Uttarakhand BJP MLAs Allege Poll Sabotage, IPO-Bound LIC Faces Rs 75k Crore In Back Taxes
Jet fuel prices soar, speech on ‘hero’ Godse wins school prize, Indians top patrons of piracy sites, Umar Khalid cuffed in violation of court order, Glen Maxwell beset by overexcited Indian relatives
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
February 17, 2022
On Thursday, the Delhi police brought jailed political dissident Umar Khalid to a hearing in handcuffs, violating a court order which said he was not to be handcuffed.
Jet fuel prices soared yesterday after rates were increased by 5.2% to Rs 90,519 per kl by state-owned retailers, higher than the previous peak of Rs 71,028 per kl in August 2008, when international crude oil prices touched $147 per barrel. Brent crude on Tuesday traded at $93.87 per barrel. This is the fourth hike in jet fuel prices in less than two months, following a spike in global oil prices, but petrol and diesel prices have been unchanged for a record 103 days. Jet fuel prices are revised on the 1st and 16th of every month, based on the average international price in the preceding fortnight, while petrol and diesel rates are revised daily by the same standard. Crude prices are now near $94, well above the peak of $86.40 on October 26, when petrol cost Rs 110.04 a litre and diesel Rs 98.42, before a duty cut by the Centre.
The repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA, has been a major poll issue in the Naga areas of Manipur. As expected, it was the focus of the campaign launch of the Naga People’s Front (NPF) in Manipur’s Senapati yesterday. The NPF is a BJP ally in Manipur, but did not go for a pre-poll pact. “Nothing has been done in the eight years of his reign. He is a big liar,” Nagaland-based NPF working president Huskha Yepthomi said, slamming the PM for meeting the Pope at the Vatican but being silent on vandalism in churches and attacks on Christians across India.
The Income Tax department has raided various premises of Chinese telecom company Huawei in India in a tax evasion investigation. Huawei insists that it is fully compliant. Last month, India ordered the local unit of Xiaomi to pay Rs 6.53 billion in allegedly unpaid import taxes. Xiaomi said it was negotiating with local authorities, noting that there were “different opinions on the price determination of imported goods”. Meanwhile, the Karnataka bench of the Authority for Advance Ruling has ruled that income from guest lectures will attract 18% GST.
LIC’s draft share sale documents reveal that it is battling the government in several courts over demands of a staggering Rs 74,894.5 crore in back taxes. That’s the biggest contested amount involving a single entity, and losing even a few cases would cause a significant cash outflow. At Rs 65,000 crore, LIC’s IPO size is bigger than the cumulative amount raised during any calendar year, barring 2017 and 2021, shows data from the PRIME Database. In 2017, 36 IPOs raised Rs 67,147 crore and last year, 63 issues raised Rs 1.19 trillion. LIC is looking to mobilise more than what FPIs, DIIs and retail cumulatively invested in all IPOs of 2021.
In the Uttarakhand BJP, three of its MLAs allege that the party state president and local leaders conspired for their defeat in the elections. The Congress reads this as an indirect admission of defeat. The BJP had three chief ministers during its quick-change term.
Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse was a subject in a speech-making competition in a private school in Valsad, Gujarat. Public outrage forced the state government to suspend the district youth development officer. The competition for Class 5-8 students had three subjects approved by the Valsad district officials, including ‘Nathuram Godse: My ideal or hero’. A student who spoke on the subject won.
BJP’s Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has defended ministerial colleague KS Eshwarappa’s comment about hoisting the saffron flag at the Red Fort in place of the national tricolour. Bommai said that the minister has not “legally committed any mistake” and no action can be taken against him.
The move by Delhi Police to replace the Asoka pillar in its logo with the India Gate is “yet another conspiracy” to demean the legendary Maurya emperor, senior JD(U) leader Upendra Kushwaha has alleged. A key political aide of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Kushwaha has been aggressive about the alleged denigration of the legendary ruler of Magadha, who is seen as an OBC icon as his grandfather Chandragupta was born in a poor family.
In the ongoing wedding season, the processions of four Dalit bridegrooms in the last three weeks were given police protection in Madhya Pradesh after dominant castes threatened them for using a DJ and riding a horse in the wedding procession.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has notified new safety rules for two-wheelers carrying children aged between nine months and four years. They are required to wear a crash helmet and a safety harness. The new rules also impose a speed limit of 40 kmph on two-wheelers with children riding pillion. These rules will come into force from February 15, 2023.
Indians ranked third in the world in accessing piracy websites in 2021, with 6.5 billion visits, according to Akamai Technologies. India was the top source of traffic for websites carrying pirated films and music. The figures are likely to be an underestimation.
One of the world’s most beautiful tortoises, the Indian star tortoise, is named for the yellow and black star patterns on its shell. Despite a ban on sales, persistent smuggling threatens them with extinction, reports The Third Pole.
And Audrey Truschke chalks out a mappa mundi of the Sangh Parivar.