QBullet: PM Modi, Cong Spar Over Ayodhya; RBI Holds Policy Rates
1. PM Modi, Congress Spar on Poll Impact of Ayodhya Case
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, 6 December, lashed out at the Congress for linking the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case to the 2019 elections, making Ayodhya one of the talking points of his election campaign in Ahmedabad. “Do you want to keep the issue unresolved for political gain or loss in the elections?” he asked the Congress.
Modi was referring to lawyer Kapil Sibal’s plea in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, 5 December, asking that the case not be heard before the 2019 elections because its outcome could have a bearing on that poll. The court didn’t accept his argument.
Sibal, a former Union minister in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance that governed India between 2004 and 2014, was appearing for one of the litigants in the case, but the Congress was quick to clarify on Wednesday that his plea was not consistent with its stand.
Congress leader Anand Sharma said his party was not a litigant in the dispute, and would accept whatever decision the Supreme Court made.
2. RBI Keeps Rates Unchanged, Warns Against Higher Inflation
Lending and deposit rates are expected to remain unchanged, as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday, 6 December, kept key policy rates unchanged, while flagging off the risk of an uptick in both inflation and fiscal deficit.
A moderation in inflation, excluding food and fuel, observed in the first quarter of 2017-18 has, by and large, reversed and “two of the key factors determining the cost of living conditions and inflation expectations – food and fuel inflation – edged up in November.”
“There is a risk that this upward trajectory may continue in the near term,” RBI Governor Urjit Patel warned after the monetary policy review. Stock markets were unnerved by the higher inflation projection with the Sensex plunging 205 points to end at 32,597.18, while the broader Nifty finished at 10,044.10, down 74.15 points.
The RBI warned that implementation of farm loan waivers by select states, partial rollback of excise duty and VAT in the case of petroleum products, and decrease in revenue on account of reduction in GST rates for several goods and services may result in fiscal slippage with attendant implications for inflation.
3. EC Cited Model Code and Flood Relief to Delay Gujarat Polls – but for J&K, Took Another Line
Two floods, two states, two elections — two stories.
In October, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) AK Joti cited “flood relief” while delaying the announcement of Gujarat polls. He said the Gujarat Chief Secretary had written to the Election Commission (EC) seeking more time before the declaration of poll dates, as the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) would hamper flood relief work.
The delayed announcement came in handy to the ruling BJP in the state — a slew of financial sops were announced, big-ticket projects were launched across the state, and several Central ministers and BJP Chief Ministers travelled to address election rallies.
While the EC found merit in Gujarat’s request, records accessed by The Indian Express under the Right to Information (RTI) Act show that relief and rehabilitation work in Jammu and Kashmir, which was hit by floods barely three months ahead of Assembly elections in November 2014, wasn’t affected by the Model Code.
4. Historians Will Vet ‘Padmavati’ Before CBFC Nod: Ministry
A group of historians might decide the fate of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s controversial film Padmavati, which has been in the eye of a storm over the alleged misrepresentation of a 14th century Rajput queen.
The makers of Padmavati have put off the release of the film after a wave of protests from multiple Rajput groups and dire threats to lead actors Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, and director Bhansali.
The film was cleared for viewership by the censor board in UK, but is yet to get a certification from the CBFC.
The Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry has written to the Ministry of Human Resource Development to provide a list of historians who can watch and vet the contents of the film, said sources.
5. ISI, Khalistani Group Plotted Killing RSS Men in Punjab
An NIA probe into a series of targeted killings, including those of RSS workers, Dera Sacha Sauda followers, and a pastor in Punjab in the last two years has revealed that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is using Khalistani extremists to try and stoke communal unrest in the state.
The plan was to foment tension by killing key people and revive militancy. ISI turned to Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) led by Harminder Singh Mintoo, lodged in Moga jail, and Harmeet Singh, said to be living in Pakistan under ISI cover.
Details of the conspiracy were revealed during questioning of two hitmen – Ramandeep Singh and Hardeep Singh – by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the case relating to the murder of Ravinder Gosain, an RSS pracharak, in Ludhiana in October 2017. The duo allegedly admitted to killing six other men.
6. Panchkula Rape Survivor’s Baby Finds Home in Maharashtra
Three-and-a-half months after a 10-year-old rape survivor gave birth to a girl at a Chandrigarh hospital, a ‘well-to-do’ couple from Maharashtra has adopted the infant.
The family took her home last week. The couple got to know about the child through the Central Adoption Resource Authority website, which had uploaded details of the baby after she was born on 17 August. The UT Social Welfare Department confirmed the news.
Child welfare committee chairman Sangeeta Vardhan denied rumours that a foreign couple was taking the child.
“A few days ago, the family came to take the baby home. Other details are being kept confidential to respect the couple’s privacy, and this is also in the child’s best interest,” she said.
7. BHU Paper for MA Students: GST in Arthashastra, Manu on Globalisation
Write an essay on the nature of GST in Kautilya’s Arthashastra.
Manu is the first Indian thinker of globalisation. Discuss.
These 15-mark questions were part of the Political Science paper for MA (Master of Arts) students in Banaras Hindu University (BHU) on Monday, 4 December.
While students said the topics were not part of their course on ‘Social and Political Thought in Ancient and Medieval India’, Professor Kaushal Kishore Mishra, who set the question paper, said he had “interpreted the two thinkers and taught their philosophies through new and current examples like GST and globalisation.”
“It was my idea to introduce these examples to students. So what if these are not in the textbook? Isn’t it our job to find newer ways to teach,” he said.
“Sir had dictated the answers, and specifically told us that we would get these questions. They are not part of our textbooks but we took down notes,” said a student. But students of colleges affiliated to BHU claimed they had not been taught the answers, and it was not part of their course material.
8. Formally Apologise for Jallianwala: London Mayor
Sadiq Khan, the first Asian-origin Mayor of London, on Wednesday called on the UK government to formally apologise for the April 1919 Jallianwala Baghmassacre by the British Indian Army soldiers.
Khan, who was in Amritsar as part of his six-day mission to India and Pakistan, called the massacre one of the most horrific events in Indian history.
“I’m clear that the (UK) government should now apologise, especially as we reach the centenary of the massacre. This is about properly acknowledging what happened here and giving the people of Amritsar and India the closure they need through a formal apology,” Khan said, as he visited the Jallianwala Bagh memorial and paid respects.
The UK has never extended a formal apology for the massacre in which hundreds of people were killed.
9. Illegal Constructions in Delhi Could Get Sealed
The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 6 December, said it could consider reviving its monitoring committee that had sealed thousands of illegal commercial establishments in Delhi a decade ago.
The top court also asked the Centre to respond to its proposal to restore the sealing powers to the monitoring committee, a move prompted by the failure of civic authorities to stop rampant unauthorised construction and misuse of residential premises.
“We cannot let Delhi go the way other cities are going and let it flood when there are heavy rains. Unauthorised construction takes a toll on the environment and affects sewage, parking and waste management,” a bench headed by Justice MB Lokur said.
“Prima facie we feel the rule of law has been violated and it has a vital impact on environment in Delhi,” the bench said.