Indian Gig Workers Unite to Game Algos While Techies Fight Back Against Layoffs; China Visa Woes Were Early Sign that LAC Was Going ‘Live’
Frontier Highway for McMahon Line, new details on how Covaxin trials, approvals were rushed, SGPC tells RSS, BJP to back off, 5G rollout hits hardware roadblock, SC fulminates about blabbermouths
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Snapshot of the Day
November 16, 2022
It’s the Indian pharma sector’s worst kept secret but Stat News’s detailed investigation into how Bharat Biotech and Indian regulators cut corners to rush through the approval of Covaxin as India’s own covid vaccine adds disturbing new details to the now familiar story.
The first lot of Gujarat assembly constituencies go to the polls on December 1 but the Aam Aadmi Party will not have a candidate in Surat East because its designated nominee withdrew his nomination today after going AWOL amidst allegations the BJP had “kidnapped” him to get him out of the fray.
On November 1, official wheat stocks were half the level of a year ago, though inventories were marginally higher than the official target ― 21 million tonnes, down from 42 million tonnes in 2021. The target is 20.5 million tonnes for the quarter ending December 31. Lower reserves could prevent the government from releasing stocks to control prices, which it does periodically to bulk buyers. The retail inflation rate in wheat almost doubled to 17.61% in October from an already elevated 9.59% in April, despite an export ban imposed in May. Rice inflation also more than doubled to 10.21% from almost 4% in April. Meanwhile, the rate of overall inflation and food inflation hit a three-month low.
Telecom service providers are still far from meeting the government’s target of deploying 10,000 5G base stations per week, with the top two carriers managing only a third of that, because suppliers can only deliver gear for 3,500 installs per week. Nokia and Ericsson are increasing local production to meet demand. Local units now supply more than 95% of demand.
PM Modi got up from the dining table and walked to greet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Bali during the G20 summit. This is in contrast to their non-meeting at the SCO summit in Tashkent. And of course, unlike his pictures alongside other leaders, this one never made his Twitter feed.
The government has issued a gazette notification [PDF] to construct a new 2,000 km Frontier Highway in Arunachal Pradesh, following the McMahon Line, for Rs 40,000 crore. NH913 will connect Mago-Thingbu in Tawang to the Vijaynagar border via Upper Subansiri, Dibang Valley, Chaglagam and Kibithoo. China objects to the project. India also conducted successful trials in Ladakh of 3D printed permanent defence structures which can withstanding tank munitions. From next year, they will be deployed in forward areas along the northern border.
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Sun Weidong, Chinese ambassador for a little over three years in India, has been named Vice Foreign Minister, reports state-run Global Times. Sun will be Beijing’s key pointman on India and will report to Foreign Minister Wang Yi. There are three other Vice FMs in the Ministry. The appointment was expected as the post of envoy to India is one of 10 overseas posts of Vice Ministerial rank, along with posts in the US, UK and Japan.
The armies of India and the US on Tuesday began their annual exercise of over two weeks at a military facility in Uttarakhand, barely 100 km from the China border. The last edition of the exercise was conducted at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, Alaska in October last year.
Is the US running out of patience with India’s ‘own interest’ mantra over Russia, asks South China Morning Post. Oil imports from Russia to India rose from 2% before the Ukraine invasion to 23% in September.
The Supreme Court yesterday waived the requirement of a solvency certificate for Gautam Navlakha to be moved from Taloja Jail to house arrest in Belapur, Navi Mumbai. This is issued by revenue authorities, testifying that the person standing surety has the requisite financial capacity, and the process would have delayed his release by six weeks.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has asked the RSS and BJP to stop interfering in Sikh affairs. On Tuesday, the SGPC foundation day, General Secretary Gurcharan Singh Grewal wrote to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat: “During this century-long history, the SGPC has never interfered in the affairs of any religion/belief and has worked for the welfare of all. But sadly, the BJP-led government of India, and especially the BJP leaders, have started direct interference in the affairs of the SGPC.”
With power cuts, Kashmir is bracing for a cold and dark winter. The load-shedding programme is of four and a half hours per day in metered areas and eight hours in non-metered areas. But residents say that long power cuts have become common and will increase.
The US has directed Air India to refund $121.5 million to passengers and slapped a $1.4 million fine for extreme delays in refunds for cancellation or changes in flights, mostly during the pandemic. Air India is among six airlines that have agreed to pay up $600 million in refunds.
Deflating the ‘population explosion’ story, the UN Population Fund says that while the world has crossed 8 billion, the “good news is that India’s population growth appears to be stabilising. The Total Fertility Rate — more or less the average number of children born per woman — has declined from 2.2 to 2.0 at the national level.”
WhatsApp India head Abhijit Bose and Meta’s Director of Public Policy in India Rajiv Aggarwal have resigned, soon after the sudden departure of Meta India MD Ajit Mohan. Payment rival PhonePe founder Ashneer Grover has called WhatsApp Pay India’s biggest tech failure.
Elon Musk is concerned about the slow speed of Twitter in countries including India. “Twitter is very slow in India, Indonesia and many other countries. This is fact, not claim,” he tweeted, adding that a 10-15 seconds refresh time is common. The billionaire wants to know how much delay is due to bandwidth, latency and the app.
Data collated by an RTI activist on denominations of Electoral Bonds in 2018-2022 finds over 93% are of Rs 1 crore. This illustrates the scale of money moving via opaque funding. The Supreme Court will hear arguments against the bonds, but no date is set.
Suman Chakraborty, Sudhir Krishnaswamy, Vidita Vaidya, Mahesh Kakde, Nissim Kanekar and Rohini Pande were the winners of the Infosys Prize 2022 of the Infosys Science Foundation for “contributions to science and research impacting India”.
A study reports a significant decline in sperm count, including in India. It is an indicator of fertility and men's health. The study, published yesterday in the journal Human Reproduction Update, used data from 53 countries including regions not reviewed previously ― South America, Asia and Africa.
RSS mouthpiece Organiser accuses Amazon of “funding Christian conversions”. It says that Amazon has been funding the American Baptist Church to run a “conversion module” in the Northeast, which the e-commerce firm has flatly denied.
In a Supreme Court Constitution Bench, Justice BV Nagarathna said yesterday that there is an unwritten rule of self-restraint for public functionaries to not “blabber” things which are “very disparaging or insulting” to fellow citizens. The five-judge Bench led by Justice S Abdul Nazeer is examining whether guidelines should be framed to prevent ministers, MPs, MLAs and even political leaders from making unguarded, derogatory and hurtful statements.
PM Modi had infamously called for Pakodanomics to solve the unemployment crisis. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took over a roadside tea stall in Jhargram yesterday and served pakodas to people.
Vinay Mohan, a Keralite, is with the Belgium team for the upcoming FIFA World Cup. The wellness coach of the Belgian team, he is about the only Indian connection to the extravaganza.
Narendra Modi had said the Statue of Unity would change local Adivasis’ lives. Most say it has – for the worse. They resent that big businesses are making a windfall killing while local residents struggle to make a living.
Veteran Telugu Actor Krishna (80) has passed away. Father of superstar Mahesh Babu, he forayed into films in the 1960s and acted in 350 films.
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