OIC Raises Kashmir, Rajnath Says Full J&K Integration Needs Gilgit-Baltistan; Oliver Twist’s Day in Court, Or the Criminalisation of Equity
Raghuram underlines employment crisis, after Gambia horror, US FDA finds Lupin biotech wanting on 17 counts, Hugging Amma chair of India’s C20, thieves pray on CCTV before looting temple and bank
A newsletter from The Wire & Galileo Ideas | Contributors: MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia, Sushant Singh and Tanweer Alam | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
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Snapshot of the day
October 28, 2022
In sharp contrast to the radio silence of the Modi government on the Chinese ingress in Ladakh, let alone other areas of Ladakh that have been under China’s control for decades now, the rhetoric on Pakistan is full-throated. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh yesterday said the mission for full integration of J&K that started on August 5, 2019, “will be complete when Gilgit-Baltistan and areas of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) will reunite with India.” Singh was speaking in Budgam to commemorate the Indian Army’s successes in J&K on October 27, 1947, the day after India signed the Instrument of Accession with former J&K ruler Hari Singh.
China yesterday said India and Pakistan should resolve the Kashmir issue through dialogue and consultations and avoid taking “unilateral actions”, and that China’s position on the Kashmir issue has been “consistent and clear”.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) yesterday issued a statement reiterating its solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their “quest for the right to self-determination”. The OIC timed its statement with October 27, the day the Indian Army landed at Srinagar airport in 1947. It urged India to halt and reverse the actions taken on August 5, 2019, such as the status of J&K’s territory and its demographic structure.
The Business Confidence Index (BCI) has dropped for the second successive quarter in FY23. It was 132.5 in the second quarter, down from 138.5, according to the latest round of the Business Expectation Survey. The index, which covers around 500 companies and has been conducted since 1991, reveals that although it has recovered from the pandemic lows, the sentiment on three of four components softened — ‘overall economic conditions will be better in the next six months’, ‘present investment climate is positive’, and ‘present capacity utilisation is close to or above optimal levels’.
Russia had emerged as one of the top five exporters of steel to India in April-September, with imports jumping 223% year-on-year. The other top exporting nations to India are Korea (1.09 mt), China (0.6 mt), Japan (0.28 mt) and Indonesia (0.13 mt).
Last night, PM Narendra Modi called new British PM Rishi Sunak, coinciding with the arrival of UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly for a special meeting of the UN Counter Terror Committee in Mumbai and Delhi. “Glad to speak to Rishi Sunak today… We will work together to further strengthen our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. We also agreed on the importance of early conclusion of a comprehensive and balanced FTA,” said Modi. Sunak described himself as “a visual representation of the historic links between the UK and India”, but the Indian government would be concerned about the reinstatement of sacked Home Secretary Suella Braverman, whose comments on immigration and Indians overstaying visas had miffed New Delhi.
The trade deal negotiation is stalled for six months. “It is also important to recognise that India isn’t exactly the first item on Sunak’s agenda,” writes former Indian High Commissioner to London Navdeep Suri. Sunak “being a Hindu or Braverman being a Buddhist means little in the context of geopolitics and national interests.”
Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland has welcomed India’s “potentially transformational” offer to share Unified Payments Interface (UPI) technology with other Commonwealth states.
The controversial Hugging Amma, or Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, has been appointed Chair of India’s Civil 20 (C20), an official engagement group of the G20, by the Modi government. The C20 brings non-government and non-business voices to G20 leaders. India is to assume chairmanship of G20 on December 1 for a year.
“Manufacturing generates just 14% of Indian GDP, compared with 21% in Bangladesh and 27% in China. What industry India does have tends to cluster in the south and west. Uttar Pradesh is home to about 17% of India’s population, but has only 9% of its industrial jobs… Of the 11 companies that make products for Apple in India only one is in the north. Six, including the manufacturer of the new iPhone 14, are in Tamil Nadu alone,” reminds The Economist.
The RBI yesterday announced a special meeting of its Monetary Policy Committee on November 3 to discuss retail inflation, which has stayed above the central bank’s upper bound for nine months. It had touched an eight-year high of 7.79% in April, and in September it was 7.41%. RBI aims to keep inflation down to 2-6%.
India’s coal usage and emissions in 2021 exceeded pre-pandemic 2019 levels. India is the world’s third-largest carbon emitter, though per capita emissions are low, according to a new UN report. New and updated pledges to cut emissions will take less than 10% off projected 2030 levels, while a 45% reduction is needed.
