Modi Government Says No Fundamental Right to Convert; Why Pakistan Rose in Beijing’s Eyes to Become Its ‘One Real Ally’
Supreme Court speaks out against Law Minister, independents trounce BJP in Haryana, YouTuber faces music for crowdfunding for temples, Bengaluru Pride organiser wants to walk free from Freedom Park
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Snapshot of the day
November 29, 2022
It was a politically charged evening yesterday at the closing ceremony of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa. Israel’s Nadav Lapid, chair of the jury, publicly criticised The Kashmir Files, calling it propaganda which did not belong in a prestigious competitive festival. It was a short but sharp earful for the Indian ministers present (3:24:00 onwards):
Lapid spoke on behalf of the jury (though one jury member has since distanced himself from what was said), saying they were “disturbed and shocked” to see “a propaganda, vulgar movie” at a prestigious festival organised by the government. In September, Lapid was among 250 filmmakers who wrote to Israel’s film academy to reject the Shomron Film Fund set up by former Israeli culture minister Miri Regev “to invite Israeli filmmakers to actively participate in whitewashing the Occupation [of the West Bank] in exchange for financial support and prizes.” How powerful his act in Goa was can be gauged by how heavily the Israeli ambassador has been weighed upon to attack Lapid.
Yashraj Sharma, interim editor of The Kashmir Walla, has won the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award. Thomson Foundation says that he was not allowed to travel to receive the honour. Sharma has dedicated the award to “every journalist who finds themselves in prison today for their reporting and holding power accountable.” That includes Fahad Shah, the editor of his publication.
The Supreme Court today sought information from all states on the number of undertrials behind bars because they cannot fulfil bail conditions. The National Legal Services Authority is to extend legal aid to them. The issue of impoverished prisoners crowding Indians jails was also flagged this week by President Droupadi Murmu in an impassioned, heartfelt public speech.
Expressing “strong reservations”, the government has asked the Supreme Court Collegium to reconsider 20 files related to the appointment of High Court judges, including that of openly gay advocate Saurabh Kirpal. Out of the 20, 11 were fresh cases and nine were reiterations. Kirpal’s name was recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium, headed by then Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, for elevation as a Delhi High Court judge.
The Supreme Court yesterday came down strongly on Law Minister Kiren Rijiju’s comments, where he criticised the collegium system. The court also expressed anguish about the Centre’s delay in clearing its recommendations. “Many people may have reservations about the law. But while it stands, it is the law of the land… I have ignored all press reports, but this has come from somebody high enough… it should not have happened,” said a bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and AS Oka. Senior advocate Vikas Singh had brought to its notice Rijiju’s remark in a TV interview: “Never say that the government is sitting on the files. Then don’t send the files to the government, you appoint yourself, you run the show, then.” The News Minute has an explainer on the minister’s remarks and the Supreme Court’s reaction.
S&P Global Ratings has cut India’s FY23 GDP growth forecast by 30 bps to 7%. For FY24, it’s down 50 bps to 6%. Citing a weak manufacturing sector coupled with steep margin compression, SBI Research too has pencilled in the country’s GDP growth for the second quarter at 5.8%, down 30 basis points from average estimates.
“While employment and wages increased well during 2021-22, growth in the annual wage rate was sluggish. This grew, on average, by 4%. Compared to the 1.1% growth seen in 2020-21, the 4% increase pencilled in 2021-22 is an improvement. But the growth is lower than inflation. Inflation-adjusted or real annual wage rate in the listed companies as a whole saw a fall of 1.6%,” writes Mahesh Vyas of CMIE. “Inflation-adjusted annual wage rate declined by 3.8% in 2020-21 and by 1.4% in 2019-20. Earlier, in 2018-19, the annual real wage rate had risen by a meagre 0.7%.”
But India’s 100 richest got richer in 2022, according to Forbes data. Gautam Adani became the planet’s second richest person, while unemployment shot to record highs and standards of living fell dramatically. “Gautam Adani and Mukesh Ambani account for 30% of the wealth of the richest 100 Indians.”
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Amazon has shut its wholesale distribution business in India. The company earlier shut down its food delivery and online learning platform called Academy in India.
Makers of the world’s first intranasal Covid 19 vaccine, Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, yesterday announced that iNCOVACC (BBV154) had received approval from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation for emergency use in India for heterologous booster doses. The vaccine was earlier approved as a primary dose in September.
The Union government has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court that it never mandated Covid vaccines. It now says that mandates were issued by state governments, and the public was well informed about possible side effects including death, and that compensation should be claimed from the vaccine manufacturer.
Having failed to get Karnataka’s support, Kerala has shelved the SilverLine semi-high-speed rail project. According to a government order, around 200 officials posted for land survey and acquisition for SilverLine have been directed to report back to their parent departments.
Amit Shah’s statement on how rioters were “taught a lesson” in Gujarat in 2002 is divisive and promotes enmity between groups, former bureaucrat EAS Sarma and election watcher Jagdeep Chhokar have said, and asked the Election Commission to act.The Election Commission is apparently examining the statement.
The appointments committee of the Union cabinet has extended Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra’s term by 16 months, “up to April 30, 2024 or until further orders, whichever is earlier…” Kwatra took charge on May 1, 2022 and should ordinarily have been given a two-year tenure under existing rules. However, when he was appointed, there was no mention of tenure, which meant he was due to retire on December 31, 2022 – when he turns 60.
China’s actions in the neighbourhood, from pushing for a role in a major project to manage the Teesta river in Bangladesh to deploying surveillance ships and taking on a crucial road project in Nepal, have raised concerns in New Delhi while the border standoff continues. On Sunday, Nepal’s Supreme Court stayed the award of the road building contract worth more than Rs 1,500 crore by the Nepal Army to China First Highway Engineering and called all parties for a discussion today. The court order came on a plea by India’s Afcons Infrastructure Limited, one of the bidders.
A former Russian minister was caught with a prohibited satellite phone during a security check at Jolly Grant Airport in Uttarakhand’s Dehradun. Victor Semenov (64), who was Russia’s minister of agriculture and food from 1998 to 1999, was about to fly to Delhi. An FIR has been registered against Semenov under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933. He was released after paying a fine of Rs 1,000.
Hackers have demanded Rs 200 crore in cryptocurrency from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi. Its server has been kaput for six days. Data of 3-4 crore patients could have been compromised in the ransomware attack detected Wednesday morning.
The Delhi High Court has directed the police to hand over the keys to the Nizamuddin Markaz to Tablighi Jamaat’s Maulana Saad. Nizamuddin Markaz has been closed since March 2020. The Tablighis faced relentless vilification in 2020 from official quarters, mainstream media and the rumour mill, which accused them of spreading Covid.
Sudhanshu Mani, who led the team of engineers that developed the semi-high speed train Vande Bharat, has said that running 75 Vande Bharat trains
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