With Shinde as CM and BJP as String Puller, Maharashtra Braces for Hindutva Push; More Evidence that Business of Modi Government is Adani
Former SC judge says prejudiced Delhi Police targeted Mohammad Zubair, GST changes to affect prices, get ready for media shutdowns warns Maria Ressa, Indian men top world chart on prolonged celibacy
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Snapshot of the day
June 30, 2022
The Ceylon Electricity Board's latest statement on the controversy in Sri Lanka over the Indian Prime Minister pushing an Adani deal is a bomb. Official denials from Colombo and Delhi notwithstanding, the CEB now formally confirms that the Indian Government "requested and recommended" the Adani proposal for the green energy project. The Daily FT in Sri Lanka terms the statement as “setting the record straight.”
Fact-checker Mohammad Zubair should never have been arrested by the Delhi Police for a 2018 tweet when there is no evidence whatsoever that it triggered unrest, says Justice Deepak Gupta, a former judge of the Supreme Court. He added that it is “very worrying” that he was not granted bail”. In an interview to Karan Thapar, Justice Gupta said the fact that BJP leader Nupur Sharma – whose comments on the Prophet had a much greater chance of triggering unrest – had not been arrested showed that the Zubair was being targeted showed the police’s prejudicial handling.
Shiv Sena rebel Eknath Shinde will be sworn in as Maharashtra Chief Minister this evening, less than 24 hours after Uddhav Thackeray resigned last night. The Maharashtra governor – who is supposed to be independent and not partisan – was seen on television feeding a celebratory ladoo to Shinde and his accomplice, BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis. Thackeray’s resignation as CM came minutes after the Supreme Court refused to stay the governor-ordered floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly. The Shiv Sena argued in court that the order to conduct a floor test in supersonic speed amounts to putting the cart before the horse. But the court said the floor test proceedings would be subject to its adjudication on the disqualification notices issued to them by the deputy speaker, a Thackeray loyalist. Of course, those notices are now infructuous.
Thackeray by quitting has played the last card he had while still in office, to win back the soul of the Shiv Sena. The party has begun meetings across Mumbai, trying to re-energise grassroots workers in the wake of the Eknath Shinde-led rebellion. Shinde has held out as the real Hindutva-loving Shiv Sena but his stance on Thackeray has been alienating party workers. The BJP’s decision to back Shinde as CM may neutralise any extended disquiet in the Sena’s ranks.
In a special Cabinet meeting yesterday, the outgoing Thackeray government approved a proposal to rename Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar and Osmanabad as Dharashiv.
The GST Council yesterday deferred a decision on levying a 28% tax on casinos, online gaming, horse racing and lottery pending more consultations with stakeholders, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said. But while saying so, a delicious Freudian slip was made: she said there would henceforth be a tax on “horse trading” – the sport the BJP just played in Maharashtra – before correcting herself to say “horse racing”. Watch here
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India, typically Asia’s leading petrol and diesel exporter, has been forced to step up imports of the fuels. Petrol imports are set to rise to about 37,000 barrels a day in the first half of July, an eight-month high, according to preliminary data by Vortexa Ltd. Diesel imports, meanwhile, are set to surge to the highest since February 2020 at about 69,000 barrels a day in the period. Refiners such as Indian Oil Corp and Bharat Petroleum Corp recently sought to buy diesel for delivery in June and July. The rare uptick has been driven by a need to cover local shortfalls even as India has emerged as a top buyer of shunned Russian crude following the invasion of Ukraine, and its refiners go all out to produce fuels. Elevated international product prices have prompted India’s private refiners to boost exports, creating a shortage that state processors are now rushing to address with extra imports.
The country’s biggest cement producer, UltraTech Cement, is importing a cargo of Russian coal and paying using Chinese yuan, according to an Indian customs document reviewed by Reuters, a rare payment method that traders say could become more common. UltraTech is bringing in 157,000 tonnes of coal from Russian producer SUEK that loaded on the bulk carrier MV Mangas from the Russian Far East port of Vanino, the document showed. It cites an invoice dated June 5 that values the cargo at 172,652,900 yuan ($25.81 million). The cargo’s sale was arranged by Russian producer SUEK’s Dubai based unit and the cargo was loaded on the bulk carrier MV Mangas from the Russian Far East port of Vanino.
Equity markets in India are set to post their worst half- yearly performance in the past two years. While the front-line indices — the S&P BSE Sensex and the Nifty50 — have shed 9 per cent apiece in H1CY22, the fall in mid- and small-cap indices has been sharper, with both indices slipping 12 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively, on the BSE during this period.
India is slated to hold the G-20 Summit due next year, where leaders of the US, Russia, China, France, Germany, UK, the European Union and other top economies are expected, at New Delhi’s revamped Pragati Maidan complex. Reports that the summit would be held in Jammu and Kashmir – after an order constituting a committee for G-20 prep meetings – triggered surprise, given the security situation in the UT. This week, the GST Council meet was moved from Srinagar to Chandigarh due to concerns and an investment summit was put off. Incidentally, yesterday, Pakistan, which had issued a strong protest last week, sent formal demarches to Foreign Ministries in G-20 member-states, asking them not to attend such meetings in what Islamabad described as a “internationally recognised disputed territory” .
India’s urban population is expected to be 675 million in 2035, behind China’s 1 billion, according to a UN report. Urbanisation appears to be kicking back in after the pandemic threw a spanner. In 2035, India’s urban population will be 43.2%, in all probability.
The Union government is making Aadhaar compulsory for millions of infants & children below six to access their free food rights. This, when only 23% children below 5 have Aadhaar and the government itself has admitted that Aadhaar biometrics don’t work for children, as their fingerprints aren't formed.
Twitter has been told to comply with all past government orders by July 4. The Ministry of Electronics and IT has set a deadline of July 4, failing which Twitter may lose intermediary status, which means it will be legally liable for all the comments posted on its platform. This is the final notice," the government source said.
PLFS data shows that 43% of women who were not a part of the labour force were so on account of child care and home making responsibilities. For men, this number was just 1.5%. To be sure, one in three women who were out of the labour force were pursuing education. For men who were out of the labour force, education was the reason in three-fourth of the cases.
Covid numbers are not going away in India. 2% of international passengers coming to India at random may be tested soon.
There is a crisis brewing over HIV drugs. “This is hell,” say HIV patients as the government body has stopped the supply of life-saving drugs. The National AIDS Control Organisation has passed the buck to state governments, but many of which are unable to procure Dolutegravir and other important medicines.
Black carbon emissions are affecting rainfall in the North East. Mongabay reports on a study which shows that growing pollution is leading to a drop in low-intensity rainfall in the pre-monsoon season and a rise in severe rains.
For the first time, the Pakistan Army invited Sikh troops of the British Army to visit the site of the Saragarhi battle.
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