Undercut By Amit Shah, NSCN-IM Miffed About Fruitless Talks; Sidestepping Hindutva Violence Issue, Lekhi Did India A Disservice
CDS post being reconsidered, Kashmiri Pandits resign en masse from PM scheme, Quad Vaccine Initiative floundering, India criticised for wheat export fiasco, Adani buys deep into BloombergQuint
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
May 16, 2022
The Union is reconsidering the post of Chief of Defence Staff, barely two years after Gen Bipin Rawat was inaugurated as the first incumbent, reports The Hindu. Nearly five months after his death in an accident, the government feels that “currently downside of appointing a CDS is more than not having one.” The Modi government had hailed the creation of the post as a major military innovation. Now, it is stalling recruitment into the Army, worsening the manpower situation. The Print reports on young men from Rajasthan and Haryana who have missed or are likely to miss recruitment because of the age bar.
Very considerate of the Bajrang Dal to provide arms training for those left out of uniform.
The court-mandated videography survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque concluded this morning. A Varanasi court has sealed a location on the premises where a Shivalinga was found. Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear a petition challenging the video survey ordered by the local court on the basis of a plea filed by some Hindu devotees.
An unscripted sequel to The Kashmir Files is playing out. The film was used to heighten communal emotions, but the real killing of a Pandit in Kashmir is drawing no sympathy or support from the government. It threatens to snowball into a massive crisis for the Modi government, especially because protesting Pandits in Kashmir were attacked and repressed by security forces. As per the J&K Police, the two terrorists who killed Bhat had recently infiltrated and were engaged in an encounter on May 11 in Bandipora. They escaped and reached Budgam on May 12, killed Rahul Bhat and returned to Bandipora, where they were killed by the police on May 13. Some 350 Kashmiri Pandits given jobs in the region under the PM scheme to rehabilitate them have resigned, a serious embarrassment for a regime which wants to be seen as partial to Pandits.
The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) collective leadership is miffed with the Union government after two days of talks on Thursday and Friday did not yield any result on the vexed issue of a separate flag and constitution. To their annoyance, Amit Shah has “quietly” called to Delhi Nagaland-based leaders of all hues, including CM Neiphiu Rio and former Congress CM and former governor of Gujarat and Maharashtra SC Jamir, to make the ongoing peace talks “broad-based”. Shah had invited Jamir and convened a meeting of a core committee which included the three leaders. Incidentally, Khitovi Zimomi, convenor of the Naga National Political Groups (NNPG), an umbrella organisation of erstwhile armed rebels outfits, has been in Delhi since Friday. “There is no question that the NSCN(IM) will walk out of the talks, but why is the government trying to find an escape route from the May 2015 Framework Agreement that was signed in full view of the world?” the NCSN-IM spokesperson asked.
The Assam State Coordinator of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has reminded Foreigners’ Tribunals (FTs) across Assam to not consider the draft NRC and its supplementary list as reliable evidence for the disposal of cases. “Since the Registrar General of Citizens Registration (RGCR) has not declared NRC as ﬁnal and there are errors, things may change when the ﬁnal NRC gets published,” Hitesh Dev Sarma wrote to the FT members on April 18. An FT member responded to Sarma’s letter on May 10, insisting that the NRC was ﬁnal and was published in compliance with orders and judgments of the Supreme Court and through a notification of the RGCR. He cited Clause 7 of the Citizenship Rules of 2003 and a press statement by former State Coordinator Prateek Hajela on August 31, 2019, “whereby it was clear that the published NRC is the final NRC”. The member also said the NRC lists (draft, additional draft and supplementary list) are mentioned as ﬁnal NRC on the oﬃcial website. Today, an FT member asked the coordinator to not interfere in the work of quasi-judicial bodies.
In six years, the Railways have abolished 72,000 jobs in Group C and D, whose functions have been overtaken by technology. But slashing jobs in a major state employer during an unemployment crisis is a terrible idea. A Rajya Sabha MP has sought the restoration of jobs.
More than a year after an ambitious initiative to produce one billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines for distribution in the Indo-Pacific region was launched, the Quad Vaccine Initiative is floundering and is unlikely to meet its target by the end of the year. The original plan to produce the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine at Biological E’s Hyderabad facility for the QVI ran aground on indemnity issues and safety concerns. Corbevax, also produced at the facility, is yet to receive WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL) needed for distribution. In addition, experts say there is now an “oversupply” of vaccines in Southeast Asian countries and other regions, bringing down demand.
India’s forex reserves fell by $1.7 billion to the lowest in over a year on May 6, a week before the rupee hit all-time lows, spelling further erosion. Persistent capital outflows and a weakening rupee are to blame.
