The Truth Is Free ― Of Immigration And Border Controls; Black Fungus Was Transmitted By Cow Dung ‘Therapy’
AI cancels Moscow route, TN ready to ship relief material to Lanka, 22 IPS officers face criminal cases, top CEOs take home the bacon and Sultanpur judge channels The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
A newsletter from The Wire & Galileo Ideas | Contributors: MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia, Sushant Singh and Tanweer Alam | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
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Snapshot of the day
April 8, 2022
Refreshingly, a South Asian constitutional court has acted to enforce the constitution. The Pakistan Supreme Court has set aside the deputy speaker’s ruling dismissing the no-trust resolution against Prime Minister Imran Khan and the subsequent dissolution of the National Assembly by the president on the PM’s advice. All five judges were against it, and the vote of no-confidence will be held tomorrow.
When the Delhi High Court ordered the CBI to issue a written apology to Aakar Patel, Rana Ayyub and he followed Maneka Gandhi into the annals of “flying jurisprudence”. But Patel was stopped at the airport again last night. Earlier today, a revision plea was filed by the CBI against yesterday’s order directing it to immediately withdraw the Look Out Circular issued against Patel. But this afternoon, a CBI court stayed the operation of the order and directed that the respondent cannot leave the country without its permission. The case will be heard next week.
The corpse of a teenaged girl missing for four days has been recovered from a car parked in the ashram of Asaram Bapu in Gonda. The premises have been sealed. The guru was sentenced to life imprisonment for raping a 16-year-old in 2013.
India again abstained in the UN General Assembly vote to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council. Russia is out. Earlier, in response to questions about growing criticism from Western powers, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi asserted that India has long-standing economic relations with Russia and that “political colouring” should not be attributed to the engagement ― well, whatever. India starts an important 2+2 ministerial visit to the US on Monday.
“Yet the self-congratulatory patter now echoing in Delhi’s corridors of power, about having told bossy Westerners where to get off, may be premature. The Ukraine crisis has sent fawning envoys scurrying to India’s capital. But it also reveals the country’s underlying weaknesses. Dependence on imported arms is one of these. …Economic vulnerabilities, such as a near-total reliance on imported fossil fuels, have also come into sharp relief,” says The Economist.
Congress MP Manish Tewari says that 18 of his questions on national issues ― from Pegasus to the BrahMos missile launch into Pakistan ― were disallowed in Parliament during the Budget session.
Resumption of the Kailash-Mansarovar yatra to China, which was suspended after the Ladakh border crisis and pandemic two year ago, looks uncertain this year. Normally, the Ministry of External Affairs holds a meeting in January with the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN), the nodal agency for the yatra, and the Pithoragarh district administration to discuss preparations, but it hasn’t happened this year.
Financial year 2020-21, while dominated by Covid-19 that hit the economy and the job market, was fruitful for India’s top CEOs, whose salaries recorded strong double-digit growth in line with a stock market rally and high corporate earnings. The average CEO’s salary was up 19% in FY21, and listed companies together paid Rs 9,763 crore to top management during the fiscal — up from around Rs 8,200 crore the year earlier. Top CEOs got an even bigger raise — those earning Rs 10 crore or more in FY21 gained 32.9%.
Anti-Muslim polarisation is out of control in Karnataka. A 21-year-old man travelling with his girlfriend in an autorickshaw was assaulted by Hindu activists at Derane in Siribagilu village under Uppinangady Police Station on Tuesday. “They abused and assaulted me. The gang also threatened me with dire consequences if I was caught moving around with the girl from the Hindu community. They also threatened the girl with dire consequences,” Nazeer said in his complaint. The police have assured they will act. Another video of girl students allegedly assaulting each other in a Mangalore cafe is viral on social media.
The controversial Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill 2022 is now law, but Opposition MPs protested against it in Parliament.
The Samajwadi Party in UP will hit the road to press the government to solve problems of the youth, who await recruitment to vacant posts, party chief Akhilesh Yadav said yesterday. The former UP CM said that more than 34 lakh candidates are waiting for the recruitment process to be done.