Two months after the Election Commission of India sent its opinion on an office-of-profit complaint against Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren, Governor Ramesh Bais, appointed by the BJP, has not disclosed it and it continues to fuel uncertainty. He has now told Bharat TV that he does not rule out an “atom bomb explosion” in the Diwali season.
The Andhra Pradesh High Court has reiterated that the right to contest elections is not a fundamental right but only a statutory right.
If a married woman is asked to do household work for the family, that cannot be equated to the work of a maidservant and would not amount to cruelty, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has ruled.
Poll strategist Prashant Kishor claims that he has been receiving support and financial help from six chief ministers to drive his political campaign in Bihar.
A day after the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee under the Union Environment Ministry cleared a proposal for the commercial cultivation of GM mustard, the RSS farmers’ body Bharatiya Kisan Sangh has opposed the move for fear of cancer.
An unsavoury incident at Miranda House in Delhi University has led the proctor to make police permission mandatory for all campus events. It is not clear if talks, seminars, performances and protests are among events covered in the advisory.
Restofworld.org reports that India’s homegrown TikTok clones are struggling to replicate Bytedance’s success. Creators are instead moving to.
“Modiji is like an avatar… No one can compete with him. If he wishes, he can remain the prime minister all his life,” UP minister and Chandausi MLA Gulab Devi told reporters. “He is such an extraordinary personality. God has sent him as his representative.”
Supreme Court turns down Teni
The Supreme Court has declined to transfer an appeal against the 2004 acquittal of Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’ in a murder case from the Allahabad High Court’s Lucknow bench to the principal bench in Prayagraj. The minister requested transfer because his senior lawyer lived in Allahabad and could not travel on account of his old age. Chief Justice of India Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice Bela M Trivedi declined the request on October 21. The case pertains to the murder of Prabhat Gupta, 24, in Lakhimpur Kheri in 2000.
US FDA finds Lupin biotech wanting
The US drug regulator has flagged quality and procedural lapses at Lupin Ltd’s biotech manufacturing facility in Pune, Maharashtra. “The US FDA conducted a prior-approval inspection at Lupin’s biotech manufacturing facility in Pune, India in October 2022. The inspection concluded with the issuance of a Form 483 with 17 observations,” the company said in an October 19 exchange filing. A Form 483 is issued when investigators perceive a violation of the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act and Related Acts.
The FDA’s observations include: Did not make adequate product evaluation and take remedial action where actionable microbial contamination was found; protective apparel such as head and face covering was not worn as necessary to protect the drug product from contamination; procedures for decontamination of material going into manufacturing rooms are insufficient; examination and testing of samples did not assure that the drug product and in-process material conformed to specifications.
Raghuram underlines employment crisis
Former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan has expressed concern about “really alarming” unemployment in India and said the government must promote labour-intensive sectors. “It’s not about bombastic ‘oh we have arrived, we are the fifth biggest economy in the world’. It is about doing the hard work that is necessary to support the kind of jobs we need. And the jobs situation, I would say, is really alarming," Rajan said in a conversation with students of IIM Ahmedabad.
“People leave agriculture for services and manufacturing. Here, over the last couple of years, we have seen people go back to agriculture. So the unemployment numbers are in a sense misleading because they don’t account for this effective underemployment of people who have gone back into agriculture,” he said. Rajan continued his criticism of the PLI scheme: “How do you expect to have a decent export strategy when in fact you are subsidising arbitrarily, raising tariffs arbitrarily; some bureaucrat decides whom to benefit and whom not to benefit, who knows on what basis… And I don't think we have any idea, despite claims by some of our ministers, that this (PLI scheme) actually works…”
Quad setting standards for tech collaboration
The Quad has been working on setting standards for emerging and critical technologies for more collaboration between the four member countries and to counter China’s dominance in tech. For instance, in 5G, the Quad members have worked on developing telecommunications networks to counter the pervasive presence of China’s Huawei through the use of open radio access networks (O-RAN). In digitalisation, the work has focused on improved flow of data while ensuring privacy and on linking networks such as those used for digital payments.
The Long Cable
Oliver Twist’s day in court, Or the criminalisation of equity
“Submissions should be limited to law and not be political” ― a common refrain in the courts.
The prosecuting state’s behaviour towards its prisoners has been erratic. It opposes, tooth and nail, bail for political activists like Jyoti Jagtap or Umar Khalid, who are alleged to have ‘ignited passions’ and provoked violence. But the state does not seem to be at all bothered about actual rioters. The nonchalance with which it granted remission to certain ‘political rapists and murderers’ bears out this arbitrariness.
