Indian Trolls Attack Romanian Mayor For Exposing Scindia’s PR Stunt; Best Supreme Court Judge India Never Had Bids Adieu in Style
Current Lok Sabha most criminal ever, China hikes defence budget, Yogi cut spending on minorities to zero, AYUSH-promoted giloy causing liver toxicity, Modi wants to make Auroville modern urban utopia
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 7, 2022
It took a Romanian mayor to rip apart PM Modi’s gimmick of despatching four Union ministers to Europe for ‘evacuation’, which the Indian newspapers have hailed as yet another masterstroke. In an interview to The Quint, Mihai Anghel, Mayor of Snagov, explained that his verbal spat with Jyotiraditya Scindia was because he was standing up for the Indian students, who wanted to know just one thing ― when were they going home?
“Our team received 157 Indian students. We received little help from the embassy here and all the food and other necessities were provided by us. The citizens of the Snagov region provided all of it. Then I saw this gentleman walk in in the late evening, appearing full of himself with cameras, and addressing the students in a very arrogant tone. He was as if prepared to present a PR speech, and not comfort the students who had just fled war and wanted to go home,” he said about the minister.
“I am receiving a barrage of hate messages possibly from paid trolls who are bombarding my official pages. I am a politician and I can handle all this, but receiving a hate message from foreign citizens and not my own people, is a first,” he reveals. But the students sheltered in Snagov have been sharing messages of gratitude to Anghel for his help.
Ukraine has been a happy hunting ground for photo-ops by Scindia and company to help the BJP in its UP election campaign. Earlier, students refused to say “Modi ji ki…” on cue. Now, Scindia faces satire, which the BJP has a healthy fear of.
Polling is on today in eastern Uttar Pradesh, the final phase of assembly elections. Exit poll results should start coming in tonight; official counting will take placeMarch 10.
Speaking at a Khap Panchayat in Haryana, Meghalaya Governor Satya Pal Malik yesterday called upon farmers to “get united” and “vote for change” in the next Lok Sabha election due in two years (see video). He said they should stop holding agitations and acquire power. Malik said he would travel across North India after his tenure as governor ends in six months to urge farmers to unite.
Justice Akil Kureshi, often called the best Supreme Court judge we never had, retired as chief justice of the Rajasthan High Court on Saturday, but not without speaking his mind (once again) on what he thought of executive control over the judiciary (see video here, and an excerpt below, in The Long Cable). Kureshi had passed the order which led to the arrest of Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case in Gujarat, when Modi was chief minister.
People entering the venue in Pune where Prime Minister Modi inaugurated several developmental projects yesterday were told to take off all black clothing ― masks, socks and in some cases even shirts ― possibly to prevent any display of protest. Pune Police Commissioner Amitabh Gupta said, “There must be some confusion as the instruction was about black flags and pieces of black cloth, not about clothing.” But this phenomenon has been observed earlier, too. No black. Just in case.
Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) withdrew Rs 17,537 crore from the Indian markets in the first three trading days of March alone as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continued to roil markets worldwide. Since October, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) have sold more than Rs 2 lakh crore in Indian equities and debt, but the impact of the outflows has been somewhat cushioned by domestic investors and mutual funds. The continued selling by FPIs amid a sharp spike in crude oil prices hauled down the Sensex to a seven-month low on Friday.
The Special Investigation Team of the Nagaland government, which probed the December 4 killings of civilians in a botched ambush by the Army in Mon, is likely to submit its final report (chargesheet) at a local court within 10 days. An official told The New Indian Express that since the alleged crime was committed during the discharge of official duties, the Union government would have to sanction prosecution, which seems unlikely. It may tell the court that punishment would be awarded based on the findings of the Army’s Court of Inquiry.
The Financial Times takes a close look at the disturbing trend of more and more elected representatives facing serious criminal charges. This Lok Sabha is the ‘most criminal’ ever in independent India’s history. The daily notes that politicians brush off criminal accusations in the world’s largest democracy, but the rise of candidates facing serious charges including kidnap and murder “alarms observers.”
