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From Love For ‘Safforn’ To Arnab Arrest: Love, Hate Tale Of Maharashtra, Centre

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From Love For 'Safforn' To Arnab Arrest: The Love, Hate Tale Of Maharashtra, Centre

Maharashtra and the Centre have been locking horns over every possible issue. They haven’t left any stone unturned to launch attacks on each other. The prevailing hostile political environment in Maharashtra has raised the questions of Federalism and freedom of speech with many political pundits, even predicting the president’s rule in the State.

In a federal political society, dispute and argument are obvious. Thus, the Supreme Court and Constitution become important.

India after independence, adopted Federalism, i.e. division of powers and functions between the Centre and State. To eliminate discrepancies, the powers are written in Constitution, and if a dispute happens, then the Supreme Court, the highest judiciary, takes the lead as an umpire.

It is to be noted that independence came with a considerable cost of Partition and number of secessionist movements. Constitutionals forbears, therefore, believed in having a strong Centre with more powers.

The relation between two of the “Saffron lover” of India was not the same before. Let’s have a look into their pre-breakup alliance.

BJP and Shiv Sena Before Break up

Formed with a duel ideology — Marathi regional and Hindu nationalist political party — Shiv Sena in the 1970s started placing more weight on the Hindutva ideology, as the ‘sons of the soil’ cause was weakening, and joined with the BJP. The coalition was so robust that no one ever thought that they would break-up once. However, after the Maharashtra elections in October 2019, Shiv Sena claimed that promises were not kept by their alliance partner BJP and broke ties.

The outcome of it was that Shiv Sena joined hands with the Indian National Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party in a bid to form the government in Maharashtra. Interesting fact is that the ideology of Congress and Shiv Sena was the total opposite.

After Sena cut ties with the BJP and their NDA coalition, the nation saw the war of words and blame game between the two.

Bickering between BJP And Shiv Sena:

  • COVID-19 and War of Words

Maharashtra accounts for the largest registered COVID-19 cases in India of 1.7 Million and consecutively, highest death number of 44,804. Since March, there has been continuous word quarrel with Centre blaming Maharashtra for inadequate measures to control the widespread and subsequent migrant crisis in Maharashtra. In contrast, the state government is blaming the Centre for not providing enough financial and medical aid.

As the cases were rising in May with double speed, BJP started “Maharashtra Bachao” Andolan against the “insufficient” precautions of the State to combat COVID-19 with prominent leaders like former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis leading the movement. He said “situation has gone out of hands in Mumbai and rest of Maharashtra because of the government’s failure.”

In June, Unjoin Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh slammed state Government for its failure and said “It looks like the situation in Maharashtra is more of a circus than a government. It is highly unfortunate to see State crawling despite having a strong leadership of NCP chief Sharad Pawar.”

On the other hand, Maharashtra government, a coalition of Shiv Sena, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), time and again targeted the government for not providing enough help.

Maharashtra State Cabinet Minister Nitin Raut in May questioned the Centre: “When passengers arriving from abroad landed in Mumbai and started spreading coronavirus in the city, why didn’t the Central Government realize that flights should be stopped immediately?”

Senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said “We need the Central Government to give direct aid. Hollow advice is not going to help.”

Presently, the situation is healing in the State with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) authorities saying COVID-19 active cases dipped by around 30 per cent since October and Mumbai reporting less than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases daily.

  • CBI and general consent

Maharashtra recently withdrew its general consent from allowing Central Bureau Investigation (CBI) to investigate into the State and it has commenced ‘Centre vs State’ debate concerning the organization. Several states such as Rajasthan, West Bengal have withdrawn consent in the past over different issues.

The famous TRP fixing case which was promptly moved from Uttar Pradesh government CBI has created a controversy. The case started with Mumbai police probing Republic TV and their journalist under TRP scam and alleged “disaffection towards police”.

