India Looks to Curb Academic Freedom at Foreign Univs too; Muslims Horrified as Noida Neighbours Call Police to Stop Ramzan Prayers
Saffron bylines galore, internet ban again – in Bihar now, the problem with higher prices for essential drugs, mapping Adani's footprint in India, Cyrus Poonawalla ko gussa kyon aata hai?
A newsletter from The Wire | Founded by MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sushant Singh, Sidharth Bhatia, Tanweer Alam and Pratik Kanjilal | With inputs from Kalrav Joshi | Editor: Vinay Pandey
Snapshot of the day
April 3, 2023
There has been a surfeit of opinion pieces with saffron bylines in newspapers since the BJP came to power in May 2014. Ajaz Ashraf, a Mid-day columnist, has trawled the archives of three national newspapers – the Times of India, the Hindustan Times and the Indian Express – to discover that over about 3,000 days, 640 pieces from the BJP-RSS stable have appeared there. That means a saffron opinion piece every fifth day in one of the three national newspapers.
IE accounted for the maximum number of such pieces – 337. TOI carried 206 pieces and HT 97. Prime Minister Narendra Modi or his government was mentioned in 62.34% of these articles. Former President Ram Nath Kovind, thankfully after his retirement, mentioned Modi a maximum number of times, 22, in a single piece. RSS ideologue Ram Madhav wrote the maximum number of articles – 132. Venkaiah Naidu, former Vice-President, had 66 bylines, followed by Bhupendra Yadav at 35 and Ravi Shankar Prasad at 32. BJP spokesperson Anil Baluni got 26 bylines in IE and his colleague Shehzad Poonawalla 20 in TOI. Modi too, despite being terribly busy travelling abroad or addressing election rallies, wrote 27 articles.
Last month it was Punjab. This month it is Bihar. In the wake of communal violence at Bihar Sharif in Nalanda district during Ram Navami, the state government has further extended the suspension of internet services in the district and Sasaram, another district it by violence, till April 4. The Hindu also reports that an armed mob of about 1,000 people vandalised a madrasa at Bihar Sharif and burnt down its 110-year-old library. More than 4,500 books were reduced to ashes, the caretaker of the madrasa told the paper.
A Muslim cattle trader was lynched by a gang of cow vigilantes allegedly led by one Puneeth Karehalli at Sathanur in Karnataka’s Ramanagara district in the early hours of Saturday, April 1. The family of Idrees Pasha, the victim, has alleged in the FIR that the accused chased and intercepted Pasha’s vehicle, and assaulted him so severely he died. AltNews co-founder Mohammed Zubair tweeted photos of Puneeth with several state BJP leaders, including Tejasvi Surya, MP.
Prof Christophe Jaffrelot tells Isaac Chortner of the New Yorker magazine, that Modi may have well “pushed Indian democracy past its breaking point in the past ten years.” Asked what he makes of Modi’s approval ratings – 76% according to Morning Consult’s global approval-rating tracker for world leaders and 15 percentage points higher than any other world leader – Jaffrelot says “if you go by the voting patterns of Indians, which is for me the real measure of popularity, Indians in more than half of the country’s states do not vote for the BJP”. In 2019, the NDA polled just under 45% while parties opposing Modi polled over 55% of the popular vote.
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“Most Indian tycoons prefer to keep any gripes with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to themselves”, but for billionaire Cyrus Poonawalla, the founder and owner of the world’s largest vaccine-maker, Serum Institute of India, an eight-year wait to move into Lincoln House, the Mumbai palace he bought for $120 million from the US government, has become too frustrating to remain silent. “From what I understand, they don’t want this huge amount of about $120 million to go to the US. It’s just a political and socialist decision,” he told Bloomberg.
Ron Malka, a former Israeli ambassador to New Delhi, has been appointed chairman of Adani’s Haifa port, reports the Indian Express. Mahua Moitra reminds us that Malka “screamed from rooftops about how clean Adani’s Israeli dealings were. Condemned filmmaker Nadav Lapid for criticising Bollywood Hindutva propaganda film”.