Wheat export from India has been called off as suddenly as the plug was pulled on vaccines. Germany is vocally critical: “We call on India to assume its responsibility as a G20 member,” Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir said. India first said it needed WHO to allow it to “feed the world”, and then suddenly cancelled the feast. The Indian media was full of praise for PM Modi, first for rescuing the world and then for rescuing Indians. As analysts pointed out, the price of wheat had been shooting up for months. Who was asleep at the wheel? It was a failure of governance and policy. Such is the domestic wheat shortage that the Centre has now cut wheat allocation to 10 states under the National Food Security Act.
An investigation by Newsclick and The Wire reveals that the sale of Pawan Hans to a consortium through a “transparent” process is not quite kosher. Constituents have put very little information about themselves in the public domain. One is a fund based in the Caymans, which has been sanctioned by the National Company Law Tribunal.
Small businesses have been hit disproportionately hard by the continuing power crisis. Many can’t operate at all during outages, and even those with power backup ran up a huge power bill in the second half of April, when cuts became frequent and prolonged, says Mint. Production cost rose 4–5% in that period.
BQPrime enumerates the precise deficiencies that the US Food and Drug Administration found at the Gujarat facility of Sun Pharma, which has 5% of the US generics market. It’s a messy story.
Tripura chief minister Biplab Deb was sacked on the weekend. Facing a massive rebellion in the state party, the BJP has done an Uttarakhand. Manik Saha is the new chief minister. This will be the fourth or fifth CM from a Congress background in a BJP ruled state, but also the fifth sacking of a BJP CM since 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The change of guard caused hysteria among deeply invested partymen:
A total of 84 people working at 42 Indian airports were found drunk on duty between January 2021 and March 2022, as per aviation regulator DGCA. The alcohol test was failed by 56 workers at 35 Airports Authority of India-run airports, 17 at four Adani Group-run airports, nine at two GMR group-run airports and two at Fairfax India-run Bengaluru Airport. While 54 of the 84 workers who failed the mandatory test were drivers, aerobridge operators, loaders, wiremen, ramp supervisors, ground support service teams and aircraft rescue and firefighting services were also found drunk.
Adani Enterprises is acquiring a 49% stake in Raghav Bahl’s Quintillion Business Media, which runs the now-rebranded business news digital platform BloombergQuint, for an undisclosed sum. Quintillion Business Media was previously a joint venture between Bahl’s Quintillion Media and American news behemoth Bloomberg. In March, the two restructured their partnership into a licence (content-sharing) agreement. Since then, the company has rebranded and relaunched BloombergQuint.com as BQPrime.com with the tagline, ‘Powered by Bloomberg’.
Twenty candidates of Punjabi origin are in the fray for the Ontario provincial elections in Canada. All 123 constituencies go to the polls on June 2. The three major political outfits — the Liberals, National Democratic Party (NDP) and the Progressive Conservative Party (PC) — are banking heavily on South Asians in general and Punjabis in particular, and have given them visible representation.
India was the world’s top remittance receiving country in 2021, and Mexico has pushed China to the third slot, according to the World Bank. India has received over $89 billion in 2021, 8% more than in 2020.
In the Vatican City yesterday, the first Indian layman was declared a saint by the Pope. Devasahayam Pillai, 18th century anti-caste mobiliser, was recommended for beatification by the Vatican in 2004, at the request of the Kottar diocese, Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council and the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India.
Participants in the ‘History Will Bear Witness’ webinar have taken note of the irony that words like inquilab and azadi, integral to the slogans of the freedom struggle, are now perceived as ‘anti-national’.
Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan spoke at Manthan on why liberal democracy is necessary for Indian development.
Indian children are among the youngest to reach mobile maturity and have the highest online risk exposure, according to a global study by McAfee. Smartphones are used by 83% of kids aged 10-14, above the international average of 76%. The highest rates of online risks were found in India ― 24% of children aged 10-14 reported them, double the global average.
India swept past 14-time champion Indonesia to claim a surprise first-ever Thomas Cup win in Bangkok yesterday. India was making its first appearance in the final in the 32nd edition of the premier men’s world badminton team tournament.
Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Ghulam Mohammad Jaula died this morning. A stalwart of the farmers’ movement, he coined the slogan “Har Har Mahadev, Allah Hu Akbar”, which Mahendra Singh Tikait used to forge solidarity among protesters, and which was used again by his son Rakesh Tikait recently, during the movement against the three farm laws.
PM Modi and Nepal PM Sher Bahadur Deuba were at Lumbini on Buddha Purnima. The lotuses look quite exotic. Or ectopic ― out of place.
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