SC To Hear Article 370 Abrogation Matters After Dussehra; Every Gau Rakshak Attack Is Pre-Planned, With State Involvement
UK FTA gives carmakers the jitters, Iran offers ONGC 30% in FarzadB oilfield, Proton VPN pulls plug on India, cows take over Gujarat govt buildings, pain survey finds West Bengal most agonised
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Snapshot of the day
September 26, 2022
India’s foreign exchange reserves fell for seven weeks to a two-year low of $545.652 billion in the week to September 16, RBI’s weekly statistical supplement showed on Friday. This is the lowest since October 2, 2020. It owes largely to RBI’s intervention in the currency market to arrest the fall of the rupee.
As many as 393 infrastructure projects, each costing Rs 150 crore or more, have suffered cost overruns of more than Rs 4.65 trillion. According to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, out of 1,526 such projects, 393 reported cost overruns and 647 projects were delayed.
Reuters reports that India is pressing smartphone makers to provide support from January for the indigenous global positioning system NavIC, which has no traction outside state facilities, as part of PM Modi’s indigenisation campaign. This could reduce reliance on GPS in the second-biggest smartphone market. Samsung, Xiaomi and Apple have demurred because of costs and supply chain concerns, and seek an extension.
In a dramatic development, former Attorney General (2014-17) Mukul Rohatgi has declined the offer to take the office again, due to unspecified “second thoughts”. KK Venugopal, the incumbent, is to step down at the end of the week.
Days after a plea by Hindus in the Varanasi district court demanded carbon dating of a “Shivling” found in the Gyanvapi complex, the women plaintiffs appeared divided. Rakhi Singh yesterday said that collecting samples is an “anti-religion act and a mockery of the feelings and beliefs of all Sanatanis (Hindus)”. Believers value faith over facts, but in this case, even the facts won’t be reliable because inorganic matter, such as a ‘Shivling’ or fountain, is not susceptible to carbon dating. The matter will be heard on September 29.
Ninety MLAs loyal to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot have submitted their resignations to prevent a transfer of power to his rival Sachin Pilot if their man resigns before contesting for Congress president. If they are accepted the Congress government in Rajasthan will fall. Before filing his nomination, Gehlot visited Mumbai to secure corporate support to help the grand old party fight against the BJP, the world’s biggest political party. On Saturday, he also paid a visit to the Shirdi Saibaba temple in Ahmednagar in Maharashtra.
The Union government is repurposing Aarogya Setu and CoWIN, the two digital health platforms developed for Covid-19 pandemic, to be used for all public health concerns under the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission. The contact-tracing app Aarogya Setu failed for want of critical mass but has now been relaunched as a health and wellness application. CoWIN, the Covid-19 immunisation gateway, will be used for the universal immunisation programme.
Rumours of a coup against Chinese President Xi Jinping that gripped the Indian internet on Saturday were laid to rest by experts. Indian news channels earned international mockery for mistaking a satirical thread for news (see below). In India, the line between satire, reality and news is thin and wiggly.
Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga has said that India should negotiate with the military authorities and ethnic groups in Myanmar to restore peace there. He said he was sent to Myanmar on a peace mission along with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval a few years ago. However, peace talks with the Myanmar military government and ethnic groups were aborted when Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy came to power in 2015. Zoramthanga was in Delhi in September 3-24 and met President Droupadi Murmu, PM Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah over the Myanmar political crisis and influx of refugees, who are ethnically related to Mizos.
With India and the UK close to a free trade agreement, passenger vehicle makers in India have raised concerns about sharp reductions in customs duty on imported cars, which could set a precedent. The European Union, with whom an FTA is also sought, could seek similar cuts, hurting the domestic industry. Duty concession on automobiles, EVs and parts is among the UK’s major demands. A deal is foretold by the end of October.
Iran has offered ONGC Videsh Ltd and its partners a 30% interest in development of the FarzadB gas field in the Persian Gulf, which the Indian consortium discovered. Tehran asked the Indian ﬁrms to exercise the right within 90 days, after which it would be deemed as rejection. In 2008, ONGC Videsh Ltd had discovered a giant gas field in the Farsi offshore block. In April 2011, it submitted a master development plan (MDP) to bring FarzadB to production but negotiations stalled after sanctions were imposed on Iran. In February 2020, the National Iranian Oil Company had said that Iran had decided to award the contract to a local firm.
Prices of natural gas, used to generate electricity and make fertiliser and CNG, is likely to rise to record levels at the rate review for domestic gas on October 1. Following high energy prices, gas from old ONGC fields is likely to rise to $9 per million BTU from $6.1. Simultaneously, difficult fields like Reliance-BP’s D6 block in the KG basin, are likely to rise to $12 mmBTU from $9.92. This will be the third hike since April 2019.
Hindustan Times reports that the Supreme Court on Friday sought the Election Commission’s stand on a petition raising concerns over rules that allow removal of names of voters from an electoral roll without prior notice.
An NIA court in Mumbai on Friday rejected the plea of poet and activist Varavara Rao, accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, seeking permission to travel home to Hyderabad for cataract surgery. Under the terms of the medical bail accorded to him, Rao must live within Greater Mumbai and not leave the city without prior permission of the NIA court.
The Supreme Court has stayed the deportation of a woman who was excluded from Assam’s final National Register of Citizens (NRC) though the rest of her family were included. Justice DY Chandrachud on Friday asked the Centre and state to respond to her petition in three weeks. The woman has challenged the June 2019 verdict of the Gauhati High Court affirming the June 2017 order of the Foreigners Tribunal, Bongaigaon, which declared her to be a foreigner who illegally entered India from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971.
On Tuesday, 48 Sikh pilgrims from Pakistan reached Hemkund Sahib in Chamoli, Uttarakhand. Led by Satenderpal Singh, they were welcomed by Hemkund Sahib Gurdwara Management Trust, Rishikesh. The Jatha returned to Govind Dham.
India’s first nationwide geographical pain-mapping exercise has found that 37% of people aged 45 or older lives with pain. Nearly 15% experience pain five or more days a week. The study, published in the research journal Pain, has noted large and unexplained differences in pain prevalence. The lowest levels were found in Mizoram, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana, and the highest in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Puducherry, Odisha and Nagaland.
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