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Now, Toronto Recognises Caste Oppression in Schools; Far Away in Australia, Sport Writers Get the Number of the Beast in India
Go First may sue Raytheon for dud engines, Delhi lawyers disgusted by Holi item dance at court, Adani F&O rally over, Campa’s ‘Great Indian Taste’ back, Narendra Modi Stadium capacity is elastic
A newsletter from The Wire | Contributors: MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia and Sushant Singh | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
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Snapshot of the day
March 10, 2023
YouTube is rife with channels running Hindutva songs which promote violence against the Muslim population in India. Platforms not only allow this, but more content is auto-generated from metadata and recordings provided to YouTube by the channels. The Columbia Journalism Review reports on Hindutva pop.
AltNews co-founder Mohammad Zubair has received a fresh flurry of online threats from Hindutva influencers after the site busted fake propaganda about attacks on migrant workers in Tamil Nadu. Among them are rightwing columnist Harshil Mehta and former OpIndia editor Ajeet Bharti. “The plan is on. This time he will be totally circumcised so much that he’ll need a pipe to urinate,” tweeted Bharti. Some users suggested lone wolf attacks and an “Akhlaq”-like offensive. In 2015, Mohammed Akhlaq was beaten to death by a mob on the suspicion of eating beef in UP’s Dadri district. Zubair has often been the target of abuse by the Hindu right, who have also filed criminal cases against him. In June 2022, he was arrested for allegedly “hurting religious sentiments” with a tweet.
Former BJP MP Harinarayan Rajbhar yesterday said gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed should be brought out of jail and killed in an encounter, and the gates of heaven would open for the policeman who does this. Once more, a call for violence whose perpetrator is promised heaven. The provocative remark comes days after Ahmed’s aides, accused in the Umesh Pal murder, were killed in separate encounters by UP Police. Police say they fired in retaliation. The Opposition Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have expressed disquiet.
On the rewriting of India’s history after 2014 through school textbooks, Seema Chishti writes in NewLines magazine that “the BJP seems unconcerned with how Islamization — beginning with textbooks that produced and encouraged a warped worldview — arguably ended up inhibiting independent thinking and reasoning, and eventually stalled Pakistan’s progress. The effects might not have been immediately visible, but after only a few years of the push toward Islamization in school textbooks, many Pakistani intellectuals now lament that their country has found itself in a quandary of its own making. The infusion of Islamization and intolerance into society has led to grave consequences. Even the army and the government have failed to keep in step with the forces that have been unleashed.”
“In India, modern institutions should have raised questions about deletions and changes in syllabi. The domination of the RSS-BJP that was bestowed on them by a more-than-comfortable political majority and broad social support among the already powerful sections of Indian society, including large industrial houses, have resulted in complete control over all political and social institutions. They have been focused on tackling education as an area of interest, making changes swiftly. The media, which could offer a different point of view or take a poll about interest in resistance, is not always free or willing to do so, barring a few independent digital outfits.”
Gideon Haigh on the bizarre scenes on the first day of the fourth cricket test match between India and Australia: “Modi Stadium, the world’s largest cricket ground, is very much in Modi’s spirit: stern, joyless, heavy on the saffron. Like the measurements of Modi’s Putinesque chest, reports of its capacity vary. Is it 110,000? Is it 130,000? In India’s Hindu triumphalist press it’s probably a million, and anyone saying otherwise is guilty of treason. The views are excellent, except in the press box, distant and obstructed — the view from which Modi looks best too.”
Sharda Ugra watched the show on TV and narrates the scenes as told by cricket commentators. “You can imagine Thursday’s balderdash go from a PMO boffin to BCCI official to Star Sports production honcho and emerge out the mouths of SundaramHaydenManjrekar. (Unless anyone would rather cringe-credit themselves.)” She asks: “Whose protocol masterstroke ensured that before the national anthems in a 75 years of Friendship Through Cricket event, the two PMs only shook hands with their respective national teams and not the opposition squad?”
On the pre-match buzz about the world record crowds, Ugra writes: “Around 4 pm reports began to pop up on the internet that a record crowd of 1 lakh had turned up to watch. Another Nolan-style mindbender is at play here: at one end of the Modi stadium, the GCA’s plaque states that ground’s capacity is 110,000. At the other end, it is 130,000. So which ground pulled in the one lakh? Which match? Could it be what we saw on our TV sets, which showed the stadium being around half-full. Or the one which two people at ground independently estimated as a crowd of “forty to fifty thousand.” Or what reporters were told by officials, “between 50-60,000.” Or that crowd which Ravi Shastri on commentary counted “50,000-plus.”
