Rajya Sabha Committees the Latest Institutional Domino to Fall; 'Prepare For More Heatwaves', Met Department Tells Authorities
US intelligence community urges investment in LAC crisis, Elgar Parishad investigating officer evasive, the charioteers of Motera, Satish Kaushik dies, Deccan Queen was faster than Vande Bharat
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 9, 2023
In the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, it was like Ben Hur played at very slow speed. Keen observers of trends in chariot design will also find parallels in comics, by Toutatis and Belenos!
Ironically, India’s premier design school is located in Ahmedabad.
Down Under, they’ve taken note of PM Modi’s meticulous event management. Indeed, Narendra Modi showed off Narendra Modi at Narendra Modi Stadium. To an audience largely comprised of Narendra Modi fans, since Divya Bhaskar says the BJP bought as many a 80,000 stadium tickets for the first day of the test.
Australian commentators and fans took note of the fact that the chariot ride meant the two teams could not warm up on field. “Aust win the toss and elect to felicitate, sorry, bat first. I've seen it all now,” tweeted The Age’s cricket correspondent Daniel Brettig. “This is funnier than the batmobile at the #AFL Grand Final,” noted another fan.
Writing in The Australian a day earlier, Gideon Haigh noted that “Before one of the world’s great authoritarians will be paraded Steve Smith’s Australians. Usman Khawaja will be required to shake the hand of the man in charge of the city when, 21 years ago, hundreds of his co-religionists were slaughtered and tens of thousands displaced in the pogroms following the Godhra train burning while security forces remained mysteriously inactive. Strange that in Australia there’s all that sensitivity to Khawaja being anyway near a can of VB [an Aussie beer], but here nobody’s fussed about his being placed in uncomfortable proximity to a political leader whose whole career has been characterised by demonising and disenfranchising India’s Muslims.”
Actor and filmmaker Satish Kaushik, who made his mark in Mr India, died this morning aged 66.
“While India and China have engaged in bilateral border talks and resolved border points, relations will remain strained in the wake of the countries’ lethal clash in 2020, the most serious in decades. The expanded military postures by both India and China along the disputed border elevate the risk of armed confrontation between two nuclear powers that might involve direct threats to US persons and interests, and calls for US intervention. Previous standoffs have demonstrated that persistent low-level friction on the LAC has the potential to escalate swiftly,” says the annual threat assessment of the US intelligence community.
Chushul Councillor Konchok Stanzin draws attention to the human cost on the ground: herders are being deprived of their traditional grazing lands. The government neither protects their range, nor offers alternative employment.
India-Pakistan is second on the list: “Crises between India and Pakistan are of particular concern because of the risk of an escalatory cycle between two nuclear-armed states. New Delhi and Islamabad probably are inclined to reinforce the current calm in their relationship following both sides’ renewal of a ceasefire along the Line of Control in early 2021. However, Pakistan has a long history of supporting anti-India militant groups, and under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, India is more likely than in the past to respond with military force to perceived or real Pakistani provocations. Each side’s perception of heightened tensions raises the risk of conflict, with violent unrest in Kashmir or a militant attack in India being potential flashpoints.”
Eric Garcetti, US President Joe Biden’s pick for ambassador to India, has moved one step closer towards the vacant post.
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High in the Himalayas, the holy town of Tawang is one of the most intractable issues in the border dispute between India and China, and a potential flashpoint for future conflict, says the BBC.
India once again found itself entangled in an ongoing political controversy in Mauritius after a political activist out on bail, told a court that he was reportedly approached by an Indian diplomat with a “proposition” a day before he was arrested. Last year in July, Sherry Singh, former head of Mauritius Telecom, said he was forced to give access to an Indian team to allegedly install a ‘device’ that could monitor internet traffic at a submarine cable landing station. Following Opposition protests and government denials the controversy faded away. Eight months later, it’s back.
The Guardian reports that Jawaharlal Nehru agreed to a ceasefire with Pakistan in 1948 only because his most senior general urged him to do so. The newspaper says it has been viewing letters on Kashmir that have been kept classified in India for decades. The correspondence from the then commander-in-chief, Gen Sir Francis Robert Roy Bucher, will have significant political ramifications for the current nationalist government in Delhi, which has tried to discredit Nehru’s decision to come to a compromise on the status of disputed Kashmir as an ill-informed “blunder”. Historian Prof Srinath Raghavan says the papers have been consulted by scholars before and cited by him too, in his book War and Peace in Modern India: A Strategic History of the Nehru Years. Raghavan says it may be an exaggeration to say that Nehru was solely prompted by the general’s views, but it is generally agreed that it is ridiculous to classify papers freely available abroad, in India.
