Good morning readers,
Did you know the Railways have messengers who go up and down the country ferrying “secret” and “confidential” messages? Well, that system is going to end. That brings me to my next question: why do politicians write letters to each other? Members of Parliament have official e-mail addresses, and so do political party members. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra wrote to a BJP MP inviting him for tea. There was also a letter exchange between Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh. Write to us what you think could be the reason. Postal charges apply*.
The Big Story
Breaking his silence for the first time since Jammu-Kashmir was split into two union territories and its special status abrogated, former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah says he will not contest Assembly elections till the time it remains a Union Territory. On downgrading J&K’s status, he says: “To this day, I fail to understand the need for this move, except to punish and humiliate the people of the state.”
From the Front Page
The Ashok Gehlot government is in a hurry to prove its majority on the floor of the House. It wants Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra to convene the state Assembly on July 31. The last time they made the recommendation, Governor Mishra responded with six specific points including the reason for calling the session if the government indeed has a majority. A successful floor test will also allow the Congress to let its ministers and MLAs out of Jaipur’s Fairmont hotel and resort, where they have been kept for two weeks now.
At a time when other BJP-ruled states have been experimenting with weekend lockdowns, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar is of the view that they serve no purpose in the fight against coronavirus. “A lockdown will not serve any purpose unless it is imposed for a 14-day period. Imposing a lockdown over the weekend or for two days merely gives the impression that something is being done,” he said.
Former interim CBI director and serving IPS officer, M Nageswara Rao, shared a four-slide presentation on Twitter in which he alleged that Indian history had been “distorted” with the “whitewashing” of “bloody Islamic invasions/rule” and blamed previous Education Ministers, including Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, for allegedly patronising pro-Left academics and sidelining pro-Hindu nationalist scholars.
The pandemic has claimed a colonial vestige—the Indian Railways’ dak messenger system. Dak messengers are picked from office peons to play what was considered a crucial role up until recently – ferrying “secret” and “confidential” messages within the Railways. With their travel allowances running up to Rs 10 crore annually, the Railways wants its Babus to use video conferencing for any communication.
Makeshift cardboard partitions at emery wheels where diamonds are polished and using UV light as disinfectant for paper sachets that pass through multiple hands—the diamond hub of Surat is finding new solutions in a desperate bid to revive business after over 1,700 workers tested positive for the virus. “The industry is facing a tough time due to the curbs and hardly any demand in the international market,” says Babubhai Katheriya, who heads Surat’s diamond association.
Manish Kumar from Bihpur in Bhagalpur is among the 10 men preparing to take their first flight to Delhi for a job at a construction site in Haryana. “For years, I get calls when people want to arrange for labour in Delhi and Haryana. This time, they said work needs to start quickly because they have to meet targets. They are paying for the tickets, and it is the first flight for these workers.”
At least 43.5 per cent of the targeted Rs 3 lakh crore under the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme has been issued by banks for stressed Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises as on July 23, with sanctions and disbursements rising sharply over the last few weeks, official data show.
Former Samata Party president Jaya Jaitly and two others have been held guilty of corruption and criminal conspiracy by a Delhi court in a corruption case filed in 2001 in the wake of a sting operation by Tehelka.com. The sting operation had shown the accused purportedly accepting bribes from reporters of the portal — who posed as representatives of a fictitious company — for supply orders for hand-held thermal imagers from the Ministry of Defence.
- Mumbai Police have recorded statements of 40 people and have issued summons to several actors, including Kangana Ranaut, in connection with the alleged suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
- A harassment case against ABVP national president Dr Subbiah Shanmugam may not be probed further as the victim’s family has decided to withdraw the complaint.
- Needless enmity with everyone comes naturally to the wicked, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his Mann ki Baat radio address on the anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas on Sunday.
- The BSP has issued a whip to six party Rajasthan MLAs who joined the Congress last year, directing them to vote against the Ashok Gehlot government in any no-confidence motion during the Assembly session.
- North Korea placed the city of Kaesong near the border with South Korea under total lockdown after a person was found with suspected Covid symptoms, in what could turn out to be the first case in the country.
One of the times in the past few months when volunteers from Mercy Angels, a group facilitating Covid-19 funerals in Bengaluru, broke down was at the cremation of a 17-day-old, whose parents were in quarantine after testing positive for the virus. “The baby was handed over in a bag. Nobody was with that child so we were the family and we performed the last rites. A lot of us cried,” says Dr Taha Mateen, founder trustee of HBS Hospital which started the Mercy Angels programme in March.
Delhi confidential: Set to vacate the government bungalow in Lodhi Estate, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has invited the next occupant of the house, a BJP Rajya Sabha MP, to tea.
🎧 In today’s episode of Three Things Podcast, we discuss the concept of herd immunity and whether India can hope to achieve it against Covid-19.