Ultra Rich Making Much More, Giving Much Less; Reform Prioritising Citizens’ Rights Essential for Crises Like Pandemics
Facebook stung using Rohingya hate ads, Corbevax raises concerns, speculation about farm laws returning, Muslim family donates land for world’s biggest temple, rubber organ alarms Maharashtra district
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
March 23, 2022
A deputy panchayat chief from the Trinamool Congress in Birbhum district of West Bengal was allegedly murdered by political rivals earlier this week, following which the charred bodies of a family of eight were ‘discovered’ in the same village. While the police are supposedly investigating whether the two crimes are linked – it would indeed be a strange coincidence if they are not – the BJP has cited this as evidence of mounting political violence in the state and the Calcutta high court has now stepped in.
The parliamentary standing committee on IT led by Shashi Tharoor has called Facebook and Electronics and IT Ministry officials to discuss the prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms, with special emphasis on the security of women online. In its agenda, the panel said it also wants to hear the views of the “representatives of Facebook India [and the ministry] on the subject ‘safeguarding citizens’ rights.”
A week ago, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi alleged that social media giants were being used to “hack democracy” and urged the government to end the “systematic influence and interference of Facebook and other social media giants” in electoral politics. A new report finds that Facebook failed to detect blatant hate speech and calls to violence against Myanmar’s Rohingya, years after such behaviour was found to have played a determining role in the genocide against them. The report, on which the Associated Press has a story, showed that “the rights group Global Witness submitted eight paid ads for approval to Facebook, each including different versions of hate speech against Rohingya. All eight ads were approved.” The group pulled the ads before publication, its point made about Facebook’s “leaky” policies on hate speech.
After surviving a genocide, Rohingya refugees are struggling to find jobs and dignity in India. They have no documentation other than UNHCR refugee cards. India does not have a national domestic law on refugees and asylum-seekers. Foreign nationals are governed by a mix of laws that limit access to welfare, support and documentation, and subjects them to prosecution. Legislation is needed for protecting refugee rights and for making the government accountable for supporting and managing refugees. Lack of access to support and opportunities denies the Rohingya their dignity and human rights. Many want to return to Rakhine state, but can’t.
Hours after US President Joe Biden termed India’s support for sanctions against Russia “somewhat shaky”, in New Delhi, US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said very clearly that India must stand against “autocracies like Russia and China”. The Ministry of External Affairs did not comment on Biden’s remarks. Nuland has said the US can help India with arms supplies and that Delhi should be wary of the ‘Russia-China axis’.
India’s uber rich have sharply reduced philanthropic contributions despite a surge in net worth in the past six years. Ultra-high net worth Indians, worth more than Rs 1,000 crore, scaled down their philanthropic contributions by about 40% to Rs 12,000 crore in the six years upto March 2021, according to the India Philanthropy Report 2022. The number of people in the category increased by about 20% in FY20-21, while their cumulative net worth expanded by about 50%, from about Rs 6 trillion to about Rs 9 trillion. The cumulative wealth of UHNIs with more than Rs 5,000 crore soared about 80%.
India saw an unprecedented economic upheaval in the last two years of the pandemic, as people lost jobs and livelihoods. With it came a mental health crisis – and a wave of suicides, reports Scroll. To add to the misery, petrol and diesel prices were today hiked by 80 paise a litre each for the second day running, since the price freeze for the state polls.
Migrants from Mizoram permanently resettled in Tripura following an agreement in 2020 have asked the state government to recognise them as Bru instead of Reang in the electoral rolls and other documents.“…the Bru have been informed to write the name of tribe /nomenclature ‘Reang/Riang’ in the Register of Ordinary Residents (ROR) and Electoral Rolls… writing of the tribe ‘Reang/Riang’ is quite inconvenient for the Bru IDPs because 90% of Bru people of Mizoram [among those living in Tripura] are having Mizo name,” they wrote to the chief minister.
The Bajrang Dal will “ban Muslims” from setting up stalls at the five-day Marikamba fair in Shivamogga this year and has made it mandatory for all vendors to put up saffron flags. Bajrang Dal leaders have obtained a tender by paying Rs 9 lakh to allot stalls to vendors, whose number is seeing a drop.
Following other BJP-ruled states like Himachal Pradesh and UP, the Haryana Assembly has passed a contentious law against religious conversion by allurement, coercion or fraudulent means. Congress MLAs opposed the Bill and staged a walkout from the House.
No Covid-19 patient died due to shortage of medical oxygen in Gujarat hospitals as claimed by the Opposition Congress, state Health Minister Rushikesh Patel told the Assembly yesterday.
Vaccine manufacturers Bharat Biotech Ltd and Serum Institute of India joined hands with the Centre in the Supreme Court to oppose a plea seeking directions for disclosure of data on clinical trials of Covid-19 vaccines and post-jab complications. The apex court has reserved its order.
The Enforcement Directorate yesterday seized properties worth Rs 6.45 crore owned by Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s brother-in-law in connection with a 2017 money laundering case. According to the ED, they attached the immovable properties of Shreedhar Patankar which were part of M/s Pushpak Bullion, a Pushpak Group company. The ED had registered a laundering case against Pushpak Bullion and a group of companies on March 6, 2017. Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena claimed the agencies are being pressured to take action against Maha Vikas Aghadi leaders to topple Uddhav Thackeray’s government. He alleged that the ED is active only in non-BJP ruled states.
The Lok Sabha was told yesterday that “every Indian is legally bound to answer Census questions” and all requisite steps are being taken to carry out the Census and the National Population Register (NPR) exercise smoothly.
Incarcerated Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav’s health has deteriorated and he is being taken to AIIMS New Delhi. A medical board of the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi referred him to AIIMS.
The Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers (IFAT) has asked Zomato, which is rolling out 10 minute delivery, to ensure that delivery workers are taken care of. “Zomato should understand the stress and pressure it creates … forgetting that the workers are not machines. Many work for more than 10 hours and the platform actively encourages such work practices by not setting any cap on maximum hours that a delivery worker can login. Long working hours on the road adds to the risk of accident,” the statement said. While companies share information about the number of biryanis ordered per minute, they do not share data on accidents that its delivery partners have met with or how many people have lost their lives.
A Muslim family in East Champaran in Bihar has donated land worth Rs 2.5 crore for the construction of the world’s largest Hindu temple ― the Virat Ramayan Mandir in the Kaithwalia area of East Champaran. When will a Hindu family display similar largeheartedness for building a mosque in ‘New India’?
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