IT Department ‘Surveying’ BBC for Third Day Running; Did India Really See a ‘Lost Decade’ in 2004-14 as Modi Claimed?
Panchjanya says SC tool in foreign hand, HC against foreign travel curbs on mere suspicion, Bengaluru world’s second most congested city, 45% of Kerala queers subjected to ‘conversion therapy’
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
February 16, 2022
Seeking to justify the controversial tax raid that is now in its third day, a government official told Times Now that the BBC had not provided a “convincing response” to tax authorities in the past and the ‘survey’ of the organisation was connected to transfer pricing rules and diversion of profits. Kanchan Gupta, Senior Adviser at the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting also insisted the income tax survey was not vindictive or “done out of a sense of pique”. The BBC told employees in an internal note yesterday that India is looking into the BBC’s structure, activities and tax status. Reuters reports that tax officials have been going through the phones and computers of not just administrative staff but editors and reporters too.
Shahid Tantray was outside the BBC Delhi office on Tuesday and reported on the voices from inside and outside. Lawyer and chartered accountant Deepak Joshi explains why the survey on BBC by the tax department due to the alleged transfer pricing non compliance is neither appropriate, nor proportionate, nor necessary. British media houses report that the BBC is paying the price for making the Modi documentary. Lionel Barber, a former editor of the Financial Times, said the ‘raid’ was Russian-style ‘intimidation’.
Criticising the Supreme Court for issuing notice to the Centre over petitions challenging its order to take down social media links sharing the BBC documentary ‘India: The Modi Question’, Panchjanya, the RSS-affiliated magazine, has said the apex court is being used as an “auzaar” (tool) by “Bharat virodhiyon” (India’s opponents). The editorial by Panchjanya editor Hitesh Shankar was published a day before the IT “survey”. “The Supreme Court belongs to India, and is run by taxes paid by Indians; its job is to function according to legislations and laws made for India. We have created a facility named the Supreme Court and maintained it in the interest of the country. But it is being used as a tool in the efforts of those opposed to India to clear their way,” it said.
India’s exports shrank 6.58% in January to $32.91 billion, as per government data. Merchandise imports, too, slipped 3.63%, falling for the second month, to $50.66 billion. In January 2022, the figure was $52.57 billion. The merchandise trade deficit for April-January was about $233 billion.
Global rating agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P) has placed Adani Transmission Ltd’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) evaluation under review. Adani Transmission is the India’s largest private discom. The Adani family reportedly holds a 75% stake. The rating agency said allegations related to corporate governance and disclosures may affect funders and business partners, and raise financial and operational risks.
Adani Ports and SEZ will stop lending money to non-group companies after having lent at least Rs 12,687 crore last year, according to a Mint analysis. Instead, the Gautam Adani-controlled company will use surplus funds to cut its Rs 44,000 crore debt pile, Adani Ports’ management told analysts from Pimco, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan Asset Management.
Can Bangladesh get out of the Adani power deal? Adani’s inclusion of costs that appear to be non-existent may allow Bangladesh to claim the deal invalid, asserts Kamal Ahmed in The Daily Star. Meanwhile, The Telegraph, Kolkata reports that the proposed Tajpur port found no mention in the West Bengal budget yesterday, in which the Adani Group has a role. Work on the project was to kick off in early 2024, before the general election.
An agreement signed by Adani Power last year to acquire DB Power, which operates a thermal plant in Chhattisgarh, for Rs 7,017 crore, has expired for the fourth time after the deal was signed in August 2022. Meanwhile, Adani Enterprises, which had scaled up sharply over the past few years, said it would not bid for new projects while markets remain volatile. “We will not make new commitments till we settle this volatility period,” Jugeshinder Singh, group CFO, Adani Group, told analysts in a post earnings call.
Against a target of road construction of over 12,000 km, the pace of work so far indicates the National Highway Authority of India may not even reach the 10,000 km mark in FY23, way below even last year when prolonged rains and the third Covid wave cut construction to just 10,400 km. As per the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, till January-end only 6,803 km of highways had been built, including 1,009 km in January. If this pace is maintained, the country may end up with around 8,500-9,000 km of roads in FY23, the lowest in the last four years.
