New Probe Puts Names and Faces to Allegations of Adani Share Price Manipulation; No Timeline for J&K Statehood Because of Disturbances in Peaceful Kashmir
Mystery Parliament session ahead, Xi may skip G20 meet, top computer cos in PLI scheme, Sanhita worse than colonial law it replaces, air pollution stunting South Asian lives, home thali costs 65% more
A newsletter from The Wire | Founded by MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sushant Singh, Sidharth Bhatia and Tanweer Alam | With inputs from Kalrav Joshi and Anirudh SK | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
Snapshot of the day
August 31, 2023
New documents obtained by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and shared with the Guardian and the Financial Times point to an offshore operation in Mauritius connected with Gautam Adani’s older brother Vinod, which was used to drive up the share price of Adani Group companies from 2013 to 2018. The Guardian says that the market regulator SEBI was informed about this in early 2014, but lost interest after the Narendra Modi government took office.
Adani companies shares have fallen ― the flagship Adani Enterprises is down 5% ― after the OCCRP report put faces to the network that the Adani brothers allegedly used to inflate the valuation of group companies. “Shares of Adani Enterprises had pared losses and were trading 2.3% lower on the BSE at Rs 2,457 as of 12:49 pm, Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone Ltd was also down 2.3% while Adani Power was 2.9% lower and Adani Green Energy was down 3.4%,” reports The Hindu.
There is speculation about Amrit Kaal after Union minister Pralhad Joshi suddenly declared a “special session” of Parliament “between 18th to 22nd September having 5 sittings.” Modi has displayed zero faith in Parliament and even in the no-confidence motion, was not there to hear others speak. Not much sweetness and light here. Also, the agenda of the session is undeclared, though parliament is being convened one day after Modi’s birthday and his party may wish to felicitate their leader for the moon landing, the G20 summit, and so on.
The G20 summit is not the crowning glory Modi had hoped for, writes Sushant Singh. The meaning of the story of the summit lies in its outcomes, the minimum being a Leaders’ Declaration issued at the summit, he says, but even that looks like a long shot now. China’s Xi Jinping, say officials quoted by Reuters and Financial Times, “is not planning to attend the G20 leaders’ summit in New Delhi next weekend and is expected to be replaced by the country’s premier, according to Western officials briefed on the situation.” That cannot help India’s hyped projections for Modiji over a rotational presidency. Bloomberg reports that “India-China tensions threaten to leave Modi empty-handed at G-20. Negotiations on the statement stumble over debt and Russian war.” It says that it is still unclear if Xi will attend.
Modi remains adamant: It is G1 ― one world, one man, one picture, one everything.
The government was expected to share a timeline for the restoration of statehood to Jammu & Kashmir today in the Supreme Court. It failed to do so but said it is ready to conduct elections whenever the Election Commission of India declares a date. Strangely, it blamed disturbances for the lack of progress, though it has been forcefully projecting the myth that the removal of special status brought peace to Kashmir. The court clarified today that it will not take the government’s claims and statistics into consideration to decide the matter, but rely on constitutional concerns alone.
After the government cut LPG prices by Rs 200, Oil Minister Hardeep Singh Puri in television interviews yesterday said the oil marketing companies had cut the price of cooking gas as “good corporate citizens” on a roll, and ducked questions about a subsidy. Industry watchers say that if benchmark rates were the criterion, the cut could have been applied in July. The decision is obviously political. Cooking gas prices have been on fire and elections are due in five states, followed by a general election.
Some 32 international computer companies have applied to India’s Production-Linked Incentive scheme to make laptops, tablets and servers in the country, Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has said. The applicants include the bestselling brands Lenovo, Dell, HP, Asus and Acer. Restricting hardware imports will bring in close to $300 million in investments and create 75,000 jobs directly, the government expects.
An RTI query by the Indian Express has revealed that nine states had written to the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare in April and May, seeking higher MSP. Diverse reasons were offered, from the pandemic to water shortages and soil degradation. The states wanted the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations.
Johnson & Johnson and Lupin in India will make their versions of the tuberculosis drug bedaquiline available at significantly cheaper prices in low and middle-income countries ― $130 and $194 for a six-month course, respectively. Médecins Sans Frontières has been consistently campaigning for treatment costs in the range of half a dollar a day. This is one of just three new formulations cleared for use against drug-resistant TB in about 40 years.
Never before were attacks on Muslims so geographically dispersed, so continuous or chillingly unpredictable, writes Vaibhav Vats in The Atlantic. “To live in India in the Modi era, now approaching a decade, is to feel in your bones the violence accelerating, its scope ever widening. The Hindu right is never more dangerous than when it feels its hold on political power becoming imperilled.”
While most countries meet electricity demand first and then switch to renewables, India is trying to do both simultaneously and failing at both. Demand began rising in July and reached record levels in August as the monsoon ended, driving shares of power companies to new heights. As demand surged, power shortages also shot up, reports LiveMint. According to data from the Grid Controller of India, the country saw a record peak shortage of 3.11 GW – that’s over 4% of peak demand – on August 21, when peak demand was 226 GW. However, a few days ago, on August 17, peak demand hit a record 234GW, with a peak shortage of over 7GW.
Fifth time’s a charm: the Union government has once again extended its deadline for compulsory Aadhaar-based payments to MGNREGS workers, this time to December 31. Earlier, the government was reportedly adamant on sticking to its September 1 deadline, despite close to 20% of the scheme’s active workers still being ineligible for the payment mode. In order to become eligible, workers must seed their job card and bank account with their Aadhaar, and ensure that their bank account is ‘mapped’ to the National Payment Corporation’s database – a process some say is overly cumbersome. Now, of 26 crore job card holders, 41.1% remain ineligible for this mode of payment. The Congress had demanded that the “Modi government should stop weaponizing Aadhaar and technology to deny the most vulnerable citizens their social welfare benefits, release the payments due to MGNREGA workers, and instead implement open muster rolls and social audits to improve transparency.
Indian Olympic Association President PT Usha will contest the Commonwealth Games Federation elections for the post of vice-president. She will be up against Hugh Graham of Cook Islands, Barry Hendricks (South Africa), Sandra Osborne (Barbados), Richard Powers (Canada), Ian Reid (Scotland) and Dr Donald Rukare (Uganda). Chris Jenkins (Wales) and Kereyn Smith (New Zealand) are seeking the presidency.
Tamil Nadu minister V Senthilbalaji turned the state’s transport department into a “corrupt chiefdom” when he headed it between 2011 and 2016, the Enforcement Directorate has alleged in a 3,000-page chargesheet. Meanwhile, two courts have refused to take up the jailed minister’s bail hearing due to a dispute over jurisdiction.
Delhi University is heading into student body elections after a break of three years. Nothing has changed in the casual vandalism and machismo of campaigning.
Students enrolling in undergraduate courses at the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose College in Kolkata will have to sign an undertaking stating that they would not wear “indecent” clothes like ripped jeans to class, reports Indian Express. The college disparages them as “torn jeans”.
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