Cricket spectacle over, Narendra Modi publicly raised the issue of attacks on Hindu temples in Australia with his visiting Australian counterpart.
The Indian Navy is racing against time to get the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya battle-ready before the monsoon, with fighter operations to begin at the end of this month. The other aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, is in sea trials and will be fully operational after the monsoon. INS Vikramaditya will be handed over to the Indian Navy by March 31 after a major overhaul that began in early 2021 but was delayed by accidents. It is understood that fighter test landings and takeoffs will begin soon after the handover, and the 45,000 ton vessel with its complement of MiG-29K fighters will be battle-ready by May 2023.
With half of its fleet grounded by trouble with Pratt & Whitney engines, Go First may sue their manufacturer, Raytheon Technologies. It has sought compensation for loss of business but it was rejected by Raytheon, reports the Economic Times.
Telangana minister and BRS leader KT Rama Rao yesterday hit out at the BJP-led Union government and PM Narendra Modi over Enforcement Directorate notices to BRS MLC K Kavitha. “The Centre is behaving as if they are all relatives of Satya Harischandra and are creating drama. This government attacks the Opposition with cases and people with price hikes. I want to ask this government, whose benami is Gautam Adani? Anyone can tell you that he is the benami of Modi,’’ he added. “Hindenburg released an explosive report on Adani but no one from your government has addressed the issue. Rs 13 lakh crore of LIC, SBI vanished from the market. Whose money is LIC holding? But the PM does not make a sound about it. The finance minister is unperturbed because they have a responsibility to save their own benami.”
“If in reality, the incident was caused by those four persons and the victim had been raped, then she would have told the reporters about the accused as well as the rape,” said a special judge at the SC/ST court in Hathras, while acquitting three people and convicting one in the 2020 Hathras rape and death of a Dalit woman. Sandeep Sisodia was convicted of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment. The court also ordered him to pay Rs 40,000 to the woman’s mother. Sandeep and the other three accused – Ravi, Ramu and Luvkush – were all acquitted of rape. The court’s 167-page judgement relied on medical records and statements from prosecution witnesses, all of which were in the chargesheet filed by the CBI in December 2020. The CBI had said the 19-year-old victim was raped by four men after she turned down Sandeep’s advances. This “change in their relationship” purportedly “aggravated his feelings” and “frustrated him”. The woman gave at least two statements to the police before she died, naming the four accused. They were also named in the CBI’s chargesheet.
Toronto, Canada’s largest city, has voted to recognise that caste oppression exists in its schools, the Globe and Mail reports. The Ontario Human Rights Commission will help create a provincial framework to address caste discrimination and oppression. Sixteen trustees of the district school board voted in favour and five against. The board agreed to create a working group of people who identify as Dalit or caste-oppressed. This is the first time a school board has acknowledged caste oppression in Canada.
Several Muslim religious and political outfits in Kerala have been making hateful comments against LGBTQIA+ persons, and they face the double jeopardy of homophobia and Islamophobia within their own communities. Muslim outfits are not the only groups making transphobic or homophobic comments. In December 2022, BJP MP Sushil Kumar Modi told the Rajya Sabha that same-sex marriages are “against our culture and ethos”. “Same-sex marriages will cause complete havoc with the delicate balance of personal laws in the country,” he said and added that marriage is sacred in India and restricted to a “relationship between a biological man and woman.”
Four undertrials have died in Kupwara district jail since 2021, highlighting overcrowding and poor healthcare in Jammu & Kashmir’s prisons, which have been under constant pressure through decades of militancy and volatile politics. Prior to the scrapping of Article 370 in 2019, hundreds were jailed. Apart from overcrowding, Madhurima Dhanuka, who leads the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative’s prison reforms programme, blames the lack of medical infrastructure in jails for prison deaths across India.
An oped in the New York Times by Anuradha Bhasin, editor of Kashmir Times, on the lack of press freedom in Kashmir has made the Modi government see red. Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur accused NYT of “spreading lies”.
Yesterday, Delhi enjoyed its best air quality in five months, and it was still awful. The Air Quality Index was 119, which is classed as ‘moderate’ and means, in plainspeak, that the air wasn’t exactly sparkling like champagne.
