Undeterred by 'Security' Claim, SC Stays Channel Ban; Does NaMo App Have Clearance to Raise Funds in Name of Govt?
Modi talked police reform but skipped main point, farmers to launch MSP movement, UP seeks consultant for ‘trillion dollar economy’, Census should show diversity and Odisha adivasi is new mukbang star
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 15, 2022
Today, the Supreme Court stayed the order of the Union government which had taken the MediaOne Malayalam news channel off the air on security grounds. In February, the Kerala High Court had thought there were sufficient intelligence inputs to justify the Centre’s action. This despite the fact that those inputs – shared with the court in a ‘sealed cover’ – were clearly perfunctory, as the division bench was constrained to note. “[The] nature, impact, gravity and depth of the issue is not discernible from the files,” it had observed.
NaMo, the personal app of Narendra Modi, has been collecting funds in the name of government schemes, according to RTI activist Aravindakshan. He sent an RTI application with 16 questions to the Prime Minister’s Office, seeking details regarding the NaMo app, and whether it has permission to collect funds for the BJP and government schemes. On January 27, 2022, the PMO responded: “…information sought is not part of record held by this office.”
Another RTI application was sent to the Ministry of Women and Child Development asking if NGOs or individuals are allowed to raise funds for the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme, and if any special permission was given to the NaMo App to raise funds for it. On February 21, the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Section of the ministry sent a categorical reply: “There is no such provision to give special permission to raise funds through the NaMo app for Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme.” The response to a similar RTI application to the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, which implements the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’, was that “there is no provision in SBM(G) Phase-II guidelines regarding raising of funds by NGO or Individual for Swachh Bharat Projects.”
The responses from the PMO and ministries raise several questions, reports The News Minute. For how long has the NaMo app been raising funds for the party in the name of the Union government’s flagship schemes? Was the money collected transferred to the government? Furthermore, the home page of the BJP’s official website says, “Make a donation towards new India’s creation! Donate Now.” It redirects to PM Narendra Modi’s website (narendramodi.in/donation/).
In February, India’s trade deficit widened to $20.88 billion, after hitting a five-month low in January. This was on the back of Imports, which witnessed a 35% jump YoY with shipments worth $55.45 billion coming into the country. Inbound shipments were led by petroleum and crude products, electronic goods, pearls and precious and semi-precious stones.
CMIE data shows that by February 2022, the Indian workforce included 50.3 million graduates and postgraduates. This is 7 million less than the 57.3 million graduates+ employed in February 2020. In February 2022, employment among those who had still not completed their 10th standard education was at 192.8 million.This was 11.6% lower than it was in February 2020. This fall is much larger than the overall fall of 2.2% in employment in the same period.
But the UP government has advertised for a job. It seeks a consultant to “boost up the size of the economy of Uttar Pradesh to One Trillion Dollars in five years”.
Meeting after the recently concluded Assembly elections in five states, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has announced that it will launch a nationwide agitation to build a movement on minimum support price (MSP) after the Centre failed to act on its promises announced on December 9 last year. “The morcha has given a call to observe all-India protest day on March 21 when all farm unions will hold dharnas at tehsil and district headquarters. Similarly, week-long protests will be held across the country from April 11-17 to mobilise farmers on the issue of threats being received by eyewitnesses in the Lakhimpur Kheri killing case, and MSP. Our aim was to give SKM a formal structure and the decisions for rules and regulations and funds too have been made,” said Ashok Dhawale, president of the Kisan Sabha.
More cracks appear in the ruling NDA in Bihar. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar accused the Speaker and BJP MLA Vijay Kumar Sinha of “unconstitutional” conduct yesterday. The Speaker was not amused about being told how to “run the House”.
Delhi High Court Chief Justice DN Patel, who retired on Friday, is now chairperson of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). The notification of his appointment by the Union government, was issued on March 4, eight days before his retirement, which is highly irregular, reports ThePrint. Justice Patel is from Gujarat, and in the Delhi HC, and his courtroom witnessed several controversial cases, as well as an unprecedented incident of lawyers shouting “Shame, shame!”, when a bench he led denied interim protection to students in connection with the violence at Jamia Millia Islamia University in December 2019.
Reports of factories of aircraft manufacturer Antonov and gas turbine maker Zorya-Mashproekt on fire in Ukraine after Russian missile and artillery strikes spell trouble for the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force. India procures several parts of the Russian systems used by armed forces from Ukraine. In the long term, supplies from Ukraine will be affected.
The Chinese government yesterday appeared to back Pakistan’s call for a “thorough investigation” into the accidental firing of a missile by India into Pakistan’s territory. Responding to a question from Pakistani media, China’s Foreign Ministry said it “called on relevant countries to have dialogue and communication as soon as possible and launch a thorough investigation into this incident, strengthen information-sharing and establish a notiﬁcation mechanism and prevent miscalculation.”
The US State Department refused to get dragged in: “We refer you of course to the Indian Ministry of Defence for any follow-up. They issued a statement on March 9 to explain precisely what had happened. We don’t have a comment beyond that.”
HUL has hiked Bru coffee powder prices by 3-7% across packs. Nestle India has also hiked prices of milk and coffee powder, and the Maggi Masala Noodles 140 gm pack is up by Rs 3 or 12.5%.
The New York Times revisited the tragedy at the Canada-US border in January, when a family of four from Gujarat froze to death as they tried to cross it into the US. They were found 15 metres from the border. Jagdish Patel (39) and his wife Vaishali (37) were teachers until Covid-19 shuttered schools in Gujarat. They travelled legally to Canada and paid to be smuggled into the US