PM-Headed National Research Foundation Will Stifle Science; Karnataka Becomes Accidental Pioneer of Cash Transfers in Lieu of Food
India welcoming Chinese capital, tribals to defend Manipur bunkers, $0.25 trillion dowry paid in 50 years, Gujarati business and Zambian independence, Pavitr Prabhakar rises again as Indian Spider-man
A newsletter from The Wire | Founded by MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sushant Singh, Sidharth Bhatia and Tanweer Alam | With inputs from Kalrav Joshi | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
Snapshot of the day
July 5, 2023
Their defection from the NCP now done and dusted, the gloves are off and the time for faux reverence is clearly over: Ajit Pawar has said his uncle Sharad Pawar is 83 and should retire while Praful Patel, who is eyeing a ministerial berth in Narendra Modi’s cabinet, says he "felt like laughing" while attending the opposition unity meet in Patna last month. The next stage of the battle between uncle and nephew will be over the NCP’s alarm clocl election sysmbol; the ball is in the Election Commission’s court.
The Supreme Court has extended Teesta Setalvad’s interim bail till July 19.
At the 23rd Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, hosted via video by India, PM Modi made a reference to two member states ― Pakistan and its backer China ― when he spoke of countries which “use cross-border terrorism as an instrument” of policy, which the SCO should not hesitate to criticise. India also reiterated opposition to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the only SCO member to do so, and refused to sign the Economic Development Strategy document adopted because it is full of Chinese catch-phrases that New Delhi is wary of. Chinese President Xi Jinping said that member states should be wary of “external attempts to foment a new Cold War in the region”. Tass reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin said that external forces had been working for long to turn Ukraine into “a hostile state; the anti-Russia.” The group inducted Iran as its ninth member and said that a multipolar world is in humanity’s interest. India has offered its Bhashini AI-based translator to cut through language barriers in the SCO.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict, which has led to widespread sanctions, has hurt the diamond trade in Surat. Both demand and supply have been affected, causing factories to decrease working hours and reduce wages. Once-promising job prospects in Surat no longer provide a stable income for workers, finds The Hindu.
In Manipur, security forces opened fire on a mob trying to loot a police armoury in Thoubal district, killing one person. Mizoram’s BJP-backed Chief Minister Zoramthanga expressed deep concern over the ethnic violence in Manipur since May 3 and its inept handling by the political leadership in the state. He issued a statement hours after the house of Seilen Haokip, spokesperson of the Kuki National Organisation (KNO), was burned down in Churachandpur district. Haokip was instrumental in lifting the Kuki blockade of NH2. “While we hope with much goodwill, anticipation, and hope that things would turn for the better, situations seem to have worsened. When will it STOP?” the Mizoram CM asked.
A day after Chief Minister N Biren Singh said that all private bunkers in Manipur would be pulled down by the forces, representatives of the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) met GOC 3 Corps Lt Gen HS Sahi in Churachandpur and told him that any move by the Army “will face stiff resistance.” Kuki-Zomi leaders say the bunkers are needed to defend their villages from attack.
New Delhi has summoned the Canadian envoy and issued a demarche concerning the increased activity of pro-Khalistani elements in Canada, after Indian diplomats were demonised in posters.
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Yesterday, following a split verdict by the Madras High Court on a habeas corpus petition challenging Tamil Nadu minister V Senthilbalaji’s arrest in relation to an alleged jobs-for-cash scam in the state’s transport department in 2011-2016, a two-judge Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Surya Kant and Dipankar Datta has requested for the matter to be decided at the earliest while hearing a different petition made before it by the Enforcement Directorate. It denied Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s request for it to resolve the impasse created by the High Court’s split verdict.
Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is driving audiences wild in India because it resurrects a long-dormant Indian avatar of Spider-man ― Pavitr Prabhakar is a play on Peter Parker, and the role was completely Indianised decades ago by Sharad Devarajan, whose comic books sold about a million copies. Lakhs of Indians have grown up on the adventures of Prabhakar in the Mumbai-Manhattan mashup city of Mumbattan.
In BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, which faces elections this year, a video of an upper caste man connected with the ruling party urinating on a tribal has sparked outrage. At the instruction of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the perpetrator faces the wrath of the National Security Act and a portion of his house has also been demolished in the new style of instant justice Chouhan has pioneered. However, the victim has reportedly been pressured to blame the person who shared the video, reports the New Indian Express.
“An unpredictable future lies ahead for Apple, Foxconn and others as they seek to make India a leading ‘China plus one’ manufacturing location,” says John Reed in the Financial Times, following the rollback of commitment to more liberal labour laws that they had lobbied for in investor-friendly Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Former Union finance secretary EAS Sarma has written to the central government about the gruelling length of the last mile, which beneficiaries of centrally sponsored schemes must travel to access funds credited to their Aadhaar-linked bank accounts through Direct Benefit Transfers. Hardships in accessing MGNREGA payments have been reported from almost all regions.
Later this year, says Bloomberg, Google is likely to hire Sreenivasa Reddy of Microsoft as India policy head. He has been involved in manufacturing for Apple Inc Ericsson AB in India. The hire would signal Google’s pivot to manufacturing in India, where it seeks local partners to make Pixel smartphones. Incidentally, Google’s presence will also promote the PM’s Gift City project.
In one of Asia’s biggest trades, derivative contracts worth about $7.5bn in open interest have shifted from Singapore to India. Though no cash changed hands, the Financial Times sees it as a milestone in India’s campaign to compete with Singapore and Dubai as an Asian finance hub. This, too, benefits Gift City. The National Stock Exchange has set up a derivatives offshoot there ― the SGX Nifty has been renamed Gift Nifty.
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