivers half of the supply.
The National Medical Commission told the Supreme Court yesterday that permission to admit additional students at a private medical college in Maharashtra was cancelled because a surprise check found no operation theatres or X-ray machines. A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant said, “It is shocking. It’s like a Munna Bhai movie. All the patients in the ward were hale and hearty. In the paediatric ward, there was no serious patient… We were surprised.”
On the legal attack on comedians in India, CNN reports: “While comedy can be polarising all over the world, in India telling jokes about Hinduism or being associated with someone who insults the majority faith can be enough to prompt legal action. India’s colonial era laws are being used by PM Narendra Modi’s … government to quash criticism and encourage self-censorship. At the same time, authorities have been accused of turning a blind eye to vitriolic comments from right-wing extremist groups who align with the BJP’s Hindu-nationalist agenda.”
Fifty-eight press freedom and human rights organisations and publications have written to J&K Lt Governor Manoj Sinha seeking his “urgent intervention to secure the immediate release of Fahad Shah, editor of the online news portal The Kashmir Walla, from jail, and the withdrawal of all police investigations launched into his journalistic work.” His remand has been extended by a week.
Cryptocurrencies have been compared to Ponzi schemes and banning them is the sensible option to avoid threats to stability, says Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor T Rabi Sankar. Days ago, the Union government formulated a taxation regime for them.
“As to China-India relations, the merits of the matters are very clear and responsibility does not rest with China,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said yesterday. “We hope the Indian side will abide by our agreements, does not issue irresponsible remarks and upholds peace and tranquillity…” He was responding to questions on remarks Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar made in Melbourne at the Quad foreign ministers’ meeting.
In an interview to Sydney Morning Herald, he said that “two years ago, for reasons still not clear to us and not credibly explained to us, China moved a very large force to the border. We had agreements for the last 20 years that neither country would bring large forces to the border. Unfortunately, we had a very serious consequence. People got killed.” This is an obfuscation: the Galwan clash took place because Chinese forces crossed the border, not just because they approached it. He however acknowledged that, despite ongoing talks, “the two militaries are in very close proximity, which is a very fraught situation”.
Former foreign secretary and ambassador to Beijing, Nirupama Rao says: “Today, the situation in the border areas is tense and confrontational. We are dealing with a muscular and assertive China that is engaged in numerous transgressions across the Line of Actual Control, aggravating the risk of kinetic conflict that could have huge ramifications.”
The Supreme Court will examine the Gujarat government’s plea against the High Court’s order staying provisions of the 2021 amendment to the Freedom of Religion Act which put restrictions on interfaith marriages to check incidents of alleged ‘Love Jihad’. It issued notice to Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind, which had challenged the validity of the provisions before the High Court. The High Court had last August 19 stayed the operation of certain sections of the Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021, including the provision terming interfaith marriages as a means of forceful conversion.
During a giant slalom in which nearly half the competitors didn’t finish, India’s sole representative in Beijing’s Winter Olympics, Arif Khan from Kashmir, stayed the course. He tells Deutsche Welle that he hopes his Olympic dream inspires others in India to pursue winter sports.
The YouTube channel of Sansad TV, which carries the proceedings in Parliament, has been terminated with