Ukraine FM Calls India’s Russian Oil Binge Morally Inappropriate; AAP Wins Delhi Municipality But BJP Still a Force to Reckon With
Steel exports plummet, India bags $100 billion in remittances, CAA challenge not heard due to ‘heavy caseload’, Google launches ‘prebunking’ project, cancer cases to shoot up by 2025, rupee below 82
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Snapshot of the day
December 7, 2022
The Winter Session of Parliament is crammed with 25 Bills ― including two financial ones ― which will be passed without debate for want of time, says the Opposition. The Congress demands discussion on the hasty appointment of an Election Commissioner during the 17-day session of parliament. The Congress President and leader in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge held a meeting with all Opposition leaders this morning, where the TMC and AAP were also in attendance.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba condemned India’s growing oil purchases from Russia following Moscow’s invasion as “morally inappropriate”. A day earlier, Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar had defended the purchases of discounted Russian crude, saying they were less than Europe’s imports. But Kuleba told NDTV it was “completely wrong” to justify buying oil from Russia “by arguing that Europeans were doing the same”. It is “morally inappropriate” … “because you are buying cheap oil not because of Europeans but because of us, of our suffering, of our tragedy, and because of the war that Russia launched against Ukraine.”
India is home to a great diversity of faiths, the US said yesterday, and it will continue to encourage New Delhi to uphold its commitments to protect religious freedom for all. The US has designated 12 countries including China, Pakistan and Myanmar, as “countries of particular concern”. “India of course, is the world’s largest democracy. It’s home to a great diversity of faiths… We continue to carefully monitor the religious freedom situation in all countries and that includes in India,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in Washington.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh discussed the Ladakh border crisis with his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe on the sidelines of the 9th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on November 23. Singh sought to open communications at the military commanders level, top Defence Ministry sources say. Fenghe even suggested talks at a higher level, between the two governments, apparently.
The protest by fisherfolk against the Vizhinjam seaport in Kerala, being built by Adani, was called off yesterday, after over 130 days, “for now”. This was announced by Vicar General Eugene Pereira, who has been seen at the forefront of the protest. This happened after the protest action council held discussions with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The Hindu reports that a month before Assembly polls, the Centre green-lighted a Gujarat Bill allowing police to act against protestors without informing the courts. The Bill seeks to make violations of prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC a cognisable offence under Section 188 of the IPC, which saw a spurt in cases during the lockdown.
Steel yourself: India’s exports of the metal in January-September, 2022, show a steep 39% drop to 8.93 million tonnes against 14.60 million tonnes in the same nine months in 2021.
In the first nine months of 2022, China claimed to have exported goods worth $89.66 billion to India, but India’s Ministry of Commerce and Trade put the figure at $79.18 billion. Much of this mismatch is due to import duty evasion. Ingenious importers order from a foreign country at market rates and forge documents for under-invoicing. Hawala channels are used for payment of the balance to sellers overseas. Post-pandemic, these transactions have become rampant.
Also, read this to unmask the “gloss in the GDP estimate.”
After see-sawing through the morning, the Delhi municipal elections finally swung decisively in favour of AAP, which won 134 wards out of the 250 up for grabs. The BJP, which threw everything into the fight, performed strongly, with 104 while the Congress remained insignificant with just 9. Delhi will now have a “double-engine” government, but not the sort that the BJP likes. This is the first time the BJP has lost control of the MCD since 2007 but its vote share of 39% to the AAP’s 42% is much closer than the 15 percentage point difference seen in the 2020 Delhi assembly elections when AAP polled 53.5% to the BJP’s 38.5%.
According to World Bank data, India is set to become the first country ever to receive $100 billion a year in remittances, following a 12% surge. That’s 3% of GDP. India has the largest diaspora of 18 million. The depreciation of the rupee has also helped. Since January, the currency has fallen 10% against the dollar. The rupee yesterday fell below 82/USD for the first time in a month. Reuters reports that premiums are at a 12-year low.
