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Plugged-In: Rapes are bad for tourism, India’s Internet is filtered & Asaram Bapu verdict

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The Modi government knows rapes are bad for business, and so the tourism ministry “wants to create a positive image of India, and promote it as the ‘safest’ destination for solo women travellers”. Rashmi Verma, secretary, ministry of tourism, believes rapes “are rare and don’t happen often in India”, as she told Himani Chandna of ThePrint.

Tourists at a beach in Goa
Tourists at a beach in Goa (Representational image) | Commons

Front Page

The national dailies focus on completely different lead stories today, though most have to do with the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court judges Justice Gogoi and Justice Lokur, who are members of the collegium, have sent a brief two-sentence letter to CJI Dipak Misra, asking him to “call a ‘full court’ to discuss ‘institutional issues’ and the ‘future’ of the court”, The Indian Express reports. The CJI has not yet responded to their letter.

Dipak Misra
A file image of CJI Dipak Misra | PIB

India, and what they aren’t showing you on the internet: The Indian Express carries an investigative report front page, which tells us that 12 Indian internet service providers (ISPs) have installed 42 internet filtering systems, the highest of the 10 countries studied. Pakistan came second with 20 installations. The highest number of blocked URLs, or web pages, in the 10 countries was also in India, 1,158 out of 2,464.

The Supreme Court has directed an immediate stay on all illegal construction activity at 1,797 unauthorised colonies in Delhi and “asked the Centre… to remove encroachments on public land and roads within two weeks”, The Times of India reports as its lead story. The apex court had said the same thing 14 years ago, but no one listened and they aren’t very happy about it. Hindustan Times also carries the story.

Police personnel outside shops in the Khan Market, in New Delhi on Monday.
Policemen outside shops in Khan Market, New Delhi (representational image) | Shahbaz Khan/PTI

From the archives: Sealing or stopping construction may not always be the answer in an overcrowded and commercial city. To understand the counter-argument to the SC’s decision, do read union urban affairs minister’s interview with ThePrint or this quick editorial in TOI on the matter.

Only The Hindu grants front-page coverage to the impeachment saga, reporting that Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu has defended his quick rejection of the motion before 10 senior Supreme Court lawyers who met him Tuesday. He said his decision was “timely and not hasty”. Also, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has claimed she had asked Rahul and Sonia Gandhi not to go through with the impeachment motion.

Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu | Commons

‘Formalities and protocol will be set aside as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping sit down for talks in Wuhan Friday, to the point that the two leaders will meet without aides, The Hindu reports. According to sources, the leaders will meet with interpreters, but without “note-takers” or accompanying officials. “There is no listed agenda, or even a joint statement envisaged at the end of the two-day meet,” the report adds.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2016 | Commons

Hindustan Times takes the baton from The Times of India in reporting on the deaths of Maoists in encounters at Gadchiroli. According to its report, police have said 37 armed Maoists were gunned down over 48 hours in two gun battles, Sunday and Monday, in Maharashtra’s south Gadchiroli.

Asaram Bapu verdict today. The Jodhpur SC/ST court will pronounce its verdict Wednesday in a rape case against self-styled godman Asaram Bapu. “The union home ministry has reportedly asked Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana to tighten security and deploy additional forces,” The Economic Times reports. If you want a refresher on the case, Neera Majumdar’s explainer for ThePrint is a must-read.

Asaram Bapu at Session Court in Jodhpur
File photo of Asaram Bapu at a Jodhpur sessions court | Getty

Modi said Tuesday the ordinance on child rape demonstrated his government’s determination to act on the issue, but added that “families need to respect daughters…and also make their sons more responsible”, Business Standard reports.

Narendra Modi at a public meeting in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandla | @narendramodi/Twitter

Meanwhile, Hindustan Times dedicated an entire page to reporting rapes in India. Turn to page five of the national daily to find reports of four more cases of young girls being raped in Delhi. “The accused was known to victims in each case,” the report says. HT also tells us that Delhi recorded the maximum number of POCSO cases in 2016 among 19 cities (with a population of more than two million each). Here are the four reports pertaining to cases at Shahbad Dairy, Mustafabad, Jaitpur, and Sahibabad.

Amit Shah is certain the BJP is ‘winning Karnataka with a comfortable margin’, without the help of any alliance with the Janata Dal (S), he has told The Hindu in an interview. “Everybody knows this is an election that will bring a change in government, and that the Janata Dal (S) is not the party to bring about that change,” Shah said, also calling Karnataka the BJP’s “gateway to the South”.

BJP president Amit Shah addressing a crowd | Facebook

Business Class

Courtesy of Reliance Jio, Airtel’s India operation has reported its first loss in almost 15 years, reports The Economic Times. It writes, “Net loss, before exceptional items, for the India business in the three months ended 31 March 2018 stood at Rs 652.30 crore, compared with a net profit of Rs 770.80 crore a year earlier…”

A customer holds a SIM card packet while waiting to connect his mobile phone to the carrier Reliance Jio | Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg
A customer holds a SIM card pack while purchasing a Reliance Jio connection | Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

The government of India has set a target of 30 billion digital payments in the current fiscal year, reports The Economic Times.

Notwithstanding the rise of e-commerce, mall culture may see a boost in India, reports Business Standard. “An estimated 7.8 million sq ft of space has been procured to construct them — the most since 2011, and 40 per cent higher than 2017,” writes the business daily.

People in a mall
A shopping mall in New Delhi | Photo by Pradeep Gaur/Mint via Getty Images

New’s it’s just kinda cool to know

World’s first total penis, scrotum transplant has been done in the US. “Doctors at Johns Hopkins University said Monday they have performed the world’s first total penis and scrotum transplant on a US military serviceman who was wounded in Afghanistan,” The Times of India reports. The operation took 14 hours and was performed by a team of nine plastic surgeons and two urology surgeons.

Don’t apply to these universities, kids, they aren’t real! Ahead of admissions season, the University Grants Commission (UGC) Tuesday released a list of 24 fake universities across the country, News18 reports. “Of the 24, at least eight are functioning in Delhi.”

The University Grants Commission building | UGC website

Point of View

With Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu rejecting the motion for CJI Dipak Misra’s impeachment, the goal posts have shifted. The Hindu, in its editorial, writes that “the focus has shifted to the presiding officer’s power to admit or reject a motion”.

The central government has decided to withdraw AFSPA from Meghalaya and parts of Arunachal Pradesh. In its editorial, The Indian Express writes, “The Centre’s decision to lift the Act from Meghalaya must revive a larger conversation on its limits.”

Protest against AFSPA at Jantar Mantar in Delhi
File photo of a protest against AFSPA at Jantar Mantar in Delhi | Getty

PM Narendra Modi is all set to begin his China visit. Convener of the National Security Advisory Board P.S. Raghavan writes in his column in The Hindu that the global context of the visit is also very important. He says the visit must be “seen in the context of the flux of global geopolitics”.

The highest court of the land, Supreme Court, has found itself at the centre of a crisis on account of the reported churn in the judiciary. Ashoka University vice-chancellor Pratap Bhanu Mehta, in his column in The Indian Express, writes, “We can endure neither the court’s loss of legitimacy nor all the attempts being made to overcome it.”

Latest news on Supreme Court | ThePrint.in
Supreme Court of India | Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The Kathua rape and murder of an eight-year old girl had shaken the conscience of the nation. Senior journalist Sagarika Ghose, in her column in The Times Of India, writes, “Divide between ‘Hindu’ Jammu and ‘Muslim’ Kashmir is spreading across India.”

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