Six Months Late, Govt Now 'Compiling List' of Names for CDS; VPN Order Shows Virtually Nothing Will Be Left Private in India
NFHS shows big drop in traditional media exposure, Yasin Malik gets life—and respect—with Gandhian protest, temple discovery by divination in Mangalore, TV audiences want atom bombs, voices of doom
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
May 26, 2022
In Kedarnath, where construction and religious politics have trumped all environmental objections, there are disturbing scenes of crowds on pilgrimage:
India will continue to buy “cheap oil” from Russia but has not finalised terms of the discount. A rupee-rouble trade mechanism will facilitate transactions.
After a mysterious and unexplained delay of nearly six months following the death of Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat, the Modi government has apparently sought the names of senior serving and retired officers from the Army, Navy and Air Force, reports ANI ― the top five serving officers including serving chiefs, retired chiefs and commander-in-chief rank officers. Only those officers who retired after January, 2020, will be considered. The fact that the ‘highly placed sources’ who leaked this story do not already have the names, let alone a shortlist, raises questions about whether the government believes the CDS post is vital for India’s defence needs.
A Special NIA Court in Delhi yesterday sentenced Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik to life imprisonment after he was convicted in connection with a Jammu & Kashmir terror funding case and related offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Malik gave up the gun in 1994 and did not contest the charges as a Gandhian protest. Pakistan, which has a habit of disappearing or locking up Baloch separatists, has protested the punishment awarded to Malik.
The sentence triggered a spontaneous shutdown of markets in Srinagar and a strong political reaction. Mobile Internet was suspended in parts of the Kashmir Valley. The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an amalgam of regional parties in J&K that includes the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said the sentence was “unfortunate and a setback to the efforts for peace”.
The J&K High Court has granted bail to PDP youth president Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra. He was arrested in November 2020 soon after he contested and won the District Development Council polls from Pulwama. When he made bail, he was charged under the UAPA and sent back to prison. As the police spends time worrying about democratic politicians like Parra, real terrorism continues unchecked: Kashmir TV artiste Amreen Bhat was shot dead in Budgam on Wednesday. Bhat’s nephew, 10, was also injured.
Indian-origin Labour Councillor Mohinder K Midha has been elected mayor of Ealing Council in west London, the first Dalit woman to be mayor in the UK. Midha, who was re-elected as a Labour councillor for the Dormers Wells ward in the Ealing Council in the May 5 local elections, served previously as Deputy Mayor.
Banks are facing a fresh spike in bad loans, with close to 9% of the debt restructured under the Reserve Bank of India’s pandemic relief plan turning sour in the last six months of 2021-22, data compiled by Mint showed.
Data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5, conducted in 2019-2021, shows a double-digit percentage decline since the 2015-16 NFHS-4 in the share of people who read print media, watch TV and listen to the radio at least once a week, the study’s benchmark for regular consumption of mass media. For cinema, a once-a-month visit is considered regular. In the 2015-16 period, 25% of women and 14% of men claimed they were not regularly exposed to mass media (including cinema), but the percentage shot up to 41 per cent and 32 per cent, respectively, in 2019-21. The survey excludes digital content.
Some 78% students found learning at home during the pandemic “burdensome” and felt that they learnt better in school with help from peers, according to the government’s survey of over 1 lakh schools, and 24% had no digital device at home. Though 45% students found the experience “joyful”, 38% also said that they had difficulties in learning.
While issuing directions to state governments and Union Territories to strictly comply with some recommendations of its Panel for Sex Workers, concerning living with dignity in accordance with Article 21 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court last week took note of the fact that the Union government had objected to the other recommendations. It directed it to respond within six weeks on recommendations including: when it is clear that the sex worker is adult and consenting, the police must not take criminal action; since voluntary sex work is not illegal and only running a brothel is unlawful, sex workers found in raids should not be arrested, penalised or harassed; and no child of a sex worker should be separated from the mother merely because she is in the sex trade.
The Union cabinet yesterday approved the divestment of 29.5% of the Centre’s residual stake in Hindustan Zinc, the world’s second-biggest zinc producer. Vedanta holds nearly 65% of HZL, which also produces lead, silver and cadmium. The Centre expects to earn over Rs 38,000 crore from the sale, towards its disinvestment target at Rs 65,000 crore for the current fiscal year. It has garnered over Rs 23,500 crore through the LIC and ONGC stake sales. The government is also likely to privatise two public sector banks this year. The Central Bank of India and the Indian Overseas Bank are likely candidates.
Global tech company Nvidia is the latest to announce layoffs and hiring freezes. The New Indian Express says it has seen the internal message sent to hiring managers: “This is not a ‘freeze’, it’s a pause…” The bar will be raised for ongoing interviews and only 10% will be given offers.
Bypolls to three Lok Sabha and seven Assembly seats across six states will be held on June 23, the Election Commission has announced. Two of those parliamentary seats are in UP (Rampur and Azamgarh, won respectively by Azam Khan and Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party in 2019) and one in Punjab (Sangrur, won by the Aam Aadmi Party’s Bhagwant Mann, now chief minister of the state).
After Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, NCP chief Sharad Pawar batted for a caste-based census at an OBC meet in Mumbai. Growing demands are bound to increase the BJP’s discomfiture. A party leader used sexist language to hit out at NCP MP Supriya Sule, who is Pawar’s daughter, asking her to “go home and cook”.
An apology for a mystery: people living near the Shantidhama school in Bengaluru woke up to the word ‘sorry’ spray painted all over their street on Monday ― on walls, the road surface and the steps leading to the gates of the institution. The graffiti shocked students, teachers and the school management.
And then there are those who should be sorry but aren’t. A mob of Hindutva extremists desecrated a statue of India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru in Satna, Madhya Pradesh. It was later restored by Congress workers. On Facebook, former CM and Congress leader Kamal Nath shared a video of the bizarre attack on the statue.
And an aghori sadhu in Madhya Pradesh was assaulted and tonsured (their hairstyles are as unusual as their practices) by a BJP man, apparently for foretelling an inauspicious future (contains abusive language).
Supported by One World Media, journalist Pawanjot Kaur will make a film documenting the aspirations of coal communities in Jharkhand in the light of global green ambitions.
Filmmaker Hansal Mehta, known for films like Shahid, Aligarh, Omerta and the webseries Scam 1992, yesterday said he has tied the knot with longtime partner Safeena Husain in San Francisco. The filmmaker shared the news of his marriage to Husain: “Our vows however were truthful and but for this little ceremony they would never have been said. Ultimately love prevails over all else. And it has…” Safeena Husain, daughter of late actor Yusuf Husain, is a social worker and the founder of Educate Girls. The couple have two children.