The lure of the former Raj jewel-in-the-crown hasn’t escaped former Financial Times correspondent in India James Crabtree, who launched his book at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in Delhi Thursday evening to a packed hall of peeps who still want to wear the self-proclaimed but somewhat bedraggled badge of Lutyens’ media: @barkhadutt, now leading the charge of a new TV channel that will give you The Unvarnished News, led the conversation. @mihirssharma, columnist at Bloomberg, piped in.
Junior civil aviation minister Jayant Sinha dropped out (Why? Maybe he didn’t want to face the mics of the few who still want to ask questions), so Rajeev Chandrasekhar, @rajeev_mp, the former media baron who made good by going into politics and finally joining the BJP, stepped up. Oh yes, the book is called, A journey through India’s new gilded age, The Billionaire Raj.
Harvard University professor Michael Walton said, “Demonetisation was terrible economic strategy, but terrific political strategy.” Chandrasekhar said “every politician in India today is a closet capitalist” and “the thing missing in these last 25 years is the almost mute acceptance (of corruption) by the institutions that are supposed to intervene”. And Crabtree? “There is large inequality in India. Everyone knows about it, but it remains difficult to measure.”
Wonder where everyone went after the book launch.
The BJP enjoyed a definitive victory in the Rajya Sabha, as the government candidate — Harivansh Narayan Singh of the JD(U) — was elected the deputy chairman of the upper house, defeating the opposition candidate, Congress MP B.K. Hariprasad, 125 votes to 101. The Hindu tells us why this is a big deal: While the BJP is the single largest party in the Rajya Sabha with 73 members, the opposition still enjoys a majority. For a cheery face of Harivansh being greeted by PM Narendra Modi, read the front page of The Indian Express.
It takes excavating your way through six pages of advertisements to get to half a front-page in The Times of India today. Independence Day is around the corner, and it seems newspapers have been adequately notified about product sales. On arrival at the news, one can’t really find it. Perhaps there isn’t much that’s still fit to print? Ads certainly mean cash, so at least some people must be happy.
The daily leads with the Supreme Court order on pleas against realtor Jaypee Infratech Ltd (JIL), which now faces insolvency proceeding. Now the distressed company, which failed to deliver for thousands of homebuyers, has to face the National Company Law Tribunal once more. The Supreme Court’s relaxation of BCCI reforms has been relegated to a small column at the bottom of the page.
In other dailies, the BCCI saga occupied prominent front-page slots. After two years of courtroom drama, the Supreme Court has rolled back two key reforms of the Lodha committee — one state one vote, and the cooling off period for office-bearers between successive terms. Incidentally, the BCCI, to overhaul whose functioning the Lodha committee was formed, disagreed with both of these, Hindustan Times reports.
Vinod Rai, the man who was supposed to make sure the Lodha reforms were implemented, described the order as “excellent”, saying he had “absolutely no problem with office-bearers having two consecutive terms”.
Read Anand Vasu’s opinion to know more.
In other news, the tug-of-war between the BJP and the opposition over the triple talaq bill has resulted in the former yielding to certain demands. Now, only the victim or a blood relative will be allowed to seek an FIR against the outlawed practice, a bid to prevent misuse of the law. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, has been stuck in the Rajya Sabha because the NDA lacks a majority there, The Indian Express reports.
No Zee on Jio TV: The marriage between Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited and Reliance’s Jio Digital Services has come to an end, because money always complicates relationships. The two partners failed to reach an agreement on pricing.
Of the 30 kanwariyas that smashed a car in Delhi’s Moti Nagar Tuesday, one was a “notorious burglar”, The Times of India reports. The man, Rahul Billa, has been arrested.
News it’s just kinda cool to know
A real-world Star Wars? On Thursday, the White House declared their plans to create the ‘US Space Force’ as a sixth separate military division by 2020, reportedly to combat the “growing threats” of Russia and China in space domination. Yes, that’s right. In 2009, former MP Rajkumar Dhoot had asked the government whether there was imminent danger of star wars. Consti-tutor Meghnad, who had previously made fun of him for the question, apologised on Twitter Thursday.
America announced "Space Force" as a new military division.
I sincerely apologize to ex-MP Rajkumar Dhoot for making fun of him earlier. He asked the Government whether there is imminent danger of star wars.
Now the answer to his question can be, "Yep. Seems like there is." pic.twitter.com/NEE2Es7BlE
— Meghnad 🔗 (@Memeghnad) August 9, 2018
It is World Lion Day today — a day created to spread awareness about the need to protect the regal species.
R.S. Sharma has been reappointed the chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the telecom sector watchdog, for a period of two years, reports Business Standard. This is the first time that any TRAI chief has got an extension beyond their three-year tenure.
A committee set up to suggest ways to make market practices fair suggests phone-tapping powers for the market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) to check insider trading, reports Business Standard. Currently Sebi can only ask for call records.
Point of View
The photos of a policeman showering petals on kanwariyas have raised concerns, as has the Delhi Police’s alleged inaction in the vandalism perpetrated by some of the pilgrims earlier this week. The Indian Express writes in its editorial, “Administrations in UP, Delhi compete in displays of religiosity rather than maintaining order during Kanwad (sic) yatra.”
With effective floor management, the BJP-led NDA won the election for the post of deputy Rajya Sabha chair. The Times of India writes in its editorial, “By offering the post to the JD(U) which has just six MPs against its own strength of 73, the BJP effectively won over the fence-sitters in the 244-member house or secured their abstention.”
As the 2019 Lok Sabha elections draw closer, debate about Ayodhya and the Ram temple will intensify. A petitioner in the case, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy writes in his column in The Hindu, “Posed as it is, my petition should prevail in the Supreme Court since my fundamental right is a superior right in law compared to the ordinary right to property as claimed by the Sunni Waqf Board.”
Is media ‘the enemy of the people’ as authoritarian leaders keep claiming? Columnist Gautam Adhikari writes in his column in The Times of India, “The term has long been used by leaders in power who would brand a subgroup, including an independent media, that might pose a check to unchallengeable authority. Robespierre used it during the French Revolution, so did Lenin and Stalin in the Soviet Union.”
Of police and pilgrims
In light of the vandalism perpetrated by the kanwariyas in Muzaffarnagar and Bulandshahr in UP, India Today TV’s Maha Siddiqui invited Uttar Pradesh ADG (law and order) Anand Kumar on her show. She asked: “Will hooliganism in name of devotion be tolerated?”
Kumar defended police, saying, “If you look at the magnitude of people who pass through UP, which is 3.5 crore, and compare it to the number of incidents, these are only two incidents. There is no other incident that has happened and that is because of the excellent police authorities.”
After the AAP abstained from voting in Thursday’s election for the post of Rajya Sabha deputy chairman, Bhupendra Chaubey of CNN News 18 questioned Ashish Khetan of the Aam Aadmi Party and Sanjay Jha of the Congress on the possibility of the two parties coming together at some point.
The AAP reportedly abstained from the vote because it was miffed with the Congress for not reaching out to them for support.
Khetan said that the Congress, being a larger party, should bear the responsibility of being more sensitive towards its allies or prospective allies.
“Is the functioning of the state more important or one phone call from one person?” Jha hit back.