Jignesh Mevani Rearrested; How TV Helps Government Deflects Attention From What Really Matters
CJI to consider 'early' listing of Article 370, LIC valuation halved, CBSE syllabus cull reveals what BJP fears, Justice Shah sees anti-Muslim campaign in demolitions and taxman holds up bullet train
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
April 25, 2022
Hours after an Assam court granted Jjgnesh Mevani bail in a criminal case filed in Barpeta by a local BJP leader over two tweets , the Gujarat MLA was rearrested by the police from Barpeta in connection with what his lawyer says is “another case”. The tweets had called for communal peace but also attacked Narendra Modi as a ‘Godse worshipper’ and the RSS as “traitors”. The latest case against him alleges he pushed one of the police constable accompanying him to court and “outraged [her] modesty”.
The celebration of ‘normalcy’ in Kashmir is premised on claims of investment pouring in. But Kashmiri journalist Raqib Hameed Naik reveals that the show is managed by arm-twisting, using the agencies. Last month, a delegation of 36 businessmen from the UAE visited Kashmir, purportedly to explore investment options. Of them, 13 were Emirati and the rest were affluent Indian expatriates and those with RSS links. Bal Krishen Rathore, a Dubai-based Jammu origin businessman put the delegation together ― they were mostly his friends ― and chartered their plane. How was he forced to do so?
Today, the Chief Justice of India agreed to consider reconstituting the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court to hear pleas concerning the abrogation of Article 370 after the summer vacation. They had been referred to a Constitution Bench headed by Justice NV Ramana, now the CJI, in 2019, by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who was CJI at the time. The last hearing on these petitions was over two years ago, in February 2020.
The Army buckled to a Hindutva bigot and deleted a tweet about an iftar hosted by the Indian Army in Jammu. On April 21, the official handle of PRO Defence, Jammu, had tweeted pictures of soldiers breaking bread with civilians with the message: “Keeping alive the traditions of #secularism, an iftar was organised by the #IndianArmy at Arnora in #Doda District #Ramadan.” Editor-in-chief of jihad-inventing channel Sudarshan News Suresh Chavhanke tweeted in Hindi: “Ab ye bimari Bhartiya sena mein bhi ghus gayi hai? Dukhad… (Now this disease has infected even the Indian Army? Sad).” Several others attacked the army. Chavhanke is accused of hate speech at an event last December where participants pledged to “fight, die for and, if necessary, kill” to create a “Hindu Rashtra”. On Friday, the iftar tweet was deleted. Veterans and citizens were shocked that the Army PRO had backed off, instead of taking on the Hindutva trolls.
On Saturday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh claimed in Gauhati that ‘infiltration’ from Bangladesh has almost stopped, and there is peace and stability at the country’s eastern border. What he meant was undocumented migration. He neglected to mention that Bangladesh has overhauled India on indices over the last eight years and now has a higher per capita GDP. The economic incentive for migration stands reversed.
The Supreme Court will examine a plea filed by Army veterans seeking a court-monitored probe by a special investigation team into calls for genocide against Muslims. The petitioners said that if left unchecked, hate-mongering could affect the morale and battle preparedness of the Indian Army, which has soldiers from different communities.
As food inflation surges, Indians are turning to quick-fix meals ― one-pot lentil dishes, cutting down on expensive veggies and avoiding deep fried snacks to reduce the cost of living. Indian kitchens are resourceful, but experts say the dietary reductions harm nutrition.
The Centre’s fertiliser subsidy outlay for the current fiscal year could be Rs 2.10-2.30 trillion because of sustained high commodity and oil prices due to the war in Ukraine. This will be the highest ever spending on fertiliser subsidy in a year by a huge margin; the FY23 budget estimate is at Rs 1.05 trillion. India's oil import bill has doubled to $119 bn in FY22. It spent $13.7 billion in March, when oil prices were at a 14-year high.
The valuation of LIC, the insurance behemoth which the Modi government wants to sell, contrary to reason, “is down by half ahead of the IPO,” say reports. Predictably, external forces are blamed, but the main point is avoided: why push LIC into the market? Is that how desperate the government is for funds?
