Hijab, Halal And ‘Trained Stud Bulls’: Three Degrees Of Separation; UGC Draft Curriculum Plagiarised From US Colleges
Trade deficit up 87.5%, BJP bagged 78.1% of donations in 2019-20, Kwatra next foreign secretary, Muivah says Union reneging, Adani worth $100 bn and PG Wodehouse poses ‘security risk’ in Taloja Jail
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
April 5, 2022
Congratulations, PM Modi. The world has a new centibillionaire, while millions sank into poverty because of the pandemic. It is a matter of great pride that under the prime ministership of Narendra Modi, India’s Gautam Adani has reached a net worth of $100 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He and nine others, including Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, have crossed that psychological mark. Adani has pushed Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries Ltd off the ranking’s top 10 list. His net worth is $99 billion.
The Modi government saved the RBI and Shaktikanta Das from publicly admitting that it failed to control inflation, documents accessed by The Reporters’ Collective for Al Jazeera show. One of the legal mandates given to the RBI in 2016 was to hold consumer inflation at 4% with upper and lower grace limits of 6% and 2%. If inflation breaches the limit for three consecutive quarters, it is legally considered RBI’s failure. Inflation remained above 6% for three consecutive quarters in 2020. Inflation soared after PM Modi imposed a dramatic but poorly considered national lockdown in March, 2020. While the law expects a mea culpa from the RBI, the government gave it leeway by labelling official inflation data as spurious, incensing the Ministry of Statistics, which had collected the data. The Finance Ministry exposed itself by allowing the use of those ‘spurious’ inflation numbers for all purposes except monetary policy.
Manufacturing activity in March fell to a six-month low. Companies reported fewer new orders, including export orders, and slowing in production expansion, according to S&P Global. Its India Manufacturing PMI was 54.0 in March, down from 54.9 in February, highlighting the weakest rate of growth in terms of production and sales since September 2021.
Widening the federalism faultline, the Finance Ministry yesterday said the compensation cess collected in FY23-FY26 will be used to clear unpaid liability and arrears of states in the first five years. Also, it will be used to clear loans and interest raised to facilitate states’ compensation. Most states have been asking for a two-year extension of assured compensation because of the pandemic.
State-run Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd has bought 1 million barrels of Russian Urals crude for May loading via a tender with deep discounts, reports Reuters. Refiners in India, the world’s third biggest oil importer and consumer, have been snapping up Russian oil through spot tenders since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, while other buyers backed off and discounts rose. India has so far booked at least 14 million barrels of Russian oil since February 24, compared with nearly 16 million barrels in all of 2021, according to Reuters.
It’s not in India’s interest to increase imports of Russian energy and commodities, said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki as Washington continues to press the world to shun cheaper Russian oil. Asked about India’s imports, Psaki said the US expects every country to abide by the sanctions.
US Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer’s team is privately acknowledging to Senate Democrats that Eric Garcetti doesn’t currently have 50 votes within their caucus to be confirmed as ambassador to India, congressional aides told Axios. The Los Angeles mayor was formally nominated eight months ago, is unlikely to receive a floor vote soon. The numbers in the Senate may force Biden to find another emissary to the world’s largest democracy.
Large sections of the UGC’s draft curriculum framework for its new four year undergraduate programme have been plagiarised word for word from guidelines published by the University of Michigan and the University of Arizona, according to an analysis by the Democratic Teachers’ Front. Ironically, the UGC is responsible for ensuring academic integrity, and has strict regulations against plagiarism. A paragraph on introductory courses is like the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts’ paragraph on its webpage regarding course requirements. Other sections on courses in mathematics, natural sciences, creative expression and interdisciplinary work are similar or identical to content on the LSA’s website, while other paragraphs seem to have been copied from the University of Arizona’s academic policy documents.
The government yesterday said 24 students had died by suicide over five years across 54 central universities in India, but the reason for them is not recorded.
Members of the J&K Delimitation Commission faced protests in Jammu yesterday as the panel embarked on a two-day visit to hold consultations with locals, civil society and political parties before making their final draft public by May 6. They will visit Srinagar on Tuesday. J&K’s main regional parties, including the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party, have rejected their recommendations as “biased” and “unacceptable”.
Farmers’ platform Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), which led a massive protest last year, has rejected the Union government’s offer to join a proposed committee to examine farm issues, saying that the government’s invitation was by a “phone call” alone. “The verbal communication failed to clarify basic details about the committee, its members, its mandate and even terms of reference. Have you heard of any committee without written terms of reference?” SKM leader Hannan Mollah asked. An Agriculture Ministry official declined to comment, reports Hindustan Times, since the matter was still under consideration. He however said the ministry was working towards creating the panel as “it is an official commitment”.
The unseemly deportation of English anthropologist Filippo Osella has south Kerala’s fishing communities worried as he was about to launch a precise early weather-warning system.
Five IndiGo pilots have been suspended for planning a strike protesting pay cuts during the Covid-19 pandemic. IndiGo cut pilots’ salaries by 30% during the pandemic, and increased them by 8% on April 1.
According to the Union Ministry of Health yesterday, India reported 913 Covid-19 cases in the previous 24 hours. This is the first under 1,000 report in 715 days ― on April18, 2020, 991 fresh cases were reported. Ministry data showed that active cases have declined to less than 13,000.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has rubbished reports that he is eyeing a stint in the Rajya Sabha. There have been rumours after an informal chat with the press, in which Kumar had said that his wish to go to the Rajya Sabha was not yet fulfilled.
The News Minute reports that northern Telangana is seeing a consolidation of backwards by the BJP and its affiliates. Shivaji, the symbol of Maratha pride, is the tool they are using for their long-term political project involving the Telugu-speaking dominant castes.
Sabrang wonders if growing calls for the economic boycott of Muslims in Karnataka are “a sinister precursor to something worse.” Is it more than an electoral ploy, and could “it further an anti-minority agenda that could culminate in targeted violence”?
Questioning the Enforcement Directorate’s lookout circular, the Delhi High Court yesterday allowed journalist Rana Ayyub to travel abroad, with conditions. “How do you defend your lookout circular? It is an admitted fact that whenever summon was issued, she replied and appeared before officers. How do you say that she is avoiding investigation?” the court asked.
People living in low and middle-income countries are the most exposed to toxic quantities of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide, the WHO noted yesterday as it launched its 2022 air quality database. India is particularly affected by PM10, according to the database. Air pollution is worsening reproductive health outcomes for Indian women, says this report.
The Competition Commission of India has ordered a probe into Zomato and Swiggy for alleged unfair business practices in dealings with restaurants. The National Restaurant Association of India had complained.
Cheteshwar Pujara will miss the opening game of his stint as Sussex’s overseas player in the County Championship due to a visa hold-up caused indirectly by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The British Home Office has redirected resources to help displaced Ukrainian citizens.
The Bombay High Court was amused when it was informed that the Taloja prison authorities in Maharashtra refused to deliver a book by PG Wodehouse to human rights activist Gautam Navlakha, arrested in the Elgar Parishad case, perceiving a “security risk”. Justices SB Shukre and GA Sanap termed it “comical”. The court was hearing a petition filed by Navlakha seeking that he be shifted from Taloja prison to judicial custody in the form of house arrest, owing to his age and ailments.