Pegasus Report Submitted, May Be Heard August 12; Opposition and FM Talking Apples and Pears on Economy
Smriti Irani economical with truth, FIR for multifaith school prayer, beef off menu is ‘food discrimination’, class I student offers Modi inflation lesson, and it’s official ― eggs make kids healthier
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
August 2, 2022
A three-member panel probing whether Israeli spyware Pegasus was used against politicians, journalists and activists in India submitted its report to the Supreme Court nearly a week ago. Its contents are confidential. The panel was formed under the supervision of Justice RV Raveendran, who has since retired. The case may be listed on August 12 before a bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.
Smriti Irani and her daughter are not owners of the Goa restaurant ‘Silly Souls’, the Delhi High Court has ruled, based largely on submissions made by the minister, without feeling the need to probe if she was being economical with the truth. It turns out that the eatery and bar operates from the same premises as the company Eightall Food and Beverage, controlled by Irani’s husband and family. They share the same GST number too, and Eightall’s balance sheets and P&L account show that it sold alcohol and food. The issue is a notice sent by the Goa excise commissioner, stating that the restaurant had obtained an illegal licence to sell liquor.
Months after a row broke out in Tamil Nadu over the exclusion of beef from a biryani fest at Ambur, a state commission has said that avoiding it at a government event amounts to “discrimination”. The Tamil Nadu State Commission for Adi Dravidar and Scheduled Tribes said it had received a complaint from a local Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) labour front functionary of “food discrimination” against the significant SC population living in and around Ambur.
Six years after demonetisation, the cash economy is thriving. An indicator is a whopping 107 times increase in the number of seized fake currency notes of Rs 2,000 denomination between 2016 and 2020
Some 147.5 million were employed in agriculture in July 2022 compared to 163.8 million in July 2021 and July 2020. It is lower than the average 154 million employment in agriculture in the 12 months ended June 2022. The industrial sector lost 0.2 million jobs in July after having lost 4.3 million in June. The service sector lost 2.8 million jobs in July after having lost 0.8 million in June, reminds Mahesh Vyas of CMIE about the high state of unemployment across sectors.
There has been a drop of 35.46 lakh hectares in land under kharif paddy this year because the spread of the monsoon has been uneven. There could be some improvement in coverage but at least 10 mt of rice production is at risk.
The government could lower import duty on wheat to contain prices in the festival season, which starts this month. India levies 40% on wheat. Liquidating some stocks from the central pool and curbs on excess holding could be considered. But higher import duty won’t help, traders say, because the globally landed price of Indian wheat is Rs 3,000 per quintal, while it is selling domestically at Rs 2,700-2,750 per quintal.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Shahbaz Gill alleged yesterday that Pakistan PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had received kickbacks of 140 million Pakistani rupees from an Indian company when he was Nawaz Sharif’s petroleum minister five years ago.
It is over a month since Maharashtra’s Uddhav Thackeray government was toppled and Eknath Shinde was installed. But it remains a government of two ― just Deputy CM Fadnavis and Shinde in the big chair. Meanwhile, state Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has been forced to apologise for his controversial comments at a function: “I tell people here that if Gujaratis and Rajasthanis are removed from Maharashtra, especially from Mumbai and Thane, you will be left with no money and Mumbai will not be a financial capital.” The backlash had singed the BJP and Shinde.
Data on Indian advertisers on Meta (formerly Facebook) is out for the last quarter. Jaggi Vasudev is on top with a war chest of just under Rs 10 million.
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“No illness, he was beaten to death”— this report examines why the family of Kannauj Muslim teen Dilshan (15) who died days after he was allegedly beaten by two teachers and a school principal, wants a fresh autopsy. The police say no injuries were found and have not filed an FIR or questioned teachers.
Telangana seems to be the next focus state for the BJP. “Top BJP sources” say that its leadership is in touch with several leaders from the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi and the Congress, and if talks succeed, “they will jump ship sooner or later.”
Karnataka students from different organisations wrote a letter in their blood to PM Narendra Modi demanding sanctioning of a super speciality hospital for Uttara Kannada district. They gathered on Mahatma Gandhi Road in Karwar city to protest, wrote “namage beku super speciality hospital (We need a super speciality hospital)” and posted it to PM Modi. The district is a bastion of the ruling BJP and the party has not fulfilled the assurance of a hospital.
Eggs are back on the menu in Karnataka’s school midday meals. A pilot project in seven districts resulted in weight gain and BMI improvement among students of Yadgir, where eggs were given, compared to students in Gadag, where eggs were not given. Only 4.5% of the girls and 4.1% of the boys in Yadgir district abstained from eating eggs and opted to eat bananas.
A Class 1 student recently wrote to PM Modi about the effects of inflation on her ― and indeed, on ‘Beti Padhao’. Kirti Dubey, who studies at Suprabhash Academy in Kannauj district, UP, wrote to PM Modi, “My name is Kirti Dubey, I study in Class 1. You have increased prices immensely. Even my pencil and rubber (eraser) have become costly, the price of Maggi has also increased. When I ask for a pencil, my mother beats me… I was not given Maggi as I had only five rupees. The shopkeeper asked for seven rupees.”
On July 9, a video clip posted on social media purportedly showed four men having sex with a girl, later revealed to be a minor aged 17, in Assam’s Morigaon. On July 17, the minor’s father filed a police complaint against two of the men in the video. His daughter had been missing since July 9, he said, and when he saw the viral clip he believed these men had “kidnapped” her. An FIR was registered on July 19 and two of the accused were subsequently arrested. So were two journalists, apparently for reporting on the case. Nassidur Rahman, 40, and Mustafizur Ahmed, 30, work for Facebook-based Assamese news portals; Rahman for NewzNow and Ahmed for DA News Plus. Their reports appeared on July 22 and they were arrested the next day. They are in custody, and the minor is at a children’s shelter.
The government on Friday informed Parliament that the revision of pension under One Rank One Pension (OROP) to disburse arrears since 2019 is “under process”. The deadline of three months set by the Supreme Court’s direction of March 16 ran out last month. The Centre has failed to comply with the apex court’s order, and the department has sought three months more to complete the equalisation process. OROP was to be fixed every five years. The government failed to do it in 2019, and was taken to the apex court.
Over Rs 1.5 lakh crore worth of 5G telecom spectrum, a record, was sold in a seven-day auction ending yesterday. Mukesh Ambani’s Jio emerged as the top bidder and consolidated its leadership position. New entrant Adani Group is said to have bought 26 Mhz spectrum for setting up a private telecom network.
June was another pride month full of ‘rainbow-washing’ and tokenism. After that, India is back to inflicting torture and misery on its LGBTQ population. Its refusal to clear structural hurdles hurts queer people.
On August 1-7, the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), Navsarjan Trust, and Dalit Foundation are leading a march from Ahmedabad to Delhi “to demand an end to casteism and untouchability in India.”
The Lok Sabha had a debate on price rise yesterday. Opposition MPs walked out when the Finance Minister was speaking. Narendra Modi had tweeted about inflation before taking charge as PM in October 2013. He had written: “No food is being cooked in the poor man’s home, children are drinking tears and crying the entire night.” See how much prices have zoomed since this was put out in October 2013.