It is to be noted that TRP as a case is not explicitly stated so CBI could take over Maharashtra’s case. However, the timeline changes when Maharashtra use its federal power of Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act which establishes CBI and withdraw general consent.

Quick on what is general consent:

As law and order is a state subject, Central police cannot control or enter the State without the consensus. Thus, CBI can only investigate with the consent of the State.

If a state withdraws general consent, then CBI has to seek permission before it can register a case against a person or an entity based in that State. This results in investigation delay.

Impact:

It shows the lack of faith in the functioning of the institution, thereby raising a question of credibility. Maharashtra has indicated that that the Centre is using the CBI to target Opposition parties unfairly.

Moreover, with Republic TV case being a peculiar one due to its constant attack on Maharashtra government and supposed aid by the Centre, Mumbai Police reportedly wants to handle the Republic TV case by itself.

  • GST Compensation:

With the economy underperforming before the pandemic and the existing coronavirus impact, the Centre has a shortfall on Revenue Collection. This, in turn, impacts the State Compensation Provision of GST.

At the Dushera Rally, CM Uddhav Thackeray said “The GST regime implemented by the government has failed, and PM Modi should acknowledge it and revert to the old tax regime. We (Maharashtra) are yet to get our Rs 38,000 crore as GST refund.”

He also attacked BJP for interfering in the functioning of the states to topple the state governments.

  • Kananga Ranaut Controversy:

Following the death of Sushant Singh Rajput in Mumbai and subsequent upheaval in Bihar, Kangana Ranaut took a stab at Mumbai Police and compared Mumbai with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Eventually, BMC partially demolished her Bandra Bungalow with claims in the High Court of completed unauthorized work at her property.

While returning from Manali, she was provided with Y+ security by Union Ministry following her spat with the Maharashtra government and Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut.

Maharashtra government slammed Centre for the same and CM Uddhav said “People who have no means of livelihood in their home come to Mumbai and betray it.”

  • Arnab Goswami and Freedom of Speech Controversy

The recent arrest of Arnab Goswami, a journalist of Republic TV by Mumbai Police has seen a backslash by Union Ministers such as Amit Shah, Prakash Javadekar and Jai Shankar Prasad.

It creates a hostile controversy where Centre blames the State for murdering freedom of speech, and the State confronts the Centre over its alleged involvement of imprisonment of several journalists all over India.

BJP MLA from Mumbai Atul Bhatkhalkar said: “The Shiv Sena-led MVA government is known for arresting journalists under false pretext.”

The Shiv Sena led Saamana newspaper said the arrest has nothing to do with politics. Still, the suicide case of Anvay Naik and further blamed the previous government for not probing enough. The editorial also points out that journalists are arrested in Gujarat for writing against the State government, and many of them killed in Uttar Pradesh. Nobody felt these incidents to be the reminders of emergency.

  • Recent Kanjurmarg Plot:

Kanjurmarg Plot in Mumbai forms a crucial area for the ongoing Metro plot, and Centre claimed that the site belongs to it as it is the part of city’s salt pan lands, a legal battle between Centre and State over the same since the 1980s. The State justified that Centre lost the battle before several tribunals set up under the revenue department.

The Centre reportedly asked the State to stop the Metro car shed work, and the State has denied for the same giving justification that it would halt when High Court issues a stay.

The above cases indicate the hostility between Maharashtra and Centre; if both of them do not surpass their word wars, constant remarks, legal battles, it will lead to delay in public welfare, justice and liberty.

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All You Need To Know About National Institute Of Food Technology Entrepreneurship And Management Bill 2021

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National Institute Of Food Technology Entrepreneurship And Management Bill 2021

On July 26, 2021, Lok Sabha passed a bill under the ministry of Food Processing Industry. The bill is titled as National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021. The main motive of this bill is to address issues with the Food Processing Industry, Entrepreneurship and one Institution for National Importance. With the passing of this bill, the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT) and National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) is now merged as Institutions of National Importance, and it aims at providing various research and advancement in learning about the Food Industry and its associated branches. The bill was first introduced in the house in February 2019 but was pending due to protest by the opposition.

