New IT Rules Being Used Without Lok Sabha’s Assent; BBC Film a Reminder That Modi Has ‘Handled’ Media, But Not All Of It
Top cops reveal China grabbing land from 2013, Greater Tipraland demand bedevils BJP in Tripura, BJP censors PM’s minority outreach, Law Minister grouses that judges don’t face vote, stamps of fauna
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, 2023
In stunning revelations, the Economic Times reports that at the recent DGP-IGP (top police officers) Conference, it has emerged that skirmishes between India and China have increased since 2013-14 and now, of 65 patrolling points (ranging from Karakoram to Chumar), India has lost patrolling access to 26 points. The report from the conference says that there is a “shift in the border under control of Indian forces…” Besides rapid infrastructure development and buildup of Chinese forces along the LAC, harsh weather and terrain is a major reason for the loss of Indian control over territory. All the buffer zones have been pushed onto the Indian side.
The Caravan has published the full report of the UK government (titled ‘Gujarat Pogrom’) that was a key input into the BBC documentary on the 2002 riots which the Modi government has banned in a misuse of ‘emergency’ provisions. Providing evidence, it states that the violence was pre-planned: “Police contacts confirmed that rioters used computerised lists to target Muslim homes and businesses. The accuracy and detail of the lists, including businesses with minority Muslim shareholding, suggest that they were prepared in advance.” It also indicts the Gujarat state government: “Chief Minister Narendra Modi is directly responsible.”
The Quad leaders’ summit is expected to be held in May this year in Sydney. This will be the third annual leaders’ summit of Quad members India, Australia, Japan and the US. Tokyo played host to the last summit in May 2022.
India’s export of organic products has dropped by 39% on a quarterly basis and the number of certified companies authorising such shipments has dipped by 63% since July 2022. The decline follows its decision to end a 15-year-old agreement with India’s Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) to provide accreditation to agencies exporting organic products to the US. The USDA said its Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) ended the arrangement in January 2021 since audits by the US National Organic Program (NOP) consistently found India’s organic control system “to be insufficient to protect the integrity of the USDA organic seal”.
Hindu religious scriptures and epics such as the Bhagavad Gita, the Vedas and Upanishads will be taught in government schools in Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said yesterday. These are invaluable holy texts and they help in building moral character, he said at an event organised by Vidya Bharati, the educational wing of the RSS, in Bhopal.
Chinese commercial entities in India being used by Beijing to collect personal data to gain “economic control” and “influence minds” was among the key topics discussed at the ongoing annual police conference in Delhi. Since 2020, intelligence agencies have revealed a “disturbing picture” of the role of Chinese commercial entities. Investigations began after the June 15, 2020, Galwan clash in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed by the PLA. “Managing influence of Chinese commercial entities” was discussed on Sunday during the Director General of Police conference. The Intelligence Bureau has created a China Coordination Centre to collaborate with financial enforcement agencies to investigate Chinese companies. “Chinese influence in the neighbourhood and implications for India” was also listed for discussion.
The Supreme Court yesterday agreed to examine a plea to constitute a three-judge bench to consider petitions challenging the hijab ban in classrooms of pre-university colleges in Karnataka. The bench headed by CJI DY Chandrachud said, “This is a three-judge matter. We will do it.” In October last year, the Supreme Court gave a split verdict on petitions challenging the validity of Karnataka’s hijab ban. It was delivered by a bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia.
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A Supreme Court Bench of Justices SK Kaul and AS Oka yesterday dismissed a petition challenging the formation of a Commission of Inquiry to examine whether Scheduled Caste status can be accorded to Dalit Christians and Muslims. The petitioner argued that the Union government had over the years formed multiple commissions on this subject, dating back to the first Backward Classes Commission (1955), which had already supported the move: “The appointment of a new commission is with the wrong intention of delaying justice on the petition pending in this honourable court.” The Supreme Court is already hearing a batch of petitions seeking SC status for Dalit Christians and Muslims. Pending since 2004, they challenge the constitutional validity of paragraph 3 of the Constitution (Schedule Caste) Order of 1950, which limits SC status to Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist Dalits. The National Commission for Minorities and National Commission for Scheduled Castes had supported the move in 2011 and 2012, but the Modi government has opposed it in multiple affidavits.
In his latest salvo against the higher judiciary, Law Minister Kirin Rijiju has said, “Judges don’t face elections.” He also reminded his audience that thanks to social media, the people now have the power to speak. It is not like the old days, when they had no platform and only “neta log (leaders)” could speak.
Other than the UAPA, at least seven other laws criminalise livelihood, culture and identity ― all of which go against the values enshrined in the Constitution, say experts.
Former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray yesterday announced an alliance with Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi as he prepares for the Mumbai civic polls, the first major election since the Shiv Sena was split last year, bringing down the MVA government. Prakash Ambedkar said the Congress is yet to join the alliance and hoped that Sharad Pawar’s NCP would, too.
In a series of tweets, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari said that during PM Modi’s trip to Mumbai, he asked to be relieved of all political responsibilities. He does not seem to know that he is the President of India’s appointee, not the PM’s.
JNU yesterday asked students to cancel a screening of the BBC documentary India: The Modi Question, after the Centre issued directions for blocking YouTube and Twitter posts linking to the film. The administration said it might “disturb peace and harmony of the university campus”, and that no prior permission was taken.
Climate scientists believe El Niño, which generally occurs every 3-5 years, could cause global temperatures to briefly cross the 1.5°C threshold, Business Standard reported yesterday. The phenomenon arises when sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean rise. “Just how severe El Niño will be and whether it will happen will be clearer by March,” Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director-general of the India Meteorological Department, told the newspaper.
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