Archives  >  2020  >  January  >  15th

The Great Indian Protests

1. What’s the story?

For the past one month, India has been protesting.

What started out as a protest against discriminatory citizenship laws by a select few has now morphed into a huge movement across the nation. In latest revolutionary news, the Kerala Government has moved to the Supreme Court against this discriminatory law, Mumbaikars have protested inside the Wankhede cricket stadium during a widely publicized and broadcast cricket match, and the West Bengal Government has imposed Section 144 to stop the Bharatiya Janata Party from holding pro-CAA rallies in the state

Tell me more.   

On Tuesday (January 14), the Kerala government moved the Supreme Court against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

The Pinarayi Vijayan-led government, the first state to challenge the law, filed a petition under Article 131 of the Constitution and asked for the law to be declared unconstitutional and in violation of Articles 14 (equality before law), 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) and 25 (freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion).”

This is the first officially legal move by a state Government against this law. All eyes are on the courts. 

Meanwhile, in Mumbai, cricket lovers joined hands to stage a remarkably well-broadcast protest. 

“Wearing white T-shirts and carrying the national flag, a large group of students today used the India-Australia cricket match at Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium as a platform to raise their voice against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, National Register of Citizens and National Population Register. The unique agitation took place despite the authorities reportedly taking measures to prevent any demonstration at the iconic stadium.

The students with black letters embossed on their T-shirts managed to give the stadium security a slip. During the match, they stuck together, delivering their message- “No CAA, No NRC, No NPR”- to the massive crowd of spectators.”

Furthermore, in a strange twist of events, the West Bengal Government has been using the much-maligned Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Act to “stop the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from holding two back-to-back rallies since Sunday.

Cases have also been registered against BJP leaders for violating the orders. Both incidents have taken place in the north Bengal region where the BJP wrested all the Lok Sabha seats from the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in 2019, taking the party’s tally from two seats in Bengal to 18. Of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats, TMC won 22, mostly in south Bengal.”

So, what now?

 The protests aren’t showing any sign of dying down. From Delhi to Allahabad, Chennai to Ahmedabad — people have taken to the streets in the first-ever serious nationwide backlash against the Narendra Modi-led Government. The Supreme Court of India is set to pronounce its preliminary judgment on this matter on the 22nd of January. 

Till then, watch this space. We’ll keep you updated.

2. What else should I be keeping my eyes on?

India’s food price inflation, that’s what. With food prices set to hit almost 15% inflation this year, working class families across the nation have had to make some tough choices. 

“For the past five months, Trupti Kamle has been torn between two difficult choices: either saving money for her son’s education or ensuring that he is fed well. The reason for her dilemma is something that has been plaguing households across India in recent months – unprecedented food inflation.

A domestic worker from suburban Mumbai, Kamle has always kept aside half of her income – currently Rs 12,000 a month – as savings for her six-year-old son. Since her husband, an office assistant, spends his entire monthly income of Rs 8,500 on rent for their slum home, Kamle has to run the house on her own income. By spending carefully and saving Rs 6,000 a month, she has been able to enrol her son in a private, English-medium school, pay for extra-curricular activities and start a small fund for his college education.

“But now food is so expensive that we will not be able to eat normal meals if I try to continue my savings system,” said Kamle, 28.

Onions that cost Rs 120 per kg last month are now priced at Rs 70 per kg, but that is still twice the amount that Kamle paid for them in early 2019. Dals, rice, flour, and vegetables all cost between 10% and 30% more than they did in October 2019, and the price of the rawas fish that Kamle’s family eats once a week has shot up from Rs 100 per kg to Rs 200 per kg in just two months.”

3. What more?

In alarming news, the world’s oceans “were the hottest in recorded history in 2019”– the latest casualty in the climate emergency the world has been facing.

 “An international team of researchers analyzed temperature data from sources around the globe and issued a dramatic warning that climate change is already deeply affecting what’s seen as the storage facility for any excess heat generated by a warming world. Hotter oceans are threatening marine biodiversity and the planet’s fisheries. They’re melting land and sea ice at a breakneck pace and fueling more severe storms and flooding.

“It is critical to understand how fast things are changing,” John Abraham, a professor at the University of St. Thomas and a co-author of the paper, said in a news release Monday. “The key to answering this question is in the oceans — that’s where the vast majority of heat ends up. If you want to understand global warming, you have to measure ocean warming.”

The news follows a string of troubling environmental news: Last week, European researchers said 2019 was the second-hottest year on record, and the 2010s had officially become the hottest decade ever recorded. And in September, the United Nations’ climate change body found that the planet’s oceans and ice sheets were changing in “unprecedented” and shocking ways that could soon affect hundreds of millions of people living in low-lying or coastal areas.”