The Indian government has started reviving local militias in the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir after a series of deadly attacks on Hindus, reports the New York Times, exposing the government’s claim of ‘normalcy’ in the region after the abrogation of Article 370. In recent months, there have been repeated attacks on civilians in Jammu. Large numbers have left the valley or demand to be moved to safer places. India first created local militias in Jammu in the 1990s, at the peak of militancy. Now, many have again been re-enlisted, with poor training and weapons.
The war between the Bharatiya Rashtriya Samiti ruling Telangana and the Modi government continues to escalate. Whille Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s daughter is being questioned by the Enforcement Directorate, his son has spoken derisively of Modi’s relations with Adani and warned that he is playing with fire.
The share of industry in non-food bank credit declined to a record low of 26.6% at the end of January 2023, according to RBI. It was 28.6% in March 2022 and 45.8% a decade ago, at the end of March 2013. The slowdown in bank credit to industry has been a trend over the last eight years, and banks have depended on retail loans to grow their loan book.
“Nationalists should do, not boast,” says Rathin Roy after reminding everyone that in 1944, the Deccan Queen did the Bombay-Pune run five minutes faster than the present Vande Bharat train. Interesting sidelight: DD Kosambi was a daily passenger on this train for 16 years, when he lived in Pune and taught mathematics and statistics at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Bombay. Some of his work for a general readership is believed to have been written on board. The train’s current run time is 3 hours and 10 minutes.
“The price of the Indian basket of crude oil is the basis on which retail prices of petrol and diesel are fixed by refiners. Now, this basket is composed of the prices of only two types of crude oil — sour grade (Oman and Dubai average) and sweet grade (Brent Dated). An average of these two varieties is worked out based on their use in the ratio of 75.62 and 24.38,” writes AK Bhattacharya. “It is true that the Russian Urals became the single largest variety of crude oil in India’s import basket only in the last one year. But isn’t it time for rejigging the way the price of the Indian basket of crude oil is arrived at? Ideally, this should be a dynamic basket.”
GQG Partners would likely expand its investment in the Adani Group, the fund firm’s founder Rajiv Jain said on Wednesday, a week after it infused $1.9 billion. GQG Partners, cofounded by Jain in 2016, bought shares worth $1.87 billion in four Adani Group companies, marking the ﬁrst major investment in the Indian conglomerate since the critical report by Hindenburg Research in January sparked its fall in markets. Jain, based in Florida, flew to Australia this week for talks with investors, which include some of Australia’s largest pension funds. Last week, pension fund investor Cbus Super, with AU$71 billion ($46.82 billion) under management, told Reuters they had queried GQG about the Adani purchase.
For four days last week, writes Jyoti Punwani, Deputy Commissioner of Police Shivaji Pawar, the investigating officer in charge of the Elgar Parishad case till it was taken over by the National Investigation Agency, was cross-examined before the Bhima Koregaon Commission. His answers were odd, puzzling and evasive.
‘RSS man’s daughter’ Malini Mehra’s video is viral for asking Rahul Gandhi a very pertinent question in London.
The Madras High Court has said that Hindu succession law does not exclude tribal women from its operation in areas where Hinduism and Buddhism are practised, but seeks to include traditional customs of inheritance in a positive manner. The Hindu Succession Act does not apply to Scheduled Tribes, unless the Union government so directs. It directed the state government to prevail upon the Union government to issue necessary notifications to protect the rights of tribal women.
The Indian Meteorological Department predicts there’s hot stuff ahead. More heat waves are probable, and India will need to prepare. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has already written to states to take adequate measures. Last month was India’s hottest February since 1901, the IMD said.
Disney+Hotstar’s content library will shrink as its deal ends with the repository of critically acclaimed shows, HBO. Starting April 1, the American pay channel will not be airing its shows on Disney’s South Asian OTT platforms, a result of Disney CEO Bob Iger slashing $5.5 billion in costs.