Chinese media reports a proposed 7.1% increase in defence spending in 2022, up from 6.8% in 2021 ― a larger share of a larger economy. In India, the unexplained postponement of India’s DefExpo 2022 just six days before its scheduled inauguration in Gujarat on March 10 has dealt a body blow to the reliability of the Ministry of Defence in the global arms bazaar. Senior defence industry officials claim that it followed ‘pressure’ on New Delhi during the Quad meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a day earlier. The Wire was told that the US is believed to have called upon India not to facilitate the ‘gratuitous’ display of Russian armaments at the show, which Modi himself was to inaugurate. The US is said to have indicated that along with European arms manufacturers, it could withdraw from the event if Russian military enterprises participated.
As India tries to tiptoe around this humongous crisis, Russian Ambassador Denis Alipov (see around 3:00) has said that India can use the situation to bolster economic ties with Russia, because Moscow’s Western partners have refused to cooperate with it. The Russian envoy said the current situation presents a “window of opportunity” for Indian businesses to expand their presence in Russia, and for India to seek economic cooperation.
London-based data analytics and consulting company GlobalData on Friday said it has lowered India’s growth forecast to 7.8% for 2022 since exports are impacted by the Russia-Ukraine war and spiking oil prices are causing ripple effects. It said the rupee is likely to further depreciate against the US dollar while zooming commodity prices will heighten inflation. Tapan Patel, Senior Analyst (Commodities), HDFC Securities, is quoted by IANS: “The higher oil prices have raised market expectations that the government may hike fuel prices post UP elections, a rise by Rs 10-15 per litre.” That would exacerbate inflation.
Journalist and editor-in-chief of The Kashmir Walla Fahad Shah was yesterday arrested for the third time, hours after getting bail. His arrest has deepened anger about the squeeze on journalists, who now see their profession as a crime in the state. The Supreme Court will hear Malayalam news channel Media One’s appeal against the Union government’s ban on March 10. The ban has been imposed on unexplained ‘national security’ grounds.
The South China Morning Post has noted a “sudden” rise in the number of affluent Indians moving to Dubai. Is it because “Dubai is like India in its class structures – so rich Indians living in villas and owning flashy cars like Bentleys and children going to prestigious schools is a status symbol just like in India,” as a recent emigre put it?
In a multi-centre study, doctors from 12 cities have reported that giloy (Tinospora cordifolia) induced liver toxicity in at least 43 patients. This is the second study with a similar conclusion in the past nine months, after another group of doctors in Mumbai reported giloy-induced liver injury in six patients. The Union Ministry of Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) that controversially batted for the herb as an “immunity booster” during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has issued three press statements in the last nine months claiming giloy is ‘safe’, but also admitted that an overdose could be dangerous. They never explained why they thought it was safe!
West Bengal has suspended the internet for eight days in seven districts. “The government has received intelligence reports that unlawful activities can be carried on in certain areas over internet transmissions and voice over internet telephony,” said the state government. It is decisions like these that have made India the ‘shutdown’ centre of the world.
Reuters reports on how Reliance has stunned Amazon in one of India’s biggest corporate battles. At one Big Bazaar, “bright blue grocery crates of rivals Reliance were unloaded this week, part of a takeover that began with stealth” on the night of February 25. The fait accompli reduces Amazon’s chances of securing justice, despite a series of courtroom victories blocking the 2020 deal between Future Retail and Reliance.
The New York Times reports that the new leadership of Auroville wants to turn it into a utopian model city. Backed by PM Modi, the authorities are fighting residents who cherish their trees, tree houses and the old traditions of constructivism and organic development.
Indian women have won their opening ICC Cricket World Cup game against Pakistan. They were runners-up in the last cup and won this one by 107 runs. The India versus Pakistan match was played in a great spirit of camaraderie. This picture won many hearts.
Music maestro Illayaraja was in Dubai for a live concert on Saturday.
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