The Hindu Morning Digest, March 05, 2024

Prime Minister Modi gesturing to the crowd during a public meeting at Nandanam in Chennai on March 4.
| Photo Credit: S.R. Raghunathan

Central government employees protest delays in promotion, threaten non-cooperation if demands not met

Central government employees have threatened a “non-cooperation movement” if an expedited decision is not taken regarding their promotions and the “government does not wake up from its deep slumber.” The officials said that many employees suffer stagnation in their careers and financial losses in pension as they retire without getting promoted.

Allow MPs, MLAs to speak in House without fear of harassment, says Supreme Court

A Constitution Bench on March 4 said the Parliament and State legislatures would lose their representative character in a democratic polity if MPs and MLAs are not able to attend the House and speak their minds in the exercise of their duties as members without fear of being harassed by the executive or any agencies.

Rajya Sabha polls should be free and fearless, to be given ‘utmost protection’, says SC

The Supreme Court on March 4 said the elections to the Rajya Sabha and Council of States required “utmost protection” and the right to vote should be carried out freely without fear or persecution.

No positive outcome in meeting with Amit Shah, say Ladakh bodies

Civil society leaders in Ladakh, who are protesting to demand Constitutional safeguards for the region, met Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday but the “meeting did not result in any positive outcome”.

ED accuses Salman Khurshid’s wife Louise Khurshid and two others of money laundering

The Enforcement Directorate on March 4 alleged that the then Dr. Zakir Husain Memorial Trust’s project director, Louise Khurshid, the wife of senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid, and two others allegedly laundered ₹71.50 lakh.

ADR says it will oppose SBI plea on electoral bonds

As the State Bank of India moved the Supreme Court seeking time till June 30 to comply with a direction to make public details of electoral bonds purchased since April 2019, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), chief petitioner in the electoral bonds case, said it was considering all legal options, including opposing the SBI plea in court.

Uttarakhand Cabinet nod for law to recover cost of damage to public property from rioters

Uttarakhand Cabinet on March 4 gave nod to the ordinance which aims to recover the damage of the public property done during riots and protests from the rioters and those involved in the act. The government has also formed a tribunal which will assess the loss for the recovery. The rioters will also have to pay a fine upto ₹8 lakhs apart from the recovery amount which will be used to pay for the expenses incurred on government staff and other work in riot control.

2024 General Election: Congress gets battle ready as manifesto committee discusses poll promises

The Congress held a series of important meetings on Monday as the party gears for the Lok Sabha elections. The Manifesto Committee, headed by former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, discussed the draft manifesto and separately, meetings of screening committees were held to shortlist candidates for the Lok Sabha elections.

DoT launches services to report, monitor spam and fraud calls

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on March 4 launched Chakshu, a platform for telecom users to report fraud or spam callers. The facility, available at, aims to allow citizens to “proactively report suspected fraud communication,” the DoT said in its announcement. 

Swedish SAAB begins work on new Carl-Gustaf manufacturing facility in India

Swedish defence major Saab on Monday started construction on its new manufacturing facility in India for its iconic Carl-Gustaf M4 weapons with a formal groundbreaking ceremony. The facility is being built in the State of Haryana at MET City at Jhajjar in Haryana. The State has a strong industrial base of good potential partners and skilled employees, the company said.

‘My country is my family’, dynasts incapable of thinking beyond own families, says Modi

Hitting out at the Opposition alliance after Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad mocked him as a person who did not have a family, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 4 said the country’s “140 crore people” were his family and he was working day and night for their development.

AUKUS will ensure safety, security, and peace in the Indo-Pacific: U.S. official

The AUKUS trilateral cooperation between Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom will ensure safety, security and peace in the Indo-Pacific, said Bonnie Denise Jenkins, U.S. Undersecretary for arms control and international security. Ms. Jenkins stressed that AUKUS does not violate the non-proliferation treaty and that Australia will remain a non-nuclear state that does not acquire nuclear weapons.

NBBL asked to start interoperable system for net banking in 2024

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), for quicker settlement of funds for merchants, has asked NPCI Bharat BillPay Ltd. (NBBL) to implement an interoperable system for Internet Banking which should be introduced during the current calendar year.

