RSS Farmers’ Body Turns On Government and the ‘Lobby’ Thwarting Them; Why Tawang Matters, in the Light of 1962
GST Council has no time to discuss tobacco, Mallikarjun Kharge demands China pe charcha, wheat stocks at six-year low, concerns raised about PLI scheme, Tamil Nadu village mourns son-in-law Grant Wahl
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
December 19, 2022
In a comprehensive paper on Nature.com, India tops the list of 25 countries with the highest estimated excess deaths between January 2020 and December 2021, due to Covid-19.
“There are an estimated 4.74 million (UI 3.31-6.45 million) excess deaths for India alone in the period January 2020 to December 2021, followed by 1.07 million (UI 1.05 to 1.10 million) excess deaths in the Russian Federation, 1.03 million (UI 0.75 to 1.29 million) excess deaths in Indonesia and 932K (UI 887K to 978K) excess deaths in the USA.” India has tried to pressure WHO not to release numbers, disputed those numbers and withheld data. This may have been a factor in the decision to not conduct Census 2021.
Only three minor incidents of “violations” were recorded along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir after Indian and Pakistani armies agreed to observe a ceasefire in February last year, the Defence Ministry said in its annual report. At the peak in 2020, there were 4,645 ceasefire violations.
The Hindu says, “The Army saw itself in the dock on Saturday over the civilian killings, a day after it claimed that the two youths were killed in militants’ firing outside an Army camp in Rajouri district of Jammu & Kashmir. J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha as well as BJP State president Ravinder Raina criticised the killings and pressed for a high-level probe. Facing public outrage, Sinha announced ex gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh for the families of two youths and described the incident as “very unfortunate”.
The Opposition Congress has upped the ante about the veil of secrecy and evasion on serious concerns around the LAC, after clashes in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge has asked PM Modi when there might be a “China pe charcha”. Former Home Minister and MP P Chidambaram said: “Since the government is in the dark about the game that is played by China, it is keen to keep Parliament and the people in the dark. That is why we don’t know what Mr Modi told Mr Xi in Bali and there was no debate in Parliament.” He says China is benefiting from business as usual 3,561 company directors in India are Chinese. Rahul Gandhi put corporate media in the dock for letting the government keep mum about the Chinese ingress.
Concerns about Chinese contractors are holding up the expansion of the Nepal-India power trade. India isn’t buying power from Nepal’s largest Upper Tamakoshi project, where a Chinese contractor is involved.
The Home Ministry’s citizenship portal will begin to accept expired documents from non-Muslim minority communities, The Hindu has learned. This will benefit Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Christian, Buddhist and Jain migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered India legally over 11 years ago, but whose passports and visas have since expired.
The Union government had approved issuing of the 23rd tranche of Electoral Bonds in November 9-15 under a controversial ‘amended’ scheme. Law Minister Kiren Rijiju told the Lok Sabha on Friday that it has not received any references from Opposition parties and civil society groups questioning the timing. But the government has been embarrassed as that claim in the House has been vociferously disputed by at least two reputed and dogged election watchdogs, ADR and Commodore Lokesh Batra. They say that the government did not respond to their concerns.
The India Cable is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
A parliamentary standing committee has expressed disappointment over the delay in release of compensation to the families of 104 people who died while cleaning sewer or septic tanks manually, saying that both the central and state governments are not serious. “The committee would be happy if there is no further dilly-dallying,” the report said. In accordance with a Supreme Court judgement of 2014, compensation of Rs 10 lakh must be paid to families who have lost a member thus from 1993 onwards. The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis and the Department of Social Justice ensure that it is paid.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has annoyed anti-tobacco activists by saying that the GST Council meeting had no time to discuss taxes on tobacco and gutka due to “paucity of time.” Doctors point out that there has been no tax increase on tobacco products for five years. “But the GST council doesn’t have time to discuss it despite knowing that it’s a product that’s responsible for the death of 3500+ Indians every single day, and taxation is a useful instrument to tackle this menace.” The Council meeting, by the way, “could not find the time to discuss half its agenda, including the setting up of a keenly-awaited GST Appellate Tribunal.”
Companies in India like Intel, Wipro, HCL, Byju’s and Unacademy have laid off employees in recent months. UNITE, the Union of IT and ITES Employees, claims that employees are being forced to resign. Alugunambi Welkin, General Secretary of UNITE, on the bloodbath in the IT industry.
Conversation and confrontation on the appointment of judges continue. Senior advocate Arvind Datar said the Collegium system had “saved the judiciary”... If the executive has the final say, then you will have a judiciary like that of Russia or other countries, which will not command any respect. If there is executive dominance in judicial appointments, judges will not command any respect.”
On Friday, former judges and bureaucrats and prominent academics, activists, journalists and other members of the civil society endorsed a letter addressed to all parliamentarians regarding concerns with the proposed Data Protection Bill. Among other things, it urges them not to amend the Right to Information Act.
The 51st anniversary of the Bangladesh liberation war was marked on December 16, the date on which Pakistan surrendered to India in the eastern sector. Pakistan is busy looking for the grave of one of its most-decorated men ― Lt Murtaza Malik, shot down in 1971 ― said to be “lost in the maze of graves” in Delhi’s Nizamuddin.
The New York Times writes an ode to Urdu’s popularity and the recently concluded Jashn-e-Rekhta festival: “Where romantic poetry in a fading language draws stadium crowds.” It concludes that the 300,000 people who celebrated Urdu verse during the three-day festival “was testament to the peculiar reality of the language in India.”
Grant Wahl, the sports journalist who died during the FIFA World Cup due to an undetected aneurysm, was mourned in Modakurichi, Tamil Nadu. He was a son-in-law of the village. His wife Celine Gounder is of part-Indian origin, on her father’s side.
The PM announced grandiosely in the Northeast that his intention for the region was “divine”, not “divide, like previous governments”. We knew that already. His highly acronym-conscious government has scrunched the PM’s Development Initiative for North East Region to PM-DevINE.
Conservationists are mourning the untimely passing of one of their finest, Ramki Srinivasan, who will be particularly remembered for his efforts to save the Amur falcon.
And in Madhya Pradesh, accident-prone highways are being sprayed with Ganga jal for the souls of the departed.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to The India Cable to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.