Opposition's I.N.D.I.A. to Take on Modi's NDA in 2024; In India’s Richest State, Rural Minimum Wage Has Risen Only Rs 50 in Seven Years
Assam CM faces FIRs from across spectrum, Internet shutdowns in G20 talks, rupee-dirham won’t pay for Russian oil, Northeast rice prevents lifestyle diseases, kanwariyas choke Haridwar with garbage
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 | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
Snapshot of the day
July 18, 2023
The Opposition now has a new identity and acronym – INDIA, standing for Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance – which the 26 parties who met in Bangalore today and yesterday hope to wield in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections against the BJP-led NDA, or National Democratic Alliance. There is strength in unity and in forging a broad platform but the challenge will be to reach elusive seat sharing deals in large states like Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal and smaller ones like Delhi and Punjab. INDIA may also need a face to take on the NDA’s Narendra Modi. Harish Khare writes that Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge could be the name to watch.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has done the impossible ― he’s put the CPI(M) and the Trinamool Congress on the same page. He is fielding hate speech FIRs and court petitions left, right and centre, in response to his bizarre claim that Muslim cultivators and traders of produce are responsible for spiralling prices. He has encouraged ‘Assamese’ (read Hindu) youth to get into the business and drive the ‘Miyas’ out of it. A minorities organisation, the Asom Sankhyalaghu Sangram Parishad, was first off the blocks, followed by Rajya Sabha MP and crusader against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act Ajit Kumar Bhuyan. The state unit of the CPI(M) also filed an FIR, and the Assam Trinamool Congress wrote to the Chief Justice of India seeking judicial action on the basis of the April 28 order of the Supreme Court, which directs states to register cases suo motu against hate speech.
The Union government told the Supreme Court that the Delhi Services Ordinance, 2023, was urgently promulgated because the AAP government was “paralysing” the capital on the eve of G20 events, which would have cast India’s presidency in a poor light. The bench led by the Chief Justice of India is inclined to refer the matter to a Constitution bench.
India’s frequent internet shutdowns came up in a discussion on ‘Internet Governance-National Responsibility and Global Commons’, at the recent G20 meet on cybersecurity, with FOSS activist Nneena Nwakanma, associated with Geneva-based International Digital Health and AI Research Collaborative, saying that India should “stop shutting down the internet anytime …I haven’t seen any case of internet shutdowns being taken to Parliament, nor is there any empirical evidence of economic returns (by imposing bans). Still, if law enforcement agencies need to impose a ban, they must follow the due process of law and elected representatives should be able to explain to their voters the reasons for such bans. [An] Internet ban is one of the greatest dangers in building trust among the public.”
Family members of some of the eight Indian Navy veterans in detention and under trial in Qatar have filed a mercy petition with the country’s Emir, seeking their pardon. The petition was prompted by the veterans’ age – most are over 60 – and the lack of clarity about their alleged crimes and the duration of due process. A report by The Sunday Guardian suggests that the petition was filed before June 4. Although the Qatar government has not yet officially announced what the veterans have been charged with, The Tribune reported in April that they’ve been accused of spying for Israel and face the death penalty.
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For the second day in a row, the splinter group MLAs of the Nationalist Congress Party led by Ajit Pawar met with party patriarch Sharad Pawar at the YB Chavan Centre in Mumbai on Monday. A senior leader from the Pawar Sr camp told the Hindu that the meeting was unplanned and Sharad Pawar was unaware of Ajit Pawar’s faction coming to see him. “He was on his way to the Chavan Centre when Ajit Pawar and other MLAs came. He was not expecting them today. It was a surprise visit,” he said.
Ajit Pawar is an attraction today, along with Praful Patel and Chirag Paswan, at the NDA’s 38-partner conclave, in response to the Opposition’s 26-party meet, which is a sequel to the meet in Patna where Opposition unity was forged.
At the G20 meet, Secretary of the US Treasury Janet Yellen has said that the US and India would work together to develop an investment platform for cheaper capital and more private investment in India’s energy transition.
UAE Ambassador Abdulnasser Alshaali has clarified to The Hindu that the rupee-dirham deal is meant to ease settlements in bilateral trade, and is not part of any grand plot to unseat the dollar from its preeminence in international trade. Specifically, it will not be used to pay for Russian oil.
On the ground, Soutik Biswas tries to understand what happened in Manipur: how did friends and neighbours become mortal foes overnight?
Former Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy of the Congress party has died. Aged 79, he was the longest-serving MLA in Kerala.
The event management company handling G20 summit events in Goa has sent a defamation notice to the Mario Gallery, demanding Rs 25 crore for allegedly tarnishing its reputation, O Heraldo reports. This was in response to Mario Gallery’s July 2 notice to the event management agency and the Goa chief secretary alleging unauthorised use of Mario Miranda’s artwork for the promotion of G20 events. The cartoonist’s work is still being used.
Illegal detentions in which the police prevent individuals from leaving their homes has become increasingly common across India. Now, a Delhi University student activist has challenged this shady practice in the Delhi High Court.
The Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology in Guwahati has established that the fragrant Joha rice, cultivated only in the Northeast, prevents or delays the onset of Type 2 diabetes and also reduces the incidence of cardiovascular disease because it is rich in unsaturated fatty acids. The organisation has set out to test the validity of folk claims about the medicinal properties of the rice.