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Plugged-In: Blacklisting journalists, Dalit protests, and Kejriwal’s apologies

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Front Page

9 people were killed and hundreds injured as protests by Dalits shook north India Monday. Six people were killed in Madhya Pradesh, two in Uttar Pradesh, and one in Rajasthan as Dalit groups staged violent protests during a nationwide bandh against the alleged dilution of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, The Hindu reports. Curfew was imposed in MP’s Gwalior and Morena districts, while the Army was called out in Morena, a senior police officer said.

Today also marks the third day of Dalit History Month.

Members of Dalit community display a portrait of Bhim Rao Ambedkar during 'Bharat Bandh' in New Delhi | PTI
Members of the Dalit community display a portrait of Bhim Rao Ambedkar during the ‘Bharat bandh’, in New Delhi | PTI

Damage control: After a prolonged game of will-they-won’t-they, the Centre finally filed a review petition against the Supreme Court’s ruling on the SC/ST Act. “Last week, Union minister and Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan moved the top court in his personal capacity, seeking a review of the court ruling,” Apurva Vishwanath reported for ThePrint Monday.

Is it too late now to say sorry? Not if you’re Arvind Kejriwal. The Delhi chief minister has apologised again, this time to finance minister Arun Jaitley. In a letter dated 1 April, Kejriwal wrote that the allegations he made in December 2015 against Jaitley were based on theories that turned out to be “unfounded and unwarranted”, and that he was “clearly misinformed”. “Jaitley said he accepts the apology and does not wish to further prosecute the suit,” the Hindustan Times reports.

Kejriwal
File photo of Arvind Kejriwal | Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

In the name of fake news, government frames rules to blacklist journalists,’ ThePrint reported last night. The irony of media houses reporting their own potential blacklisting is not lost on major dailies today. “The Centre is preparing to crack down on journalists publishing or propagating fake news. It plans to suspend and, for subsequent violations, even cancel the government press accreditation given to them if they publish/broadcast fake news,” ThePrint reported. “The move, however, does not cover websites and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp which are often accused of publishing or spreading fake news.”

The doping needle was pointed towards the Indian contingent headed for the upcoming Commonwealth Games at Australia’s Gold Coast, but Indian boxers have been cleared of any doping violation. However, “they remain under the scanner for breaching the Games’ strict ‘no needle’ policy,” the Times of India reports.

Xi and Trump’s arm-wrestle on trade continues. Apparently, Beijing has gone ahead and “imposed tariffs between 15 per cent and 25 per cent on 128 US products, including pork, wine and fruits in a ‘countermeasure’ against Washington slapping duties on steel and aluminum from China recently. The tariffs affect around $3 billion of US imports into China,” the Hindustan Times reports.

President Xi Jingping addressing a meeting
China President Xi Jinping | Commons

All this talk of ‘jobless growth’ seems funny when an average of 50 per cent of posts are lying vacant in the Delhi government, the Times of India lets us know. “A report highlighting the crisis shows that the shortfall in 20 key departments ranges from 20 per cent (power) to as much as 87 per cent (law)… In terms of absolute numbers, the education department has most vacancies: 34,970, against a sanctioned strength of 77,305,” the report states. That’s more than 42,000 jobs just gathering dust.

The Gujarat high court thinks marital rape should be a crime.  The Indian Express quotes the court as saying, “The law must uphold the bodily autonomy of all women, irrespective of their marital status.” The defendant accused of raping his wife, however, was not convicted on the grounds that there was no law on marital rape.

The Opposition continues its bid to move an impeachment motion against the Chief Justice of India. “So far, the Opposition camp has been able to collect around 65 signatures (of Rajya Sabha members) — 15 more than the minimum requirement to move a proposal to impeach the CJI in the House,” the Hindustan Times reports. However, they’re still waiting for more Opposition leaders to join the bandwagon.

Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra | YouTube screengrab

The Cauvery issue still isn’t water under the bridge. With various political parties and groups in Tamil Nadu intensifying agitations over the Cauvery issue, governor Banwarilal Purohit left for New Delhi Monday evening. A Raj Bhavan official said the governor will meet union home ministry officials, and return Tuesday evening, The Hindu reports.

Mosul victims’ remains brought back: “Families of the Mosul victims started arriving at the airport from 10 am Monday and received the remains with tears while demanding that the coffins be opened. The district administration, however, refused to do so citing time constraints,” the Indian Express reports.

Business Class

The Chanda Kochhar-ICICI bank story seems to be an unending saga, with the Indian Express reporting another instance of possible conflict of interest. It writes, “Avista Advisory, founded by Rajiv Kochhar, who is the brother-in-law of Chanda Kochhar, got the mandate to restructure foreign currency-denominated debt deals worth over $1.7 billion of seven companies over the last six years.”

A file photo of Chanda Kochhar | Commons
A file photo of Chanda Kochhar | Commons

Players have thrown their hat in the ring to buy the bankrupt Essar Steel. In a dramatic turn of events Monday, “Vedanta Resources and JSW jumped into the fray to buy bankrupt Essar Steel”, reports The Economic Times.

News it’s just kinda cool to know

Remember Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s CCTV-cameras-in-schools plan? Well, it definitely didn’t help catch the CBSE exam leak culprit. It has come to light that the paper for the 26 March exam arrived at a Bawana school, two of whose teachers have been arrested in connection with the leak, two hours before the 26 March test, a breach of protocol, The Times of India reports. However, according to the report, the “15 CCTVs at the school didn’t record anything”, the school principal told police Monday. “The principal claimed that the video recording device connecting all 15 CCTV cameras in the school wasn’t working.”

CCTV cameras (representational image) | Pexels

It was World Autism Awareness Day, Monday, 2 April 2018. “One of 160 children is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) worldwide, according to 2017 data from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Indian Express tells us. Read their article to know more about the disorder.

There’s a new fad in town — mushroom coffee. NDTV tells us, “Mushroom coffee is claimed to be anti-inflammatory and is also said to help maintain blood sugar levels.”

Punjab tried its hand at a wax museum, but things didn’t go as planned. “These wax statues from a museum in Punjab are so weird you’d want to unsee them,” India Today writes in a feature about the fairly disturbing creations, and people’s reaction to them over Twitter, which were equally amusing.

Point of view

The Bharat bandh called by Dalits across the country caused nine deaths and massive damage to public and private property. The Economic Times, in its editorial, has criticised the violence, terming it “counterproductive for the Dalits’ cause”.

The Centre and Tamil Nadu government are back in Supreme Court over the Cauvery issue, barely a few weeks after a verdict in the matter from the apex court itself. The Hindu, in its editorial, squarely blames the Centre for this impasse. It writes, “It is difficult to believe the issue at hand is so perplexing that the Centre had no option but to come back to the court.”

Supreme Court of India| Wikimedia Commons

The bonhomie between US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has once again given rise to hopes of peace in the Korean peninsula. Former diplomat Rakesh Sood, in his column in The Hindu, terms it a welcome step but adds, “The big unknown is Mr Trump’s idea of what is an acceptable ‘deal’.”

4 April marks the death anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. Iranian-American philosopher Ramin Jahanbegloo, in his column in The Hindu, emphasises the need to understand not only his deeds, personal and public life, but also “his intellectual evolution”.

Martin Luther King Jr | Commons

The controversy around Facebook and Cambridge Analytica raised serious issues about the role of big data in subverting the electoral process. Saubhik Chakrabarti, in his column in The Economic Times, writes “… Big data can’t subvert elections. Because the role of the neta is far, far more important than the role of data.”

The political environment in the country, which looked so favourable to the ruling BJP just a few months ago, suddenly seems to have changed. Akash Prakash, in his column in Business Standard, writes that this uncertainty is deeply despised by international investors and that’s the reason why they are so cautious.

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