Trump wins Colorado ballot disqualification case at US Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court handed Donald Trump a major victory on March 4 as he campaigns to regain the presidency, overturning a judicial decision that had excluded him from Colorado’s ballot under a constitutional provision involving insurrection for inciting and supporting the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

UN envoy says ‘reasonable grounds’ to believe Hamas committed sexual violence on Oct. 7

The U.N. envoy focusing on sexual violence in conflict said in a new report Monday that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe Hamas committed rape, “sexualized torture,” and other cruel treatment of women during its surprise attack in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

Joe Biden, Donald Trump set to win primary races on Super Tuesday; Biden faces dissatisfied Democratic voters

Presidential candidates crisscrossed the country in the run-up to Super Tuesday (March 5) this year, when 17 U.S. States and territories hold their primaries and caucuses to pick their contenders for November’s general election. The support of more than a third of each party’s delegates (i.e., representatives who vote in the parties’ conventions to select the candidate) is up for grabs on Tuesday.

France becomes the only country to explicitly guarantee abortion as a constitutional right

French lawmakers on March 4 overwhelmingly approved a bill to enshrine abortion rights in France’s constitution, making it the only country to explicitly guarantee a woman’s right to voluntarily terminate a pregnancy.

Former Twitter execs including ex-CEO Agarwal sue Musk for over $128 m in severance

Four former top Twitter executives, including former CEO Parag Agarwal, have sued Elon Musk for over $128 million in severance, the Wall Street Journal reported on March 4.

Ranji Trophy semifinal | Mumbai thrashes Tamil Nadu by an innings and 70 runs

The writing was on the wall after Mumbai’s lower-order onslaught on day two. It turned out to be a manic Monday for Tamil Nadu as the hosts completed a thumping innings and 70-run win against their familiar foe to book a berth in the Ranji Trophy final for the 48th time.

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Akali Dal Back In BJP-Led NDA Alliance? What Amit Shah Said

New Delhi:

The BJP does not believe in “family planning” in politics and always welcomes new allies, Union Home Amit Shah asserted on Saturday and said that talks were on with the Shiromani Akali Dal.

Speaking at an event, Mr Shah also stressed that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) will be implemented before the Lok Sabha polls and predicted the BJP will win 370 seats while the NDA will get more than 400 seats out of 543 in the elections.

Asked about the possibility of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), headed by Jayant Singh, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and other regional parties joining the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the home minister said, “We believe in family planning (in general) but not in politics.”

“We always want that our alliance grows and we always welcome new allies. Our ideology has remained the same since the days of Jan Sangh. Those who like to join us can come,” he said at the ET NOW Global Business Summit 2024.

When pressed further on the re-entry of SAD in NDA, he said, “Talks are going on but nothing has been finalised.” Sukhbir Singh Badal-led SAD had pulled out of the NDA in September 2020 over the now-scrapped three farm laws.

On the possibility of joining hands with the TDP, which left the NDA in 2018, or the YSR Congress, Mr Shah said, “Everything is not disclosed in such platforms. Wait for some time. Everything will be clear for all.”

In a major political realignment ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar switched from the opposition INDIA bloc to the NDA last month while there is talk of RLD also joining the BJP-led alliance.

Mr Shah said the BJP has never sought separation from any alliance partner and has even let its regional allies lead state governments despite being the bigger partner.

He said many “friends” have come and many have gone away.

“There are normally two reasons why they leave. It is because of certain incident or it is because of the political equation of a particular state. But the BJP never sought separation from any party. BJP always maintained the coalition dharma,” Mr Shah said.

The Union minister asserted that there is no suspense over the outcome of the Lok Sabha polls and even the Congress and other opposition parties have realised that they will again have to sit in the opposition benches.

“We have abrogated Article 370 (of the Constitution, which gave a special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir). So we believe that the people of the country will bless the BJP with 370 seats and the NDA with over 400 seats,” Mr Shah said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made a similar prediction about winning a third consecutive term a few days back while speaking in Lok Sabha.

Mr Shah said the 2024 polls will not be an election between the NDA and the INDI opposition bloc, but between those who deliver on the promise of development and a bright future and those who give mere slogans and represent hopelessness.

Asked about the Bharat Jodo Yatra of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, he said the Nehru-Gandhi scion has no right to go ahead with such a march as his party was responsible for the country’s partition in 1947.

Now, he said, again some people of the Congress are talking about the division of the country (South India -North India) and the party is not even distancing itself from such statements.

On the timing of a white paper tabled by the government in Parliament, Mr Shah said it was necessary as the country has full right to know what mess the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) left behind when it lost power in 2014.

