PFI Banned; Recovery Widens Gulf Between States, Classes; Rajasthan Crisis Shows Need for Congress Jodo Yatra
Govt bonds out of JPMorgan index, proposed cull of science awards raises storm, Oracle fined for bribery in India, middle class leaning towards foreign degrees, Madhya Pradesh on alert for dance jihad
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
September 28, 2022
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has fined Oracle $23 million for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by handing out bribes in the UAE, Turkey and India. In India, the illegal beneficiary is an unidentified official in an unidentified transport company owned by Indian Railways.
In a gazette notification yesterday, the Union government declared the Popular Front of India as an “unlawful association” under the UAPA. This gives the government the right to attach its assets and arrest its leaders. Yesterday, 239 people were arrested or held for questioning in eight states. Five days ago, 108 PFI leaders were arrested, including its chairman OMA Salam. The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation has moved court to seek Rs 5.06 crore from PFI in damages for a hartal called in reaction to the arrests.
The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police has received Look Out Circulars (LOCs) against 56 Chinese nationals, accused in 39 cheating and forgery cases, including violations of the Companies Act. They are accused of registering shell companies and fraudulently becoming directors of Indian companies.
India’s post-pandemic recovery is K-shaped, widening inequality among states. Of the 1.4 million cars and SUVs registered in the first six months of 2022-23, 0.54 million or 37.8% were in the five richest states of Delhi, Karnataka, Haryana, Telangana and Gujarat. The share of the poorest five — Odisha, Assam, Jharkhand, UP and Bihar ― was 18.9%, down from 20.4% in 2020-21.
Household spending trends ahead of the festive season show a widening chasm in demand recovery, with inflation around 7% and unemployment rising. There is robust demand for goods priced nearly $2,000, just under India’s per capita income, while budget phones below $100 and motorcycles, which signal rural demand, are weak.
The rich in India grew richer over the last decade, even during the pandemic. While 100 Indians were worth over Rs 1,000 crore in 2012, there were 1,103 in 2022, according to the IIFL Wealth Hurun India Rich List, and 353 were added during the pandemic. “Nearly 90% of adults in Africa own less than $10,000, and 75% of adults in India fall in this range. The fraction is 32% in Europe, 22% in North America and just 18% in China,” another report by Credit Suisse says.
During the March quarter of FY22, manufacturing shed 140,000 jobs, followed by education (22,204) and construction (8,954), according to the fourth round of the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) released by the Labour Ministry. IT/BPO created the most new jobs (370,000), followed by health (93,701). Women workers were 31.8% in the March quarter, marginally higher than 31.6% reported during the third round for the December quarter. According to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) for the March quarter of FY22, the women’s labour force participation rate was 20.4%.
Emulating the Modi model of winning over legacy newspapers with bulk advertising, the AAP government in Punjab spent Rs 5.59 crore to advertise in the print media its decision to distribute free electricity ― in just one month, June 29 to July 28, as per a RTI reply.
Apple’s plan to manufacture the iPhone 14 in Chennai could help India’s ambitions to become a global manufacturing hub, but it is unlikely to lower prices. Apple has been manufacturing iPhones in India since 2017, but until now it was making older generation handsets through partners like Foxconn, Wistron and Pegatron, six to nine months behind its Chinese facilities. The company currently makes iPhone SE, iPhone 12, and iPhone 13 in India. According to a recent JPMorgan report, Apple may move 5% of its global iPhone 14 production to India this year.
Indian government bonds will not be included in the JPMorgan emerging market global index this year as New Delhi still needs to address operational issues. Investors had expected a decision this month, when operators meet to review the composition of the index. Russia exited earlier this year.
Just hours after two teenage sisters were found hanging from a tree in UP earlier this month, police said they had solved the crime and arrested six men. But the families of the victims and the accused have raised serious questions about the investigation. There has also been criticism about some politicians and the media intensely focusing on the religion of the accused. Read this BBC investigation.
Narottam Mishra, home minister of BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, has instructed garba organisers to check the ID of people before allowing them into dance pandals. Earlier this month, Culture Minister Usha Thakur had said that garbas had become a “means of ‘Love Jihad’”.
The Supreme Court has reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas challenging the validity of the 103rd constitutional amendment providing 10% reservation to EWS persons. The Centre has submitted to the Supreme Court that to prevent the 10% EWS quota from eating into SC/ST/OBC & general category seats, it has directed all central educational institutes to increase seat intake by 25% ― 2.14 lakh seats have been approved at a cost of Rs. 4,315.15 crore.
The Union government’s decision to do away with hundreds of awards for scientists and medical researchers, saying only “really deserving candidates” should be recognised with a “Nobel Prize-like award”, has raised a storm. The decision was taken by Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla with senior science officials on September 16 at a meeting to “review the transformation of awards”.
The UP government yesterday deferred the appointment of Shreeyash Lalit, son of Chief Justice UU Lalit, as its senior counsel in the Supreme Court.
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A day after BJP chief JP Nadda alleged that Kerala is a “hotspot” for terrorism and a “debt trap”, the ruling CPI(M) hit back, saying that the RSS plans to cause riots in the state and that the Centre should disclose the financial liabilities it has created. The CPI(M) state secretariat termed Nadda’s allegations as “false propaganda” that the people of a state known for religious harmony would ignore.
Leaders of DMK allies said the BJP is notorious for organising attacks on itself and blaming others to garner publicity. The leaders, including Thol Thirumavalavan of the VCK, said that the BJP and RSS were known for attempting to disrupt the peace wherever they are in the Opposition, to promote their ideology and divide the people. Referring to recent ‘petrol bomb’ attacks in Tamil Nadu, CPI leader R Mutharasan claimed that they were “plastic bags containing petrol or crude bombs that did not ignite”.
The Army will induct more artillery, longer range rockets and loitering munitions along the China border ― 155mm/52 calibre tracked self-propelled K9 Vajra-T guns, 155mm/45 calibre Dhanush towed guns, the new 155mm/52-calibre advanced towed artillery gun system (ATAGS) and upgraded guns named Sharang. Saab will set up manufacturing facilities in India for Carl-Gustaf M4 recoilless rifles, which the Indian Army inducted in 1976.
A squad of ‘super sniffer’ dogs is being trained to protect the eight cheetahs released recently in the Kuno National Park.
Despite Amazon’s years-long efforts to woo small traders in India, many still suspect it of unfair practices.