Netaji, Who Opposed Hindutva, Holographically Appropriated; Why Pouring Public Money in Vodafone is Dodgy Idea
Tableau rejected, DMK turns to film, states oppose IAS posting rules, EC double standards on display, first state bird atlas compiled, camels in detention, herders get bail
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 24, 2022
For the first time since 1950, ‘Abide with Me’ will not be played at the Beating the Retreat ceremony. Gandhi’s favourite English hymn has been replaced by ‘Ae mere watan ke logon’, on the pretext that only Indian tunes should be played. For a ceremony that is of colonial origin and uses marching bands, this is a bizarre excuse. It’s just exorcising a Christian hymn from a de facto Hindu Rashtra. “For five decades, the 1847 composition has been the heartbeat of Beating the Retreat. It is deeply soothing and healing in its quiet impact. Without the song, the ceremony will lose something at its heart,” says Gopalkrishna Gandhi.
At India Gate, under the canopy which once sheltered King George V and has been untented since the colonial age ended, a hologram of Subhas Chandra Bose appeared yesterday, on his 125th birth anniversary. With a laser and mirrors, the Modi government sought to douse residual anger over the Amar Jawan Jyoti being extinguished. Several statues of Bose are prominent across Delhi, from the Red Fort to Parliament, so this is essentially an act of appropriation of the national leader, who was opposed to the Hindu right in his time. Modi is a hologram warrior, and now he would have Netaji appear in 3D with him, when the latter can no longer resist the outrage. Unsurprisingly, even the committee set up to draw up programmes to mark Bose’s 125th birth anniversary was also not told or consulted about this.
In 2005, Tokyo’s Renkoji temple gave permission to Indian authorities to conduct DNA tests on ashes said to be those of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, according to a fresh translation of a letter. It refutes claims that the temple was “reticent” and places doubts on the Justice Mukherjee commission of enquiry’s ruling that the ashes were not Netaji’s, says Madhuri Bose, his grandniece.
On Friday, US President Joe Biden accepted Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio’s invitation to visit Tokyo in the first half of 2022, and the Quad summit is expected to be held in May with a free and open Indo-Pacific, the Covid-19 response, climate change, clean energy and infrastructure on the agenda. The last Quad summit was held on September 24, 2021, in Washington.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that his government is doing all it can, working closely with the US, to stop human smuggling. He said this a day after a family of four Indians, including an infant, died of exposure while trying to cross the border from Canada to America. Survivors had no English but spoke Gujarati, said The National Post. The dead appear to have been from Dingucha village, Gandhinagar. Trudeau termed the incident a “mind-blowing” tragedy. With information from court documents, the Toronto Globe and Mail has mapped out the deadly trek to the US border ― hours of marching in severe weather.
The first team of researchers to conduct a molecular-level structural analysis of the Omicron spike protein includes Indian-origin Dr Sriram Subramaniam, professor in UBC Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Subramaniam said that Omicron has greater binding affinity than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus, and it is comparable to that of the Delta variant. The Hindu reports that it could “help accelerate the development of more effective treatments against the variant.” INSACOG has finally declared that Omicron is in community transmission mode. On Delta, Indian authorities had kept resisting calling it community transmission.
More evidence emerges from ICE360 Survey2021 that under the Modi government, in a trend unprecedented since economic liberalisation, the annual income of the poorest 20% of Indian households, which had risen constantly since 1995, plunged 53% in the pandemic year 2020-21 from 2015-16 levels. In the same five-year period, the income of the richest 20% households grew 39%. While the richest 20% accounted for 50.2% of total household income in 1995, their share has jumped to 56.3% in 2021. The share of the poorest 20% dropped from 5.9% to 3.3% in the same period.
Hindustan Unilever Ltd CMD Sanjiv Mehta sees rural India in slowdown mode, and calls for government support. He suggests that the government should not only continue the current outlay on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, which provides 100 days of employment in rural areas, but also increase it. In Parliament in 2015, the PM had mocked MGNREGA as “a living monument to your (Congress’) failure”. Now, it is the mainstay of a flagging economy.
Could the new tea law go the way of the farm laws? The draft Tea (Development and Promotion) Bill, 2022 mooted by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to replace the 1953 Tea Act is a bitter brew for unions. They say that it would impact the livelihoods of over a million tea workers and small growers. The ministry offered a brief 11-day window to record public responses to the draft Bill.
Mining is losing its prominence in Goan elections, giving way to issues like real estate and casinos, reports Mongabay. The sector features less in campaigning, reflecting its waning influence.
Radhika Bordia reports that in Meerut, a Hindu woman resisted Hindutva groups’ pressure to file a false case against a Muslim man. The groups claim that the man harassed the woman in an upscale market. The woman says he’s an acquaintance and they were just having a cold drink together.
Kerala has compiled a scientific bird atlas, the first state-level initiative. It has created solid baseline data about the distribution and abundance of various bird species across major habitats. It may be Asia’s largest bird atlas in terms of geographical extent, sampling effort and species covered.
Police in Amravati, Maharashtra are holding 58 camels “in detention”. They have also arrested their herders – who’ve managed bail – from Kachchh on charges of cruelty to the animals.