Investing In Russian Weapons ‘Not In India’s Best Interest’; How Sri Lanka’s Economy Fell Off The Grid
India needs half of US GDP in funds for net zero, govt remains in denial of oxygen deaths and Chinese ingress, households well above poverty line actually deprived, 22 YouTube news channels blocked
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Snapshot of the day
April 6, 2022
In a Congressional hearing on the US defence budget, attended by the House Armed Services Committee, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said that continuing to invest in Russian defence hardware is “not in India’s best interest”. India should “look to invest more in the types of things that will make us [Washington] continue to be compatible.” He was responding to Congressman Joe Wilson, who had urged India to align against Russia: “Gruesomely, our treasured ally India, the world’s largest democracy, is choosing to align itself with the Kremlin by choosing Russian weapons systems over American and allied options.”
The Union government has informed Parliament that no confirmed death due to oxygen shortage was reported by any state or Union Territory, though over 5.21 lakh Covid-19 fatalities were recorded in India, and estimates from ‘extra deaths’ are several times this figure. The oxygen crisis and civic initiatives which addressed it when the state withdrew are well documented.
Not an inch of land has been ceded since Narendra Modi became prime minister, Union minister Kiren Rijiju claimed with a straight face in the Lok Sabha yesterday, when an Opposition MP accused the government of giving away Indian territory “bit by bit to China”. Satellite images show the Chinese presence in hitherto Indian-controlled territory in Ladakh, and Chinese villages built inside Arunachal Pradesh, but the government remains in denial. If there is no Indian territory with China, why have the 15 rounds of military talks been held and why does the Indian government refuse to have normal ties till there is peace and tranquillity on the border?
The controversy over journalist Rana Ayyub being prevented from flying overseas is yet to die down, and Aakar Patel finds that he is on the exit control list. Prevented from flying overseas, like Ayyub, he is going to court ― in his own idiom.
Total auto retail sales in the financial year 2022 stood at 1,63,75,799 units, down 25% when compared with FY20 sales, according to data released by the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations. In FY20, sales were low as the auto industry was impacted by slower economic growth and transition towards BSVI emission norms. The passenger vehicles category ― passenger cars, utility vehicles and vans ― saw sales drop this March to about 271,000 units, a 4.87% decline month on month. Due to rural distress and rising fuel and vehicle ownership costs, two-wheeler sales fell 4.02% to about 1.16 million units in March. Commercial vehicle sales, on the other hand, were up 14.91% to about 78,000 units.
Responding to a query on the hacking of the government’s Twitter handles and email accounts, the government told the Lok Sabha that since 2017, 641 such accounts have been compromised.
Another year, another coal supply crisis, reports Bloomberg. Coal India is holding out on industrial consumers to prioritise power plants. With the onset of summer, when demand peaks, stocks are below target levels. Coal India limited daily supplies to sectors other than power to 275,000 tons, 17% lower than recent average daily volumes. Some aluminium smelters, typically among the country’s largest electricity users, paid a 450% premium for domestic coal in March, according to the Aluminium Association of India. Stockpiles at power plants fell on Sunday to about 25.2 million tons, well short of the 45 million ton target set by the Coal Ministry.
A Business Standard analysis of 188 ministries/ departments and autonomous bodies found that just over half of government institutions released their annual reports for 2020- 21. For 2019-20, annual reports of 162, or 81.4% of institutions, were available, compared with 179 in 2018-19. The ministries fared better than their autonomous or statutory bodies. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare released its annual report for 2021-22, but the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, which operates under it, last released its annual report for 2018-19. The Ministry of Civil Aviation updated its annual reports until 2020-21, but the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority’s latest annual report was for 2019-20. Of the 118 autonomous bodies/statutory bodies, only 43 had released their annual reports for 2020-21, whereas 96 had done so for 2019-20.
The Ministry for Information and Broadcasting has blocked 22 YouTube channels “for spreading disinformation related to India’s national security, foreign relations and public order”. This includes 18 Indian YouTube news channels blocked for the first time under IT Rules, 2021, and four Pakistan-based YouTube news channels. Three Twitter accounts, a Facebook account, and a news website have also been blocked.
Speaking at a UNSC meeting on Monday, convened by the UK, this month’s Council President, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN TS Tirumurti, called the reports of the killing of civilians in Bucha “deeply disturbing” and said India “unequivocally” condemned them, but without naming Russia. He also called for an independent UN inquiry.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to visit India later this month. The timing raised eyebrows, since his Foreign Minister Liz Truss was here less than a week ago.
While the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile is jointly developed by India and Russia, the sale of the systems to the Philippines is a transaction between the two countries and will go ahead on a “bilateral basis”, said Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran. He said that the purchase by the Philippines was enabled by a combination of factors, but driven by the political understanding between the two countries. The Philippines also sought an explanation of the recent accidental BrahMos launch.
Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiagarajan (PTR) has said that the risk of an economic crisis in India, similar to that of Sri Lanka’s, is “very real”, and that the problem is the unchecked “power grab” by the BJP. His statement came a day after the Modi government was warned by senior bureaucrats that populist schemes announced by some states were not economically viable and could lead them in Sri Lanka’s direction.
IndiaSpend reports that even households earning eight times the poverty line figure suffer from deprivation. The poverty line is based on the expenditure required to maintain a minimum level of health, education and nutrition.
The 15th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has had a slow start in terms of the number of advertisers, ad categories and brands during the first few matches compared with the last edition, according to data from TAM Sports, a unit of TAM Media Research. During the first five matches of the T20 league, ad categories declined by 29% from 58 to 41, brands by 15% from 114 to 97, and advertisers by 13% over IPL 2021, the report said.
A team of ISRO scientists is visiting Chandrapur district in Maharashtra to inspect some objects, believed to be remnants of a Chinese or American booster stage, that streaked across the night sky over parts of central India last week. The objects were initially reported to be a meteor shower by the Indian media.
Noted poet and litterateur Prof Ramdarash Mishra has been awarded the prestigious Saraswati Samman, 2021, for his collection of poems Mein to Yahan Hun.
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