News reports have highlighted that consumption inequality in India during the pandemic year FY21 fell near its lowest level in 40 years, primarily because of free food supply to 800 million people, as per a recently published IMF working paper. The IMF clarifies that the views expressed in the paper are of the authors — Surjit Bhalla, executive director for India at the Fund, Arvind Virmani, former chief economic advisor, and Karan Bhasin, a policy researcher — and do not necessarily represent those of the multilateral agency.
To urge the Modi government to resume army recruitment, which it has stopped over the last two years using the pandemic as an excuse, 24-year-old Suresh Binchar ran about 350 km, tricolour in hand, from Sikar in Rajasthan to Delhi. Obsessed with the idea of getting soldiers on a three-year contract, the government is unlikely to be moved.
During the pandemic, political and religious rhetoric inspired many in the country to liberally use cow dung and urine to prevent or treat Covid-19. This very ‘treatment’ likely transmitted the black fungus epidemic that maimed thousands.
Channelling Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Sultanpur Additional District and Sessions Judge Manoj Kumar Shukla spent a night lying in front of a JCB excavator to save his ancestral land. He was less fortunate than Dent, who achieved escape velocity ― he was suspended by the Allahabad High Court.
AI cancels Moscow route, Jet to make comeback
Air India yesterday cancelled its twice-a-week Delhi-Moscow service over fears that its flight insurance may not be valid in Russian skies due to the heightened threat perception. Flight insurance is generally provided by companies in Western countries, which had banned Russian airlines from their airspace after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. However, Air India had been carrying out normal flight operations. It also took part in India’s transportation exercise Operation Ganga to rescue Indian students left stranded in Ukraine. India has not banned Russian airlines from its airspace.
Once a top airline, Jet Airways, which is undergoing a court-monitored restructuring, plans to return with a mix of premium and no-frills services to regain market share while paring costs. The bankrupt airline, which now has new owners, will have a two-class configuration. Business class will offer services including free meals, while economy will be modelled on low-cost carriers.
Gujarat’s 2 U-turns
After reversing its decision on the Par-Tapi-Narmada River Link project, the Gujarat government is taking a U-turn on the new Gujarat Cattle Control (Keeping and Moving) in Urban Areas Bill, 2022, which was passed last week in the Assembly to curb the stray cattle menace. Yesterday, the Maldhari cattle-rearing community met Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and demanded its scrapping. The Riverlink saw protests by tribal areas who fear submergence of their lands.
Judicial vacancies unaddressed
Against 387 vacancies in various High Courts, 168 proposals between the government and the Supreme Court collegium are at various stages of processing, the Union government informed the Rajya Sabha. In a written reply, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju also said recommendations from various High Court collegiums are yet to be received for 219 vacancies. The sanctioned strength of judges of the 25 High Courts has increased from 906 in 2014 to 1,104 in 2022.
Oddly, the Supreme Court Collegium is maintaining a funereal silence about its reiterations not being taken up by the Centre.
TN ready to ship relief material for Lanka Tamils
Chief Minister MK Stalin apprised the Union government that Tamil Nadu is ready to ship essential commodities like rice, pulses and life-saving drugs to Sri Lanka, considering the welfare of Tamils, and sought permission for distribution through the Indian High Commission. Stalin phoned External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to express his deep concern over the plight of Tamils in Lanka, who are hit hard by the unprecedented economic crisis. He further urged Delhi to act expeditiously to get Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu released from Sri Lankan prisons.
The Long Cable
The truth is free ― of immigration and border controls
Canadian academics say they’re being harassed and threatened by diaspora groups and trolls for criticising the Modi government and its support of Hindutva, as per a report by CBC. That should not surprise to anyone, as the followers of India’s current ruling ideology had earlier viciously attacked the ‘Dismantling Global Hindutva’ conference organised in the US. Those attacks were well-funded and organised, pointing to an apparatus for well-coordinated assault. One academic says the attacks must be treated at par “with those from white supremacists”, and it is not a ‘culture’ issue.
