Middleman’s Suit Against French Defence Firm Opens Can of Worms; L’Etat, C’est Modi
BJP minister defects to Samajwadi while Dy CM loses it over Dharma Sansad query, Nagas march against AFSPA, youth monopoly bags Covaxin maker Rs 7300 Cr, muttonchop prevails over incompetent authority
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
January 11, 2022
The mask is off. UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya forcibly yanked off BBC reporter Anant Zanane’s Covid mask when he was asked about the Haridwar hate speech assembly and arrests of citizens after India-Pakistan matches, and forcibly deleted footage. The BBC has complained about the incident to the BJP national and state presidents and the chief minister, and awaits a reply. Here is what was not deleted. Maurya’s intemperance is visible when he is asked about the letter from IIM faculty and students to the PM. Watch after 08:35.
Perhaps its just as well he didn’t answer. A BJP MLA from UP was asked how Chief Minister Adityanath could make a communal remark about how “80% of UP’s population support BJP and only 20% oppose it”. The MLA, Alok Vats, said 20% wasn’t a reference to Muslims and other non-Hindus (who form 20% of the state’s population).
"It's not the Muslims that Yogi had talked about,” he said. “This 20% consists of 9% of criminals and anti-social elements, 3.5% land grabbers, 2% those who commit atrocities against women, people who are pro-Pakistan are 2%, people who are against 'Vande Mataram' are 1.5%. These people consist of that 20 per cent."
Meanwhile, one prominent BJP minister, Swami Prasad Maurya, has quit the government and signed up with the Samajwadi Party. Those not defecting are inaugurating non-existent roads in UP. Asked about the missing road in Nagla Beru, Mathura, BJP minister Chandrika Prasad Upadhyay said: “Money has been allocated and since we have inaugurated it, it will be constructed too.”
The richest half per cent celebrated Covid protocol relaxations in December 2021, the bottom half were despondent and the rest were unmoved. With the arrival of Omicron in January, consumer sentiment may be low across the income spectrum, delaying economic recovery, writes Mahesh Vyas of CMIE. Consumer sentiment declined by 4.4% in December after increasing for five consecutive months. It rose by an impressive 12.8% in households earning over Rs 10 lakh a year. All other income groups saw a fall, or near-stagnation. The poorest households, earning Rs 100,000 or less, saw the biggest fall in December 2021. This group’s numbers swelled from 10% of all households in 2019-20 to 17% in 2020-21.
India and China will tomorrow have their 14th round of corps commander level talks on the Ladakh border this morning in Moldo. Expectations are low about disengagement at Depsang and Demchok but Indians are hoping for a breakthrough on Hot Springs.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has sought another extension from parliamentary committees in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha to frame the rules of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.
Vodafone-Idea has been nationalised with the government becoming the single largest shareholder with 35.8% stake. Vodafone will hold 28.5% and Aditya Birla Group 17.8% after the conversion of AGR dues and of interest to equity.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh yesterday tested positive for Covid, and so have the chief ministers of Bihar and Karnataka. Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar tested positive on Sunday. Several Union ministers are positive, including Mahendra Nath Pandey, Raosaheb Patil Danve, Bharti Pawar, Nityanand Rai and SP Singh Baghel. At least four Supreme Court judges have tested positive, along with 150 staffers, as the third wave worsens. In a fresh advisory, the Indian Council of Medical Research said that only high-risk contacts of Covid patients need testing.
INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium) scientists sequencing Covid samples say that along with the original Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant, its sibling (sub-lineage) BA.1 is dominantly co-circulating and quickly replacing Delta in Maharashtra and some other states. Omicron has two more ‘siblings’ – BA.2 and BA.3. INSACOG has also noted that older non-immune subjects may suffer severe disease, as with previous variants. Numbers are increasing rapidly and district-level data shows “highly synchronised surges in most states”. Of 748 districts in India, 200 report a Covid-19 test positivity rate (TPR) greater than 5%. The New York Times reports that in India, an increasing number of people are refusing to wear masks, despite rising infection. Masking in public has fallen to levels last seen in March.
In West Bengal, where Covid numbers are skyrocketing, health experts are concerned about the Ganga Sagar Mela this week, involving lakhs of pilgrims. They say it would be “enough to paralyse the health infrastructure”. The Calcutta High Court has allowed the Mela to be held, after the state government said that it does not favour a ban.
The Chief Justice of Patna High Court passed a written order to all subordinate courts stating: “All presiding officers of court along with their respective court’s staff shall be cleaning Temples in the morning on 09.10.2022.” In Buxar, the needful was done.
Justice C Hari Shankar of the Delhi High Court yesterday orally observed that there is a “qualitative difference” between marital and non-marital relationships as the former entails a legal right to expect reasonable sexual relations, which plays a part in the marital rape exemption in criminal law. While hearing a batch of petitions seeking criminalisation of marital rape, the judge orally observed that a non-marital relation, no matter how close, and a marital relationship, cannot be “parallelised”.
Leaders of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha have said the Centre is yet to keep its promises of setting up a panel to look into guaranteed minimum support prices for crops and withdrawing cases ﬁled against farmers who protested against the three farm laws.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that minorities in India are being targeted by extremist groups, which “is a real and present threat” to regional peace. On Twitter, Khan also asked if the BJP government supports the call for genocide of minorities in India, especially the 200 million Muslim community, made in Haridwar in December.
The BBC has a detailed story on Sudha Bharadwaj, on the prison life of India’s best-known woman activist. “From a smaller jail I am now living in a bigger jail, which is Mumbai,” Sudha Bharadwaj said in her first interview since being released on bail under restrictive conditions.
Receipt of broken items has soured the experience of some bidders at the auction of mementos received by PM Modi, reports Business Standard. They have been offered replacement or return.
The death of Kannada poet, critic, playwright and former president of the Kannada Sahitya Parishat Chandrashekhar Patil (Champa) ends a liberal, argumentative, rebellious phase in Kannada literature when it was not ‘anti-national’ for the young to speak out. His student and critic Rajendra Chenni spoke of the time “when there was always a Lankesh, a Champa and a Tejaswi to mentor them.”
And the muttonchop prevails! A Madhya Pradesh police constable suspended for wearing his hair and moustache long in alleged violation of service rules was reinstated because “the order to take him off duty was not issued by a competent authority”.