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 sancharsaathi.gov.in/sfc, 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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ED Summons Ranbir Kapoor: All You Need to Know About Mahadev Betting App Case

Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor was summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday, 4 October, in connection with the Mahadev Online Betting App case. According to reports, the actor has been directed to appear before the central agency on 6 October for further investigation.

But why did the ED summon Kapoor? What is the Mahadev Betting App case? Who owns the app, and how does it operate? Here’s all you need to know:

ED Summons Ranbir Kapoor: All You Need to Know About Mahadev Betting App Case

  1. 1. Why Did ED Summon Ranbir Kapoor?

    The ED summoned Ranbir in connection with the Mahadev Online Book App for reportedly promoting illegal online betting and gaming platforms.

    • As per reports, Kapoor has appeared in a few advertisements for the online betting platform and has allegedly received payments for carrying out promotional activities for the app.

    • According to The Indian Express, the ED discovered that several celebrities were endorsing these betting entities and were performing at their functions.

    • The celebrities would allegedly charge hefty fees in exchange for their services, which were layered through dubious transactions and untimely paid from the proceeds of online betting, the report stated.

    Expand

  2. 2. What is the Mahadev Online Book App?

    The Mahadev Online Book App is an umbrella syndicate that arranges online platforms in order to enable illegal activities in India, like online betting and wagering.

    • According to the agency, the app provides online platforms for different live games such as cricket, poker, badminton, tennis, football, chance games and other card games like ‘Teen Patti’ and ‘Dragon Tiger’.

    The company also reportedly provides an avenue to bet on different elections in India.

    • As per the probe, the administrators of the app operate a number of closed groups on several instant messaging apps.

    • They are also reportedly running four to five more such apps that were allegedly making profits of around Rs 200 crore per day.

    Expand

  3. 3. How Does the App Operate?

    According to The Indian Express, the ED investigated that the Mahadev Online Book App enrols new users by creating user IDs, where the laundering of money goes through a layered web of Benami bank accounts.

    • As per their investigation, the platform then advertises contact numbers on websites that can only be approached through WhatsApp to lure people to play and earn profits.

    • Once a potential user gets in touch, they are given two different contact numbers.

    • One must be contacted in order to deposit funds and accrue points in the User ID credentials that are used to place bets.

    • The other is used to get in touch with the website and cash out the earned points into the allocated IDs.

    • These IDs are generated on the said websites based on the needs and preferences of the bettors.

    According to NDTV, the users are required to make deposits into pooled online benami accounts before they are assigned panels by the head office. Additionally, these benami bank accounts are used for payouts that are either loaned for commission or established fraudulently.

    • As per the report, despite initial gains to the user, all these online games are rigged in such a manner that the owners do not lose money and users are always likely to suffer losses.

    Expand

  4. 4. Who Are the Promoters of the Mahadev App?

    (L) Ravi Uppal and Sourabh Chandrakar (R).

    (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/X)

    The app’s main promoters are Sourabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal, who hail from Chhattisgarh’s Bhilai and have been reportedly running their operations from Dubai for the past two years.

    • As per the ED, the app is operated by several panels or branches that are like small franchises sold by Chandrakar and Uppal.

    • The app is banned in India; however, the duo still operates businesses in a number of other countries.

    • The app reportedly also has call centres in Nepal and Sri Lanka.

    • Chandrakar and Uppal have total control over the operations of the app and are the recipients of 80 percent of the profits.

    • The duo is suspected to have made profits amounting to Rs 5,000 crore through this app.

    According to a report by NDTV, in February this year, Chandrakar spent Rs 200 crore on his lavish wedding in the UAE. The co-promoter reportedly leased a private aircraft to fly his friends and family members from Nagpur to Dubai for the wedding.

    • The wedding was allegedly attended by several high-profile celebrities, including many Bollywood and Pakistani actors, singers, and comedians, who performed at the wedding and are currently under ED’s investigation.

    Expand

  5. 5. ED’s Investigation Into the Mahadev Betting App

    Before the ED stepped in, the Chhattisgarh Police cracked down on the case in 2021. According to The Indian Express, so far, 75 FIRs have been registered by the police, and 429 accused have been arrested from across India.

    • The police also confiscated a total of 191 laptops, 858 smart mobile phones, luxury cars, and other betting-related materials that are collectively worth Rs 2.50 crore.

    • According to the police, over 3033 bank accounts were used in this racket, out of which around 1035 bank accounts have been frozen after the probe.

    An ED officer earlier told The Indian Express, “M/s Mahadev Online Book is run from a head office in the UAE and operates by franchising ‘panels’ or branches to their known associates and small punters on 70:30 profit ratio… Large scale hawala operations are done to siphon off the proceeds of betting to off-shore accounts. Large expenditure in cash is also being done in India for advertising the betting websites and self-aggrandisement is necessary to attract new users and franchise seekers.”

    • The ED has raided the promoters of the apps at 39 locations across Raipur, Bhopal, Mumbai, and Kolkata and seized illegal assets worth Rs 417 crore.

