Iran Opens Russia-India Trade Route; With Higher Risk, Diminishing Returns, I&B Tells TV to Reduce Polarising Voltage
Govt roars in defence of Modi’s lions, Karnataka writers against Hindutva get death threats, BJP targets Hamid Ansari again, bad tea for Mamaji invites notice, donkey earns lakhs for movie role
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
July 13, 2022
Iran yesterday held an elaborate ceremony to welcome the first Russian cargo bound for India via the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a land-sea corridor passing through a dozen countries to bypass Western sanctions against Russia. The route was trialled in June. Now, a lot of 39 containers has been ushered into Iran by First Vice-President Mohammad Mokhber, along with ministers for transport, oil, industry and agriculture. The goods had travelled 1,600 km by train from Chekov, via Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. They are destined for Bandar Abbas port by rail, and on to Nhava Sheva Port near Mumbai by sea. Iran and Russia hope to use the Caspian Sea to shorten the transit route. Earlier this week, the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) announced that it has assigned 300 containers to the Russia-India trade.
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence has raided mobile company Oppo and claims to have found evidence of the evasion of customs duty of Rs 4,389 crore. Just over a week ago, Vivo was raided by the Enforcement Directorate.
Retail inflation in June remains high at over 7%, higher than the RBI’s target band for the sixth month in a row. It was 7.04% in May.
Rising bond yields will force Indian banks to report mark-to-market (MTM) losses of up to Rs 13,000 crore on their investment portfolios in the April-June quarter, a report by domestic rating agency ICRA said. The MTM losses on bond portfolios will come to Rs 8,000-10,000 crore for public sector banks and Rs 2,400-3,000 crore for private banks in Q1 FY23, the report said.
The number of Indians in China has halved in the past 10 years ― the biggest drop among all foreign nationalities ― to only 7,000. Numbers probably declined even more in the past 18 months, in reaction to continued family separations and travel restrictions.
Amid tension between India and China in Ladakh, the Dalai Lama is scheduled to visit the Union Territory on July 15 and will stay for over a month. He last visited Ladakh nearly four years ago, when it was part of J&K. China has often objected to his visits to Ladakh.
The Delhi High Court yesterday expressed displeasure over the fact that a one-page affidavit has been filed by the PM Cares fund on a “serious issue” – a PIL asking if it is the state under Article 12 of the Constitution. A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma also noted that no reply has been filed by the Centre. The court has directed the Union to file a detailed and exhaustive reply to the PIL. The matter will be taken up on September 16.
More central agency action against political rivals of the BJP: Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal has been booked by the CBI for causing a loss of around Rs 9 crore to the island’s fishermen and a cooperative federation by promising a higher rate for exporting dried tuna to a Sri Lankan company represented by his nephew. The CBI registered a case of cheating and criminal conspiracy and invoked the Prevention of Corruption Act against NCP MP Faizal and his nephew Mohammed Abdul Razik Thangal. The MP has been very vocal in matters related to actions against controversial Lieutenant Governor Prahlad Patel, a close political associate of Narendra Modi since his Gujarat days.
A Madhya Pradesh government official was served a notice for arranging “cold and inferior quality tea” for Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan at Khajuraho Airport, but it was withdrawn following an uproar. A show-cause notice was issued to junior supply officer Rakesh Kanhua, who was responsible for arranging tea and breakfast during the CM’s transit visit on Monday. However, following outrage on social media, Chhatarpur District Collector Sandeep GR has cancelled the notice served by Subdivisional Magistrate DP Dwivedi.
A Bengaluru court has directed social media to take down a photo with a false claim about Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala. The photo showed guests at the MindEscapes club in Tamil Nadu, none of whom are the judges.
Karnataka writers outspoken about the Hindu right wing have been receiving handwritten death threats. BL Venu, among others, received an anonymous death threat on July 10, the second in two months. The murders of MM Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh in the state shook the nation a few years ago. Venu said he would “continue to speak the truth” at public events. “The author [of the letters] is a coward as he can’t speak to me directly. I have not lodged any complaint, but I have shared the letter with the police.”
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Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Puri has been forced to defend the newfangled Sarnath lions in India’s national emblem atop the new Parliament building, which are being criticised for shoddy craftsmanship and misplaced ferocity, a departure from the Buddhist standard chosen as Indian insignia. Size and angle were his defence. Puri was silent on why the inauguration was done by the PM and why there was a Hindu puja. Sanjeev Sanyal has also piped up on an alleged dilution of Mauryan imperial aesthetics post-Independence. Grin and bear it.
IndiGo has started disciplinary proceedings against maintenance crew who went on mass sick leave during the last five days to protest against low salaries. They must report to the airline’s doctor with medical documents justifying their claims.
Pernod Ricard, the world’s second-biggest maker of spirits, has put new investments in India on hold because of a long-running dispute with the authorities over the valuation of liquor imports, Reuters reports. Paris-based Pernod Ricard said its legal wrangles have progressively worsened over the past 30 years, making it tough to do business in the country. The company currently accounts for 17% of India’s $20 billion alcohol market. India charges a 150% customs duty on all alcohol imports — one of the world’s highest tax rates.
Angry villagers from Raghunathpur in Madhya Pradesh’s Sheopur district yesterday held a crocodile in custody for over seven hours in the hope of recovering the body of a seven-year-old boy whom they thought the reptile had swallowed. After hours of convincing by the forest department and search operations team, the villagers finally relented when the boy’s body was found in the Chambal River.
BJP attacks Hamid Ansari. Again.
In a new low, the Bharatiya Janata Party has seized upon defamatory social media claims by right-wing handles which allege former Vice President Hamid Ansari “invited” a Pakistani journalist to India when he was in office who was a spy for the ISI. The ‘claim’ is based on a conspiracy theory-laden video interview that the journalist, Nusrat Mirza, gave a YouTube channel in which he also says the United States caused earthquakes in Pakistan and the Tsunami in Japan. Curiously, Mirza never actually said he was invited to India by Ansari – so the very basis of the ‘controversy’ is fake.