March 24, 2021
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Good morning. After dipping significantly over the past few months, coronavirus cases have been steadily rising day by day. It is the dreaded ‘second wave’ that we all knew would come. However, there is some good news on the vaccination front. The government has said that people older than 45 years of age can get COVID-19 vaccines from April 1, 2021. Here’s hoping the vaccinations will bring down the cases soon!
📰 FEATURE STORY
India abstains from voting on UN resolution against Sri Lanka
India abstained from voting on the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) resolution on ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ yesterday. This decision has been criticized by political parties in Tamil Nadu, who called it a ‘betrayal’ by the BJP-led government at the Centre.
The United Nations resolution on Sri Lanka calls for punitive measures against the Sri Lankan government for its alleged war-crimes against Tamil minorities during the decades-long civil war in the country. During the final years of the civil war, which ended in 2009 after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was defeated by the Sri Lankan security forces, thousands of people were either killed or displaced. The bloodshed occurred when the current Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was the country’s President, while his younger brother and current Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the Defence Secretary.
Since 2009, there have been seven resolutions on Sri Lanka in the UN. India had voted in favour of the resolutions three times while abstaining one time. Three other resolutions were adopted without a vote. The recent UN resolution was based on the UN High Commissioner’s assessment of developments in Sri Lanka.
“Nearly 12 years after the armed conflict in Sri Lanka ended, impunity for grave human rights violations and abuses by all sides is more entrenched than ever, with the current Government proactively obstructing investigations and trials, and reversing the limited progress that had been previously made,” states the High Commissioner’s report.
Despite India’s abstention this time, the resolution was adopted after 22 member countries out of the 47-member council voted in its favour.
This is an important issue considering the upcoming elections in Tamil Nadu. India’s decision on the resolution is seen as a huge embarrassment to BJP’s alliance partner AIADMK.
Indian government’s stance:
A pre-vote statement delivered by Pawankumar Badhe, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of India, Geneva, noted that India’s approach to human rights question in Sri Lanka was guided by two fundamental considerations.
“One is our support to the Tamils of Sri Lanka for equality, justice, dignity and peace. The other is in ensuring the unity, stability and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. We have always believed that these two goals are mutually supportive and Sri Lanka’s progress is best assured by simultaneously addressing both objectives,” the statement noted.
While supporting the international community’s call for Sri Lankan government to fulfill its commitments on the devolution of political authority, India stated that the Office of High Commissioner of Human Rights should work within the mandate given by the relevant resolutions of the UN General Assembly.
“We would urge that the Government of Sri Lanka to carry forward the process of reconciliation, address the aspirations of the Tamil community and continue to engage constructively with the international community to ensure that the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all its citizens are fully protected,” the statement concluded.
Opposition in Tamil Nadu:
Leader of Opposition in Tamil Nadu and DMK President MK Stalin has come down heavily on Indian government’s decision to abstain from voting on the UN resolution on Sri Lanka, saying that it amounted to an unforgivable betrayal of Eelam Tamil people.
Stalin further stated that the BJP government would have voted against the resolution on Sri Lanka if not for the upcoming elections in Tamil Nadu.
Before the vote, BJP’s partner AIADMK had also urged the Indian government to vote in favour of the UN resolution on Sri Lanka. During a zero-hour mention in the Lok Sabha, AIADMK’s MP M Thambidurai said, “AIADMK always stands by the people of any race and in any country, who fight for justice and equality. It is not only for Tamils we are voicing our support. It is more than a race issue. It is an issue of justice and peace.”
PMK founder S Ramadoss and MDMK chief and Rajya Sabha MP Vaiko have also condemned the Indian government for not supporting the UN resolution.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
- Our nation can only thrive with academic freedom and institutional autonomy.
For the Left:
- Indian negotiators have got it right on the LAC disengagement.
🗳️ ELECTION WATCH
(126 constituencies – 3-phase polls)
- BJP released its poll manifesto for the state yesterday. Key promises include correction of National Register of Citizens (NRC), implement projects to save people from floods, free education for every child in state government run institutions, and delimitation exercise to protect the political rights of the people.
(140 constituencies – 1-phase poll)
- Kerala Congress Vice President and former MLA KC Rosakutty resigned from the party on Monday. She was reportedly unhappy with the way things had developed within the party. She stepped down days after another Congress leader Lathika Subhash had resigned from her post of president of women’s wing and shaved her head in protest.
(234 constituencies – 1-phase poll)
- Actor Sarathkumar’s Samathuva Makkal Katchi (SMK) poll candidate D Muralikrishnan resigned from the party and joined DMK on Monday. SMK is contesting this election in alliance with Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM). Muralikrishnan alleged that he was given the Lalgudi seat only to split the votes and not to win. Although his nomination was accepted earlier by the Election Commission, he has now withdrawn his candidature.
(294 constituencies – 8-phase polls)
- The state BJP released a list of 13 candidates who will contest in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eight phases of the upcoming polls. This list does not include the name of actor Mithun Chakraborty.
🏴 STATE OF THE STATES
Big Win (Goa) – BJP-backed panels won 6 out of 7 urban local bodies in the recently concluded elections. BJP-backed panels won in Panaji, Pernem, Valpoi, Canacona, Curchorem, and Bicholim. Congress-backed panel won at Cuncolim.
Aiming High (Tripura) – Chief Minister Biplab Deb has announced that the government would form an expert panel to find out if legalizing cannabis cultivation in the state would be viable. According to the CM, the land in the state is ‘very fertile’ for cannabis cultivation and noted that farmers would benefit from legalizing it.
Spill It (Rajasthan) – According to a recent ruling by the State Information Commissioner, private medical colleges which have been granted land for their campuses at concessional rates by the state government would come under the purview of the Right To Information (RTI) Act. The colleges will now have to reply to RTI queries from citizens within the stipulated timeframe, or face action.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
11,58,208 – Number of cyberattacks in India in the year 2020. This number is almost 3 times higher than the corresponding number for 2019, which stood at 3,94,499. These cyberattacks were tracked by Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In).