US State Department Reports Indian Officials Intimidating Media; India’s Foreign Policy Community Should Speak Up On Domestic Crisis
Germany reportedly iffy about inviting Modi to G7, India cuts back on Ural crude as energy crisis looms, Covid damaging kids’ mental health and apostrophe in D’Souza, D’Gama rears up to block pensions
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
April 13, 2022
Never mind their allegiances and electoral preferences, rich Indians are voting with their money ― by moving it abroad at an unprecedented rate. Here’s a graph drawn from the RBI’s Liberalised Remittance Scheme data. It excludes remittances for travel, medical care, studies abroad and miscellaneous expenses. All figures are in millions of USD.
“There were reports from journalists and NGOs that government officials at both the local and national levels were involved in intimidating critical media outlets through physical harassment and attacks, pressuring owners, targeting sponsors, encouraging frivolous lawsuits, and in some areas blocking communication services, such as mobile telephones and the internet, and constraining freedom of movement,” says the India section of the 2021 Country Report on Human Rights Practices released by the US State Department, which covers various subjects in great critical detail. Among other human rights violations reported from India were crimes involving violence and discrimination targeting members of minority groups based on religious affiliation, social status or sexual orientation or gender identity, and forced and compulsory labour, including child labour and bonded labour.
Germany may snub India for its reluctance to condemn Russia, reports Bloomberg. It is debating whether to invite PM NarendraModi to the G7 summit it’s hosting in June. Germany will include Senegal, South Africa and Indonesia as guests at the meeting at the Schloss Elmau in Bavaria, but India remains “under consideration”.
Indian Oil Corp (IOC) has excluded several high-sulphur grades of crude, including from the Russian Urals, from its latest tender, trade sources have told Reuters. US President Joe Biden told PM Narendra Modi late on Monday that buying more oil from Russia was “not in India’s interest” and could hamper the US response to the war in Ukraine. Is India responding to US pressure? Also, the Enforcement Directorate has summoned a former India region head of China’s Xiaomi to probe “whether the company’s business practices conformed with Indian foreign exchange laws.”
India plans to boost trade to Russia by $2 billion as the two nations work out a payment system in local currencies to continue bilateral trade amid sanctions, reports Bloomberg. Delhi is in talks with Moscow to liberalise market access for several Indian-made products to balance the trade. India is a net importer.
The Bombay High Court has rejected the plea for permanent bail of Bhima Koregaon case accused Varavara Rao. The revolutionary poet had sought to move to Telangana on account of his health. Temporary bail has been extended for three months to enable him to go in for surgery.
Expect more power cuts this year, curtailing industrial activity. Utilities’ coal inventories are at the lowest pre-summer levels in nine years, reports Reuters. There appears to be a national energy crisis, says Business Standard, and ministries are busy blaming each other. Discoms’ outstanding dues to gencos have risen 17.3% to Rs 123,244 crore this month.
Inflation refuses to let up. Retail inflation had raced to 6.95% in March, the highest in 17 months, and food inflation was at 7.68%. Notably, the recent increases in fuel prices across the country are yet to be reflected here. Vegetables are up 11.64%, edible oils 18.79%, and meat and fish 9.63%. Worryingly, inflation in cereals, which carry the most weight in the CPI food basket, and was benign so far, inched up to 5% in March.
India can export more wheat, but at a cost. Wheat procured for the central pool in the first 11 days of the 2022-23 marketing season is believed to have fallen by almost 30% as compared to the same period last year due to heavy private purchasing in the main producing states of Madhya Pradesh and UP. Till April 11, around 2.05 million tonnes (mt) of wheat had been purchased for the central pool, which during the same period last year was 2.89 mt.
The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) grew 1.7% on an annual basis in February but contracted 4.7% month on month, signalling that economic revival is yet to find a strong footing. Yesterday, the yield on the 10-year benchmark government bond advanced 5 basis points (bps) to close the day at 7.19% — close to a three-year high. The rupee weakened, breaching 76 to a dollar to close at 76.14, up from 75.96.
The CITU-led Anganwadi Workers’ Union has urged the Delhi government to reinstate terminated women. Following their indefinite strike, more than 991 workers were terminated, the AAP government submitted in the Delhi High Court.
The Indian Air Force operates 39 types of aircraft with origins in six countries, pointed out Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari yesterday. This makes inventory management a challenge.
Kashmir’s well-known legal expert and columnist Sheikh Showkat was removed from the post of principal of Kashmir Law College, Srinagar, apparently for his ideological position on the Kashmir issue. The college management has started the process to appoint a new principal, but has nothing to say about the controversial and sudden decision.
This is Hindustan ― Scroll reports on how a Hindu woman protected Muslim shopkeepers during riots in Rajasthan. Madhulika Rajput stood up to angry Hindutva mobs, refusing to give up Muslims who had taken shelter in a shopping complex.
Ajaz Ashraf writes about a short history of the RSS’ use of religious processions, which shows it is as much about Hindu assertion as it is about insulting Muslims and provoking them into responding. Their response becomes a justification for the sangh to riot, often with the police looking the other way. Thus, Muslims are projected as assailants and Hindus as victims.
Home Minister Amit Shah stated that the Northeast has agreed to make Hindi compulsory in schools till class 10, triggering a strong pushback from local organisations. A high-level Nagaland government delegation led by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio is camping in New Delhi to urge the Centre to resolve the “Naga political issue” early.
Haunted by Ram Navami riots and fearing a repeat, at least 70 families have left their homes behind in Khargone, Madhya Pradesh. Palaayan.
Newsclick examines how and why schemes for the weakest sections face massive cuts. This cannot be explained away as cost-cutting, the assessment concludes.
Hindi entertainment isn’t making the cut. Media consulting firm Ormax said that across leading Indian streaming platforms, 233 original shows and 117 original films were launched in Hindi in 2020 and 2021, but only 26 shows and 13 films got respectable audience ratings.
Some Goans can’t access their pensions because of a coding bug: names like D’Souza and D’Cruz with apostrophes and hyphens are being rejected by some government IT systems.