‘Journalism Has Become a Crime’ in Kashmir; Old Tweets of New JNU VC Show Saffron Credentials
Employment off the rails, 25% UDAN flights survive, undertrials 62% of inmates, hijab clad students told to sit apart, Lata cremated but not before BJP plays communal mischief
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 7, 2022
The arrest of the Kashmir Walla’s editor Fahad Shah has made international news. The New York Times speaks of “harassment and intimidation”, the Financial Times says it “provokes outrage”, Al Jazeera sees signs of a “widening crackdown”, the Guardian says “a crackdown on the press in Indian-administered Kashmir continues to escalate” and the South China Morning Post reports his arrest prominently. The Editors’ Guild of India has demanded the “immediate release of Fahad Shah as well as Sajad Gul, another reporter arrested last month, and that FIRs under harsh penal laws, intimidatory questioning, and wrongful detainment not be used as tools for suppressing journalists’ rights.” Digipub says: “The practice of journalism has become a crime in the Union Territory, threatening not just the future of journalism there but Indian democracy itself.” The arrest seals India’s reputation as an unsafe place for independent journalism.
More embarrassment: Redfish Media (seen to be affiliated to the Russian state) called Kashmir a case of “settler-colonialism” in a new documentary, and drew direct parallels with Palestine. The Russian Embassy had to clarify that the digital outlet is not affiliated to the Russian state.
China and Pakistan yesterday said they oppose “unilateral actions that complicate” the Kashmir issue, as they pledged closer ties following a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. A joint statement released following their meeting in Beijing said that “both sides reiterated their support on issues concerning each other’s core interests” and “underscored that stronger defence and security cooperation between Pakistan and China was an important factor of peace and stability in the region.”
“The Asian Development Bank committed a record Rs 4.6 billion in sovereign lending to India in 2021 for 17 loans, including Rs 1.8 billion for the country’s coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic response,” Asian Development Bank stated. Of the Covid-19-related assistance, Rs 1.5 billion was towards vaccine procurement and Rs 300 million to strengthen primary health care in urban areas, and future pandemic preparedness.
Meanwhile, in a survey conducted by SIDBI late last year, 67% of MSMEs reported temporary closure for up to three months during the pandemic in FY2020-21. The survey results were shared by MSME Minister Narayan Rane in response to a question in Lok Sabha last week. More than half reported a revenue loss of over 25%. SIDBI surveyed a random sample pool of 1,029 MSMEs across 20 states and two Union territories and submitted the study on January 27.
Indian consumers are lapping up mobile apps, driving up India’s rankings for new downloads and hours spent on them. But spending on mobile apps, key for viability, remains very small. India does not figure among the top 20 in App Annie’s global list based on consumer spends for 2021. And though mobile advertising has been growing, the country’s mobile share was less than 0.5% of the global market.
Rahul Gandhi yesterday declared incumbent CM and Dalit Sikh leader Charanjit Singh Channi as the Congress’ chief ministerial candidate in the high-stakes Punjab Assembly polls. Gandhi made this announcement while addressing a virtual rally: “People of Punjab said we need a CM from gareeb ghar (a poor home).”
UP Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma has said in Jewar: “Brahmin is a superior way of living life.” In another speech obviously not heard by the Election Commission, Union Minister Smriti Irani yesterday sought votes in the name of [supposedly slain] ‘Ram-bhakts’.
With 18 crore members, the BJP claims to be the world’s biggest political party. But together, they have contributed “not even Rs 1 crore” to a micro-donation campaign launched 42 days ago, towards the party fund. That’s approximately Rs 0.055 — or 5.5 paise — per karyakarta, reports Hindustan Times. Not that the party needs the money, with the obscene amounts of opaque funds it is getting via electoral bonds!
In Chennai, conservancy workers must segregate waste to meet daily targets, as only 42% of solid waste is segregated at source. Public appeals by the Municipal Corporation have been largely ignored, shifting the burden to the workers.
Only 22 of 94 routes under the low-cost flying scheme UDAN have survived after the government’s subsidy period of three years, according to information shared by the Ministry of Civil Aviation with a Parliamentary panel. Under the scheme, airlines have to cap fares at Rs 2,500 per seat per hour of flying time for half the seats on a flight, and receive gap funding plus other benefits. The government had expected routes to remain viable after the subsidy period.
The same Parliamentary panel on Friday objected to the Gaya airport code, GAY, calling it inappropriate for a city which many consider to be holy. However, the Union Civil Aviation Ministry stated that the International Air Transport Association, which assigns airport codes, has said it cannot be changed without a “justifiable reason primarily concerning air safety”.
“A king could have commanded the worst atrocities to be wreaked on his enemies and yet built the most awe-inspiring of temples,” says Anirudh Kanisetti, author of Lord of the Deccan. Any resemblance
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