Adani F&O rally ends
After a rally of six days, all Adani Group derivatives traded with cuts yesterday afternoon. Adani Enterprises was the biggest loser, down 5% at Rs 1,935. Adani Ports dropped over 2% to Rs 695. Ambuja Cement and ACC were down more than 1% each. Open interest in Adani Enterprises rose 2%, as traders turned bearish on the stock that’s taken a beating. Options data shows that a Rs 2,000 strike price drew huge amounts of fresh calls.
Open interest in Adani Ports also rose by over 1% and traders took fresh bearish positions. ACC went below the 20-day moving average and open interest rose 5% as prices dropped. Ambuja Cement’s put call ratio tumbled to the month’s low.
In Bhopal, BJP plays statue with Congressman Arjun Singh
Once the bête noire of the RSS, Congressman Arjun Singh’s statue in Bhopal has been inaugurated by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chauhan. This astounding appropriation took place in the presence of Congress leaders Ajay Singh, son of Arjun Singh, and Digvijaya Singh. Speaking at the function, Shivraj Singh described Arjun Singh as ‘Chanakya’, spoke of his welfare programmes for the poor, and said that a lot of Chambal dacoits had surrendered when he was CM.
Left, Cong to raise post-poll Tripura violence in Parliament
The CPI(M), CPI, and Congress have sent a joint delegation of MPs to Tripura today for a two-day visit to “violence-hit areas” from Friday to take stock of damage suffered by Opposition workers after the Assembly election results and the return of the BJP government in power. Four CPI(M) MPs ― Elamaram Kareem, PR Natarajan, Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya and AA Rahim ― CPI’s Binoy Viswam and Congress’ Gaurav Gogoi, Ranjeet Ranjan, and Abdul Khalique are to visit localities where party workers faced violence from the ruling BJP.
The parties will also raise the issue in Parliament, when the Budget Session reconvenes from recess on Monday. The leaders of CPI(M), CPI and Congress said there has been an outbreak of violent attacks on their workers and leaders in Tripura after results were declared. They said several houses and party offices were attacked.
‘The Great Indian Taste’ is back
As summer sets in early and the annual fizzy drinks tournament begins, Reliance Consumer Products has relaunched Campa in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and cola, lemon and orange flavours are available only on Reliance Group retail outlets. Pure Drinks’ Campa brands had surged to fill the void left by Coke, which was ousted by cola nationalism in the Janata Party era, and they dominated the Indian market until liberalisation readmitted phoren phizz in the 1990s. A few months ago, Reliance bought Campa from Pure Drinks for a piffling Rs 22 crore. In the Seventies, its nationalist ad slogan was ‘the great Indian taste’. It should be at home in the present.
The Long Cable
Far away in Australia, sport writers get the number of the beast in India
When a well-regarded sports writer reflects on the attitude of India’s ruling party and its ecosystem toward Muslim sportspersons, it should make everyone sit up and take note.
Cricket columnist Malcolm Conn of the Sydney Morning Herald has brought out the rich irony of Usman Khawaja’s brilliant century on day one of the fourth Test match between India and Australia, which started after the well-choreographed chariot ride around the stadium by PM Narendra Modi, accompanied by his Australian counterpart.
Conn says two standout performances on the first day were by Usman Khawaja, who scored a century, and from Mohammed Shami on the Indian side, who took two out of four wickets. Sadly, both Khawaja and Shami have been targets of bigotry flowing from the Hindu nationalist ecosystem in India.
Without mincing his words, Conn states that the “Hindu nationalist” government of the BJP sees “Khawaja not as one of Australia’s finest cricketers but as a Muslim born in Pakistan”.
Khawaja was initially refused a visa by the Indian government and couldn’t travel with the Aussie cricket team on February 1. Only later, after the Australian cricket administration intervened, did Khawaja get his visa. The fact that PM Modi was planning a triumphal chariot show may have helped Usman Khawaja get his visa after a delay. But the first instinct was to reject his visa application.
So Khawaja’s century has immense significance, scored at a venue in Gujarat named after Narendra Modi. It is also his first Test century in India. At the time of writing, he was still forcefully making a point with 180 runs on board. Indeed, Khawaja has been the best performing batsman for Australia during this series, even on pitches which favour spinners.