    • As per the report, the agency is also in the process of issuing Red Corner Notices (RCN) against Chandrakar and Uppal.

    • A special PMLA court in Raipur has also issued non-bailable warrants against the suspects to get the RCNs issued against them.

    (With inputs from NDTV, The Indian Express, and Live Mint)

    Expand

Why Did ED Summon Ranbir Kapoor?

The ED summoned Ranbir in connection with the Mahadev Online Book App for reportedly promoting illegal online betting and gaming platforms.

  • As per reports, Kapoor has appeared in a few advertisements for the online betting platform and has allegedly received payments for carrying out promotional activities for the app.

  • According to The Indian Express, the ED discovered that several celebrities were endorsing these betting entities and were performing at their functions.

  • The celebrities would allegedly charge hefty fees in exchange for their services, which were layered through dubious transactions and untimely paid from the proceeds of online betting, the report stated.

What is the Mahadev Online Book App?

The Mahadev Online Book App is an umbrella syndicate that arranges online platforms in order to enable illegal activities in India, like online betting and wagering.

  • According to the agency, the app provides online platforms for different live games such as cricket, poker, badminton, tennis, football, chance games and other card games like ‘Teen Patti’ and ‘Dragon Tiger’.

The company also reportedly provides an avenue to bet on different elections in India.

  • As per the probe, the administrators of the app operate a number of closed groups on several instant messaging apps.

  • They are also reportedly running four to five more such apps that were allegedly making profits of around Rs 200 crore per day.

How Does the App Operate?

According to The Indian Express, the ED investigated that the Mahadev Online Book App enrols new users by creating user IDs, where the laundering of money goes through a layered web of Benami bank accounts.

  • As per their investigation, the platform then advertises contact numbers on websites that can only be approached through WhatsApp to lure people to play and earn profits.

  • Once a potential user gets in touch, they are given two different contact numbers.

  • One must be contacted in order to deposit funds and accrue points in the User ID credentials that are used to place bets.

  • The other is used to get in touch with the website and cash out the earned points into the allocated IDs.

  • These IDs are generated on the said websites based on the needs and preferences of the bettors.

According to NDTV, the users are required to make deposits into pooled online benami accounts before they are assigned panels by the head office. Additionally, these benami bank accounts are used for payouts that are either loaned for commission or established fraudulently.

  • As per the report, despite initial gains to the user, all these online games are rigged in such a manner that the owners do not lose money and users are always likely to suffer losses.

Who Are the Promoters of the Mahadev App?

(L) Ravi Uppal and Sourabh Chandrakar (R).

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/X)

The app’s main promoters are Sourabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal, who hail from Chhattisgarh’s Bhilai and have been reportedly running their operations from Dubai for the past two years.

  • As per the ED, the app is operated by several panels or branches that are like small franchises sold by Chandrakar and Uppal.

  • The app is banned in India; however, the duo still operates businesses in a number of other countries.

  • The app reportedly also has call centres in Nepal and Sri Lanka.

  • Chandrakar and Uppal have total control over the operations of the app and are the recipients of 80 percent of the profits.

  • The duo is suspected to have made profits amounting to Rs 5,000 crore through this app.

According to a report by NDTV, in February this year, Chandrakar spent Rs 200 crore on his lavish wedding in the UAE. The co-promoter reportedly leased a private aircraft to fly his friends and family members from Nagpur to Dubai for the wedding.

  • The wedding was allegedly attended by several high-profile celebrities, including many Bollywood and Pakistani actors, singers, and comedians, who performed at the wedding and are currently under ED’s investigation.

ED’s Investigation Into the Mahadev Betting App

Before the ED stepped in, the Chhattisgarh Police cracked down on the case in 2021. According to The Indian Express, so far, 75 FIRs have been registered by the police, and 429 accused have been arrested from across India.

  • The police also confiscated a total of 191 laptops, 858 smart mobile phones, luxury cars, and other betting-related materials that are collectively worth Rs 2.50 crore.

  • According to the police, over 3033 bank accounts were used in this racket, out of which around 1035 bank accounts have been frozen after the probe.

An ED officer earlier told The Indian Express, “M/s Mahadev Online Book is run from a head office in the UAE and operates by franchising ‘panels’ or branches to their known associates and small punters on 70:30 profit ratio… Large scale hawala operations are done to siphon off the proceeds of betting to off-shore accounts. Large expenditure in cash is also being done in India for advertising the betting websites and self-aggrandisement is necessary to attract new users and franchise seekers.”

  • The ED has raided the promoters of the apps at 39 locations across Raipur, Bhopal, Mumbai, and Kolkata and seized illegal assets worth Rs 417 crore.

  • As per the report, the agency is also in the process of issuing Red Corner Notices (RCN) against Chandrakar and Uppal.

  • A special PMLA court in Raipur has also issued non-bailable warrants against the suspects to get the RCNs issued against them.