After pulling out funds in the previous two months, foreign investors invested ₹7,936 crore in Indian equities in March, mainly driven by bulk investment in the Adani Group companies by the US-based GQG Partners. However, if one adjusts for the investment of GQG in Adani Group, the net flow is still negative, meaning FPIs withdrew money even in March, reports the Mint.
Meanwhile, here’s a map of Adani’s footprint in India:
France has invited Prime Minister Modi to visit Paris as a guest at the annual Bastille Day parade in July, the Hindu reports, quoting unnamed sources, who said the visit was still under discussion. If he goes, he will not be the first Indian PM so honoured.
Last week, the IPL was flagged off at the Narendra Modi stadium in Ahmedabad with much fanfare. In an apparently unprecedented move, the teams’ “ticketing partner” has told spectators in at least four grounds – Delhi, Mohali, Hyderabad, and Ahmedabad – not to carry protest banners related to the CAA/NRC protests that rocked the country in 2019-2020. While the advisory has been issued by the ticketing partner, “Paytm Insider”, the silence of the BCCI is puzzling..
A court in Gujarat’s Panchmahal district has acquitted 27 people accused of gang rape and murder of more than 10 people in Kalol during the 2002 Gujarat riots due to lack of evidence. While a total of 39 had been accused in the case, the remaining 12 died during the trial period. Additional sessions judge LG Chudasma of the Halol court observed that the prosecution case was based on “mere suspicion without any evidence on record,” the Indian Express reports. Delivering its verdict, the court said that the 190 witnesses examined in the case had either “turned hostile” or “not supported the prosecution’s case” or were “unable to recall facts or identify the accused” in relation to incidents that took place on March 1, 2002.
Similarly, a Meerut court has acquitted all the 39 persons accused of the 1987 massacre of 72 Muslims in Malliana in UP. In 2018, a bench headed by Justice S. Muralidhar of the Delhi high court reversed the lower court’s acquittal of 18 Provincial Armed Constabulary constables in the twin massacre at Hashimpura.
Harvard anthropology professor and former department chair Ajantha Subramanian will leave Cambridge to teach at the City University of New York, citing a lack of support from Harvard’s administration in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against three anthropology professors.
Scroll investigates how Muslim residents in Noida are feeling horrified and helpless after Hindu neighbours call the police to stop Ramzan prayers. Muslims in the area expressed disappointment at most families' silence, according to the report. “It makes me sad that these people recite Hanuman Chalisa to oppose other religions and spread hatred,” said a Samajwadi Party leader. “But how can Muslims expect justice from the kind of government we have in Uttar Pradesh or at the Centre? Even Hindus like me are afraid.”
The Ambani show at the Nita Mukesh Ambani Centre for Arts made several people gasp and cringe – in alternation. Nita Ambani gave a Bharatanatyam performance and Isha Ambani set the grand launch in motion by describing her mother’s “passion for arts and culture and her vision to create a platform for performers and visitors, for dreamers and creators, for one and all”.
Cricket hero Salim Durani, as much admired for his batting prowess as for his debonair looks and ability to entertain, died yesterday. Pradeep Magazine writes why Durani was the heartthrob of millions of cricket fans in an era with no TV. He had a batting average of 25 in 29 Test matches and a bowling average of 35 but was an “irreverent genius”. And yes, he was not born in Kabul.
Among the eight people who perished in the St Lawrence river near the Quebec-New York border after their boat capsized while they were attempting to cross the border illegally from Canada was a family of four from Gujarat, consisting of a couple and their two adult children. Vibes of India reports on the deeply embedded web of the unholy nexus in Gujarat, where business agents dupe unsuspecting people who dream of living the big American dream.
Despite the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, crimes against SCs and STs have risen in recent decades. During 1991-2021, crimes against the two communities rose by 177.6% and 111.2%, respectively, according to a study. Outlook looks into the challenges facing the legislation.
How S Gurumurthy lengthened the Sangh’s shadow over industry, politics, and the economy – Caravan speaks to him and many more who know him.
Remember the Sarus crane, rescued by one Arif and then caged by the UP government? Arif was slapped with a notice. After public pressure, it seems the notice has been taken back. But Arif misses the bird.
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