Billionaire businessman Gautam Adani, in yet another interview with the Financial Times, on investments in renewables this time, has said that he aligns his business “with government wishes” and therefore gets the benefits of a “tailwind”. He also insisted that his group would be the first port of call for international investors betting on India: “We are the largest group in India, followed by Tata, followed by Reliance (which are also into renewables). So when someone wants to invest in India, where will they go first?”
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A challenge to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 was listed in the Supreme Court for hearing for September 12, but it was adjourned to September 19 and then to October 31 when, after a brief hearing on the modalities, it was posted to yesterday. But the case did not come up even for customary reference because of the “heavy caseload”, reports The Telegraph.
The Pakistan blind cricket team has been denied visas to travel to India for the ongoing Blind Cricket World Cup. The Pakistan Blind Cricket Council (PBCC) said: “This unfortunate incident has left the Pakistan blind cricket team in the lurch. It was highly likely that Pakistan and India would have locked horns in the final of the ongoing World Cup and considering the current form of the Green Shirts, Pakistan had high chances to win the World Cup.”
The government will allow a consortium of foreign funds and investment firms to own more than 51% in IDBI Bank Ltd. Current RBI guidelines restrict foreign ownership in new private banks, but the residency criteria for promoters would not apply to an existing entity like IDBI Bank, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management said.
Iran has halted imports of Indian tea and rice “in likely retaliation”, experts say. “The basic tension between India and Iran is that the latter wants New Delhi to restart buying oil," said Kabir Taneja, Fellow, Observer Research Foundation.
Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri yesterday tendered an unconditional apology to the Delhi High Court for his comments accusing Justice S Muralidhar of being biased after he passed an order in 2018 to quash transit remand and house arrest of activist Gautam Navlakha in connection to the Bhima Koregaon case. But he has been asked to render the apology in person in March 2023.
Nineteen global human rights bodies, including Scholars At Risk, have written to Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud urging him to review the Supreme Court decision to suspend the Bombay High Court order acquitting Prof GN Saibaba: “Professor Saibaba was subject to arrest, prosecution and detention in retaliation for his nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association – conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments.”
Despite being warned against ‘misleading’ advertising, Ramdev’s Patanjali Wellness has run a newspaper ad claiming that its traditional medicines can cure several ailments such as Type 1 diabetes, thyroid issues and asthma. “Do not stop insulin,” doctors warned. Bafflingly, Patanjali claims to have completely cured Type 1 diabetes “for the first time in the world”.
A magistrate’s court in Ahmedabad has remanded Trinamool Congress spokesperson Saket Gokhale to police custody till tomorrow, hours after he was arrested on a complaint for allegedly tweeting fake news about PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Morbi after the suspension bridge collapse.
The cyberattack on Delhi’s AIIMS continues to “raise red flags about national security.” Online registration of new patients at the OPD has resumed but online appointment have not, laboratory services are in manual mode and servers remained down for most of yesterday. Now, Moneycontrol reports intensified attacks on the Indian Council of Medical Research, from a Hong Kong-based blacklisted IP address. Safdarjung Hospital also faced a hacking attack four days ago.
Mongabay reports that “tarballs” dot India’s west coast annually, indicating “continued oil spills and ship fuel discharge”.
Rahul Gandhi blew kisses to a group shouting Modi slogans as the Bharat Jodo Yatra crossed the Madhya Pradesh border.
Mallika Sarabhai has been appointed chancellor of Kerala Kalamandalam University by the Kerala government. A renowned Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam dancer, she runs the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts in Ahmedabad. She has consistently raised her voice against communalism and injustice.
Former Vice chancellor of JNU, noted economist, former Union minister and former chairman of IRMA Yoginder K Alagh (83) passed away yesterday in Ahmedabad after a prolonged illness. He was emeritus professor at the Sardar Patel Institute of Economic and Social Research in Ahmedabad.
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