(With inputs from NDTV, The Indian Express, and Live Mint)

Published: 

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Morning Digest | Ron DeSantis launches 2024 presidential bid to challenge Donald Trump; GDP growth may cross 7% in 2022-23: RBI Governor, and more

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das.
| Photo Credit: ANI

2024 U.S. presidential campaign | Florida Governor Ron DeSantis launches bid to challenge Donald Trump

Florida Guv. Ron DeSantis entered the 2024 presidential race on May 24, stepping into a crowded Republican primary contest that will test both his national appeal as an outspoken cultural conservative and the GOP’s willingness to move on from former President Donald Trump.

‘Queen of rock ‘n’ roll’ Tina Turner dies at 83

Tina Turner, the American-born singer who left a hardscrabble farming community and abusive relationship to become one of the top recording artists of all time, died on May 24 at the age of 83.

NDA condemns Opposition boycott of new Parliament opening

In a statement signed by 13 political parties of the NDA, the alliance has condemned the decision by 19 Opposition parties to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 28.

New Parliament building opening | How a letter to PMO set off a search for the  Sengol

A letter to the Prime Minister’s Office by noted danseuse Padma Subrahmanyam set off meticulous research into the Sengol, which would lead to the installation of the golden sceptre in the new Parliament building when it is inaugurated on May 28.

GDP growth may cross 7% in 2022-23: RBI Governor

India’s GDP growth in 2022-23 may well surpass the 7% estimate, while retail inflation is likely to go below the 4.7% mark this month, and gross non-performing assets in the banking system have likely dipped further in the January to March 2023 quarter, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das said on Wednesday.

U.N.-recognised Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions keeps NHRC waiting over ‘political meddling’

For the second time in a decade, the U.N.-recognised Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) deferred the accreditation of the National Human Rights Commission, India (NHRC-India) citing objections like political interference in appointments, involving the police in probes into human rights violations, and poor cooperation with civil society.

ED conducts searches against foreign-registered online gaming companies in five States

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has conducted searches against foreign-registered online gaming companies and websites at 25 locations in Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh for suspected violations under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), involving about ₹4,000 crore.

Uttarakhand and Northeast to receive a Vande Bharat each

Uttarakhand and Northeast India will have their first Vande Bharat trains flagged off in the last week of May. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will virtually flag off the Delhi to Dehradun Vande Bharat on May 25, and bookings for passengers will likely be accepted from May 29. 

Dahod mosque demolition | Gujarat High Court directs  status quo

The Gujarat High Court has directed local authorities in Dahod district to maintain  status quo on the land where the local municipality razed a decades-old Nagina mosque on May 20. 

India set to triple speed of fastest supercomputers

India is set to dramatically scale up its super-computing prowess and install an 18-petaflop system over the course of this year, Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) Minister Kiren Rijiju said on May 24. Flops (floating point operations per second) are an indicator of computers processing speed and a petaflop refers to a 1,000 trillion flops. Processing power to such a degree greatly eases complex mathematical calculations required, for among other things, forecasting how the weather will be over the next few days all the way up to two-three months ahead.

G20 delegates tour Srinagar city in a bid to see ‘changed Kashmir situation’

From the famous Mughal Gardens to the popular Royal Spring Golf Course to the all-pedestrian Polo View Market in commercial hub Lal Chowk, the foreign delegates, who attended the third G20 tourism working group meeting in Srinagar, were allowed to have the flavour of the city on Wednesday, in a bid by the authorities to showcase the “changing ground situation” in Kashmir.

INSV Tarini returns to Goa after 188-day voyage

Indian Naval Sailing Vessel (INSV) Tarini with a six-member crew entered Goa harbour on Tuesday, reaching India after successfully completing a 17,000 NM (nautical mile) trans-ocean inter-continental voyage after 188 days.

Mob vandalises Manipur Minister’s house

A mob on May 24 evening vandalised the house of Manipur PWD Minister Konthoujam Govindas in Bishnupur for the State government’s alleged failure to take steps to protect locals from armed tribal extremists.

₹2000 note withdrawal won’t disrupt the economy: Shaktikanta Das

Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das asserted on Wednesday that there will be no disruption to the economy owing to the ₹2000 currency note’s withdrawal, and said high denomination currencies lingering in the economy can create “collateral issues”.

China appoints new envoy to U.S. in sign of thaw

China’s new Ambassador to the United States finally landed in Washington on Tuesday, filling a post that unusually remained vacant for close to five months and heralding what some observers see as a possible sign of a limited thaw in recently frosty relations.

Bulgarian writer wins International Booker Prize for darkly comic memory novel

Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov and translator Angela Rodel won the International Booker Prize on Tuesday for  Time Shelter, a darkly comic novel about the dangerous appeal of nostalgia.

IPL 2023 eliminator | Akash Madhwal ‘engineers’ Lucknow Super Giants elimination, takes Mumbai Indians closer to summit clash

Little-known Uttarakhand engineer Akash Madhwal bowled a dream spell as his five-wicket haul took five-time champions Mumbai Indians one step closer to a summit clash after thrashing Lucknow Super Giants by 81 runs in IPL Eliminator, in Chennai on May 24.

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