Seattle First US City to Move Against Caste Discrimination; Broken Promises, Drifting Flagships, Bahubalis Defying Modi’s Call to Pause Hate
Media guidelines against hate speech, Adani effect on middle class, 9 lakh state vehicles to be retired, Nitish would ‘prefer to die’ rather than ally with BJP again, Aaj Tak ‘suspends’ Budget news
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
January 31, 2023
The Supreme Court today examined whether petitions challenging the validity of electoral bonds need to be referred to a Constitution Bench. The bench headed by the CJI passed orders that the electoral bonds cases will be listed in the third week of March for final hearing, while the cases to bring political parties under the ambit of RTI will be heard in early April and FCRA issue for the parties in the middle of April. The petitions, which have been in limbo for about eight years, allege that the scheme has opened the doors for anonymous donations to political parties days before polls are due.
The Economic Survey draws attention to concerns like the current account deficit and the widening trade gap. It’s Budget Day tomorrow. But the Economic Survey presented today is a document that asserts all is well and presents a continuity from Vajpayee’s first NDA government (1998-2003) straight onto Modi’s government (from 2014). All else appears to have vanished. The phrase “25 years of Amrit Kaal” is used extensively. The document no longer seems to be an honest and reliable document of record of the Indian economy. The BBC has a score-card of delivery on the last Budget’s promises. It does not inspire.
The PMO has told the Supreme Court that the PM CARES fund is a public charitable trust and not the “State” or a “public authority” under the Right to Information Act, reports LiveLaw. It was not created under the Constitution or a legislature, and is not controlled or financed by any government. It does not accept contributions “flowing out of budgetary sources of government or from the balance sheets of the public sector undertakings”.
Questioning the Centre’s application to recall the direction passed in September 2021 which prevented the extension of the tenure of the Director of Enforcement Directorate Sanjay Kumar Mishra beyond November 16, 2021, the Supreme Court yesterday said that subsequent legislative change cannot be a ground for recalling or modifying an earlier judgment or order.
The 2002 Gujarat riots were investigated not just by the UK, but also by the European Union, which has refused to make its reports public. “Disclosure of this document to the public would harm relations between the EU and India, by undermining the confidence and trust in EU-India partnership, thus prejudicing EU’s capacity to protect and promote its interests in this context,” an EU official wrote in response to Dutch activist Gerard Oonk’s request for access to its inquiry report. A joint report dated April 18, 2002, on “the Gujarat events”, was written by the heads of European diplomatic missions in India. It offered “an assessment of the EU Delegation on the same events… and the terms of reference for a possible confidential demarche by the Indian authorities.” The European External Action Service refused to disclose this report in its entirety, and a “common report on the March/April 2002 events” was not shared at all. “Our examination concluded that the second document contains sensitive elements and assessments of the events in Gujarat that took place in 2002,” the official said.
The excerpts reveal under-reporting of killings and “widespread rape of Muslim women”. “Muslim businesses, including businesses partially owned by Muslims, were systematically targeted and destroyed… This was followed by calls for an economic boycott of Muslim-owned businesses.” Over 140,000 people had been displaced, of which 100,000 were Muslims. “Conditions in refugee camps are extremely poor” and initial compensation offered by the Gujarat government was “discriminatory”: Rs 200,000 for Hindu victims, and Rs 100,000 for Muslims. This was later modified “at the request of the Central government”.
A Conservative peer stands accused of using “deplorable” and “racially charged language” in a scathing attack on the BBC’s recent documentary about PM Modi. Lord Rami Ranger was already being investigated by standards commissioners in the House of Lords. He asked BBC Director General Tim Davie “if your Pakistani-origin staff were behind this nonsense”. The Indian government has called it colonial propaganda. Labour vice-chair Chris Elmore said that for the Tory peer to “put pressure on the BBC in this way is unacceptable”.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova remarked on Friday when asked about the BBC documentary: “…it is yet another evidence of the BBC waging an information war on different fronts ― not only against Russia, but also against other global centres of power pursuing an independent policy.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will participate in the meeting of G20 foreign ministers in New Delhi on March 1-2, his deputy Andrey Rudenko has confirmed.
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Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won a party primary and will run for a second term in September. Solih defeated parliament Speaker and former president Mohamed Nasheed in the Maldivian Democratic Party primary on Saturday night. Nasheed is seen to be friendly to India while Solih is pro-China.
India will have to wait until the third quarter for the WTO’s verdict on its dispute with the US over additional import duties on Indian steel and aluminium imposed in 2018. It was scheduled for 2022-end. India’s exports of steel and aluminium to the US have fallen sharply. In June 2019, India imposed retaliatory import duties on 28 US items.
The government will soon begin to set up the Sixteenth Finance Commission, which will recommend a revenue sharing formula between the Centre and states and their distribution among states. The 15th Finance Commission was set up in November 2017. While the Constitution requires a Finance Commission (FC) to be set up every five years, the 15th FC’s mandate was extended by a year till 2025-26.
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has said that he “would prefer to die” rather than realign with the BJP and accused his former ally of lodging baseless cases against his deputy Tejashwi Yadav. The day before, the state BJP ruled out an alliance for the general elections or the Assembly polls, and accused him of “abusing PM Narendra Modi’s trust”.
The government plans to use an emergency law next month to force power plants using imported coal to maximise output in the peak season. In Gujarat, Adani Power and Tata Power plants have operated at low capacity because power generated from domestic coal is cheaper.
Manu Kumar Jain has announced his exit from the Xiaomi Group, with which he was strongly identified, though he is co-founder of Jabong. Along with former Google VP Hugo Barra, he started Xiaomi India in 2014 and topped the smartphone business within three years. Xiaomi also leads in smart TVs.
“During September-December 2022, the unemployment rate in India was 7.5%. But graduates faced an unemployment rate more than double this number at 17.2%.” For people schooled to 10th-12th standards, it was 10.9%. “People with less education face a much lower unemployment rate and they also have a lower labour participation rate. The labour participation rate increases with education and so does the unemployment rate,” writes Mahesh Vyas of CMIE.
Vyas has also embarrassed government apologist Surjit Bhalla on unemployment figures.
Indian men’s hockey chief coach Graham Reid has resigned following the disastrous performance at the World Cup. Reid, who was appointed in April 2019, led the team to a historic bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Reid’s term was till the Paris Olympics, 2024.
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