More Unemployed Now Than During 2020 Lockdown; Pegasus Takes Wing Again
Forest report handy dodge for showing ‘green growth’, China reassesses, plays up 1962 war, spending slow on social sector & military modernisation, BJP war chest grows, Netaji hologram beats retreat
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 31, 2022
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tabled the Economic Survey of India today. The government expects industry to grow at 11.5%, services at 8.2% and agriculture at 3.9%. It forecasts FY23 real GDP growth at 8-8.5%. For perspective, last year’s survey had projected a GDP growth of 11%.
Farmers’ leader Rakesh Tikait has said that farmers would observe “Betrayal Day” today.
During the Beating Retreat ceremony, the new Netaji hologram also retreated into the dark ― it was switched off on January 28 and 29, less than a week after Prime Minister Modi inaugurated it on January 23. Organisers blamed it on the wind ― perhaps an ill one.
Partnered with Varanasi in 2014 by PM Modi, Kyoto is in danger of going broke as it struggles to offset billions of dollars in debt racked up through big-budget infrastructure projects, while tax receipts remained persistently low and millions were lost in tourism.
CMIE data shows that India has 3.03 crore unemployed people, 10 lakh more than during the 2020 lockdown. Almost 95% are under 29 and 1.18 crore are graduates. Nearly 1.24 crore youth are so disheartened that they are not seeking employment, reports Dainik Bhaskar. The data explains the scenes witnessed in Bihar and UP, and is the diametrical opposite of the election campaign of BJP’s ‘double engine sarkar’ in UP.
A year-long investigation by The New York Times has revealed that India bought the notorious Israeli cyberweapon Pegasus as part of a $2 billion arms deal with Tel Aviv. It was part of a package negotiated by former Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Indian PM Modi. The Editors’ Guild of India has written to the Supreme Court-appointed committee headed by Justice (retd) Raveendran, “to take cognisance of the claims made in these reports, and seek responses on affidavit from the Government of India, the CAG, as well as the Secretaries of all the possible ministries that may have been involved with claimed purchase of the spyware.”
The story has brought Pegasus front and centre again, and the government is not happy. A junior minister and former Army chief has termed the NYT a “supari (hit job)” newspaper. PM Modi has said that it is time to set new goals to advance India-Israel ties. Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has demanded a privilege motion against Minister for Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw for misleading Parliament on Pegasus.
Meanwhile, paranoia about the ‘foreign hand’ continues. Two fresh intelligence reports have been cited by The Tribune: “Turkey is the new Dubai as far as influence operations against Kashmir are concerned, concur security officials here who are now detecting attempts to expand its ambit to cover Indian mainland Muslims as well as raise doubts about India’s foreign policy.” Also, a report to the National Security Council Secretariat speaks of “three-pronged efforts by the Turkish government and related institutions — by media (employment to Kashmiri journalists), educational institutes (well-paying scholarships) and NGOs (influence Indian Muslims on foreign policy inimical to Indian interests).” Despite its ‘scoop’, the newspaper report does not carry the byline of anyone, which means even the reporter who wrote it up is not sure about whether the story adds up.
The I&B ministry has peremptorily revoked the broadcasting license of MediaOne, a Malayalam news TV channel, on ‘security grounds’. No explanation has been given.
“I am not forecasting a Holocaust in India. What I am saying is that the country’s PM is a textbook fascist — a word I do not throw around lightly. The warning lights for India’s 200m Muslims are flashing steadily redder and we cannot ignore what is happening,” Edward Luce writes in the Financial Times.
The Union government will privatise Delhi’s iconic hotel, The Ashok, located near the PM’s residence. Mukesh Ambani, who has long aspired to own a five star property in New Delhi, is a prospective buyer, reports The New Indian Express. His family has an association with the hotel. When Dhirubhai Ambani was building his business, he would pretend to stay at the Ashoka, with the cooperation of its helpful staff who would take messages for him.
After three years, the border forces of India and Pakistan have revived sector commander level talks. Border Security Force (BSF) and Pakistan Rangers have held two meetings in the past six months, the last one on January 5, reports The Hindu.
Ahead of the 60th anniversary of the 1962 war in October, Chinese military researchers have compiled a new history of the war, reassessing its significance and legacy, and bringing it back in the spotlight amid current tensions. The book reveals that the Communist Party of China under Chairman Mao decreed that references to the war in China could only describe it as a “self-defence counterattack”. Previous anniversaries of the war received only modest attention in China but this is changing, reports The Hindu.
Near Himachal Pradesh, large-scale development of settlements by China has been observed by satellite imagery, near disputed sections of the Sino-Indian border. Populating border areas would reinforce Beijing’s territorial claims. Some 155 structures have been counted and more are under development. One location shows a cluster of nearly 95 units being prepared. Chris Biggers of Hawkeye360 clarifies that these are well within Chinese territory.
The new chief economic advisor, who took over on Friday, has been set right by the Tamil Nadu Finance Minister for playing fast and loose with facts.
In Manipur, the BJP has given Assembly poll tickets to several former Congress MLAs, including recent recruits, upsetting BJP workers who burnt party flags, banners and effigies of leaders in several areas, including Imphal.
“Omicron eventually spread and affected nearly as much of the population as it would have without the restrictions at night and over the weekend,” a case study by the Indian Statistical Institute, Indian Institute of Science and University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute found. Restrictions slow down the spread and are pointless after the peak is past.
The Indian tricolour has been raised at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk “for the first time” ― one more of the spurious ‘firsts’ reported from J&K since the scuppering of Article 370. Outlook reminds us that the chowk, now a symbol of Kashmiri politics, is named after Moscow’s Red Square ― apparently the doing of enthusiastic communists