Significance of Institutions of National Importance (INI)

With the passing of this bill, the institutions enjoy greater autonomy through which they can carry out various courses, research attracting skilled faculties and students from all over the country and overseas. Good standards in education will be adopted to improve the present and future of education in this branch and sector, overcoming the technological gap in the country. This law aims to improve and introduce new changes in food, bio-nanotechnology, cold chain technology etc. The desired efforts will be taken in terms of human resources and infrastructure developments, labs for research etc. Liberty to open centres anywhere in India is also granted to INI and include courses regarding food technology certification and improving the workforce of the country.

Some other important features of this act are the Institution has been authorized with the Board of Government, Senate and other acting Authorities. The Council of Board will include 16 members from different branches from the same field. The Head will be Chairperson, who will be a skilled person from the Food Industry, the Director, Dean and Registrar. Members appointed from Centre and State Governments, Members from FSSAI and Council of Agriculture Research, as mentioned in the bill. The 16 members of the board will carry out work of taking administrative decisions, creating annual budgets and paths for institution progress as an organization, establishing departments, their appointment terms of services, faculties etc. The Board of Council also holds power to grant Honorary Degrees and Diplomas. The Senate shall be the principal academic body of the Institute, consisting of the people such as Director as the Chairperson; Registrar; Full-time skilled level Professor; and Three academically skilled Individuals nominated by the board from the field.

The Union Minister of Food Processing Industry, Mr Pashupati Kumar Paras, expressed his gratitude to PM Modi for this landmark step in this industry from his Twitter handle, indicating new opportunities in Food Technology Industries. Therefore, this Act looks promising on paper with new opportunities and in Educational Development. Amidst the Pegasus Spyware and repeal of the farm laws, this looks positive from the Modi Government.

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Fake News: Accountability Of News Organisations

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Fake News II News Aur Chai

Fake news is false news stories or hoaxes, which are deliberately released to misinform and to create chaos in society or among readers. Fake news is one of the main reasons behind the disruption of peace in society and it becomes more dangerous in volatile places. Fake news is generally shared with propaganda to mislead the audience by hiding or twisting the truth. However fake news isn’t new to the web, it recently became an enormous problem in today’s digital world. Fake news mostly comes from sites that are bogus or have sensationalized stories.

Most of the users do not check the facts before sharing the information on their social media, which can be a reason for widespread fake news. So, it is important to differentiate between fake news and authentic news to maintain harmony in society and to avoid false news and its repercussions.

Fake News Stories

  • On 2nd April, a team of doctors, health workers, and revenue officials were attacked by the family members of a 65-year-old man who died of COVID-19 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh because of the fake video which claimed that healthy Muslims were being injected with the virus, reiterating the risks and physical manifestations of misinformation.
  • On March 22, 2020, Mr. Modi’s new term ‘Janta curfew’ has sparked a buzz on the Internet. Social media users started interpreting PM Modi’s concept of ‘Janta curfew’ in their own ways. Social media was flooded with a certain ‘scientific explanation’ behind the curfew as to how it will break the chain of transmissions of the deadly coronavirus infection. The claim was found out to be misleading. PM Modi, while announcing the curfew, didn’t mention this particular ‘scientific’ logic behind it.
  • Rumours were circulated on WhatsApp groups about a kidnapping gang operating in India’s western state of Maharashtra in 2018. The rumors eventually cause a mob lynching, that killed five migrant workers because they were suspected of being kidnappers.
  • On November 13, 2016, when the government of India has demonetized Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes and planned to replace them with new Rs 500 and Rs 2000 notes, rumors were spreading about Rs 2000 notes. Rumors claimed the new higher denomination currency comes with a Nano-GPS chip which acts as a reflector, giving precise location coordinates of the currency to permit every note to be tracked. However, the RBI officials had dismissed these as false and said the new Rs 2000 note does not have a Nano-GPS chip as is being claimed on social media, WhatsApp.
  • In the pandemic situation, where vaccination has become crucial, in a series of viral videos it was seen that people are claiming that magnet was attracted to the arms of alleged COVID-19 vaccinated recipients. This kind of fake news can create misconceptions about vaccines and people may not take their jab of vaccines. The Centre has declined the claims that Covid-19 vaccines can make people ‘magnetic’. It has also dismissed theories about microchips in coronavirus vaccines.

