Modi's 'Ghar, Nal, Jal' Promise by 2022 Fails Status Check; Bihar Coup Opens Breach for Opposition Challenge
Despite NCERT, Kerala will teach Gujarat riots and Mughals, airfare caps off as Akasa takes wing, app-based loan sharks literally make a killing, outgoing CJI brushes off pleas for listing cases
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
August 11, 2022
The Indian leopard is playing spoiler amidst the Mahotsav cheer. African cheetahs were to be imported into the Palpur sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh by August 15 ― and perhaps wave flags from the treetops in the prescribed spirit ― but their entry is delayed because indigenous leopards must be evicted first from the range.
Times Higher Education reports that more foreign academics are being denied entry into India, and that these moves “appear to fit a broader pattern” of the Indian authorities using diverse means to restrict researchers’ freedom.
Indian steel and cement manufacturers have bought Russian coal using the yuan, Hong Kong dollar, dirham and euro, according to customs documents seen by Reuters. The yuan accounted for 31% of non-US dollar payments for Russian coal in June and the Hong Kong dollar for 28%. The euro made up under a quarter and the Emirati dirham a sixth. India has aggressively increased purchases of Russian oil and coal since the Ukraine invasion began. It’s cushioning Moscow from sanctions and allowing Delhi to secure discounted energy. Russia became India’s third-largest coal supplier in July, with imports rising by more than a fifth compared to June, to a record 2.06 million tonnes. In June, Indian buyers paid for at least 742,000 tonnes of Russian coal using currencies other than the US dollar.
Oddly enough, a Defence Ministry PRO chose to tweet that the Dalai Lama flew in an IAF Dhruv helicopter from Air Force Station Leh to Lingshet. He was received by Air Commodore PK Srivastava, AOC Leh and blessed the staff of the station. Sushant Singh (a contributor to The India Cable) has a broader analysis of the Chinese ingress in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh and why India should worry.
The story of the 19 missing workers from Assam working in Arunachal Pradesh on a border road project close to China, is grim. Only 10 have survived their ordeal, which shows how common forced labour is.
Kerala may not obey the NCERT decision to remove portions on the Gujarat riots and the Mughal empire from textbooks. The Kerala State Council of Educational Research and Training has told the state government that there is no need to excise these portions.
A disagreement between mobile operators and device manufacturers over embedded eSIMs has reached the government, with the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) asking DoT to order handset manufacturers to introduce eSIMs, in addition to the removeable SIM slot, in all smartphones priced over Rs 10,000. A global shortage of semiconductors has severely reduced the supply of traditional SIM cards and pushed up their price by four to five times. The situation is not likely to improve before 2024. Yesterday, the Indian Cellular Electronics Association wrote to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology that eSIMs would mean extra hardware and design changes ― and higher costs.
The Supreme Court has said that it will consider a plea seeking a lifetime ban on people convicted of offences from contesting elections and becoming MPs and MLAs. Appearing before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay, said “even a constable can lose his job after conviction”. The Centre had, in an affidavit filed in 2020, maintained in court that disqualification under the Representation of the People Act of 1951 for the period of a prison sentence and six years thereafter was enough for legislators. Yesterday, senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, the court’s amicus curiae, pointed out that a convicted MP or MLA could come back after the six-year ban and make laws. The Supreme Court is yet to hear pleas challenging electoral bonds, the reading down of Article 370 and the validity of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
Illegal loan apps have wreaked havoc in India. Users tempted by quick cash often face huge interest payments and harassment. The Save Them India Foundation, a nonprofit which helps victims of cybercrime, attributes 17 suicides over the last year to “harsh recovery tactics” used by app-based loan sharks. The RBI has released detailed guidelines to increase scrutiny and supervision of digital lending apps and lenders who engage with them. Based on the inputs from the Working Group on ‘digital lending including lending through online platforms and mobile apps’ (WGDL), the central bank has firmed up a regulatory framework for the orderly growth of digital lending.
The Union government will divert some natural gas from industries to city gas operators like Indraprastha Gas Ltd in Delhi and Mahanagar Gas Ltd of Mumbai, to check spiralling prices of CNG and piped cooking gas. The allocation for city gas operators has increased from 7.5 million standard cubic metres per day to 20.78 mmscmd. According to the Oil Ministry, the increased allocation will meet 94% of demand for CNG supplies to automobiles and piped cooking gas to households. Earlier, about 83% was met thus, and the remaining through the import of LNG by GAIL. City gas operators complained because expensive imported LNG caused frequent price hikes for CNG and piped natural gas.
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UNCTAD says that in India, 7.3% of the population owned a digital currency in 2021, ranking it seventh in the list of top 20 global economies for digital currency ownership as share of population.
A row has erupted over a poster announcing a pooja for ‘Bharat Mata’ at Mangalore University in Karnataka, with the Campus Front of India (CFI) and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) – organisations linked to the Popular Front of India – questioning the depiction of Bharat Mata holding a saffron flag against a saffron map of ‘Akhand Bharat’. The poster, circulated by the student union of Mangalore University, promises a ‘Bharat Mata Pooja’ today, to ignite the spirit of nationalism. CFI and SDPI ask why Bharat Mata is holding up a saffron flag and not the national flag, in an event celebrating India’s 75th Independence Day.
The Union government is on the back foot because of the viral video of a poor man being ordered to buy a tricolour for Rs 20 in order to get his rations. The Press Information Bureau has issued a statement saying that “no such instruction” was issued by the Government of India and the depot owner’s licence has been suspended for “violating orders of the government as well as misleading the people”.
Modi accuses the Congress of practising black magic. Ash Bagchi responds in the spirit of science.