When I read law at university, I had found a slim volume called An Introduction to Political Philosophy, which has held me in good stead ever since. The book describes politics as centring on two questions: ‘who gets what?’ and ‘says who?’ The first question is about the distribution of rights and resources: which material resources, like education and health, the environment, minerals, etc. should be deemed ‘public goods’ and belong equally to all; or should only those who pay income tax have any moral claim to them?
Beyond material resources, politics also asks: how should rights and freedoms be distributed? Should some people have more freedoms than others? And finally, what would be the basis of such distribution?
Political philosophy holds that ‘who gets what’, and ‘in what measure’ is decided by those with political power. Political power sometimes defers to the Constitution on the question and accepts affirmative action and special rights for protected groups. At other times, it yields only to majoritarian sentiments, or to hard economics.
Politics involves itself with the tussle of power that finally determines how things will come to be distributed.
Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist (1837) describes how the master served meagre portions of food to the boys in the parish orphanage, keeping most of it for himself. In a poignant scene, Oliver Twist, ‘miserable and lonely’, and ‘tired and hungry’ walks up to the master: “Please sir, may I have some more?”
‘The master hit Oliver’s head with the ladle, then pinioned him to the wall and shrieked for reinforcements. “Ungrateful boy!” he hissed.’ The Board was immediately convened: ‘they sat in solemn conclave. “What, he wanted more?” “What a criminal mind! That boy will be hung”.’ Oliver was deemed very dangerous and ordered into solitary confinement, still quite hungry.
Oliver’s was a political act. But the elaborate response to his demand was deeply political too. The display of shock and fear at Oliver’s request for more equitable distribution; his categorisation as an ungrateful criminal; the claim that his behaviour would have a deleterious effect on other impressionable minds; the assertion that his sudden act caused physical discomfort to the master, causing his eyes to pop out and his blood pressure to soar; and finally, the physical incarceration of Oliver were all [counter] political acts.
Politics is thus the consciousness that the powers that be are not fairly distributing rights and resources, and then trying to spread that consciousness through discursive activity and mobilisation. Politics is equally the business of obstructing change and freezing the status quo by dismissing ‘politics of change’ as anarchic, or ‘conflict entrepreneurship’, or anti-national.
There is an instructive paragraph in the order denying bail to Jyoti Jagtap:
‘We have carefully gone through the transcript of the stage play enacted by Kabir Kala Manch members. On reading the same, we are afraid to state that the role played by KKM and its activists on the date of event was not only aggressive, but also highly provocative and clearly designed to incite hatred and ignite passion. There are a number of innuendos in the text / words / performance of KKM which are pointed directly against the democratically elected government, for seeking to overthrow the government, ridicule the government, excerpts of which need to be mentioned here in order to highlight the role of Appellant. These pertain to songs / phrases / questions asked and answers given and performance ridiculing phrases like; “Acche din”, “Gomutra”, “Shakahar”, “the Prime-Minister referred to as an “infant”, “the PM’s travelogy”, “RSS dress/outfit”, “Policies like Demonetization”, “Sanatan Dharma”, “Ram Mandir” [...]’
It’s reminiscent of the master’s discomfort in Oliver Twist.
It may not appear that way at first blush, but to frame discursive challenges to establishment politics as fraudulent, funded and motivated, are very much political responses, even when they are brought to court as criminal cases.
Such prosecutions unselfconsciously criminalise political action. Borrowing from the ‘Parish Board school of thought’, the state unabashedly makes arguments that a person should be charged for building a political consciousness that is critical of the status quo; for it causes social fissures that lead to violence. It is like the Board sending Oliver into confinement for having unduly excited the master. It is the political language of an incarceral state in its treatment of ‘politics of change’. Equally, the state shows a benevolent indifference towards actual incidents of violence that conform to the politics of the day.
In case after case, the primary charge is one of ‘conspiracy to further political propaganda’ [presumably, that something is amiss in terms of equitable distribution of rights and resources], and to mobilise the counterpublic, which would result in disturbances.
One would think it is the political duty of citizens to challenge power, if they feel it is too centralised. There would be no social fissures, or violence either, if governments in power would cede more space to alternative discourses and allow for political challenge. Dissent and debate are normalised, and happily accommodated in democratic cultures.
On the contrary, acts of public protest are not seen as ‘petty violations’ but ― again in the ‘parish orphanage tradition’ ― as apocalyptic, no less than a terrorist conspiracy to further the idea that everyone is not getting equitable treatment. These are not legal arguments; these are political arguments being made by the best law officers.