“At that time (2014), the economy was in a bad shape. There were scams everywhere. Foreign investment was not coming. Had we released a white paper at that time, it would have given a wrong message to the world.

“But after 10 years, our government has revived the economy, brought foreign investment and there is no corruption at all. So it is the right time to publish the white paper,” he said.

The home minister said the Congress was scared that their scams since 1948 would come out in the open in the white paper.

He claimed that during the two terms of the previous UPA government, there were scams to the tune of Rs 12 lakh crore.

On the CAA, Mr Shah said the law, enacted in 2019, will be implemented before the Lok Sabha polls after issuing the rules in this regard.

“Our Muslim brothers are being misled and instigated (against the CAA). The CAA is only meant to give citizenship to those who came to India after facing religious persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. It is not for snatching anyone’s Indian citizenship,” he said.

To a query on a Uniform Civil Code, Mr Shah said it is a constitutional agenda, signed by the country’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and others.

“But the Congress had ignored it due to appeasement. The enforcement of the UCC in Uttarakhand is a social change. It will be discussed on all forums and face legal scrutiny.

“A secular country cannot have religion-based civil codes,” he said.

About the decision to confer the Bharat Ratna on Chaudhary Charan Singh, former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao and renowned agriculture scientist MS Swaminathan, Mr Shah said all three persons were big institutions of their times.

“In Congress’ time, Bharat Ratna was given either due to compulsion or to the family,” he said.

To a query on some leaders, including Uddhav Thackeray, asking why Bharat Ratna was not being given to Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Mr Shah said: “We have taken note of their suggestion”.

The home minister, however, refused to comment on the issues of Gyanvapi mosque and the Shahi Idgah mosque complex in Mathura saying these were now subject matters of courts.

Asked about the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, he said: “The Act is in its place”.

The law prohibits conversion of any place of worship and provides for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August 1947, excluding Ayodhya’s Ram Janmabhoomi complex.

There has been a demand from a section including some BJP leaders that the law should be scrapped.

Mr Shah said it is very unfortunate that there is a debate on the caste of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and alleged that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has a habit of telling lies publicly and repeating those thereafter.

Mr Shah also said it was a Congress government in Gujarat that included Modi’s caste in the list of Other Backward Classes (OBC) in 1994 and the Centre included the prime minister’s caste in its OBC list in 2000.

“At that time also, Modi was not in a position of power – not an MP, not an MLA nor even a sarpanch. He became the chief minister in 2001. These people have a habit of distorting facts,” Mr Shah said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Morning Digest: February 6, 2023

Supreme Court of India
| Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

Five new Supreme Court judges to take oath today

Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud is scheduled to read out the oath of allegiance to the Constitution to five new judges of the Supreme Court today. The occasion will see the largest number of top court judges taking oath simultaneously in nearly two years. Nine judges were sworn in in one go in 2021.

Linking PAN with Aadhaar: CBDT chairperson says 48 crore linked so far

About 48 crore individual Permanent Account Numbers (PANs), out of the total 61 crore issued till now, have been linked with Aadhaar till date and those who do not link it by the declared deadline of March 31 will not get benefits while undertaking various business and tax-related activities, CBDT Chairperson Nitin Gupta said. The government has made the linkage of the two databases mandatory and declared that those individual PANs that are not attached to the Aadhaar by the end of this financial year (March 31, 2023) will be rendered inoperative.

Polls expected to elect Delhi Mayor today

The Delhi Municipal House is set to convene today to select a mayor for the city after failing to complete the poll in two previous attempts. The first two sessions — held on January 6 and January 24 — were adjourned by the presiding officer following a ruckus between members of the BJP and the AAP. The councillors of AAP on February 5 wrote to MCD’s presiding officer seeking debarment of aldermen from voting in the election of mayor, deputy mayor and Standing Committee on February 6, saying that if it happens, it will be an insult to the people of Delhi.

Amit Shah to address two election rallies in Tripura on February 6

Union Home Minister Amit Shah will address two election rallies in Tripura on February 6, a senior party leader said. On Monday, Mr. Shah will address two election rallies at Khowai in Khowai district and Santirbazar in South Tripura district. The Union Minister will also join a road show in Agartala city on Monday, the senior party leader said. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath are also scheduled to arrive in Tripura on February 7 to hit the party’s election campaign.

