UP Brahmin Leaders Dump Saffron, Head to SP; Minister's Son Key Accused for ‘Pre-Planned’ Lakhimpur Violence
Protest now bulwark of democracy, Oppo & Isro share data, no access to Gogoi report, Bihar has India’s only Muslim chief secretary, FB sits out IPL, and riveting glimpse into a photographer's world
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
January 4, 2022
“India’s online space is rife with misogyny and harassment of women. But two “auctions” of images of Muslim women have amplified concern about the organised nature of virtual bullying, and how targeted smears and threats of violence, particularly sexual violence, are deployed to try to silence women, especially those critical of PM Narendra Modi’s policies,” reports the New York Times. The Women and Child Minister and the National Commission for Women are silent. The Mumbai police have made an arrest. Police sources say the perp used a Sikh alias, perhaps to sow confusion and suspicion.
At least 13 Christians were booked by the Karnataka police in 2021, reports the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), and 11 cases were filed against mobs disrupting prayer meetings. But while eight of the Christian believers accused of “outraging religious feelings” were arrested, members of the mob were not. Le Monde reports on the Haridwar meeting for genocide of Muslims. Law student Gulbahar Qureshi, 25, filed the complaint that led to a police case against the organisers.
Employment has not recovered from the lockdown. In 2019-20, India employed 408.9 million. Since then, the country has only briefly employed about 406 million, 2.9 million less, writes Mahesh Vyas. India’s population of working age has increased but employment has shrunk and its composition has worsened. In 2019-20, salaried people accounted for 21.2%, but only 19% in December 2021 ― 9.5 million salaried jobs were lost, and 1 million entrepreneurs. The loss of 10.5 million jobs was offset by gains among daily wage labourers and farmers.
India exported goods worth $37.29 billion in December, the highest ever in a month, boasted the Union commerce minister, but merchandise imports were $59.27 billion in December, up 38.06% year-on-year and 49.7% against December 2019. The trade deficit was $21.99 billion, as compared to $15.75 billion a year ago. Even exports barely breached the FY 2014 mark.
Murad Banaji says there is no doubt that India will soon face a huge flood of Omicron infections ― including many reinfections, including among vaccinated people. WHO Chief Scientist Somya Swaminathan says it looks like the wave has started. But Angelique Coetzee of the South African Medical Association says her county’s experience with Omicron is reassuring and not a cause for panic. Over 40 lakh aged 15-18 were jabbed on the day vaccination opened for them.
Ruling party leaders are still maskless in mass gatherings. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal tested positive this morning and asked all those who came in contact with him to isolate. Perchance, the thousands in Punjab he marched with, maskless?
India’s antitrust watchdog has ordered an investigation into Apple’s app store. The Competition Commission of India said Friday that it is “prima facie convinced that a case is made out for directing an investigation” into Apple, for the violation of competition laws.
A Canadian court has ordered the seizure of amounts collected by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on behalf of Air India and the Airports Authority of India. Orders were passed on November 24 and December 21 on pleas by shareholders of Devas Multimedia, to enforce arbitration awards against the Indian government. According to Devas, over $30 million has been seized under the IATA action. Three shareholders of Devas, who won a $111 million arbitration award against the government, moved the Superior Court in Quebec for enforcement.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s appointment of IAS officer Amir Subhani as chief secretary is not routine. He is the only Muslim chief secretary in India today. There is no Muslim chief minister in India, either. Subhani was the IAS batch topper in 1987.
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has rejected a plea seeking access to the report of the Supreme Court in-house inquiry into the sexual harassment complaint made by a former court staffer against Ranjan Gogoi, Rajya Sabha MP and former chief justice of India. Intriguingly, the staffer was officially reinstated in undisclosed circumstances.
The government is set to grant a 12th extension to the Justice Rohini Commission, set up in 2017 to examine the sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and the equitable distribution of benefits reserved for OBCs. Its report was expected by March 2018. The proposed extension would postpone the crucial sub-categorisation by months and push submission of the report to long after Assembly polls in UP, Punjab and Uttarakhand.
Facebook doesn’t want to touch a key cricketing fixture, the IPL. The highest bidder — at $600 million — for the digital rights in 2017, it will sit out the auction this year. That’s significant, because despite its popularity waning over the years, IPL has been good business. As The Morning Context notes, it is business because IPL is to cricket what literature festivals are to reading.
An Andhra Pradesh man was arrested for allegedly cheating passengers at the Indira Gandhi International Airport by posing as a student of a reputed university and pleading that he was stranded after missing his flight. Modela Venkata Dinesh Kumar of Guntur district has cheated more than 100 passengers in four to five years, police said.
BBC spoke to comedians Kunal Kamra and Munawar Faruqi on their run-ins with the law, which has become an instrument against free speech, targeting all critics of PM Modi, especially those who make you laugh.