1. What’s the story?
As Six Things had covered earlier (here and here), the Karnataka Government had been holding on for dear life over the past few weeks. The wait is finally over. The (notoriously wobbly) coalition government has finally fallen. In a floor test on the Assembly floor on Tuesday, the ruling parties failed to prove their majority. The Congress-JD(S) coalition managed to secure 99 votes, while the BJP-led Opposition had 105. By all accounts, BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa is all set to become the new Chief Minister.
2. Where else should I be looking at?
Uttarakhand, that’s where. Allegedly, not a single girl child was born over the last three months in over 132 villages in that state. Even though the Central Government has continued to push its “Beti bachao, beti padhao” campaign across the nation, the situation remains bleak in certain rural areas. The Civil Registration Systems report released earlier this year claimed that India’s sex ratio at birth had declined from 908 girls to 1000 boys in 2012 to 877 girls to 1000 boys in 2016. An emergency meeting of Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers was called by the District Magistrate on Monday, and surveillance in this region is all set to increase. (Quick recap: An ASHA worker is a community health worker instituted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in India.)
3. What more?
The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill 2019 was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday evening, amidst scathing criticism from Right to Information (RTI) activists and Opposition members. [Quick recap: The original Right to Information Act 2005 proclaims that any citizen of India may request information from a “public authority” (a body of Government or “instrumentality of State”) which is required to reply expeditiously or within thirty days.] Some of the controversial amendments that were passed on Monday include the Centre having the power to dictate the tenure and salaries of State and Central Information Commissioners. Former Chief Information Commissioner, Sridhar Acharyulu, had this to say about the recent developments: “Now itself, the Governments are choosing the retiring Babus, who are very loyal to them as ICs so that they do not independently act according to RTI Act. With this Bill, the persons selected as ICs with reduced stature, term and salary will be further submissive to Chief Ministers and Prime Ministers and deprive the citizen of their right to information. This will kill the Right to Information totally…”
4. Anything else?
Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries has left behind Government-owned Indian Oil Corp (IOC) to become the highest-ranking Indian firm on the Fortune Global 500 list. Reliance (logging a 32% hike in revenue this year) jumped 42 places to be ranked at 106, while IOC held the 117th position. The list was, predictably enough, headed by US retail giant Walmart.
5. Is that all?
On Monday, US President Donald Trump claimed that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to mediate on the Kashmir issue. He made the following statement during a joint press briefing with Imran Khan, Pakistan’s Prime Minister: “I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago and we talked about this subject and he actually said ‘Would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator’, I said ‘Where’, He said ‘Kashmir’. Because this has been going on for many, many years… I think they would like to see it resolved and you (Imran Khan) would like to see it resolved. If I can help, I would love to be a mediator.” The Indian Government, however, was swift to shut this down — though not before the entire nation was in an uproar. A number of US lawmakers have also apologized for Trump’s embarrassing diplomatic mistake.
6. Before you leave…
Take a look at how an unlikely, far-right, hardline Brexiter is all set to be the next Prime Minister of the UK.