India is keen to use ayurveda as soft power abroad but the government is disinterested in safety and efficacy. The US doesn’t recognise ayurveda as medicine. The FDA wanted clinical proof of the efficacy of ayurveda and was worried about the toxic heavy metals found in products in India. But little has been done to establish safety and efficacy using robust scientific parameters.
The Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC), a student body on the IIT-B campus, yesterday demanded the resignation of the institute’s Director Subhasis Chaudhuri after the death of 18-year-old Dalit student Darshan Solanki. After the parents of Solanki, who allegedly died by suicide, spoke to TV reporters about caste discrimination he faced at IIT-B, the APPSC criticised Chaudhuri for “failing to create safe spaces for Dalit, Bahujan and Adivasi students despite being aware of what they faced”.
Scores of migrant Kashmiri Pandit employees demanding a transfer from the Valley and release of salary dues were detained yesterday, shortly after they assembled at Jammu to press for their demands.The employees were supposed to protest outside the Press Club, but police prevented them. When employees assembled in a nearby chowk and raised slogans, the police detained nearly 50. They were taken to the Police Lines in a bus.
The Delhi High Court has said that permission to travel abroad cannot be denied based on the mere suspicion that an accused might not return to India. On February 9, Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar permitted accused Sandeep Singh Deswal to travel to the US, saying that a lookout circular is a “coercive measure” and cannot be issued routinely “as it may affect the liberty of an accused”. The government issues an LOC to make sure an individual who is absconding or is wanted by law enforcement agencies in connection with a case is not able to leave the country, according to chapter 25 of the Crime Manual of the CBI. The government has faced heavy criticism for issuing an increasing number of travel bans. In October last year, Kashmiri photojournalist Sana Mattoo wasn’t allowed to travel to the US to collect a Pulitzer prize. Journalist Rana Ayyub and then Chair of the Board of Amnesty International in India Aakar Patel too were prevented from leaving the country last year.
The Supreme Court recently asked Annasaheb Chudaman Patil Memorial Medical College, Dhule, to deposit Rs 2.5 crore with AIIMS, New Delhi, for flouting its orders pertaining to the admission of MBBS students. The college had admitted students despite its stay order.
A government organisation working for the promotion of Urdu has been unable to carry out crucial activities like organising seminars, opening teaching centres and promoting books as the Centre is delaying the reconstitution of its general body. The National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL), which has 37 members, has been functioning with only its four permanent members — the education minister as the chairman, the director and two officials of the Ministry of Education. The 10-member Executive Board also lies defunct. The education ministry had constituted the council in 2018 for three years. The tenure of the members ended over a year ago in December 2021.
More than 45% of LGBTQIA+ persons in Kerala have been subjected to conversion therapy (which claims to ‘cure’ queerness), revealed a recent study by Dr Sreya Mariyam Salim at the Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram. In the US and Canada, it is only 3-7%. It was found that cisgender men (48.5%) are more likely to have a history of conversion therapy than cisgender women (28.5%). Most of the participants who had undergone conversion therapy were aged 21-30. The study also found that religiosity matters.
Indian-American Republican and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy plans to announce his 2024 presidential bid, joining Nikki Haley. Ramaswamy, 37, who is a millionaire and has been dubbed by New Yorker as the “CEO of Anti-Woke Inc.”, has, for the time being, embarked on test runs and fact-finding missions in Iowa, where he has been addressing multiple events, according to Politico.
Pakistan’s Sindh government’s culture department recently invited bids to engage ‘experienced’ event managers to help it organise a weeklong centenary celebration of Mohenjo-Daro next month in London and Paris. Meanwhile, an academic and lawyer rues the decline of the actual site of Mohenjodaro and wonders for how long it will survive the neglect.
India lost the number one position in ICC Test rankings within hours after a glitch on ICC’s website placed Australia in second place with 111 points, a huge 15 point drop. For a brief time, India occupied the top spots in all three formats and there was the usual jubilation. However, the latest update on ICC’s website shows Australia back at the number one spot with 126 points and India in second place with 115 points.
Bengaluru is the world’s second most congested city, says Dutch traffic and congestion watcher, the TomTom Index.
A BJP leader was injured while trying to catch a ball hit by ex-Congressman and BJP minister Jyotiraditya Scindia at a newly-built stadium in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh. Vikas Mishra missed the catch and the ball hit him in the forehead.