Need of Accountability

False information on social media can cause huge problems. It is often done to influence political processes. Need for Accountability increases in such situations because the false information provided by certain news organizations can create a ruckus in society. Before publishing the news, it is necessary to check the facts.

If the news organizations, shared misinformation unintentionally they must remove the content right away and they should apologize to the readers. If fake news is spread with propaganda to create chaos in society, then the news organization should be punished under the law. The information must be checked before sharing it with other people.

 

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Curious Case Of Pegasus: Explained

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Pegasus II News Aur Chai

Pegasus is a spyware that can hack the victims’ mobile phones and read their SMS messages and emails. The Pegasus spyware is owned by an Israeli software company named NSO Group. According to the various reports, this company has targeted more than 50,000 phone numbers at the Global level, of which 300 are in India for surveillance.

The news broke out after the 17 media partners investigated. This investigation brought into the picture information about a leaked database of mobile telephone numbers of Indian Ministers, Opposition leaders, journalists, the legal community, business people, government officials, scientists, activists and many influential personalities of the nation.

Pegasus Spyware and India

According to the report by the agency, the Israeli company which sells Pegasus around the world says that its clients are confined to ‘vetted governments”, believed to number 36. The NSO Group also says that ‘the target list in India is not ours, never was.’ Their refusal of the leaked database has created a loophole in understanding this case.

This whole case has violated the integrity of democratic institutions. According to the report by the agencies, after the mobile phones of the opposition leader Rahul Gandhi and various other leaders were hacked under the Pegasus spyware surveillance. Multiple tweets were made against the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) government in India. This whole case has become one of the major threats in the political arena and the Indian Democracy.

Though at the start, it was used for national security purposes. The explosive expansion of surveillance technology vendors has become a vast human rights and a global security issue. If such surveillance technologies increase, it might cause a lot of problems to countries around the globe. Hence, as a precaution, all these countries need to work on regulating this technology.

According to the reports by the agency, one of the targeted phones by the Pegasus spyware was of the former election commissioner of India, Ashok Lavasa. Various such people and such opposition leaders were somehow against the BJP government having their phones hacked with the NSO-owned spyware. All these instances and the names in the leaked list have pointed figures towards the Modi Government.

The Modi government’s stand on this case was put forward in Lok Sabha by two serving ministers, Ashwini Vaishnaw and Prahlad Singh Patel. These two leaders were also featured in the leaked database. The recent Information Technology Minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw defended the BJP government in the parliament by saying, “the expose was an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions.” She even said, ‘any form of illegal surveillance is not possible with the checks and balances in our laws and robust institutions.’

This case has adjourned the parliament proceedings due to the protests inside and outside the house of parliament by the opposition party.

Pegasus Spyware and World.

 In the statement given to the agency, Access Now, an organisation defending the digital rights of global users, said it was outraged that products sold by NSO were allegedly “used to hack and invade the private communications” of thousands of people across the globe.

At a global level, France’s Emmanuel Macron was targeted in the Pegasus spyware case. As the phone of French President Emmanuel Macron was hacked, the investigation was carried out and later on was published which was directed by the Paris-based non-profit journalism group Forbidden.  After this case came in front of the whole world, the Pegasus spyware surveillance came into the picture.

If this continues for some more time, it will ruin India’s Democratic values at a global level. As well as this might become a huge technological threat between the different nations around the globe.

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