With his brilliant performance, Khawaja may have unwittingly provided a certain agency to the millions who feel very strongly about the divisive politics hurting India today. And sadly, such developments have touched even sports writers far away in Australia. Malcolm Conn not only empathises with Usman Khawaja but also expresses great solidarity with Mohammed Shami, who has been targeted by right wing trolls in India from time to time. He recalls how Shami was targeted for India’s loss against Pakistan in the T-20 World Cup finals 18 months ago, and captain Virat Kohli came out strongly in his support.
“Targeting someone for his religion is the most pathetic thing that a human being can do. They have no understanding of how much effort we put on the field… They have no understanding of the fact that someone like Shami has won India matches in the last few years,” Kohli had said.
Muslim cricketers have always felt pressured while playing against Pakistan. But the nature of the beast has become altogether different in recent years. Shami had received all-round support from his teammates and large sections of Indian cricket fans. “Sadly, this unswerving support for one of India’s finest was not reflected by Modi or anyone else from the BJP,” says Malcolm Conn. It’s a profoundly tragic aspect of ‘New India’.
Four schools run by the Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas, which has RSS links, will celebrate students’ birthdays according to the Hindu Samvat calendar. Their date of birth on marksheets will be according to the Vikram Samvat calendar, apart from the Gregorian. They’re keeping their tryst with destiny.
Prime Number: 17% decline
The life insurance industry’s new business premium in February 2023 was Rs 22,848 crore, according to provisional data released by the Life Insurance Council. It’s a 17% decline over February last year, but a 15% rise over February 2020. The 17% year-on-year decline came with a 15% fall in the total number of policies sold. Absolute revenue was down 14% from Rs 26,424 crore in January.
The BJP’s electoral dominance in the Northeast continues but it’s a layered reality. The Wire unpacks the numbers.
Opeds you don’t want to miss
Unless we reject the politics of hate, the BJP will continue to attack us with its hatred again and again. The need of the hour is to speak openly and unambiguously against the BJP politics of hatred, without ifs and buts, writes Apoorvanand.
Yamini Aiyar writes that without addressing the structural challenge of consensus-building and cooperation between the Centre and states, there will be no winners. The current policy’s penchant for centralisation legitimised through conditionalities is the tragedy of our reforms discourse.
In upholding press freedom, the higher judiciary needs to revive the doctrine of ‘effect and consequence’ and act against heavy-handed executive actions, writes Apar Gupta.
Arun Maira writes that the public sector is being withdrawn from infrastructure and public services with the trend of privatising public enterprises. The private sector is expected to be the producer of public benefits. Crony capitalism is baked into the market system.
The mediaeval Indian Ocean world was vastly complex, writes Anirudh Kanisetti. The more we try to maintain the idea of India as its centre, the less able are we to see that the subcontinent was one power among many, and its kings just one group of ambitious people, among many.
Vir Sanghvi writes that the BJP, despite its shrewd grasp of strategy, is increasingly a party of obsessions. Its obsession with Nehru now extends to criticising the freedom struggle.
Kalpana Sharma writes that it is expecting the impossible to believe that media, fuelled by the same corporations that back some sports, would be willing to expose the way sports federations, often run by powerful politicians, deal with sexual harassment.
Naveen Soorinje writes on what two Kannada plays teach us about self-realisation, revolution and caste. Daklakatha Devikavya far surpasses Shudra Shiva. Even as it shows the Dakkaliga community worshipping the Devi, it says that God is not the panacea that will end hunger and humiliation.
A year after schools reopened after Covid, parenting a teen has only gotten trickier. Priya Ramani offers some exam tips.
A Cop in Cricket by Neeraj Kumar is a multilayered, previously undocumented account of what corruption looks like in India’s favourite sport, writes Sharda Ugra.
How Hindenburg shorted Adani: Financial Times’ News Briefing podcast from Wednesday.
In the global Great Backyard Bird Count, India’s birders are second only to their peers in the US, sighting 1,069 species in 15 minutes.
Over and out
From distributing lipstick to reminding women to buy appliances, Indian tech companies have got International Women’s Day all wrong, finds Restofworld.org.
Several lawyers have written to the New Delhi Bar Association and the Bar Council of Delhi, objecting to Holi Milan celebrations at the Patiala House court complex, in which women performed ‘item dance numbers’. The letter said that the event hosted by the NDBA was inappropriate and sexist, and totally unbecoming of a bar association.
That’s it for today. We’ll be back with you on Monday, on a device near you. If The India Cable was forwarded to you by a friend (perhaps a common friend!) book your own copy by SUBSCRIBING HERE.