‘Organised Movement’ Against Census Anticipated; Biden’s SWIFT Sanction Will Produce Global Inflation
Twenty years on, shadow of Godhra across nation, intimidation in West Bengal polls, Fahad Shah rearrested, Varun turns rebel, Sonny Ramadhin dead and in Kerala, 10 of 14 district collectors are women
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
February 28, 2022
It is exactly 20 years since the train burning in Godhra, Gujarat – which resulted in the death of Hindu passengers – and the pogrom of Muslims which followed in the state under the then chief minister, Narendra Modi. The grim milestone was marked in many ways. Citizens for Justice and Peace had a cultural programme featuring TM Krishna and Naseeruddin Shah.
Siddharth Varadarajan (a contributor to The India Cable) in a separate video read out his story from 2002 about the price of love in times of hate: “I love you Geetaben from the bottom of my heart.”
The Union Finance Ministry has acknowledged the economic downturn in the country while turning down a long-pending proposal of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to enhance monetary benefits to paramilitary soldiers awarded gallantry medals. It stated that “the government is facing unprecedented financial stress due to the pandemic and it will take a few years for fiscal normalcy to return.”
The Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC), a government-owned entity, withdrew cover for shipments to Russia with effect from Friday, a huge setback for exporters. Earlier in the ‘open cover’ category, Russia is now under ‘restricted cover’. Cargo liners have stopped booking for Russian and Ukrainian ports and cruise liners have suspended landfalls in Russia. Meanwhile, India will send four ministers to Europe to oversee the return of Indian students fleeing the war in Ukraine.
India will release more crude from national stocks to support efforts by other major oil importers to curb global prices. India is the world’s third biggest oil importer and consumer, shipping in 85% of its oil needs. It has already released 3.5 million barrels of the 5 million agreed to in November, as part of US-led efforts for the coordinated release of stockpiles by major economies. While supply routes remain open, high crude prices are likely to pinch. Petrol, diesel and cooking gas rates have been on poll freeze for nearly four months but will rise after the UP polls as PSU oil firms pass on elevated global oil prices to consumers.
An excise duty cut on fuels to pre-pandemic levels would cause a revenue loss of Rs 92,000 crore to the Centre in FY23, with crude prices surging due to the Ukraine conflict, says ICRA. Central excise rates on petrol and diesel are Rs 27.9 per litre and Rs 21.8 per litre after a partial reduction in November 2021, higher than the level of July 2019-March 2020 by Rs 8 and Rs 6 per litre. India’s import bill will exceed $100 billion in the current fiscal year, almost double the spending last year, with international oil prices at a seven-year high. India spent $94.3 billion in the first 10 months (April-January) of the current financial year.
‘The Betrayal’, a white paper released by the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, alleges that the PM and Home Minister participated in a misinformation campaign about misgovernance in J&K to justify dismembering the state and erasing its special status. It calls for a reappraisal.
India could face a fourth Covid wave in mid to late June, a surge of about 4 months, IIT Kanpur scientists predict. The severity, however, would depend on the nature of the variant and vaccine coverage.
Which way will UP go? The two most powerful people from the BJP, the PM and the Home Minister, are campaigning for the Assembly polls. Most voters have already cast their ballot. Reports from Basti say that many who backed the BJP in 2017 are now rooting for change. “While Jatav Dalits are returning to the BSP, non-Yadav OBCs say they are inclined to vote for the Samajwadi Party.”
On Sunday morning, a student from Kerala said that several Indian students, mostly from his state, were beaten up by Ukrainian forces and prevented from leaving the country at the Ukraine-Poland border at Shehyni. Around 16,000 Indians, mainly students, were stranded in Ukraine when the Russian invasion began. Since then, over 900 have returned and around 15,000 remain. Ukrainian airspace has been closed for civilian flights since February 24.
The appeals by students stuck in Ukraine are heart-rending. Shockingly, the PM on Saturday wondered why Indian students “go to smaller nations” to study. People supplied a list of children of BJP’s top leaders studying abroad. The BBC reports on students of Indian and African descent being treated poorly while trying to get away.
Climate mitigation by creating additional carbon sinks through forest restoration and agroforestry would meet less than 25% of India’s Paris Agreement 2015 goals, says a new study. The potential of Indian forests is overestimated.
Future Retail’s stores were shut after Reliance Industries moved to take over and rebrand 200 of its Big Bazaar outlets following missed lease payments by the debt-laden retailer, according to Reuters. Approached by several landlords when Future Retail defaulted, Reliance had transferred the leases of some stores, which it had sublet, to itself. Future, India’s second-largest retailer, operates more than 1,700 outlets. Reliance runs more than 12,000 stores.
State-owned Bharat Broadband Nigam Ltd has cancelled a Rs 19,000 crore tender for connecting villages in 16 states with optical fibre, due to the lack of eligible bidders. The Rs 29,430 crore project was approved in June last year in public-private partnership mode.
Sonny Ramadhin, the West Indian star spin bowler, the first man of Indian origin to represent the region in cricket and largely responsible for the first-ever Test victory of the West Indies against England, has died at 92. Ramadhin’s grandparents were indentured workers in Trinidad. Hear this calypso number commemorating his role in the 1950 victory.
Linguist and Indologist Prof Colin Masica, author of the most comprehensive comparative-typological account of modern Indo-Aryan languages, has passed away.