Yatra Has Turned Congress Into Main Opposition, But Electoral Test Remains; Tamil Nadu Governor Escalates War with DMK Government
Mahim & Narayanpur churches vandalised, Joshimath is sinking, H1B application fee may rise 2,050%, Kuki-Chin refugees pushed back, Akhilesh refuses police’s tea for fear of poison, Pride 2023 in Delhi
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 9, 2022
Relations between the democratically elected DMK-led government of MK Stalin and Tamil Nadu governor RN Ravi reached a new low on Monday when Ravi excised key portions of a speech (drafted by the state government) that he was meant to read. Stalin then moved a resolution declaring the original speech as read, prompting Ravi to walk out of the assembly in protest.
“Even as India’s population grows, it will struggle to capitalise on the potential of its young workforce,” writes The Economist. “In April, India is expected to overtake China as the most populous country… Manufacturing generates 14% of Indian GDP, compared with 27% in China. What industry India does have clusters in the relatively prosperous south and west. But it is the poorer northern states that are making more babies. Uttar Pradesh, for instance, is home to 17% of India’s population but has only 9% of its industrial jobs. That mismatch will hamper India’s economic growth.”
The Bengaluru-based mobility startup Bounce has laid off half of its staff, reports The Morning Context. The company would be laying off the “entire tech team”, says a former employee who received the axe. The layoffs continued across departments. In Bengaluru, Bounce has sacked almost 90% of its employees and also laid off a few employees working at its manufacturing plant in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan.
Chinese health experts are warning that fake versions of Indian generic medicines are flooding the black market in China as a record surge of Covid-19 cases has upped demand for antivirals, particularly Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Indian generic versions. “With Paxlovid in short supply and highly regulated in government clinics, sales of Indian generic versions have ballooned through Chinese e-commerce platforms” reports The Hindu.
The next combined commanders’ conference, chaired by the PM, will be held at the naval base at Karwar in March. An annual feature, it has become irregular under the current BJP government. It was last held at Kevadia in Gujarat in March 2021, where soldiers were invited to participate in what are supposed to be deliberations at the highest level between the military and political leaderships.
Former Indian Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor joined the Bharat Jodo Yatra yesterday.
“For India, the presidency of the G20 is nothing if not a big party,” writes Sushant Singh, as he warns of the perils of turning it “into a tourism festival, with mid-level functionaries from member countries being garlanded, made to sport turbans and watch dancers welcome them to dull and drab preparatory meetings for a summit that will only be held in September.” There are serious issues in India and at the G-20 that risk getting pushed under the carpet as a routine and rotational transfer of presidency (it was Indonesia’s a year ago) is turned into an award or worse, a crowning ceremony, useful for domestic politics a year before the general elections.
In the first part in a series investigating how municipal authorities in western India cover up illegal manual scavenging, Scroll reports that manual scavenging killed 19 people in Mumbai in the past five years. But municipal records show zero deaths.
RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das has expressed concern over growing debt distress among regional trade partners and said he is alert to risks to India from a global slowdown. He was defensive about the state of the rupee. He denied that India “burned up” reserves in 2022. “You buy an umbrella to use it when it rains,” he said. “You can’t keep your umbrella inside the cupboard and say it will get spoiled.” Das denied that the central bank’s currency interventions were to defend the rupee, arguing that he aimed for orderly depreciation. “We don’t have any specific exchange rate in mind,” he said.
Several news portals have denounced a notice issued by Bengaluru Police to G Mahantesh, founder and editor of news portal The File, in connection with a case pertaining to an e-office file noting of the Education Department which the portal published, saying this was an attempt to harass a portal doing “bona-fide investigative Kannada journalism”. Mahantesh was served the notice on January 5 in connection with the alleged leak of the file noting, on the basis of which the portal had published a story in November 2022. Acting on the complaint of a senior department official on November 10, the Bengaluru Cybercrime Police asked Mahantesh to reveal his source ― identity, name, address, ID card, the works.
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The Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) and Leh Apex Body (LAB), made up of political, religious and trade groups of Kargil and Leh districts of Ladakh, have ruled out participation in meetings of the 17-member committee headed by MoS Home Nityanand Rai formed by the Ministry of Home Affairs last week, if statehood and constitutional safeguards under the 6th Schedule to Ladakh UT are not included in agenda of the panel. “Given the present scenario, we feel the earlier arrangement (of Ladakh) being part of J&K was better. We understand that the Centre is against our demand for statehood and 6th schedule [status],” said Chering Dorjay, leader of the LAB.
When Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav went to a police station to protest and try and meet his IT Cell chief, who has been arrested, he dramatically refused a cup of tea at the station as he feared “it may contain poison”. His party said that the police and state administration was behaving like BJP workers.
PM Narendra Modi should treat all the states equally and not just favour Gujarat, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena president Raj Thackeray said even as the Opposition slammed him for suggesting that a couple of projects going out of the state does not affect much.
H-1B, the most sought-after US work visa among foreign professionals, has a strong Indian connection. Quartz reports that of the more than 407,000 H-1B visas issued between October 2020 and September 2021, Indians secured more than 300,000, or 74%. The pre-registration fee for this category is now likely to rise from $10 to $215 — up 2,050%. What would this mean for Indians hoping to work in the US
Hundreds took part in the first Delhi Queer Pride march in three years yesterday, as pressure grows for the legal recognition of same-sex marriage in the country. The Supreme Court is due to hear in March a clutch of petitions from gay couples seeking the same marital rights as heterosexual couples, five years after it struck down a colonial-era ban on gay sex.
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