Thursday, 11 August, 2022
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Plugged-In: 14 of 15 most polluted cities in India & the Taj Mahal is changing colours

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The Supreme Court is shocked that so many child sexual assault cases are pending in India. It has ordered all the high courts to set up a panel of judges to monitor cases under POCSO Act, The Hindu reports. Uttar Pradesh, for example, has over 30,000 cases pending, while “many states have not yet even set up special courts to try POCSO cases, as mandated by the law”, the daily tells us.

Protest against rape
A protest in Kolkata against sexual crimes | PTI Photo by Ashok Bhaumik

Having trouble breathing? India has 14 of the world’s 15 most polluted cities in terms of PM 2.5 concentrations, with the worst being Kanpur, The Times of India reports. The WHO global air pollution database was released in Geneva early Wednesday morning, timed perhaps with World Asthma Day, which falls on 1 May. Delhi is witnessing its worst air quality in six years, while Mumbai is worse than Beijing, Hindustan Times also reports.

Red tape and lethargy ensure Delhi remains a gas chamber
Women try to protect themselves from heavy smog and air pollution in New Delhi | Source: PTI

The tug of war between the Supreme Court and the Centre will see more back-and-forth today as the collegium is expected to reiterate their recommendation for the elevation of Justice K.M. Joseph, Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court, to the apex court, The Indian Express reports. The government returned his name last week after a delay of over three months.

A file photo of the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court, K.M. Joseph/ | PTI/Shahbaz Khana

This is what former CJI R.M. Lodha has to say about the present state of the Indian judiciary: “Disastrous to say the least.” Apurva Vishwanath reports for ThePrint.

The Taj Mahal is changing colours. The world heritage site, which turned yellow owing to pollution, now has a tinge of brown and green, and the Supreme Court is worried. The Hindu reports that a two-judge bench told the government that “even if you have the expertise, you are not utilising it”. Read this news in context of the recent Red Fort ‘privatisation’ controversy, as one thing is clear in the debate — India’s monuments are severely neglected.

Conservation work in progress at Taj Mahal
Conservation work underway in 2017 at the Taj Mahal | Photo by Virendra Singh Gosain/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

For further reading, here is what ThePrint Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta has to say about liberals complaining against Red Fort’s corporate funding.

Meanwhile, PM Modi began a “whirlwind five-day, 15-rally push to get BJP over the halfway mark” in Karnataka, Hindustan Times reports front page. Modi criticised corruption in the state government, took shots at CM Siddaramaiah, and also “challenged Rahul to speak for 15 minutes in any language, including his ‘mother’s mother tongue'”, without looking at a piece of paper, The Indian Express reports.

Narendra Modi in Karnataka
Narendra Modi in Karnataka | @narendramodi Twitter

Over 100 journalists have spoken out against the regulation of online media. In a letter to information & broadcasting minister Smriti Irani, the journalists, along with other online media professionals, said the ministry’s attempt to bring in legacy media structures — such as licensing and content regulation — may drastically impact the democratic and accessible nature of the internet. If you want to oppose the regulation as a citizen, you can do so here:

The union minister for information and broadcasting, Smriti Irani

Turns out you don’t need Aadhaar for everything! At least not for getting a SIM card. The government has issued instructions to operators to accept alternative identification documents such as the driving licence, passport or voter ID card to issue SIM cards, The Times of India reports.

The special task force (STF) targeting encroachments in Delhi’s public spaces has cleared its path all the way to GK, Aurobindo Marg, and RK Puram. On the fourth day of its anti-encroachment drive, the STF removed “as many as 250 temporary and 40 permanent structures encroaching on public land”, Hindustan Times reports front page.

In ThePrint

The CBI’s quiet ‘clean chit’ to the Reddy brothers, two of whom have been fielded in the upcoming Karnataka election as BJP candidates along with five associates, in the mining scam has blown holes in the party’s anti-corruption plank, Rohini Swamy reports.

A file image of Janardhan Reddy
A file image of Janardhan Reddy |YouTube screengrab

Dr Kafeel Khan, the man hailed by many as a hero who tried to save children when Gorakhpur’s BRD Hospital reportedly ran out of oxygen, said that he had to sleep on the floor in jail, and that he was one of 150 prisoners lodged in barracks meant for 50, Ritika Jain reports. The condition of Indian prisons is so terrible that Vijay Mallya is citing it as grounds in his plea against extradition as a possible ‘human rights violation’.

Dr. Kafeel Khan
Dr Kafeel Khan | Facebook/JusticeForKafeelKhan

Business Class

For the first time since the tax reform was rolled out countrywide in July last year, monthly GST collection has crossed Rs 1 lakh crore in April, reports The Economic Times.

Engineering conglomerate Larsen & Toubro (L&T) has decided to sell its electrical and automation business to France-headquartered Schneider Electric for a cash consideration of Rs 140 billion, reports Business Standard.

The appointment of expatriates in some segments of IndiGo is not the reason for the resignation of its CEO Aditya Ghosh, The Economic Times quotes interim CEO and founder Rahul Bhatia as saying.

Indigo Airlines
An IndiGo aircraft | Commons

New it’s kind of cool to know

There’s going to be internet on planes! The Telecom Commission Tuesday approved in-flight connectivity, facilitating both voice and data calls, as well as data surfing in the Indian airspace, NDTV Gadgets reports. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is also on board.

Trump praised Indian-origin astronaut Kalpana Chawla, calling her an ‘American hero’ for her “devotion to the space shuttle programme”, Times Now reports. The American President was announcing the recognition of May as ‘Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month’.

Kalpana Chawla - a Haryana Girl
A file photo of Kalpana Chawla | NASA

Point of View

World’s largest retailer Walmart is all set to buy an over 70 per cent stake in India’s largest online retailer, Flipkart. Business Standard writes in its editorial that this is an opportunity for the government to make “the required changes in the flawed FDI-in-retail policy”.

By all accounts, the violence ahead of local polls in West Bengal has been unprecedented. The Indian Express writes in its editorial, “The panchayat election in West Bengal has been reduced to a violent spectacle by parties that seek total domination of political space.”

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee at an election rally
File photo of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee at an election rally| Bloomberg

In the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the authorities as well as the political class face several matters of concern. Former national security adviser M.K. Narayanan, in his column in The Hindu, writes that matters like internal security, Dalit issues, cyber security, Kashmir, functioning of Parliament etc require immediate attention.

The ruling BJP made many promises to farmers ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Agricultural economist Ashok Gulati, in his column in The Indian Express, writes that the government is ”nowhere close to fulfilling the promises made in the BJP’s 2014 manifesto”.

Farmers at work
Farmers at work | Commons

Jobs for the new labour force entering the market everyday is a matter of grave concern for the government. Columbia University economist and former Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya, in his column in The Times Of India, writes that everybody is talking about jobs but nobody is talking about “how we get the number of job seekers and other employment figures”.

Representational image of an Indian labourer. | Pixabay photo

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