Rosneft To Export Even More Oil To India; Indexation Withdrawal: Levelling The Playing Field or Tilting It in Favour of Banks?
China, Pakistan attend SCO meet virtually, Germany notes Rahul’s disqualification, Bengaluru meatless on Ram Navami, Agnipath culls Army sports teams, Priyanka Chopra talks of colour bias in Bollywood
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Snapshot of the day
March 30, 2023
“President Joe Biden’s second summit for democracy, which is taking place this week, is both virtual and surreal. Among the participants are India, which is in the process of jailing Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi on a trumped-up defamation ruling.” In harsh words, Edward Luce writes in the Financial Times about the US stand on India. “Each needs the other to counter China. Here it gets even muddier. India’s treatment of its Muslim minorities is arguably as bad as China’s policies in Xinjiang. The US State Department has labelled the latter “genocide” — the gravest charge possible. Yet barely a peep is heard from Washington about what is going on in Kashmir.”
Narendra Modi has tightened his grip on India’s democracy, critics and analysts say, by leaning on the judiciary to protect his party’s allies and to target rivals, reports the New York Times. He has allowed his government to bend the judicial system to its will through pressure and enticements. Judges who are seen as pliable have gone on to receive cushy roles in Parliament, governorships, or appointments to government commissions. The independent-minded face career stagnation. In India, says The Diplomat, the State has challenged independent media.
“Thanks. Team is taking a look.” YouTube’s chief executive said in an email that the company is looking into a claim by Indian Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi that Alphabet is suppressing his videos criticising the BJP and Adani. The March 25 email from YouTube’s Neal Mohan, reports the Wall Street Journal, was in response to a letter sent two weeks earlier by Congress supporters overseas. In it, Gandhi’s social media team say that his videos on “the issue of cronyism of the ruling government with one industrialist, Gautam Adani,” are receiving unexpectedly low views, and are being “suppressed, perhaps unwittingly and algorithmically”. WSJ confirms it’s less than a third of the expected traffic.
After the US, Germany has taken note of Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification, and “expects that the standards of judicial independence and fundamental democratic principles will apply”.
Russian energy giant Rosneft announced a deal yesterday to ramp up oil sales to India, which are already at an all-time high after Russia’s traditional markets dried up following Western sanctions. Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin had travelled to India and brokered an agreement with Indian Oil “to substantially increase oil supplies … to India.”
India’s trade deficit with China touched $71.56 billion in the first 10 months of 2022-23, just $1.7 billion short of the record high of $73.31 billion in 2021-22, data shared by the Commerce Ministry in the Lok Sabha show. It was $36.21 billion in 2013-14.
At the SCO meeting of national security advisors in India yesterday, China and Pakistan attended virtually and the Ukraine crisis and bilateral disputes were off the table. NSA Ajit Doval said that the SCO region was also beset with “challenges” faced globally due to recent developments. At the Boao Forum for Asia on Hainan Island, Chinese Premier Li Qiang said that Asia must avoid “chaos and conflicts” at the cost of the region’s future, and that China can be “an anchor for world peace”.
Twitter has blocked the Pakistan government’s account from being viewed in India in “response to a legal demand”, in accordance with its guidelines. The @GovtofPakistan handle is available in other countries.
While hearing a contempt petition seeking orders to regulate hate speech, Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna of the Supreme Court noted that state governments have become “impotent” and fail to act on time. “When politicians stop using religion, all this will stop. We have said in our recent verdict also that mixing politics with religion is dangerous for democracy,” Justice Joseph said. “Every day, fringe elements are making speeches to vilify others, including on TV and public forums.”
The Rajasthan High Court has acquitted all four accused in the 2008 Jaipur serial blast case which claimed 71 lives and left over 180 injured. The accused were awarded capital punishment by a trial court in 2019. The High Court also lambasted the investigating agency for a shoddy investigation which did not connect the chain of evidence. It said that statements made to the police cannot be seen as confessions, and certainly not conspiracies.
Slaughterhouses and meat shops in Bengaluru will remain closed today, on Ram Navami. The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s animal husbandry division has issued an order completely banning the sale of meat on that day. According to data from the BBMP, the city has nearly 3,000 licensed meat shops and three authorised slaughterhouses.
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Fitch Ratings has said that Adani Transmission and Adani Ports face higher contagion risks which could affect the group’s financial flexibility. It is now rated ‘BBB-’. Mint
SEBI Chairperson Madhabi Puri Buch refused to address comments about the Adani-Hindenburg crisis at a press conference: “The elephant in the room is Adani, and we don’t comment on sub judice matters.” She said that the regulator would submit its findings to the Supreme Court probe panel.
In February 2022, the Indian government offered a one-year training programme in English and marketing for around 80 Afghan cadets, following the completion of their courses in various Indian military academies. The eligible cadets were already pursuing higher military education in the National Defence Academy, Indian Military Academy and Officers Training Academy before the Taliban takeover in 2021. Afghan cadets whose courses ended in February want to stay on in India, fearing consequences if they return home. Some say visa extension applications have been rejected, while others claim that their existing visas were cancelled by India’s Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO). They now fear deportation.
Sports teams in regiments affiliated to the armed forces are being culled to “optimise manpower”. It is an indirect fallout of the Agnipath scheme, under which only up to 25% of recruits are retained after a four-year contract. “Almost all sports teams from regiments will be disbanded because of the shortage of personnel,” said a player who recently received orders to pay more attention to “being a soldier rather than an athlete”. Deccan Herald reports players are saying, “We have been informed that only Army Red (one major team per sport at the central level) will get preference. Even the Army Green (second-tier team) team is likely to be disbanded. That means teams in regiments like MEG, ASC, CMP will be disbanded because … a lot of energy and manpower is being wasted on athletes at these centres.”
IndiaSpend explores how community-led mental health interventions could make therapy more accessible and inclusive. According to experts, this could be a better method to reach more people. India has an enormous shortage of mental health professionals, and systemic prejudice and social issues exacerbate health problems.
Pakistan leads the world in diabetes. The current economic crisis means that insulin and drugs are now unavailable or unaffordable, The Telegraph reports.
Several prominent BJP leaders were present at the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha, the top decision-making body of the RSS. They include national general secretary BL Santosh, national vice president Saudan Singh, joint general secretaries Shiv Prakash and V Satish, Tamil Nadu’s general secretary Keshav Vinayak and Jharkhand state secretary Karmveer Singh. Ajay Jamwal, regional general secretary of BJP’s Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh wing, Nagendra Nath, the regional general secretary of Bihar, and national president JP Nadda were also present. They were invited because they have been RSS campaigners in the past.
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