Those attackers may only have been supporters of the party in office. But what has happened in Australia recently is far more serious. Thirteen academics have quit the Australia India Institute at Melbourne University, citing concerns about academic freedom and alleging interference by the Indian High Commission. What was earlier the job of trolls and online mobs has been done by an Indian diplomat. The letter to Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell of the University alleges the Indian High Commissioner to Australia has intervened in the institute’s activities and research or views unflattering to the image of India were blanked out. The Indian High Commissioner was earlier involved in another controversy for targeting an Australian newspaper ― a much milder irregularity compared to the current misdemeanour.
The purpose of the whole exercise is to keep the truth about the current state of affairs in India – democratic erosion, suppression of dissent, denial of civil rights, targeting of religious minorities and institutional capture – from swimming across to foreign shores. When PM Modi goes abroad, he likes to hold forth on India’s diversity, democratic values and inclusiveness – the very ideas he never promotes or practises when he is in India. He hails Gandhi abroad while his party leaders praise his assassin Godse in India. The current Indian government wants to do everything that is abhorrent to the Western world but doesn’t have the courage to publicly accept its deeds on the ground.
This is why the government is extremely sensitive about the various global reports about indices which have recorded a decline in India’s democracy and media freedoms since Modi became PM. V-Dem has called India an ‘electoral autocracy’, and Freedom House has rated India as ‘partly free’, and this matters to the government. That such reports also diminish credit ratings further hurts this government. The purpose of putting the Western media under pressure over its reportage from India is the same. Flimsy excuses of visa and pandemic are used to harass them, along with other unstated threats used to keep them in check.
Emboldened by its success in taming the corporate-owned Indian media and making it a mouthpiece of the ruling party, the dispensation thinks that it can do the same with global publications, academics and think-tanks. Even though these people and institutions are willing to lend a sympathetic ear to the government’s point of view, the egregious reality from India under this regime is impossible to ignore for any half-decent journalist or academic. As is the wont with all authoritarian rulers, the state is doubling down with harsh measures to browbeat Western reportage of India into submission.
Two recent incidents in India provide further evidence of this attempt to prevent the reality from being known in the West. Journalist Rana Ayyub and writer, author and activist Aakar Patel, both known to not mince words, weren’t allowed to fly out to speak at foreign conferences on trumped-up orders issued by central investigative agencies. The cases did not last even one court hearing – Ayyub is already abroad while Patel’s harassment continues despite a court order. He has charged the CBI with contempt of court and after due process, should be travelling soon.
This government and its Hindutva trolls should have learnt this lesson by now: You can stop people at emigration counters, but truth needs no visas or stamped passports to be heard abroad. Truth is free and it travels regardless of border controls. Truth will fly. The Hindutva brigade must be prepared to deal with it. Here, and abroad.
Central agencies are attacking opponents of the ruling BJP. Their reputation is low and as per government figures provided to Parliament, the CBI’s conviction rates have plummeted since 2016. So are personal scores being settled through the Income Tax notice to former PM Deve Gowda’s wife Chennamma? Gowda had incessantly called out the Gujarat riots.
On March 6, 2002, he had written to Atal Behari Vajpayee: “The announcement made by the Gujarat chief minister [Modi] instituting an inquiry under the chairmanship of a retired High Court judge is to cover his failure.” Gowda lit into Modi in a Lok Sabha debate on March 10, 2002: “If the state government is biased about a particular religion, as has been reported in the press, I do not want to jump to the conclusion whether the chief minister is like that or not. But what has been reported in the press makes us believe so unless it is proved otherwise…” On March 16, 2002, he was even more direct in Parliament.
