India Leads In Islamophobic Tweets, Followed By US, UK; Government Has Clamped Omerta On Retired Servicemen
Hany Babu, Siddique Kappan bail pleas rejected, 95% of CBI’s targets are in Opposition, nine WTO members uneasy about MSP, Indian communalism exported to UK for years, Bengal Governor wins Durand Cup
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Snapshot of the day
September 20, 2022
Feeling the pinch of high inflation, Indian consumers may abandon brand loyalty and seek value brands, according to the EY Future Consumer Index. Some 69% of Indian consumers are concerned about rising costs across all income levels ― the rich (82%), the middle class (72%) and low income households (67%). Inflation is making space for new brands, often offered online. Of those surveyed, 42% are trying new brands to cut costs and 63% are willing to buy a private label.
Corporate investment in capital assets grew 9.1% year-on-year (YoY) in FY22, faster than 7.4% in the previous year. Still, average capex growth in the past couple of years was significantly slower than that during the preceding two pre-pandemic years. Capex growth was led by top companies and industry leaders, while small and medium firms lagged.
India’s minimum support price (MSP) programme is facing increased scrutiny at the WTO with a group of nine countries, including the US, Australia, Canada, Brazil and Thailand shooting off a fresh letter asking New Delhi for joint consultations. At a recent WTO meeting, they expressed concerns about India not providing full information about public stockholding programmes and dodging questions. MSP for rice is in focus because India is the first country to invoke the Bali ‘peace clause’ to justify exceeding the ceiling of 10% of total production for support. The clause is subject to conditions like not distorting global trade and not affecting the food security of other member states.
Diesel consumption declined by almost 5% month to month in August to 6.3 million tonnes, the lowest in the 2022 calendar year and FY23 so far. According to the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell, it’s the lowest since September 2021 (5.5 mt). Crude oil imports last month fell by 13% to 17.55 million tonnes from July, but imports were up 0.9%, compared with the corresponding period last year.
Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan’s bail plea in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case lodged by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) was rejected by the sessions court in Lucknow yesterday. “No arguments were held in the court on merits of case. The ED has filed their reply today. In the reply, the ED is trying to connect Mr. Kappan with PFI/CFI members. It is clear even in the reply that no transaction or money has come to Kappan’s account in the context of Hathras journey,” KS Mohamad Dhanish, Kappan’s lawyer said. The next hearing is scheduled for September 23.
The Bombay High Court has rejected the bail plea of Delhi University associate professor Hany Babu, accused in the 2017 Elgar Parishad case, noting that prima facie, the allegations against him were true and that he was an active and prominent member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). A division bench of Justices NM Jamdar and NR Borkar dismissed the appeal filed by Babu, 54, arrested in July 2020 in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, against the special court order refusing him bail.
An investigation into the CBI, India’s apex investigating body finds striking differences in how the agency worked under the UPA versus the Modi regime. Formerly, 60% of those proceeded against were from the Opposition. At present, it is 95%. There is no mention of cases not pursued, depending on the political party the target belongs to or then joins. Meanwhile, TMC leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee has raised eyebrows by saying that she doesn’t “think PM Modi behind it, BJP leaders are.”
This was in the State Assembly, when the ruling TMC passed a resolution against the “partial role of CBI, ED, IT and other Central agencies”.
A seven-member delegation of the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) is expected to meet Union Home Ministry officials in New Delhi today. AK Mishra, the Centre’s representative for the Naga peace talks, may also attend. The NSCN-IM team flew to Delhi from Dimapur yesterday. The Naga peace talks have been stalled since May because Mishra omitted important political points conceded by his predecessor.
“Realising the ‘Asian Century’ by no means means that China cannot fight back in the face of India’s continuous push forward in the border areas and the continuous encroachment on China’s territory. Judging from the series of negotiations on the disengagement of the Chinese and Indian militaries in the border area since the Galwan conflict, China has great sincerity in settling border disputes through peaceful negotiations. Now it seems that India’s choice of rise strategy is completely inconsistent with the spirit of China and India’s joint development and realisation of the ‘Asian Century’. The path and rise strategy that India is now choosing is to divide Asia through Quad, and under the premise of containing China and locking down China, they believe that the ‘Asian Century’ can be achieved. This is obviously contrary to the concept and spirit mentioned by Comrade Deng Xiaoping at that time,” says Liu Zongyi, Secretary-General of the Centre for China and South Asia Studies of the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, in an interview at the Chinese portal Guancha.
Retail prices of wheat have risen 19% to Rs 31.02 per kg from Rs 26.01 per kg a year ago. Wheat flour prices have increased 18% to Rs 36 per kg. This has forced the government to ban wheat export and curb outbound shipments of most wheat products. In a scene straight out of the 1970s, Food Secretary Sudanshu Pandey has threatened flour millers that the Centre can check hoarding by making it mandatory for traders to disclose their holdings, besides imposing stock holding limits on retailers and wholesalers.
While the Supreme Court hears petitions on the hijab ban in Karnataka schools, Amnesty International India yesterday said making women choose between the freedom of expression and religion and education is discriminatory.
Satellite internet services will be crucial for delivering broadband to rural India. But auctioning satellite spectrum could make rural connectivity harder to achieve, says Bharat Bhatia, president of the non-profit telecom industry body ITU-APT Foundation of India (IAFI), who prefers allocating spectrum administratively rather than by auction “because if one operator buys it, no one else can access it and the satellite industry will not grow in India, hindering the goal of rural broadband connectivity.”
A study of hate tweets reveals that nearly 86% of geolocated anti-Muslim posts originated in three places ― India is the richest vein, followed by the US and UK. 85% of hateful tweets remained online. At least 3.8 million Islamophobic tweets appeared between August 28, 2019 and August 27, 2021.
The Supreme Court yesterday said that “denial of pension is a continuing wrong” and it cannot be oblivious to the difficulties ― including financial ― of retired employees approaching the courts. The top court also said that when financial rules framed by the government, such as pension rules, are capable of more than one interpretation, the courts should lean towards that which favours the employee.
High drama unfolded in Lucknow yesterday ― Day One of the UP Assembly’s Monsoon Session ― after Samajwadi Party chief and leader of the Opposition, Akhilesh Yadav was stopped by cops during his padayatra, with his MLAs and MLCs, to the UP Assembly. They staged a sit-in protest near their party office, against lawlessness, unemployment and the violation of democratic rights under the Adityanath government. Police said that the SP leaders had not taken permission for the march, but were nonetheless assigned a designated route to prevent traffic snarls.
Rahul Gandhi rowed a snake boat in Kerala yesterday. “When your boat is stuck in midstream, pick up the paddle,” he tweeted.
Indian poet and author Meena Kandasamy will receive the Hermann Kesten Prize of the German chapter of the PEN International writers’ association.
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