Union Govt Owes Rs 11,000 Cr to MNREGA Workers; Why Mohammed Zubair and the Truth Matter
India leads in net shutdowns, profitable startups fewer, ‘Lashkar’ man is BJP social media boss, Punjab AAP splurging on 'godi' media, 'Mango Man’ talks to tree of his life, 'Kali' filmmaker targeted
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
July 4, 2022
India is the only country in Asia to permit the commercial sale of breast milk for profit. Neolacta Lifesciences, which got the FSSAI licence in the dairy category for selling human milk, is collecting milk from young mothers and selling it for Rs 4,500 for 300 ml.
Human tears may also be a commodity. A Shiv Sena MLA who wept tears of loyalty for Uddhav Thackeray last week has now gone over to Eknath Shinde, the new Maharashtra Chief Minister sworn in with the BJP’s support. Shinde handily won his confidence vote on Monday.
The curious case of the Udaipur beheading gets curiouser. The BJP Minority Morcha in Rajasthan was forced to refute the allegation that Riyaz Attari, the main accused in the Kanhaiya Lal murder case, is a BJP member. After photos showing Attari with local BJP leaders of Udaipur emerged, Mohammad Sadiq Khan, state president of the BJP Minority Morcha, said the photo is not evidence that he is a party member. Meanwhile, in Jammu, it transpires that one of two “Lashkar terrorists” caught recently, Talib Husain Shah, is the Minority Morcha social media chief in the region. NDTV reports that “the BJP blamed the system of online membership that is allowing people to join the party without any background check.” Missed calls, all of them.
No more plastic cutlery, glasses, straws, earbuds with plastic stems, thermocol for decoration or other items that are ubiquitous in daily life. On July 1, the Union government banned the use of 19 single-use plastic items. Now, plastic bags must be at least 75 microns thick, and 120 microns from December 31. Single-use plastics account for one-third of plastic consumed in India ― 60-70 lakh tonnes per year. According to the All India Plastic Manufacturers Association around 88,000 units make single-use plastics, employing nearly 10 lakh people. Some units will go underground.
Justice JB Pardiwala of the Supreme Court, part of the bench whose oral remarks in the Nupur Sharma case triggered right wing outrage on Twitter and Facebook, is now calling for regulation of social media. But it was the mainstream media, led by Times Now, which spearheaded the Hindutva assault against the observations of the apex court. Now, Union Law Minister Kirin Rijiju says he is “not commenting”, but he is conveying unease and displeasure about the observations made against the BJP spokesperson, who has since been suspended. Since the party was outraged enough to suspend Sharma, shouldn’t they agree with Milords? It’s hard to run with the hares and hunt with Nupur. Rijiju has never been one for discretion, so this must be especially hard for him.
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As on July 1, the Union government owed MNREGA funds to 15 states, according to the Union Rural Development Ministry ― including West Bengal, where workers unpaid for five months hit the streets last week. Since January, the ministry has not released funds to West Bengal, citing procedural lapses including the lack of social audits. The Union owes Rs 7,130 crore to the state, of which Rs 2,800 crore is wages. Even in complying states, at the end of the first quarter, the first tranche of MNREGA funds hasn’t landed. Vijay Ram of the People’s Action For Employment Guarantee (PAEG) says that the Union owes Rs 11,097 crore to workers across the country.
Only 29.2% of startups were profitable in Jan-June 2021, and it’s down to 25.7% this year. Over 12,000 startup jobs were lost this year, reports Crunchbase, which predicts over 60,000 job losses in 2022, mainly in edtech and e-commerce. High inflation and low demand has made Indian manufacturers “the least optimistic amongst global peers”. The seasonally adjusted S&P Global India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 53.9 in June, from 54.6 in May.
Leased office space fell 26% in April-June across seven major cities to 8.5 million sqft compared to the previous quarter, according to real estate consultant JLL India. In January-March, net absorption ― newly occupied space minus that vacated ― was 11.55 million sqft.
Reuters reports that China’s Great Wall Motor has shelved plans to invest $1 billion in India and laid off all employees after failing to obtain regulatory approvals. One of the biggest casualties of New Delhi’s policy of vetting Chinese investments, it has been seeking entry since 2020.
Hindustan Times reports that India is cautious about expanding BRICS because it does not want new memberships to skew the bloc towards a power centre like China. There are also concerns about including Pakistan among emerging economies. Pakistan was not invited to last week’s High-level Dialogue on Development, which China chaired. The Pakistan Foreign Office noted that while China had engaged with it before the BRICS meetings, “regrettably one member blocked Pakistan’s participation.”
British businessman of Pakistani origin Aneel Mussarat has won a defamation case against Republic Bharat, the Hindi news channel arm of Republic TV. Mussarat had moved the London High Court against Republic’s UK broadcaster Worldview Media Network after he was called a “stooge” of the Pakistani ISI in a programme broadcast on July 22, 2020. Republic did not enter an appearance and the court awarded Mussarat costs of 37,500 GBP (Rs 33.5 lakh) and damages of 10,000 GBP (Rs 9.57 lakh).
Last month the Home Ministry announced a 10% quota in all vacancies in the Central Armed Police Forces for short-serving Agniveers. However, it’s hard to fit the promise alongside existing affirmative action plans, showing up the loud pronouncements made by the government and the armed forces.
Over half of IndiGo’s domestic flights were delayed on Saturday as cabin crew took sick leave. Insiders say they went for phase two of Air India’s recruitment drive. IndiGo, India’s largest airline, operates about 1,600 flights ― domestic and international ― daily.
The death toll of a landslide at a railway construction site in Manipur’s Noney district last week rose to 42 as eight more bodies were recovered. Among the dead are 27 personnel of the Territorial Army, along with railway employees, construction workers, villagers and other civilians. Three TA personnel and 17 civilians are still missing as heavy rains and fresh landslides impeded search operations. Five civilians and 13 TA personnel have been rescued.
Rampyari Bai, a 38-year-old tribal, is fighting for her life after being set ablaze for resisting a bid to encroach upon her family land in Guna, Madhya Pradesh.
The Netflix series Money Heist has inspired a poster about one N Modi who has “robbed the whole nation”. It was displayed prominently in Hyderabad, where the BJP is holding its national executive meeting. At the venue, event managers also invited pot shots by positioning Modi’s teleprompters all too visibly.
A court in Bihar has imprisoned a man who posed as the son of a wealthy landlord for 41 years. BBC pieces together a gripping tale of deceit and delay in justice.
Peter Brook, a visionary and a force of nature in theatre, died yesterday. (See Watch Out)
Leena Manimekalai is the latest cultural personality to offend the republic of hurt sentiments.
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