UK Investigators Using Indian ‘Hack For Hire’ Firms; God Knows How Close the Climate Crisis Is ― Or Perhaps Kabir Knows
SC okays EWS quota that excludes SC/ST/OBCs, CPWD to teach vastu, out of state transfer of Kashmir PSA detenus challenged, Tirupati richer than ONGC & Wipro, lottery winner who can’t get change
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 7, 2022
After reserving its verdict in September, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court has by a 3-2 split, upheld the 103rd Constitutional Amendment which introduced 10% reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) from among India’s forward castes in education and public employment. It’s a major victory for the government, which had introduced the quota before the 2019 parliamentary election. Chief Justice UU Lalit, in an unusual move, stood with the minority judgement authored by Justice Ravindra Bhat, which held that it is unconstitutional to exclude Dalits, tribals and OBCs from the 10% set aside for the poor. They also disagreed with the three other judges on breaching the 50% limit to reservations set by the 1993 Indra Sawhney judgement of the Supreme Court. Here is Live Law’s quick summary of the arguments in the court so far in this case.
It is Chief Justice UU Lalit’s last day in office today.
The Times and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, London, report on an India-based computer hacking gang hired to target international businesses, government officials and journalists. It was used against critics of Qatar in the run-up to the football World Cup. Other targets include former UK chancellor Philip Hammond, who was investigating the novichok poisonings in Salisbury, Formula One team bosses, footballer Michel Platini and French website MediaPart which, incidentally, broke the Rafale story. In our region, the gang seized control of computers of Pakistani politicians, generals and diplomats and eavesdropped on their private conversations, allegedly at the behest of Indian intelligence services. The Bureau reports that the hackers operate under the name WhiteInt from “a fourth-floor apartment” in Gurugram. It attributes the operation to “31-year-old Aditya Jain – an occasional TV cybersecurity pundit who also holds down a day job at the Indian office of the British accountancy firm Deloitte”. Sunday Times reporters contacted him earlier this year posing as “corporate investigators seeking to hire a computer hacker”. It says that for seven years, Jain has run a network of phishers who also drop surveillance malware on the devices of their victims.
On January 10, he was reportedly tasked with breaking into the email account of Fawad Chaudhry, minister of information in Imran Khan’s government. His team used malware to take over his computers and targeted the country’s senior generals and its embassies in Beijing, Shanghai and Kathmandu. The standout Pakistan target was former president Pervez Musharraf. In the Leela Palace hotel in Delhi, another hacker told the investigators that most UK private investigators use the services of Indian hackers.
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams has declared its net worth for the first time since the body was formed to run the Venkateswara temple in 1933: Rs 2.26 lakh crore. That makes it richer than Wipro, Nestle and ONGC.
Some 116 infrastructure projects, mainly Railways and roads, worth Rs 1.26 lakh crore could be shut down due to unresolved obstacles ranging from land acquisition to Centre-state tussles. While these projects have incurred a cumulative capital expenditure of Rs 20,311 crore, the Centre is considering the possibility of finally putting a lid on them. In an internal report prepared by NITI Aayog, these 116 projects feature in the list of those terminated, on hold, or bound for foreclosure. These may be removed from the Centre’s project monitoring system as well.
The India-Nepal border will be sealed for 72 hours before the November 20 general elections in the neighbouring country to prevent the movement of bad boys. The decision followed a meeting in Nepal on Saturday.
Weekly bulletins by INSACOG – a consortium of India’s top laboratories – that provide an overview of the Covid-19 strains in circulation in the country have been getting delayed by months, and the actual situation is perhaps not being reported. The latest INSACOG bulletin in mid-October was the first statement on the Omicron sub-lineage XBB, which was first detected in India three weeks earlier.
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The Central Public Work Department will train architects and engineers in ‘Vastu Shastra: Philosophy, Importance and use in Building Design’. The online training session on the traditional Indian system of architecture based on ancient texts is scheduled on November 17. “Driven by ideology, the Indian government is promoting Ayurveda, a millennia-old system, as a valid alternative to Western medicine”. But its “natural” cures are insufficiently tested and sometimes dangerous, writes Catherine Davison for Codastory.com.
Almost 65% of 70 organisations had employed gig workers in 2022, according to a report by Nasscom, job portal Indeed and financial services firm AON, up from 57% in 2020. But the proportion of gig workers remains less than 5% of the total workforce (for companies with more than 2,000 full-time employees).
Mobile bills pinch Indian wallets more. A Business Standard analysis of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) data shows that while bills are lower in India, they are a larger share of monthly income than in many economies. In India, low end consumers shell out close to 1.1% on their bills compared to 0.7% in China and the US. Indian mobile bills have also risen more than in other countries since the pandemic, up 28% from 2019 levels. The data considered prices on a purchasing power parity basis in dollars.
As the DMK and its allies ready a memorandum to be presented to President Droupadi Murmu, seeking the removal of Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi, constitutional experts say that aggrieved states should move the Supreme Court to end the constitutional impasse created by governors in several Opposition-ruled states. Former Lok Sabha Secretary General PDT Achary said: “There is no precedent of governors being removed on the demand of Opposition-ruled states. Instead of approaching the President, the states should have approached the Supreme Court on grounds that the governor is acting against the Constitution,” he said. Achary points out that the governor’s refusal to sign bills and demanding the sacking of state ministers can be challenged in the Supreme Court. “Let the SC come out with a judgement and settle it once and for all. The state governments have enough grounds to challenge the Governor’s actions,” he says.
The Maharashtra Police on Saturday registered an FIR against Dr Anahita Pandole in connection with the accident that claimed the life of industrialist and former Tata chief, Cyrus Mistry, in Palghar district, in September. Dr Pandole, a noted obstetrician and gynaecologist, was reportedly driving the car at the time of the incident. She has been booked for allegedly ‘causing death due to rash and negligent driving’. The accident is understood to have occurred due to bad highway design, not the driver’s error.
Five prominent Indian-American politicians are in the race for the US House of Representatives as the country heads for midterm polls on November 8. Ami Bera, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ro Khanna and Pramila Jayapal are likely to be re-elected. All four are Democrats. Looking to add to the Samosa Caucus is entrepreneur and businessman Shri Thanedar, who seeks election from the 13th Congressional District of Michigan. During this election cycle, another Indian-American seems to be all set to make history in Maryland. Aruna Miller, 57, a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates, is running as Lt Governor of the State on the Democratic ticket.
India’s first registered voter, Shyam Saran Negi, died on Saturday morning at home in Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh, aged over 100. On November 3, Negi had cast his vote by postal ballot for the Assembly polls, the Election Commission said.
Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan, the old RSS-Sangh shibboleth, is now in operation, sidelining from employment those who are not comfortable with Hindi. Yet another reminder that the attack on pluralism is not restricted to the realm of ideas.
Post-punk revival icons The Strokes and electro-pop-rock act Imagine Dragons will headline the inaugural Indian edition of the Lollapalooza music festival in Mumbai on January 28-29.
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