In Lunch with FT, historian Romila Thapar speaks on the BJP’s pursuit of the two-nation theory, “first proposed by British colonial historians before being adopted by religious nationalists, which portrays the subcontinent as a land of perpetual Hindu-Muslim conflict. These theories, she suggests, have found new champions in Modi’s BJP, which sees India as a once-mighty Hindu civilisation degraded by Islamic invaders and then British rule.” This misreading of history is used to justify divisive politics and rhetoric to harass India’s 14% Muslim minority. “It’s always very convenient to have [a scapegoat],” she says. “So who’s the enemy? The enemy is the one community that is the largest of the minority communities, so you pick on the Muslims. And you build up on the colonial theories of these two antagonistic societies constantly [in conflict].”
While on education, this is what has been culled by the government from the CBSE school syllabus. It tells you what frightens the ruling party, and why it’s necessary to raise children on half the truth.
Former British PM Margaret Thatcher learned in 1990 the perils of being abroad when a party revolt is in full swing. Boris Johnson also realises the heavy price of his Indian sojourn and he “could do little but watch as he lost control of his own MPs, with many no longer prepared to back him over the ‘partygate’ affair.”
Justice AP Shah, former chairman of the Law Commission and former chief justice of the Delhi High Court, said of bulldozer actions in Jahangirpuri: “This was gross defiance of court orders … if the Supreme Court wants to do justice (to the ordinary citizens affected) then it must take appropriate action and send the guilty officers to jail.” Justice Shah said fines should also be imposed. More importantly, he said the Supreme Court must “restore status quo ante” and “fix compensation”. Referring to cases from Khargone, where the houses of people who clearly could not have been stone-throwers or rioters were demolished, Justice Shah said, “I see a clear campaign against Muslims”. Bajrang Muni, who threatened on a loudspeaker in front of a mosque to “kidnap and rape Muslim women” is out on bail within days. Maybe he smiled when he said it?
BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj leads from the front in making statements that incite violence and attack Indian nationhood. He has asked Hindus to keep empty bottles and bows and arrows at their homes to deal with rioters (ie, Muslims). On Facebook, he has shared a picture showing a crowd of Muslims carrying sticks, and asked what people would do if a mob attacked.
A Tiranga Yatra was taken out by the residents of riot-hit Jahangirpuri in Delhi on Sunday, to reflect brotherhood. Muslims and Hindus participated amid heavy police deployment. Flowers were showered upon the yatra.
More than four decades after the birth of India’s first test-tube baby, millennials, especially those in their mid-to-late 20s and early 30s, are driving the market for fertility treatments, “a grim reminder of how unhealthy the country’s younger population is.”
Believe it or not, information that a government department has already made public is being deemed as privileged by the Central Information Commission, whose role is to ensure that government departments don’t hold back under the Right to Information Act. The information pertained to electoral bonds. The case remains pending with the Supreme Court.
The EY-FICCI report says that domestic box office revenues in the calendar year 2021 were dominated by South Indian films at Rs 2,400 crore, followed by Bollywood at Rs 800 crore and Hollywood at Rs 500 crore. In 2019, Bollywood’s share was higher than South Indian films (Rs 5,200 crore versus Rs 4,000 crore), while Hollywood’s share stood at Rs 1,500 crore.
Ravi Kumar Dahiya has won the wrestling gold in the 57 kg category at the World Asian Championship 2022. The archery gold has also come India’s way ― Tarundeep Rai and Ridhi Phor won the recurve mixed team event.
Former Home Secretary Madhav Godbole has died of a heart attack. He was 85.
India weaponises visa diplomacy
In a tit for tat move, India has suspended tourist visas for Chinese nationals. The IATA also said that 10-year tourist visas are no longer valid. Around 22,000 Indian students enrolled in Chinese universities can’t return for physical classes, but students from Pakistan and Sri Lanka can. India has also disallowed e-visas to Canadian and UK citizens. These countries have major Sikh diaspora populations which supported the farmers’ protests.