Tenure Track For Pliant Agency Chiefs; Intrepid Tripura Police Bag Women Journalists

Chinese real estate boom on LAC, Battle of Kohima remembered, lawyers support Justice Banerjee, UP to launch cow ambulances, PM CARES’ Rs 100 crore in suspense, crimes against food’ at Margate

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
November 15, 2021

Pratik Kanjilal

Wholesale price inflation rose almost 1.9% in October over the previous month, from 10.66% to 12.54%, reports PTI. 

The UP government will run an ambulance service for cows, Dairy Development, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Minister Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary has said, and 515 ambulances are already lined up. He guarantees service with a vet and two assistants within 15-20 minutes of a call. 

Leaders of Japan, the US, Australia and India may hold their second in-person summit in Japan next spring, reports Kyodo News, to demonstrate strong ties in the Quad, amid China’s growing assertiveness. Japan proposed to host the talks, which will be held annually in a member country. India will host it in 2023, the year it also holds the G20 summit.

AgustaWestland and Leonardo Group, Italian defence firms blacklisted by the UPA government in 2013 after allegations of corruption in the VVIP helicopter deal, were removed from the list by the Modi government on Friday. They cannot make financial claims based on agreements signed earlier, essentially their arbitration awards against the government.

Former head of the East Asia division in the Ministry of External Affairs, Pradeep Kumar Rawat, currently envoy to the Netherlands, is expected to take over as India’s new envoy to Beijing when incumbent Vikram Misri returns to New Delhi as a secretary. Rawat was joint secretary (East Asia) in 2014-2017, and ambassador to Indonesia in 2017-2020.

The Russians have started the process of supplying the S-400 missile air defence system to India, which may trigger US sanctions under CAATSA unless the White House intervenes. The Russian President will be in India next month, and ​​three Republican senators have moved a bill to exempt India from sanctions. Former Trump NSA John Bolton has argued for sanctions.

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Though the Parliament session is just two weeks away, the Union government has rushed in two ordinances concerning chiefs of the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate, giving them five-years terms at the government’s discretion, i.e. their current fixed tenure of two years will be renewable yearly for three years. The term of current ED head SK Mishra ends this week. Citing rules, the Supreme Court had recently approved his current extension but said no to future extensions. Could the new ordinance be the government’s way around? In his tenure, a spectrum of Opposition leaders and others inconvenient to the Modi government have been targeted. The Leaflet says that the move would “make the tenures of the CBI and ED director subject to the pleasure of the Executive.”

Three weeks since India achieved 100 crore shots, the daily vaccination rate has fallen. Chandrakant Lahariya warns that not even 60% of 188 crore vaccine doses have been administered. “In the first 10 days of November, the daily vaccination average was 40 lakh, the lowest since July 2021. Only 38% of the eligible adult population has received both shots and an additional 42%, just one shot. One-fifth of the adult population, around 18.7 crore, have not received any shot. Around 12 crore adults received the first shot but did not return for the second.”

We are holding the army guilty of contempt of court,” said Justice DY Chandrachud on Friday. The Army had refused to grant permanent commission to 11 women officers despite the apex court’s orders.  “The Army may be supreme in its authority but the constitutional court is also supreme. We had given you a long rope,” Justice Chandrachud said. The Army and government soon backtracked. 

The New York Times reports that on Chhath Puja at Delhi, the Yamuna “river’s water was barely visible, blanketed with a toxic foam of industrial waste and sewage. If you didn’t know better, you could mistake it for the morning after a night of heavy snowfall… As the sunrise neared, the fasting women entered the water and remained knee deep in their final meditation. But there would be no dramatic climax — the sun simply wasn’t visible through the Delhi smog.”

Nearly 20 months after the pandemic disrupted operations, the Railways will resume regular trains with pre-Covid fares. Gradually resumed from May 2020, services are operating as ‘special trains’ with higher ticket prices, and without concessions.

The Delhi High Court asked the Delhi Police what offence was committed by Indian nationals who housed foreigners attending the Tablighi Jamaat congregation. Justice Mukta Gupta, hearing a batch of petitions to quash FIRs registered against the hosts, observed the Jamaat attendees had sought refuge from the pandemic before the lockdown, and did not violate restrictions. “Suddenly, when lockdown is imposed, where does one go? What is the offence committed?” 

The Tripura Police have raised a storm by causing the pursuit and arrest of two women journalists with HW News reporting on damage to a mosque in the state. Their harassment graphically demonstrates why India has slipped precipitously down the World Press Freedom Index and stands at 142 out of 180 countries. Prickly about anyone reporting on attacks on mosques for nearly a week, the state has filed charges under UAPA on flimsy charges against journalists and over a hundred other persons on social media. The matter has reached the Supreme Court. On Monday, a local court in Tripura granted the two reporters bail.

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