Special ASI committee to trace 24 ‘missing’ monuments

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has decided to form a special committee to trace and certify 24 protected monuments which have gone “missing”. The decision comes after repeated red flags by a Parliamentary Committee as well as criticism from the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister. The Rajya Sabha Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture had said that it was “perturbed” to find that the Barakhamba Cemetery in the very heart of the capital city was among the untraceable monuments.

Truss blames British and international establishment for her downfall

Former U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss launched a broadside against the economic orthodoxy of British and international institutions, mostly blaming “a very powerful economic establishment” and a lack of political support for the collapse of her administration and her resignation from office in under 50 days. Ms. Truss’s government fell shortly after her September 23 ‘mini Budget’, which included tax cuts and unfunded expenditures and rattled markets, resulting in her resignation in October last year.

Tripura polls | Tipra Motha bats for LGBTQ+ rights

The Tipra Motha, Tripura’s newest local party, has vowed to ensure “equal respect and opportunities” for the LGBTQ+ community in the State. Releasing the party’s election manifesto on February 4, Tipra Motha chairperson and royal scion, Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarma claimed his is the only party that has included the rights of the “most discriminated” community in a declaration. 

Telangana Chief Minister KCR asks farmers of Maharashtra to mobilise into a force, prove mettle to make ‘Kisan Sarkar’

The Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) has taken its first stride outside Telangana by holding a public meeting at Nanded in Maharashtra where several local leaders joined the party. They were welcomed into the party by its president and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao. He stated that there was no shortage of natural resources in the country but what was lacking was the will power and commitment among the rulers. He sought to know why the farmers suicides did not stop even 75 years after the Independence and why they were being denied support price to their produce.

Singer Vani Jairam cremated with police honours

Veteran playback singer Vani Jairam was cremated with full police honours at Besant Nagar crematorium on February 5. Speaking to reporters after he paid homage, Mr. Stalin said he was shocked to learn the news of her death as much as the people of Tamil Nadu and the cine fraternity. “Only recently, the Padma Bhushan was announced for her. But she has passed away unfortunately before receiving it. I express my deep condolences to her family members and cine fraternity,” Mr. Stalin said.

Sports finally being viewed from athletes’ perspective in country: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said his government is encouraging youngsters to pursue a career in sports and the ministry’s budget has been increased almost three times since 2014. He said that the Sports Ministry has been allocated a budget of ₹2,500 crore this year compared to ₹800-850 crore before 2014. He said that more than ₹1,000 crore have been allocated to the ‘Khelo India’ campaign alone which will be spent on the development of sports facilities and resources in the country.

Female cancer patient offloaded from New York-bound flight; DGCA seeks report from airline

A female cancer patient, who recently underwent surgery, was allegedly offloaded from a New York-bound flight of American Airlines at Delhi airport after she sought assistance from a flight attendant to keep her handbag in the overhead cabin. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), has taken cognisance of the case and asked American Airlines to submit its report.

Centre likely to hike dearness allowance by 4% to 42%

The Union government is likely to increase the dearness allowance (DA) for its over one crore employees and pensioners by four percentage points to 42% from existing 38% as per the agreed formula for the purpose. The DA hike will be effective from January 1, 2023. Presently over one crore central government employees and pensioners are getting 38% dearness allowance.

Death toll in Chile forest fires rises to 23: official

At least 23 people have died in hundreds of forest fires whipped up amid a blistering heat wave in south-central Chile, a senior government official said Saturday night. The government of President Gabriel Boric extended a state of disaster to include the southern region of Araucania. The regions of Nuble and Biobio were already under a disaster designation.

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China wants to reduce India’s influence in Indian Ocean region, say papers submitted at DGPs’ meet

Chinese activities and influence in India’s extended neighbourhood have grown increasingly with the sole purpose of keeping New Delhi constrained and occupied in facing the resultant challenges, according to papers submitted at a key security meeting in New Delhi.

The papers presented by Indian Police Service (IPS) officers at the just concluded conference of DGPs and IGPs submit that by providing huge amounts of money in the name of loans for developmental works in Southeast and South Asia, China wants to reduce India’s influence in the Indian Ocean region and force resolution of bilateral issues on Beijing’s terms.

Explained | China’s moves in the Indian Ocean

The three-day annual conference was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and about 350 top police officers of the country.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), infrastructure related investments in India’s neighbouring countries through easy loans, hot borders and Line of Actual Control (LAC) are some of the tools Beijing has been using effectively, the papers say.

