People’s Groups Trash Govt for Turning G20 into Pre-Poll Tamasha; Is Manish Sisodia’s Arrest a Tipping Point for Opposition Unity?
Japan FM skips G20, all-male Delhi govt to get first woman, CPR rejects violating law, Dibang dam recklessly cleared, NBSA fines News18, Zee News and Times Now, Kerala temple rolls out robot elephant
A newsletter from The Wire | Contributors: MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia and Sushant Singh | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
Snapshot of the day
March 1, 2022
The Centre for Policy Research, for five decades one of India’s premier research institutions, has responded to the Union government’s decision to suspend its registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulatory Act for six months. “There is no question of having undertaken any activity that is beyond our objects of association and compliance mandated by law,” CPR said in a statement. “In light of the current MHA order, we will explore all avenues of recourse available to us. Our work and institutional purpose is to advance our constitutional goals and protect constitutional guarantees. We are absolutely confident that the matter will be resolved speedily, in fairness and in the spirit of our constitutional values.”
The suspension of its FCRA registration only formalises the existing reality: CPR has been unable to access grants for several months now because most of its donors can send funds only if the Ministry of Home Affairs approves each remittance – which it has not been doing.
The all-male Delhi government headed by Arvind Kejriwal will get its first woman minister – Atishi. She and Saurah Bharadwaj will take the place of Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain, both arrested by the CBI on ‘corruption’ charges.
G20 foreign ministers meet for dinner this evening in Delhi – their formal meeting will begin Thursday morning – and the foreign minister of Quad member Japan is a notable absentee. Yoshimasha Hayashi chose his parliamentary responsibilities over the G20 and Quad foreign ministers’ meeting. South Korea’s foreign minister has also kept away. Going by last week’s meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in Bengaluru, the Ukraine war will dominate talks. The meeting in Bengaluru ended without an official statement or communique. India instead issued a Chair’s Summary and Outcome Document, after Russia and China opposed two paragraphs about the war. While their finance ministers and central bank governors were not physically present last week in Bengaluru, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has arrived in Delhi and Qin Gang is expected. There is no way India can prevent the Ukraine war from dominating the discussion.
Indian foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra says it would not be correct to ‘prejudge the outcome’ of the G20 foreign ministers meeting.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price has said, “There are countries in the region, namely the PRC (People’s Republic of China), that have posed a consistent and in some ways even a systemic challenge to the vision that we share with India of a free and open Indo-Pacific. Without going into specifics, those issues will certainly be on the agenda at the G20, but also in the bilateral context.”
UK Foreign Minister James Cleverly raised the issue of BBC tax searches with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during a bilateral meeting today, the Minister said in an interview. Last month, India’s Income Tax department conducted searches at the BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai. The searches came after the British broadcaster released a documentary made on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership of Gujarat during violence in 2002. “He was firmly told that all entities operating in India must comply fully with relevant laws and regulations,” unnamedIndian officials told ANI.
As Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang arrives in Delhi to attend the meeting of G20 Foreign Ministers, the Chinese embassy in India said on Twitter: “As the premier forum for international economic cooperation, it is important that the G20 focus on the prominent challenges in the global economy and on development and play a bigger role in driving world economic recovery and global development.”
Asked about acting as an interlocutor between India and Pakistan, UAE’s ambassador to India has confirmed that his country “played such a role in the past, but again this is going to be up to both countries and whether this is something that they would want us to do or not.” The UAE had mediated after the Ladakh crisis began in early 2020, and India approached Pakistan for reduction of tensions on the Line of Control.
Forbes in an important investigation finds that Vinod Adani was at the heart of two massive Adani Group deals with French energy giant TotalEnergies, according to Indian filings. Forbes also found that Vinod is nearly five times richer than previously known.
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Caste certificates help marginalised communities to access government benefits, which include reservations in employment and education, and scholarships. But often, the process of obtaining them only oppresses students further, as they are required to prove the most basic facts about themselves and their families to the government. In a way, it marginalises them even further.
The News Broadcasting & Digital Standards Authority, a self-regulatory body for television, on Monday fined News18 India Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000 for two broadcasts of anchor Aman Chopra’s programme. The first dealt with Yogi Adityanath’s “80 vs 20” statement, while the second was on the public flogging of Muslim men in Gujarat’s Kheda district. The orders followed complaints by Citizens for Justice and Peace and two individuals. The two orders are here and here. The NBSA has also pulled up Zee News and Times Now.
The Supreme Court has directed that the highest Z+ security cover provided to billionaire businessman Mukesh Ambani and his family is not restricted to Mumbai, but available across India and the world. The cost, the Supreme Court has specified, is to be borne by the Ambanis.
The Supreme Court yesterday criticised Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann and governor Banwarilal Purohit for not performing their constitutional duties while hearing the state government’s plea that the governor “refused” to summon the budget session of the Assembly, which was to begin on March 3. The court said that there was no occasion for the governor to seek legal advice on the matter, since he is duty-bound to call for the budget session when he is advised to do so by the council of ministers. The court also observed that the governor has the right to seek information from the CM on government decisions, and the CM must furnish it.
Anup Singh, Congress MLA from Bermo in Bokaro district, Jharkhand, is credited with not just saving Hemant Soren’s government last August but also prompting the arrest of three Congress MLAs by the West Bengal Police in July 2022, with Rs 49 lakh. The three legislators were accused of trying to topple the JMM-Congress government at the behest of the BJP, which denied it. Singh told The Print that he was never contacted by the BJP but was in touch with the three now-expelled MLAs — Irfan Ansari (Jamtara), Rajesh Kachhap (Khijri), and Naman Bixal Kongar (Kolebira). “The three had told me they had met Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma in Guwahati and told me of their future plan of going to Bengal to get money from a local businessman. I told the (Jharkhand) CID the same,” he said. Singh also revealed that he “duly informed” CM Soren and Jharkhand Congress chief Rajesh Thakur about their plans. “Based on this information, they informed the West Bengal government, and the three were caught there, along with cash,” he said. Confirming what Singh said, a JMM functionary said on condition of anonymity that the Bermo MLA was promised a ministry by the BJP, but it reneged at the last minute. “Singh was in touch with the other party and kept giving us information about their next moves. We used him as a Trojan horse and kept an eye on all activities,” he said.
Yesterday, several dozen Kashmiri Pandits, who have been employed in the J&K administration under a centrally-sponsored PM package for migrants, assembled outside the office of the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner in Jammu for the third day and demanded their relocation. The killing of a Kashmiri Pandit in Pulwama district has revived insecurity and fear in the Valley, amid allegations that the Jammu and Kashmir administration has failed to protect minority Hindus. Bank security guard Sanjay Kumar, father of three minor children, was shot dead in Achan village of Pulwama district on Sunday while out shopping.
Unmindful of the implications of major construction in mountainous areas, the government yesterday approved the 2,880-megawatt Dibang hydropower project in the Lower Dibang Valley District of Arunachal Pradesh, on the Dibang River. To be built over nine years for Rs 319 billion, the 278 metre dam will be India’s tallest.
Australian police are extraditing Rajwinder Singh from India for the murder of a young woman found dead on a Queensland beach in 2018. Detectives are escorting him to Melbourne from Delhi today. He is accused of killing Toyah Cordingley, 24. Her body was discovered in October 2018 after what has been called a “frenzied and brutal and sadistic” attack.
On a month’s vacation during WWI, British-Greek army officer Ambrose Petrocokino travelled to Kashmir and wrote a travelogue. The globetrotter saw no communal strife in the princely state.
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