4. Anything else?

The situation has been tense in the Middle East since an American drone killed decorated Iranian General, Qassem Solaimani in the beginning of January. Hostilities have escalated, but according to newer reports, Iran’s grim economy may “limit its willingness to confront the US.”

“Iran is caught in a wretched economic crisis. Jobs are scarce. Prices for food and other necessities are skyrocketing. The economy is rapidly shrinking. Iranians are increasingly disgusted.

Crippling sanctions imposed by the Trump administration have severed Iran’s access to international markets, decimating the economy, which is now contracting at an alarming 9.5 percent annual rate, the International Monetary Fund estimated. Oil exports were effectively zero in December, according to Oxford Economics, as the sanctions have prevented sales, even though smugglers have transported unknown volumes.

The bleak economy appears to be tempering the willingness of Iran to escalate hostilities with the United States, its leaders cognizant that war could profoundly worsen national fortunes. In recent months, public anger over joblessness, economic anxiety and corruption has emerged as a potentially existential threat to Iran’s hard-line regime.

Only a week ago, such sentiments had been redirected by outrage over the Trump administration’s Jan. 3 killing of Iran’s top military commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani. But protests flared anew over the weekend in Tehran, and then continued on Monday, after the government’s astonishing admission that it was — despite three days of denial — responsible for shooting down a Ukrainian jetliner.”

5. Is that all?

In Arkansas, USA, an adoption racket gave citizens of Marshall Island a chance to escape their poverty and the ill-effects of climate change. Here’s the morally ambiguous, but fascinating story

“Lamy was far from alone. While adoption is common among the Marshallese community in Arkansas—in a loose, unofficial, familial way, similar to how it is in the islands—it had also become common, in the region, for Marshallese women to put their babies up for adoption with white American families. Petersen’s agency was one of the most popular, and had flown many birth mothers, like Lamy, to the United States while they were pregnant. Another Marshallese woman, who, with her daughter, had only been in the United States for a month and was a week away from giving birth, told me, “The adoption was the only way I could get here.” While pregnant in Majuro, she had spoken with her brother in the United States, who occasionally worked for Petersen as a translator and who had, with his fiancée, placed several of his own children up for adoption through the agency. What no one had told her, or Lamy, was that, under the Compact of Free Association with the U.S., it is illegal for a woman to travel to the United States for the purpose of putting a child up for adoption.

Rumors circulated that Marshallese women, as one former employee for the Arkansas Department of Human Services told me, “were selling their babies for cash.” That was not the case, but, as Kathryn Joyce wrote in The New Republic, in 2015, over the past decade, adoptions of Marshallese babies were occurring in the Springdale area at an alarming rate, with many of the mothers feeling pressured into a situation that they could not escape. Joyce profiled one Marshallese woman, Maryann Koshiba, who had placed her baby up for adoption believing that she would be able to keep in touch with the adoptive parents and see her child in the future. But, in Arkansas, the law dictates that all adoptions are closed—the birth parents’ identities are sealed and unavailable to the adopted child, and the adoptive parents’ identities are sealed and unavailable to the birth parents. (Arrangements can be made to circumvent that law and keep identities transparent.) Koshiba, however, did not know anything about closed adoption and became increasingly frantic when she was unable to contact the adoptive parents or find out anything about her baby. “Welcome to the world of legal realities,” Petersen told The New Republic. If law-enforcement officials “really want to stop it, then they should bar all Marshallese people—women—­from coming to the U.S. unless they have a medical examiner show they’re not pregnant.”

6. Before you leave…

Take a look at this years Oscar nominations, where apparently “the biggest loser was diversity.” 

“The Oscars have never had a sparkling track record with nominating people of color in the biggest categories. The omissions are particularly glaring this year: While Bong Joon-ho scored several nominations for his unforgettable film Parasite, the only non-white nominee in the acting field is Cynthia Erivo. And Erivo is recognized for her turn as Harriet Tubman in Harriet — stellar work, to be sure, but it’s hard not to find it dismaying that the one black person with a big-deal Oscar nod played a slave.

When it comes to ethnic and LGBTQ diversity, there are almost no non-Americans and no self-identified queer nominees this year. Again setting aside Bong’s recognition for Parasite, Antonio Banderas is the one international star to pick up a nomination, for Best Actor in Pain and Glory. And almost every one of the Best Picture nominees probes the fascinating, unsung trials and tribulations of … being a white man in society.”

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