Whistleblower Says Indian Government Inserted Mole in Twitter; ‘Freebies’ Powered Tamil Nadu Into Powerhouse of Inclusive Growth
Supreme Court to hear Kappan bail plea Friday, Adani in hostile bid for NDTV, TN gazette publishes LGBTQ glossary, Mizoram, Nagaland lead in HIV cases, Laal Singh Chaddha pips Kashmir Files overseas
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
August 24, 2022
Close on the heels of caste, ‘Baba ka Bulldozer’ has arrived in the US. Mayor Samip Joshi of Edison, New Jersey, has criticised the inclusion of a bulldozer bearing posters of Yogi Adityanath and PM Narendra Modi by Hindutva groups at India’s I-Day parade in the city on August 14. He has said that “any symbol or action that represents discrimination is unwelcome”, and that parading the “symbol of division and discrimination” was unacceptable. He has sought an apology from the organisers, the Indian Business Association, and promised tighter screening for future events.
With the support of 164 MLAs out of 243, the Mahagathbandhan led by Nitish Kumar ― the JD(U), the RJD and the Left parties ― faces a confidence vote in Patna today. The House was adjourned till 2 pm following the resignation of the Speaker. Four RJD leaders are being raided today in a familiar pattern. A mall in Gurugram, owned by Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav of the RJD, is also being raided. In Delhi, four AAP MLAs have alleged that they were offered Rs 20 crore each by the BJP to defect, more if they brought others with them.
Russia is in the process of taking over stakes in oil and gas assets which Western energy companies are withdrawing from following sanctions, to sell them at a premium, but it isn’t emanable to overtures from Indian state-owned firms. ONGC Videsh Ltd , Bharat Petro Resources Ltd, Indian Oil Corp and Oil India Ltd have invested $16 billion in Russia till date, including in the Far East and East Siberia, in oil and gas fields like Sakhalin-1, Vankor and Taas-Yuryakh.
Rice is dearer, though appreciating slower than wheat, whose inflation is in double digits. Yesterday’s price data from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs shows that most essential commodities are more expensive than at this time last year. The all-India average retail price of rice is Rs 37.63 per kg, 6.2% higher than it was on that day last year. The price of wheat is up 14% to Rs 30.89 per kg, against Rs 27.09 per kg last year. Wheat reserves have declined in August to the lowest level for the month in 14 years. In its outlook, RBI said that the rice stocks are well above buffer norms, but a shortfall in paddy sowing will make a difference.
India exported $420 billion in merchandise during the last financial year, but the target for the current financial year is yet to be announced, though five months have passed. This is supposedly due to uncertainty sparked by ongoing geopolitical concerns and recessionary conditions in the Western countries. India’s export target assumes special significance amid a widening trade deficit which almost tripled to $30 billion in July compared to last year.
An anti-corruption group embarked on a padayatra from Arunachal Pradesh to New Delhi. Tarh Tahar and his friends from Arunachal Against Corruption began the 2,140 km march on August 21 from Itanagar to the Prime Minister’s Office. Their major complaint is that Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu is involved in corruption cases across departments. The motley band of 16 marchers is being warmly welcomed by people in Assam. They reached Biswanath Chariali yesterday.
In the first sign of disagreement with the controversial order of a bench led by Justice Khanwilkar allowing the Enforcement Directorate untrammelled powers, to the extent of inverting natural justice, the CJI-led bench of theSupreme Court said that the ratio of the PMLA judgment regarding Section 8(4) leaves scope for misuse, and “would need further expounding to prevent arbitrary application.”
Yesterday, sparks flew during deliberations in the Supreme Court on so-called “freebies”. The court conceded that its interventions, especially a proposal to form a broad-based expert committee to look into the “problem” of freebies, has been met with a furious political backlash from across the political spectrum in the states. The Chief Justice of India seemed to have been taken aback when even the friend of the court, Kapil Sibal, advised the bench against forming a committee.
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The chief justice, Justice NV Ramana demits office on Friday. An analysis of his stint finds 29 lectures by him during his tenure, but vital cases unresolved: Article 370 (pending 1,115 days), electoral bonds (1,816 days), UAPA (1,105 days), CAA (987 days) and EWS Quota (1,323 days)
Nitin Gadkari, Union minister and two-term BJP president, who has been dropped from the party’s top decision-making body, has said that the government is “not taking decisions in time”, and that’s a problem. The BJP has scrambled to spread the blame, saying that his remarks were not directed at a specific government, but governments in general.
The Allahabad High Court has finally granted bail to cab driver Mohammad Alam, who is co-accused with journalist Siddique Kappan in the Hathras conspiracy case. They were arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act by the UP Police on their way to Hathras in 2020 to report on the rape and murder of a Dalit girl. Alam was in jail for nearly two years and his family has spoken about the harrowing time he has undergone. On Friday, the Supreme Court will hear Kappan’s plea against the order of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court denying him bail.
Human rights groups have said that UK intelligence agencies may have shared information with India that led to the arrest and torture of a Sikh blogger from Scotland. Jagtar Singh Johal, 35, has been held in India for over four years, accused of being part of a terror plot against right wing Hindu leaders and charged with conspiracy to murder. “Our investigators have uncovered critical information that in 2017, the UK government may have authorised MI5 and MI6 to share information about UK citizen Jagtar Singh Johal,” two organisations, Reprieve and Redress, said in a joint statement. They claimed this tip-off “led to his unlawful arrest and torture in India”. Boris Johnson was foreign minister at the time. Britain is bound by international treaties such as the European Convention on Human Rights not to hand over citizens where they are at risk of torture.
The family of Santhosh Patil, the contractor from Karnataka’s Belagavi who committed suicide after accusing former Karnataka Minister KS Eshawappa of corruption, has moved a court in Bengaluru against the clean chit given to Eshawarappa. Santhosh Patil had died after alleging that former minister KS Eshwarappa’s aides sought 40% commission for a road construction project he had done.
In the overseas markets, Laal Singh Chaddha has raked in $7.5 million (Rs 59.89 crore) at the close of the second weekend. It has outstripped Gangubai Kathiawadi ($7.47 million), Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 ($5.88 million) and The Kashmir Files ($5.7 million) to become the highest overseas grosser of 2022 in the international markets.
Grand Slam winner Sania Mirza, who in January announced that she would be retiring at the end of the 2022 season, said she injured her tendon earlier this month and cannot play the 2022 US Open. This would change her retirement plans.
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