Pakistan Policy Missing In Inaction; Index Monitoring Cell AWOL

Mahapanchayat in Lucknow today, BJP leaders say farm laws will be back, 600 illegal loan apps online, Amazon used to smuggle pot, and in UP, ‘dead’ man returns to life

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

November 22, 2021    

Pratik Kanjilal

Farmers have gathered in Lucknow for the Kisan Mahapanchayat today, which will set the course of the movement. The demands of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the umbrella body of farmers’ unions, include a blanket guarantee of minimum support price, withdrawal of the electricity amendment bill and payment of dues to sugarcane farmers. 

Nearly two years after Gen Bipin Rawat took over as Chief of Defence Staff, no clarity on the joint/theatre command structure of the armed forces is expected for another six months. Hindustan Times says that there is “resistance to change or reform by the three services and pressure from the retired ex-servicemen’s lobby”. Service chiefs are “fuelling discontent” as they “will no longer be numero uno of the respective military branches”. The Indian Air Force particularly opposes the dispersal of its meagre assets across theatre commands.  

P Sainath, a member of the government-appointed Index Monitoring Cell tracking India’s declining status on several global indices, says that shortly after he gave a 12-page dissent note in March, the committee went AWOL. No answers to RTIs, nothing to say it still exists (40:36). The 15-member committee held four meetings between May and December, 2020.

By deep-discounting, the JioMart app is targeting small stores which make up almost 80% of the Indian retail market, and thereby paupering local distributors, finds Reuters.

Wellness businessman Ramdev’s new TV channels in Nepal are in trouble. PM Sher Bahadur Deuba and Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) chairman ‘Prachanda’ launched Aastha Nepal TV and Patanjali Nepal TV on Friday, but Director General of Nepal’s Department of Information and Broadcasting Gogan Bahadur Hamal threatens action if they have built broadcasting infrastructure “without fulfilling any legal formalities or even having registered.” An investigation has begun.

One-sixth of the 30-member Joint Parliamentary Committee on Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill will be moving dissent notes, reports The Hindu. Three out of five address a clause allowing the Union government to exempt any of its agencies from the law.

Fifteen ministers, including a dozen new faces, of whom five are close to Sachin Pilot, took the oath of office yesterday in Jaipur, fulfilling a key demand of the former deputy chief minister, whose rebellion last year shook Rajasthan’s Congress government. Three Dalit ministers of state were elevated to cabinet rank, and room made for an MLA who had switched over from the BSP.

The BJP is passive aggressive about Union minister Ajay Misra Teni, whose son is in jail, charged with mowing down farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri in UP. Farmers demand his ouster. He is missing from a group photograph of the annual DGP meet in Lucknow, though he attended it. 

Indian police have charged senior executives of Amazon India under narcotics laws, alleging marijuana smuggling via the ecommerce platform. Police in Madhya Pradesh arrested two men with 20 kg of marijuana on November 14 and found they were using the Amazon India website to smuggle the substance in the guise of stevia leaves, a natural sweetener. 

Telangana has announced an ex gratia award of Rs 3 lakh to families of each of the “700-750 farmers” who died during the agitation, amounting to about Rs 22 crore. Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao also demanded that PM Narendra Modi immediately withdraw all cases filed against agitating farmers and award Rs 25 lakh each for the families of the dead.

The Serum Institute of India has urged the government to fast-track the movement of Covishield vaccines. Mounting stocks are hampering production and cold chain storage for other vaccines.

Forest guard Swati Dumane of the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve was killed by a tigress while conducting an enumeration, a reminder of the dreadful risks that conservation staff run every day.  

Zee CEO Sudhir Chaudhary faces rough weather at an event in the UAE, on account of “spreading fake news, Islamophobia, doctoring tapes”. 

A 40-year-old ‘dead’ man in UP survived almost seven hours in a mortuary freezer. Srikesh Kumar, an electrician, was hit by a speeding motorbike, declared dead at the Moradabad district hospital and put in the freezer. After his family had identified the body and agreed to an autopsy, Kumar’s sister-in-law Madhu Bala noticed signs of movement. He is recovering.

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