Karnataka Will Make Marriages Involving Conversion ‘Null And Void’; UP's GDP Data Paints Dismal Picture of Yogi Years
Parliament session closes a day early today, 14 of 47 CJIs Brahmins, BJP trails CPI(M) in Kolkata civic polls, Ashwin opens up, Munawar Faruqui back on stage, Madras HC supports right to be funny
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
December 22, 2021
Pegasus, whose rampant misuse in India is being investigated by a committee appointed by the Supreme Court, is back in the news globally. The Washington Post reports that Citizens’ Lab has confirmed the wife of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi— executed by Saudi operatives in Turkey 2018—was dogged by Pegasus months before his murder and this may have facilitated the crime. The Financial Times reports that NSO was on a roll selling cyber weapons to rogue states until it emerged that US diplomats were targeted in Uganda and the US state machinery got after NSO. It now faces dissolution. Its CEO-designate bailed out with some urgency in November, after the US imposed sanctions. In India, however, the official stonewalling continues.
Karnataka’s anti-conversion bill will empower the state to deem interfaith marriages involving conversion “null and void”. Introduced yesterday, it has categorised as “allurements” the promise of marriage, free education, free medical treatment and jobs ― all unlawful reasons for religious conversion. Under the bill, a ‘convertor’ must give the district magistrate 30 days’ notice before doing so, and also make a declaration after converting. People reconverting to their immediate previous religion won’t be considered converts.
Despite opposition by the BJP, the Jharkhand Assembly yesterday passed a bill to prevent mob violence and lynching in the state, notorious for vigilante justice, providing for imprisonment of from three years to life. Sharing information irresponsibly is also punishable. Jharkhand is the third state after West Bengal and Rajasthan to pass such a legislation.
In its first outreach to Myanmar’s military-backed regime, amidst pressures in the neighbourhood and unrest in the Northeast, Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla left for Naypyidaw and Yangon yesterday, to meet the State Administration Council chaired by General Min Aung Hlaing, who toppled the elected government last February. In a damning investigation, the BBC says that the Myanmar military has carried out a series of mass killings of civilians in July, in which at least 40 men died. Soldiers rounded up villagers, separated the men and killed them. Images suggest that most were tortured first and buried in shallow graves. A fortnight ago, columnist Bertil Lintner wrote on India’s dilemma over ties with Myanmar.
The Uttar Pradesh story being told on billboards and advertisements about ‘No 1 state’ and Up-Yogi is in tatters after economists shared data on the decline in the state’s GDP and the frightening rise in unemployment. Officially, UP’s GDP grew only 1.95% per annum in 2017-21. It was 6.92% in 2012-17 under the previous government. Overall unemployment increased 2.5 times and youth unemployment by nearly five times compared to 2012.
A test audit of 356 high-value corporate tax cases worth Rs 12,476.53 crore showed irregularities of nearly Rs 4,000 crore, and the CAG has sought a probe by the Central Board of Direct Taxes. The CAG also noted that corporate tax collections had decreased by over Rs 1 lakh crore, from Rs 6.63 lakh crore in 2018-19 to Rs 5.57 lakh crore in 2019-20. Income tax collections increased by 0.18 lakh crore — from Rs 4.62 lakh to Rs 4.80 lakh crore in the same period.
This session of Parliament is being adjourned a day early today. Yesterday, the bill linking electoral roll data with Aadhaar was shooed through, with the Rajya Sabha passing it by voice vote amid a walkout by the Opposition. In scenes reminiscent of the farm laws, the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 saw the Opposition parties demanding a division as they had moved a motion to send the Bill to a select committee, but it was rejected by voice vote.
Linking Aadhaar to voter IDs could expose the contact details of voters, which can be mapped to social media accounts to discover political preferences. It can potentially be used to rob inconvenient voters of political agency. The Cambridge Analytica scandal has already demonstrated the impact of voter profiling on democracy. Commenting on the consequences earlier, Justice BN Srikrishna had said that linking Aadhaar to electoral rolls would lead to ‘Delhi Analytica’, ‘Mumbai Analytica’, ‘Kolkata Analytica’, and so on.
The 13th Rajya Sabha MP has been suspended: the TMC’s Derek O’Brien is out for the rest of the session. It has elicited sharp responses across the board.
The People’s Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration, a platform of regional parties in J&K, has described the controversial delimitation draft, which proposes distribution of seven fresh Assembly seats for Jammu and Kashmir as “divisive, unacceptable” and “with potential to further deepen alienation among people”. Here is a primer to the controversy.
A startling slide in vote share — from around 29% in Assembly polls in May to about 9% in municipal polls in December — shows the complete collapse of the BJP in Kolkata. It has now fallen behind the CPI(M).
Amid tensions over two lynchings in Punjab, Navjot Singh Sidhu of the Congress sought “public hanging” for people who commit sacrilege against the Koran, the Granth Sahib or the Bhagavad Gita.
Following the arrest of the ‘crypto king’ of Mumbai, the Narcotics Control Bureau will systematically probe cryptocurrencies to trace their use in drug deals on the dark web.
Good news: stand-up comic Munawar Faruqui, who has spent jail time for jokes he didn’t crack and whose shows have been cancelled repeatedly, was able to perform in Mumbai and is set to perform in Hyderabad and Kolkata.
The Christmas double issue of The Economist has a feature on touring cinemas in India ― many have shut down and others are being revived. “All that the world’s film industries need to do is to provide the spaces for that magic to happen.”
India’s love for biryani only seems to be growing. Indians ordered 115 plates of biryani per minute in 2021. The samosa is India’s “most binged snack” of 2021 with about 50 lakh orders on Swiggy. Gulab jamun with 21 lakh orders is the most popular dessert, as per the sixth annual ‘StatEATstics report’ by Swiggy.
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