MEA Faulted Democracy Downgrade, Then Sought to Explain Democracy With Indian Characteristics; Cost of Carelessness About Caregiving
Govt moves to monetise its data, more PLA tanks deployed, vaccine for kids 12-18 cleared, Ashish Mishra’s bail challenged, Delhi riot accused stand for office and Praggnanandhaa beats Magnus Carlsen
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 22, 2022
The Supreme Court-appointed committee headed by Justice Raveendran (retired), that has been looking into charges that the Indian government used Pegasus on Indian citizens in violation of the law and conventions, submitted its interim report yesterday. Basically, it wants more time. The Pegasus case has been listed before the Supreme Court for Wednesday. A bench comprising CJI NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Hima Kohli will consider additional petitions which sought a probe into allegations of illicit use of the Israeli spyware.
The government has published a draft data policy for public consultation. It says all data collected, generated, and stored by every ministry and department will be open and shareable, barring exceptions. Detailed datasets that have undergone value addition could be monetised by the government. “The core objective of this policy seems to be purely revenue generation. It lacks clarity on a number of things such as how a high-value dataset will be defined,” said Apar Gupta, executive director, Internet Freedom Foundation.
When US-based Freedom House and Sweden-based V-Dem Institute downgraded Indian democracy in March 2021, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had said, “India is not looking for their approval, is not willing to play the game they want to play.” An RTI query by The Indian Express reveals that on the contrary, his ministry had almost immediately prepared a slideshow and checklist to explain democracy with Indian characteristics. It was even shared with the Lok Sabha Secretariat, apparently for briefing Heads of Mission.
Satellite imagery has identified a new People’s Liberation Army Ground Force tank deployment in India’s eastern sector on the Sino-Indian border, further reinforcing the belief that the border crisis is not limited to Ladakh.
The Supreme Court yesterday agreed to hear a review petition filed by the Shapoorji Pallonji Group against a March 2021 ruling that upheld the decision by Tata Sons to remove Cyrus Mistry as Tata Group chairman in 2016. The court had last year set aside a National Company Law Appellate Tribunal order that reinstated Mistry on the board and termed the appointment of current chairman N Chandrasekaran “illegal”. It had also refused to entertain the Shapoorji Pallonji Group’s plea for fair compensation for its equity shares in Tata Sons at the time.
The Delhi High Court refused to grant indefinite time to the Centre to submit its stand on the criminalisation of marital rape, saying that it was not possible to defer an ongoing matter endlessly, and reserved its judgment on the petitions.
The Information and Broadcasting ministry has invoked its powers under the new Information Technology Rules to block a UK-based pro-Khalistan website, PunjabPoliticsTV, and its associated social media handles. The charge: it was trying to disturb public order during the Punjab assembly elections.
A 10-member Indian delegation will visit Pakistan for the annual meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission on March 1-3. Last year, a delegation led by the Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters had visited India for the annual meeting.
Hyderabad-based pharma company Biological E said yesterday that its coronavirus vaccine Corbevax has received emergency use approval in India for use in children aged 12-18.
In its submission before the Union government’s Punchhi Commission on Centre-state relations, Kerala has said that state legislatures should be empowered to control governors who violate Constitutional values and principles. The state proposes a constitutional amendment to make it mandatory for the Union government to consult with states before appointing governors. Relations with the governor have become a serious issue in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
A UP BJP MLA plumbed the depths of Islamophobic hate speech, and even threatened Hindus who wouldn’t vote for him. An FIR has since been registered against him. Muslim victims who named RSS/BJP perpetrators in the Delhi riots are also alarmed: the latter are now standing for office in civic polls.
Karnataka is seeing more turmoil, with arson and stone-pelting by Bajrang Dal activists in Shimoga following the death of a 26-year-old Hindutva activist. The district administration clamped prohibitory orders in Shivamogga city and Bhadravati city yesterday and today. On the hijab issue, a bench of the Karnataka High Court has refused to grant interim relief allowing girls in two Udupi degree colleges to wear headscarves. They must wait for the case to be heard.
More than a decade after the Sri Lankan conflict ended, Tamil outfits in the island nation have reached out to parties in India, seeking help for the resolution of long-pending issues, primarily the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution that created provincial councils and promised autonomy for them. Two weeks ago, six Tamil parties wrote to the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo in this regard, and on Friday, MA Sumanthiran of the Tamil National Alliance and Suren Surendiran of the Global Tamil Forum issued a statement praising the DMK government in Tamil Nadu. The endorsement of Stalin by Tamil parties will have resonance for the DMK in the state, where sympathy for the community in Lanka runs strong.
Following the move of the Karnataka government, the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation has also prohibited making a noise in buses, including playing loud music and speaking loudly on the phone. This was in response to several complaints.
Meet Bhuban Badyakar, singer of the wildly popular song ‘Kacha Badam’. Badyakar is a peanut seller from West Bengal’s Kuraljuri village and gained instant fame after his song went viral.