On April 30, 2002, Gowda told Parliament about a trip he had made to Gujarat on his own to verify the ghastly stories he had heard and read. He said there were serious doubts about Vajpayee’s liberalism. “Nobody expected that… Vajpayee was going to allow such things to happen [in Gujarat].” Gowda spoke of the VHP preparing the list of shops owned by Muslims in Ahmedabad on the morning of February 28, the day Muslims came under attack in the state. The implication was that it was “a riot diligently scripted”.
Prime Number: 22
There are 22 IPS officers in India with criminal cases against them in the last five years, according to Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai. “As per information provided by the UP government, one IPS officer has been declared a fugitive in UP,” he added.
Data from the National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-20) shows that in over half of the 30 States/UTs analysed, more than 90% of the population ate fish, chicken or meat daily or weekly or occasionally, reports The Hindu. “In 25 of them, the figure was more than 50%. In none of the States/UTs was the share less than 20%.” The BBC finds that the right is weaponising vegetarianism.
Opeds you don’t want to miss
CAG’s audit portrays an unsatisfactory picture of systems and processes in UIDAI. The main takeaway is the laxity in the organisation, which generates data for India’s most important identity marker and must store it safely. This laxity is worrying, says an edit in the Times of India.
Nehru’s axiom continues to guide New Delhi’s approach to conflicts, especially those involving its partners, but Washington fails to understand it, writes Stanly Johny.
The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill creates a system with virtually no fetters on processing metrics from any arrestee, detainee, convicted offender, or any person whose measurement may be considered “expedient” for any investigation, writes Shreya Rastogi.
With religious tensions worsening in India, understanding caste is more urgent than ever, writes Suprakash Majumdar for Time magazine.
Shuchi Bansal writes that rising prices will be a disappointment for buyers whose household budgets have already been hit by pandemic-related business losses or job losses.
If the CPI(M) wants to counter the Hindutva narrative which is gaining ground in Tamil Nadu, they need to think of preserving the diverse cultures of worship that the Sangh is seeking to wipe out, writes Bharathy Singaravel.
The failure of the Indian education system is creating chauvinistic, amoral citizens with a poor understanding of social and political issues, writes Anurag Mehra.
Devinder Sharma writes that the global scramble for sourcing food supplies is primarily because countries were asked to stay away from food self-sufficiency. Building up global food supply chains in the name of ensuring competitiveness has led to the present crisis.
We need an environment that creates more quality jobs, where each worker adds value to the enterprise. Poor quality jobs that contribute nothing to productivity are mere transfers of money without value-add, writes Amir Ullah Khan.
Filmmaker Anand Patwardhan shares with Sabrang India his views on the current socio-political environment in India, censorship and his own philosophy in filmmaking.
Hear the latest episode of LitPickers from Supriya Nair and Deepanjana Pal, one of the finest book podcasts anywhere and certainly the best in India.
The National Science Gallery announces PSYCHE, their new online exhibition season.
There is a series of talks and an online exhibition on the mental hospitals of India.
Over and out
The Kochi based neo-folk group ‘When Chai Met Toast’ will perform live in Chennai the day after tomorrow. This is them.
2G man Vinod Rai’s Not Just A Nightwatchman: My Innings with BCCI touches upon issues of Indian cricket. Anil Kumble felt that he was treated “unfairly” and forced to resign as head coach of the Indian team but then skipper Virat Kohli said that players were not happy with his “intimidating” style of enforcing discipline, according to Rai, former Committee of Administrators head.
Last week, 80 passengers were stranded as two Air India Express flights departed early from Kerala’s Kozhikode airport. The airline had emailed travellers on Saturday night informing them about the rescheduling of flights to Doha (IX 373) and Sharjah (IX 351) but clearly the message didn’t get through to all.
His Knight Rider-sampled dance floor hit put the dhol into hip-hop and Asian beats on the BBC. In a lookback at bhangra, Panjabi MC talks about becoming a pop icon.
That’s it for today. We’ll be back with you on Monday, on a device near you. If The India Cable was forwarded to you by a friend (perhaps a common friend!) book your own copy by SUBSCRIBING HERE.