Pulwama Almost Triggered Nuclear Conflict, Writes Pompeo; In Countries Like India, Can Public Access AI Be An Equaliser?
Second BBC Modi episode out, Google stops Green Card processing as 60-80k Indians laid off in Silicon Valley, Balkrishna Doshi dead, Ashish Mishra gets bail, pee-gate forces AI to contain demon drink
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NOTE: There will be no edition of the India Cable on Thursday, January 26, 2023 because of Republic Day
Snapshot of the day
January 25, 2022
Indian and Pakistani officials each believed the other side was preparing to use nuclear weapons in the aftermath of the 2019 Pulwama suicide attack, and the US had to “convince each side that the other was not preparing for nuclear war”, former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo writes in his new book. Pompeo says that he learnt of the gravity of the situation when he was awakened at night during a visit to Vietnam in February 2019 to speak to his then Indian counterpart. He writes in Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love that he led an effort to defuse tensions along with the then US national security adviser John Bolton, Kenneth Juster, then US ambassador to India, and other senior officials. “I do not think the world properly knows just how close the India-Pakistan rivalry came to spilling over into a nuclear conflagration in February 2019. The truth is, I don’t know precisely the answer either; I just know it was too close,” he writes.
Reuters is reporting on the precarious debt situation of the Adani group. Hindenburg Research – which discloses it has taken short positions on Adani – said today that “seven Adani listed companies have an 85% downside on a fundamental basis due to sky-high valuations” and that “key listed Adani companies have also taken on substantial debt” which has “put the entire group on a precarious financial footing”. Shares of the group slid, and the company’s chief financial officer, Jugeshinder Singh, responded to what he said was a “malicious” report :
“The timing of the report’s publication clearly betrays a brazen, mala fide intention to undermine the Adani Group’s reputation with the principal objective of damaging the upcoming Follow-on Public Offering from Adani Enterprises, the biggest FPO ever in India.”
The company has earlier rejected anxieties about its debt. Singh told the media on January 21: “Nobody has raised debt concerns to us. No single investor has.”
The Supreme Court has granted interim bail of eight weeks to Ashish Mishra, son of MoS for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’, in the Lakhimpur Kheri case, in which he is accused of running over agitating farmers. He must stay out of UP and Delhi.
The data purportedly stolen from the email server of the Ministry of External Affairs and offered for sale on the Dark Web does not contain any significant or sensitive material. The hacking was reported by Zee News, which said the ministry had confirmed the security breach and contended that “confidential emails” were purportedly on sale. The report also alleged that email IDs and passwords of 15 senior officials were on sale on the Dark Web for Rs 6-22 lakh. The hackers, apparently operating from North Korea, claimed to have access to 25 GB of data.
Jamia Milia is the latest university to try and stop students from screening the BBC’s documentaries on Narendra Modi and Gujarat’s 2002 violence. Last night, JNU authorities cut off electricity supply to stop the screening of the first of the two BBC documentaries on campus, university students alleged. They said that stones were hurled at them to prevent them from watching it. The documentary link was circulated among students. They watched the documentary on their mobile phones outside the JNUSU office. The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union yesterday had announced the screening of the documentary India: The Modi Question, which has evoked strong reactions from the government. The university administration had threatened disciplinary action because no permission was sought from the authorities. The documentary was screened at several places in Kerala by the SFI, some Congress leaders and the Muslim League. The BJP and the Yuva Morcha organised protests. Students at the Hyderabad Central University (HCU) had also screened the documentary on their campus on Sunday.
The second and final episode of the BBC documentary on Modi was aired late last night in the UK. The documentary focuses on the time since Modi was re-elected PM in 2019. It says that he has been “hugely divisive” and “his New India” is in “religious turmoil”. The episode looks at the BJP government’s relationship with the rise in lynchings, reading down of Article 370, CAA and communal violence in Delhi.
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The Supreme Court has confirmed as “unconstitutional” an Assam law that empowered medical diploma holders who are not medical graduates to carry out minor surgeries and prescribe drugs to patients in rural areas. The apex court said that allowing states to enact laws like the Assam Rural Health Regulatory Authority Act, 2004, would have “dangerous consequences”. Only Parliament has the competence.
Snubbed by Rahul Gandhi and panned by the BJP for questioning ‘surgical strikes’, senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said his questions were to the government and not the armed forces. “I have held our armed forces in highest esteem. Two of my sisters were married to naval officers… There is no question of my asking questions to defence officials. My questions are to the Modi government,” he said on Twitter, hours after Gandhi called his statements “ridiculous”.
Longtime Congress and Gandhi family loyalist and former chief minister AK Anthony’s son, Anil Anthony has left the Congress and resigned from all positions in the party. He cited “intolerant calls to retract a tweet, by those fighting for free speech. I refused… Life goes on.”
A study published in Employee Relations journal by IIT Madras and IIM Amritsar suggests that employees suffered while working from home during the pandemic. Job insecurity was a big stressor for men and work-family conflict for women.
Amid mass layoffs, Google has paused the Green Card process for workers. The move has put thousands of foreign tech workers in the US, including a large number of Indians, in limbo. (See Prime Number)
Once again, farmers are preparing for a nationwide movement, and will gather tomorrow in Jind, Haryana. Farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal and Uttarakhand are expected to attend this mahapanchayat.
A day after Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur announced the setting-up of a five-member Oversight Committee to investigate sexual harassment charges against Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the wrestlers leading the protests are disappointed that they were not consulted. Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik have tweeted, tagging PM Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Thakur: “We were assured that we would be consulted before the setting up of the Oversight Committee.” Veteran sports journalist Sharda Ugra spoke on the seriousness of the situation in Indian sports today after the Jantar Mantar protest.
Bad press and big fines have forced Air India to modify its liquor policy. An Air India spokesperson said the airline has reviewed its in-flight alcohol service policy, taking cues from the practices of other carriers and the US National Restaurants Association’s guidelines. “These were largely in line with Air India’s existing practice, though some adjustments have been made for better clarity, and NRA’s Traffic Light system included to help crew recognise and manage possible cases of intoxication… Air India remains committed to the safety and well-being of our passengers and cabin crew, including but not limited to the responsible service of alcohol," the spokesperson said.
Balkrishna Doshi, the first Indian recipient of architecture’s highest accolade, the Pritzker Prize, has died. Doshi, who literally ran into his mentor Le Corbusier, designed ‘a campus with no doors’.
For consistency, shouldn’t Vice Prez and Law Minister be ‘blocked’?
Union Minister of Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju yesterday reacted to the Supreme Court’s decision to publicise the RAW and Intelligence Bureau (IB) reports on the appointment of judges in the high courts. “Putting secret reports in the public domain is a matter of grave concern," he said.
Reacting to the Supreme Court’s recent comments regarding a delay in appointments on the Collegium’s recommendations, Kiren Rijiju said these are administrative orders. “No one should make a comment on a judicial order. But these are administrative orders and not judicial. I have seen some tweets that are making comments about NJAC is contempt. The order of the bench is totally different and this is all administrative,” Kiren Rijiju said. As the Deccan Herald first editorial remarked, if the BBC documentary has been shut down for criticising the Supreme Court, should not Vice President Dhankhar “be blocked” and by the same logic, the Law Minister?
“The Collegium system has a lot of drawbacks, there is no doubt about that… but I think the lesser evil is the Collegium system. I am not very happy with it, but it’s like democracy ― the best of all the worst systems,” said Fali Nariman in an interview to Bar & Bench.
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