Disha Ravi Accuses Police of Leaking Private Info

The Delhi high court on Monday, February 27, ordered the Union government to file an affidavit on the status of the investigation against climate activist Disha Ravi, who is an accused in the 2021 ‘toolkit’ case. Ravi, who secured bail in February 2021, moved the court accusing the Delhi Police of leaking private information about her to the media despite the fact no charge sheet has been filed in the case thus far. This, she said, was “malicious and in violation of the right to privacy and free trial”, reported.

— source | 28/Feb/2023

Nullius in verba


The Kachchh caravan stumbles on

Kammabhai’s hopeful tone is understandable given the extraordinary events of January 2022 when 58 camels were detained by the local police in Amravati, Maharashtra. Although released a month later in February, all the camels showed signs of poor health.

Their herders say that during their detention, the animals did not get to eat their regular diet. The gaurakshan kendra where they were held, is a cattle shelter equipped with feed for cows.

In a cruel twist, the hapless herders even had to pay – Rs. 350 for each camel’s daily feed – for the unsuitable food determined by the kendra . The bill came to Rs. 4 lakh, as calculated by the Gaurakshan Sanstha . The cattle-shelter calls itself a voluntary organisation but it levied a fee on the Rabaris towards the care and upkeep of camels.

A year ago, a self-styled animal rights activist from Hyderabad had lodged a complaint in Talegaon Dashasar police station against the five herders. They were accused of transporting camels to slaughterhouses in Hyderabad. The Rabaris were camping in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region. Police arrested the five herders at a village called Nimgavhan, which comes under the Amravati district police’s jurisdiction. The owners were charged under section 11 (1)(d) of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 , and the camels were sent to a gaurakshan kendra in Amravati in detention.

Although the local court immediately granted the owners bail, the battle for their animals dragged on and went up to the district court. On January 25, 2022, a magistrate in Amravati summarily rejected the applications of three animal rights organisations, including the Gaurakshan Sanstha , for custodial rights of the camels. It allowed the application of the five Rabari herders upon their fulfilment of a few conditions.

— source | Jaideep Hardikar, Priti David, Rajeeve Chelanat | Jan. 27, 2023

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Doctors demand ban on GM Mustard, uprooting of trial plantations

Doctors across India have come together to express their concern against the plantation of genetically modified (GM) mustard crops, which recently received the Centre’s go-ahead for its environmental clearance.

A letter has been submitted by 111 doctors across various fields to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding immediate uprooting of the trial plantations of the genetically modified Dhara Mustard Hybrid (DMH) -11. The doctors warned of the possible health concerns introduced in the food system by the crop.

GM mustard was approved for its environmental release October 18, 2022, by the central biotech regulator, Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC). The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Directorate of Rapeseed Mustard Research (DRMR) procured two kilos of GM mustard from its inventor and geneticist, Deepak Pental.

When Down To Earth visited the director of ICAR-DRMR, P K Rai, November 4, he had denied the trial plantation of GM mustard. However, November 14, 2022, he admitted the seeds

— source | Himanshu Nitnaware | 06 Dec 2022

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Over 1,35,000 Vacancies in Army, IAF, Navy; Only 46,000 Posts Advertised in 2022

There are a total of 1,35, 891 vacancies in the three Armed Forces wings – Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy, the government has informed Parliament. The total number of over a lakh vacancies are the highest in the Indian Army at 118,485, as on July 1, 2022, a total of 11,587 vacancies in the Indian Navy (sailors) as on September 30, 2022 and 5,819 vacancies in the Indian Army, according to a written reply in Lok Sabha by Ajay Bhatt, Minister of State for Defence. In reply to another question on the recruitment of women as officers in defence sector, Bhatt said they made up for 3.7% of officers (excluding AMC/ADC) in the Army, 21.25% of AMC (Army Medical Corp)/ADC – Aide De Camp (basically medical and assistant) officers, 100% of MNS (military nursing service) officers and 0.01% in the category of JCO/OR, as on July 1, 2022. In the Indian Navy, about 6% women were part of the personnel, while in the IAF 13.69% were officers (excluding the dental branch), as on December 1, 2022.

— source | 09 Dec 2022

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Rs 9.5 Cr of Taxpayer Money Spent on Commission, Printing of Electoral Bonds

The Centre has spent around Rs 9.5 crore of taxpayer money on commission and printing costs of opaque electoral bonds (EBs) issued to fund political parties.

A right-to-information (RTI) application filed by transparency activist Commodore (Retd.) filed by Lokesh K Batra has revealed that almost Rs 10,791.50 crore has been collected by political parties through EBs from anonymous donors in 22 phases since the Electoral Bond Scheme was launched in 2018.

According to the reply of the department of economic affairs, Ministry of Finance, 93.67% of the EBs are of Rs 1 crore denomination each—leaving no doubt that big corporate entities are purchasing them to donate to political parties.

The Rs 9.5 crore comprises a commission of Rs 7.63 crore and Rs 1.90 crore (both inclusive of Goods and Services Tax) as charges for the printing of EBs, the RTI reply says.

Ironically, donors who buy EBs are not required to pay any service charge (commission) to the State Bank of India (SBI)—the only bank authorised to issue EBs—and even the

— source | 28 Nov 2022

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Facebook in India Has Backed Modi and BJP

Facebook, the biggest online social media group in the world, is under unprecedented attack following the publication on 14 November of a 5,000-word investigation by the New York Times alleging a host of questionable practices by the digital conglomerate, that includes WhatsApp and Instagram. The company’s share prices have come down and particular investors have called for the resignation of Mark Zuckerberg, the 34-year-old founder and chief executive officer of Facebook and his 49-year-old deputy, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. While the two have sought to refute certain specific allegations levelled against them, their leadership abilities and integrity are being questioned like never before. This is arguably the biggest crisis faced by Facebook which has 2.27 billion users across the world, including over 220 million in India – the largest in any country.

Even as allegations against the digital monopoly for allowing its platforms to be misused have intensified globally and calls have been made to break it up, we present an investigation into Facebook’s activities in India. This series of five long reports is based on interviews (quite a few of them off-the-record) with nearly 50 individuals that were conducted over a period of five months starting June 2018 as well as information that is available in the public domain.

While the international digital giant claims it provides an agnostic platform for all to use, there is evidence – some of it circumstantial – to indicate that senior employees of

— source | Cyril Sam, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta | 22 Nov 2018

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Banks Recover only 13% of Rs 10 Lakh Crore Loans Written off in Last 5 Years

Banks have recovered only 13% of a staggering amount of loans worth more than Rs 10 lakh crore loans written off in the last five years.

According to a right-to-information request filed by The Indian Express with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), banks were able to recover just Rs 1,32,036 crore by writing off debts in the last five years. The write-off helped banks reduce their non-performing assets (NPAs) by Rs 10,09,510 crore.

The mega write-off, which would have been enough to eliminate 61% of the projected gross fiscal deficit of Rs 16.61 lakh crore for 2022–23, reduced NPAs to Rs 7,29,388 crore as of March 2022, the RTI revealed. According to the RBI, write-offs reduced NPAs by Rs 13,22,309 crore in the last 10 years.

— source | 21 Nov 2022

Nullius in verba