1. The gallows of Wall Street
Delhi boy Sarvshreshth Gupta’s parents sent him to the University of Pennsylvania as one of the 100,000 plus Indian students in US campuses chasing the ‘American Dream’. He did well for himself, earning the post of an analyst at Goldman Sachs in 2014, becoming one more figure in the over 3 million strong Indian population in the US, also its best educated, highest earning ethnic group. But the dream ended in tragedy when the 22 year old was found dead last month in circumstances yet to be explained by authorities. His father Sunil Gupta’s online essay, ‘A Son Never Dies’ (later withdrawn), suggests he was a victim of a hit and run incident. However the post also offers an insight into the lethal work pressure on people riding the investment banking wave. From working 20 hours a day and weekends too, to quitting his job briefly due to work overload and wanting to return, the essay reveals the price one has to pay for all this success and the dangers of falling into the crevices of it.
2. Delhi wants ‘Heritage City’ tag
Last month, the Centre withdrew Delhi’s nomination for Unesco’s’ World Heritage City’ status, shortly before the 39th World Heritage Committee session was to convene. However, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has decided to actively pursue the matter with Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). State culture minister Mahesh Sharma said the MEA decided not to forward the application after the Union Urban Development ministry expressed concerns that the heritage tag could impact ‘development’ in Delhi. When criticised by heritage lovers, the Centre, in a conciliatory move, said the withdrawal was temporary. This was followed by a corrigendum from Unesco that discussion regarding the matter had been postponed to a future date. The Aam Aadmi Party’s leadership has since met with the Archaeological Survey of India to take the matter forward with the MEA so that Delhi is eligible for nomination next year. Is this simply a matter of ‘development’ vs ‘cultural preservation’ or yet another crack developing in the center-state relations? Watch this space.
3. Mumbai 4th in Asia-Pacific for overnight visitors
Mumbai earned 4th place following $3.3 billion earnings from overseas visitors who stayed overnight in the city in 2015, falling behind Bangkok at 12.4, Taipei 9.3, and Tokyo at 8.4 billion dollars. With the ‘visitors staying overnight’ count exceeding 4.75 million in just half a year, Mumbai is also all set to record the highest such number in the past five years for itself. In 2014 it saw 4.45m and in 2013, 4.16 m visitors. Mumbai is also 9th amongst the top 10 fast growing cities in the region. According to the Global Destinations Cities Index, maintained by MasterCard that charts how 132 of the most important cities in the world are connected through air travel, how many international visitors arrive and the amount they spend in these cities, London is the top ranked destination city with 18.82 million visitors expected this year. “The prerequisite for any destination city that aspires to attract international visitors” the index states “is to increase the capacity of its airports and frequency of flight connections between airports and rest of the world.”
4. India to help in developing port in Bangladesh?
Prime Minister Modi’s will fly to Bangladesh in 48 hours. During his visit, he is likely to sign an agreement on India’s participation in the creation of a deep-sea port in Payra. Currently, almost 90 per cent of Bangladesh’s maritime trade is carried out through Chittagong, which has resulted in the port’s performance suffering over the years. The governments of Great Britain, the Netherlands and China have also shown interest in the construction of the port, which will need around $2 billion to be developed.
5. Cut your farm subsidies, India to tell West
India is expected to make a strong demand regarding the reduction of agricultural subsidies that developed nations provide to their farmers, which has been distorting food prices around the world, and leads to large-scale wasting and dumping of food. OECD countries spent $258 billion subsidising agriculture in 2013, and the West has tended to gloss over the Doha mandate, which called for a reform in the agricultural schemes of developed nations.
6. Modi misses his ‘Skill India’ targets
Even after having created a ministry specifically for skill development, the government has managed only to achieve 72 per cent of their target in the last year, a figure similar to the one that the last government achieved in 2012-13. 21 departments and ministries trained 7.6 million people, against the set target of 10.5 million people. The ministry of housing, ministry of home and the department of higher education were the worst performers, while the ministry of tourism, the National Skill Development Corp itself, and the ministry of labour exceeded their targets. With 13 million young people entering the labour force every year, India needs to step up its skill development activities, as most corporates and companies point to the shortage of a skilled workforce in India.
7. ‘Tyrant’ Nihalani cuts Censor Board meeting
The Central Board of Film Certification was supposed to meet on June 9, a meeting that now looks unlikely to happen because chairman Pahlaj Nihalani will not attend. It was expected to see major protests against the chairman and his ‘dictatorial nature’ of functioning. Nihalani said that the meeting will occur, but possibly only after the seven vacancies present in the censor board are filled up, “so that decisions are democratic”. Several members of the board have previously written to I&B minister Arun Jaitley regarding their dissatisfaction with Nihalani.
8. NRIs confused by PIO-OCI merger
The merger of the Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card and the Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card is creating confusion among NRIs, with several embassies asking them to do different things, and the home ministry and the foreign ministry also confused about what is to be done. While the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2015 says that all PIO card holders will be “deemed to be” OCI card holders, the home ministry has asked card holders to convert their cards to OCI cards. Home ministry officials have said they will issue a clarification soon in this matter, but the confusion in the embassies still prevails.
9. Longer jail term sought for Islamists
The National Investigation Agency will appeal the decision of a Kerala court which found 10 men guilty of chopping off the hand of Prof. TJ Joseph over an allegedly blasphemous question paper. The court had sentenced the guilty, all members of the Popular Front of India, to 8 years in prison under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, a first for members of a non-proscribed group. The NIA however feels the sentence is too low, as the accused “had no feeling of remorse”.
10. Court seeks CBI reply over Tytler charge
A complaint has been filed against Jagdish Tytler in the 1984 Sikh massacres case, for trying to win over prosecution witnesses. It is alleged that Tytler paid Surinder Singh Gulati, one of the prosecution witnesses Rs. 1 crore, and also arranged $50,000 for a visa for his son. The court has sought a reply from the CBI, which had earlier moved the court for the closure of the case. The CBI has, on two previous occasions in 2007 and 2009, sought to close the case, but the court refused each time.