The courts often ignore such puerile arguments and grant bail where they can. But I wish they would do more: I wish they’d recognise the arrests as a systemic pro-establishment political act, and then tell the state not to bring politics to the courts.
(Shahrukh Alam is a Supreme Court advocate)
The scarcity of IPS officers in Jammu & Kashmir is so acute that the government has reportedly decided to promote 13 SSPs as officiating DIGs, though they are not eligible, having less than 14 years of service. Against the 29 sanctioned posts of DIGs, there are 20 vacancies, says Dilip Cherian. Three officers from the 2009 batch and 10 from the 2010 batch may be promoted as officiating DIGs. These officers are being promoted as officiating DIGs after 13 and 12 years, respectively, and will be confirmed after they complete 14 years of service. Maximum governance!
Prime Number: 23%
Russia’s share of India’s oil imports surged to an all-time high of 23% in September from 19% the previous month while that of the Middle East countries declined to 56.4% from 59%.
The uncritical tone of the NITI Aayog’s recent report on the gig economy in India and its belief that platformisation will create an inclusive work environment is either naive or deliberately overlooks the erosion of workers’ rights, security and welfare. Asiya Islam and Damni Kain deconstruct it at The India Forum.
Op-Eds you don’t want to miss
The prime challenge before CJI DY Chandrachud will be to manifest the constitutional vision as majoritarian rule seeks to arrest modernity and cement traditional hierarchies, writes Manu Sebastian.
Territory is everything, India’s just retired army chief Gen MM Naravane writes about Ukraine and the future of war.
As Indians celebrated the appointment of ethnic Indian and practising Hindu Rishi Sunak as British PM, Vasuki Shastry examines the unappreciated irony of Sunak’s achievement, set against the politics and society of India today.
Anand K Sahay writes that the Bharat Jodo Yatra is already making its opponents nervous. The BJP announced a yatra in Gujarat but quickly scrapped it, fearing unfavourable comparison with the real thing.
Mallikarjun Kharge will need a strong team to deliver, writes Vinod Sharma.
What AAP is doing with its pro-RSS Hindutva strategy was attempted by Mamata Banerjee, particularly after the 2019 LS elections, by exhibiting the Hinduness of the Trinamool Congress, writes Diptendra Raychaudhuri.
Vir Sanghvi writes that Arvind Kejriwal is too much of a flyweight to be the next Hindu Hriday Samrat. But the fact that he feels obliged to try and earn that title tells us something about India today.
With election fever slowly picking up in the states, inflation is the main villain; all the government’s and RBI’s guns are likely to be aimed at that, even if that means compromising growth in the short term, says Mint.
The intersection of longer-term structural crises and shorter-term tactical political contestations is not new in Pakistan. Nevertheless, the past few months have been unusual, writes TCA Raghavan.
Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay writes that cheerleaders within India must have no illusions that Sunak or for Kamala Harris would act as citizens of the countries that trusted them with the position, and not as persons of Indian origin or as Hindus. That identity is limited to the personal domain, unlike in India, where religious identity is the basis of politics.
Alok Sheel writes that policy makers try to best the global indices rather than using the data as valuable inputs for policy corrections. They are concerned about the country’s international image, rather than national well-being.
Debal Deb explains why government programmes to promote natural farming are inadequate.
Ian Chappell writes that Team India have a huge T20 World Cup battle on the bouncy Perth pitch against South Africa on Sunday.
Ananth Krishnan on the key takeaways from the Chinese Communist Party Congress and what Xi Jinping obtaining a third term as general secretary means for the rest of the world.
India’s thriving scam industry: ‘Before You Call Tech Support’. Watch this CNA documentary
Over and Out
The testimony of an Indian child who saw his father and grandparents murder his mother in their living room when he was four has led to their imprisonment for life. A court in Aligarh sentenced the boy’s father, Ashok Singh, and his paternal grandparents, Munnalal and Savitri Singh, for the murder of Sadhna Singh in 2015 in a dispute over a dowry payment.
A thief was caught on CCTV cameras stealing from a Hanuman temple in Madhya Pradesh, but not before praying to the deity. In a similar incident, in May, a gang of thieves allegedly performed puja before looting a Kerala bank of gold and cash worth Rs 34 lakh.
Within hours of her birth at 05:05 on May 11, 2000 in Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital, Aastha Arora was presented to the world as India’s “billionth citizen”. Government ministers were photographed cradling the infant, wrapped in a soft pink blanket. Twenty-two years later, BBC visits her again.
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.