The last two-and-a-half decades have seen Chinese economic and military growth at a massive scale and Chinese activities and influence in India’s extended neighbourhood have grown proportionately, they find.

“All this is being done with the aim to keep India constrained and occupied in facing the resultant challenges, force resolution of bilateral issues on its own terms, modulate India’s growth story, leaving it [China] free to achieve its aim of becoming not only Asia’s pre-eminent power, but a global superpower,” according to the papers.

The papers on the subject “Chinese influence in the neighbourhood and implications for India” were written by some top IPS officers of the country.

China has become far more attentive to its South Asian periphery, moving beyond commercial and development engagements to more far-reaching political and security ones, according to one of the papers.

China is investing huge amounts of money in the neighbouring countries of India mainly Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka in the name of infrastructure development and other financial assistance, it said.

Without exception, India’s neighbouring countries have described China as a crucial development partner, either as a funder or in providing technological and logistical support. Additionally, it is the biggest trading partner in goods for Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and the second-largest for Nepal and the Maldives, it said.

“However, the economic element is increasingly intertwined with political, government, and people-to-people aspects of these relationships,” it said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created opportunities for China to work directly with these countries in new ways such as the provision of medical equipment, biomedical expertise, and capital for coronavirus-related needs, it said.

These developments demonstrate that China’s presence in Southeast and South Asia is no longer predominantly economic but involves a greater, multidimensional effort to enhance its posture and further its long-term strategic interests in the region, the paper said.

“China is highly ambitious about achieving its regional power status in the Indian Ocean region. To do so Beijing wants to contain India which is the only threat before China in this region,” according to an analyst.

Radicalisation of Muslim youth a major challenge for national security

Radicalisation, particularly of the Muslim youth, is one of the key challenges for national security and it is important to take moderate Muslim leaders and clerics into confidence to counter radical organisations, according to papers submitted at the security meeting.

The papers noted that the rise in religious fundamentalism in India is primarily due to high level of indoctrination, easy availability of modern means of communication, including encrypted form, cross-border terrorism and Pakistan concentrating on encouraging these radical groups.

“Radicalisation, particularly of the Muslim youth, is one of the important challenges for national security of our country. Several radical Muslim organisations are active in India, which indulge in organised radicalisation of the Muslim youth. They have inherent tendency to corrupt minds of Muslim community, push them on the violent path and work against composite culture,” the papers noted.

In view of this, tackling radical organisations become imperative and priority in the interests of social harmony and national security.

These organisations are engaged in radical interpretation of Islamic scriptures and concepts.

They also create a sense of victimhood in Muslim psyche. In pursuit of puritanical Islam, their preaching go against modern values such as democracy and secularism.

In India, the papers revealed, the recently banned Popular Front of India (PFI), another banned group SIMI, Wahdat-e-Islami, Islamic Youth Federation, Hizb-ut Tahreer and Al-Ummah are some Muslim organisations, which fit in this category.

“Among these Muslim organisations, the PFI was the most potent radical organisation. It evolved as a national-level organisation since formation in 2006 by merging of three South India based outfits,” the papers noted.

Rise in religious fundamentalism is due to history and attending continuous religious programmes such as Dars-eQuran, Ahle-Hadith etc., high level of indoctrination, modern means of communication viz. internet, mail in coded and encrypted form, the papers said.

The cross-border terrorism and its post effects, Pakistan concentrating on encouraging these radical organisations, Muslim boys going to the Gulf countries and coming back with money and radical ideologies are some other reasons for the rise of radicalisation, according to the papers said.

The writers noted that terrorist radicalisation is a dynamic process whereby an individual comes to accept terrorist violence as a possible, perhaps even legitimate, course of action and each case of terrorist radicalisation results from the unique intersection of an enabling environment and the personal trajectory and psychology of a given individual.

Suggesting remedies, the papers noted that to tackle radical Organisations, multi-pronged approach is required, including monitoring of covert activities, creation of detailed databases on leaders and other entities of interests.

“Security agencies and state police need to be sensitised about threat to national security from radical organisations and in order to counter radical organisations, it is equally important to take moderate Muslim leaders and clerics into confidence.

“Emphasis should be given to identify and monitoring the hotspots of radicalisation and prior analysis must be done about the potentiality of a radical organisation in spreading extremism and involvement of its cadres in violent action and accordingly the plan of action should be initiated,” the papers noted.

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