Archives  >  2019  >  October  >  30th

Kashmir, According To Europe

1. What’s the story?

23 European Union legislators are currently in the middle of a two-day visit to Kashmir. They intend to examine the state’s law and order situation for themselves. This is the first time a foreign delegation is visiting the state after the Indian Government revoked Article 370, stripping it of its special status. The Opposition, in the meantime, has launched a scathing attack on the current administration — demanding to know why “outsiders” are being permitted into the state, while Indian politicians have so far not been allowed to visit. 

Tell me more.

The delegation met the Lieutenant General and visited Dal Lake on Tuesday. However, according to sources, they arrived in Kashmir to “… a complete shutdown and clashes between people and security forces in several parts of the city and the Valley

A convoy of security vehicles escorted the MPs, who were travelling in bullet-proof jeeps, from the airport to their hotel where a traditional Kashmiri welcome awaited them.”

At least four people were injured in this clash, and there were blockades all around the city. Roads were deserted and shops closed. Meanwhile, there were also reports of militants opening fire at CRPF personnel posted near a school in Pulwama. Board exams for Class 10 students are currently underway in the state, and many schools are thus being used as examination centres. 

In the meantime, the United Nations has issued an unprecedented statement regarding Kashmir, urging the Narenda Modi Government to “fully restore the rights of the people.” 

“The Supreme Court of India has been slow to deal with petitions concerning habeas corpus, freedom of movement and media restrictions,” PTI quoted Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as saying.

“We are extremely concerned that the population in Kashmir continues to be deprived of a wide range of human rights and we urge the Indian authorities to unlock the situation and fully restore the rights that are currently being denied. Although some of these measures have been relaxed, their impact on human rights continues to be widely felt,” Colville said.

So far, the J&K administration has restored mobile telephone services for post-paid connections in the Valley without SMS facility as the lockdown in Kashmir entered the 86th day on Tuesday.”

It is unknown whether the UN statement is even partly influenced by the observations made by the EU delegation. 

UK MP Chris Davies, meanwhile, has publicly accused the Indian Government of withdrawing its invitation to him as he wanted to move about freely.

“ “I was happy to accept on the condition that during my time in Kashmir I would be free to go wherever I wish, and talk to whoever I wish, unaccompanied by military, police or security forces but accompanied by journalists,” Davies was quoted as saying by the newspaper. The MP said he is “not prepared to take part in a PR stunt” for the Narendra Modi government, or pretend that all is well in Jammu and Kashmir. “It is very clear that democratic principles are being subverted in Kashmir, and the world needs to start taking notice,” Davies added.”

So, what now?

It is to be noted that a few weeks ago a senator of the United States was denied permission to visit Kashmir. A joint delegation of Opposition MPs, including Rahul Gandhi, was also stopped from entering the state in August. Maybe by permitting the EU legislators to visit the state, the Government is taking its first step towards normalizing life in the Valley. 

Keep your eyes on this space. We’ll keep you updated.

2. Where else should I keep my eyes on?

Maharashtra, that’s where. In dramatic developments after the announcement of Assembly Election results in the state (in which the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance won the majority), the power distribution between these two parties seems to be unclear still. 

“Hours after incumbent Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis denied the Shiv Sena was assured post of the chief minister for 2.5 years as part of a power-sharing “formula”, Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday cancelled his party’s meeting with the BJP on the formation of the next government. The development might potentially worsen the already strained relationship between the two parties. 

A senior Sena leader told PTI the meet, scheduled to be held here at 4 pm, was cancelled by Thackeray after Fadnavis’ statement on sharing of power.

Thackeray has been insisting that the 50:50 formula on sharing of power was “agreed upon” between himself, BJP chief Amit Shah and Fadnavis ahead of the Lok Sabha polls this year.

The Sena had demanded a written assurance from the BJP for implementing “equal formula for sharing of power” before holding talks on staking the claim to form the next alliance government in the state.”

3. What more?

In deeply concerning news, an RTI has revealed that the Government did woefully little to “execute Supreme Court guidelines on lynchings.”

“On 17 July 2018, the Supreme Court had instructed the central government to broadcast the message that lynching and mob violence are prohibited and invite serious consequences.

Despite this, a four-month investigation … has exposed the government’s ‘lack of political will’ and ‘gross negligence’ in spreading the message loud and clear.

The government has stonewalled RTI queries made to understand what has been done by them. Supreme Court lawyers and RTI activists believe that this reflects the government’s disinterest in taking strong measures to curb the dangerous practice.

According to court proceeding records … more than two months after the SC guideline was issued, Supreme Court advocate for the petitioner, Indira Jaising, on 24 September 2018, said this direction was not complied with. The central government’s attorney general, Venugopal, and additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta said the same shall be done, if not already done, within a week

That week ended in September 2018.”

4. Anything else?

In a strange chain of events, “rising pork prices” are threatening “China’s growth momentum.” 

“Pork output, which has fallen sharply in the past 6 months, contributes 1% of China’s GDP — from an Indian perspective, in absolute numbers, that’s roughly 70% of what the construction sector contributed to India’s GDP. Amid all-round trade tensions among countries, the unending twists and turns of Brexit, geopolitical strains in West Asia, and the broad-based slowdown in the global economy, it may surprise many that rising pork prices in China have emerged a potent threat to the growth momentum of the world’s second-largest economy. What’s more, because China is the world’s largest pork producer and consumer, a sharp rise in prices – pork prices are expected to scale record levels by the end of the calendar year – has ramifications beyond China.

At the macro level, the swine fever affliction has reduced supply, thus damaging growth, and also raised prices, thus increasing inflation – neither trend is conducive for an economy trying to regain its status as the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

A sharp cut in pork and hog population has hurt the allied industries. For instance, China is no longer importing as much soybean and corn which are used as pig feed. Soybean is considered relatively less replaceable because it provides protein to pigs and without it in the diet, the pigs grow at a slower pace, thus elongating the pig-farming cycle and resulting in higher costs.”

5. Is that all?

A student in Peru has recently made history. Her feat? Writing and defeating her doctoral thesis completely in Quechua — a language still spoken by millions across the Andes. She is apparently the first person in the world to pull this off

“Roxana Quispe Collantes received top marks from Lima’s San Marcos university, the oldest in the Americas, for her study on Peruvian and Latin American literature, which focused on poetry written in Quechua. Scholars say it is the first time in the university’s 468-year history that a student has written and defended a thesis (answering questions from examiners) entirely in the native language – even though it is the most widely spoken indigenous tongue in South America, used by about 8 million people, half of them in Peru.

Beginning her presentation with a traditional thanksgiving ceremony using coca leaves and the corn-made alcoholic drink chicha, she presented her study titled Yawar Para, or blood rain.

“It has been a long road but it was worth it,” said Quispe Collantes, who travelled to highland communities in the Canas to verify words used in the Collao dialect of the language used in the Cusco region. “I’ve always wanted to study in Quechua, in my original language,” she told the Observer. Quispe Collantes grew up speaking Quechua with her parents and grandparents in the Acomayo district of Cusco.”

6. Before you leave…

Take a look at how scientists may have pinpointed “humanity’s homeland.”

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