Times Top10: Today’s Top News Headlines and Latest News from India & across the World


5 THINGS FIRST

Meeting of PSU bank chiefs called by Finance Ministry to review recruitment plan; MEA MoS Muraleedharan on a two-day visit to Djibouti for bilateral talks; US Fed interest rate decision to be announced; SC to resume hearing pleas against Karnataka hijab ban; US President Biden’s address at UNGA

1. How a ‘secular order’ banned hijab
1. How a ‘secular order’ banned hijab
‘It wasn’t about religion’

  • The Karnataka government on Tuesday argued that its February 5 order asking educational institutions to enforce prescribed uniforms was secular in nature as it banned all additional religious clothing by students irrespective of their religious affiliation, be it hijab or saffron shawls.

What about hijab?

  • Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, appearing for BJP-ruled state government, told the apex court that the state is not questioning whether hijab is an essential Islamic practice or not.
  • “Educational institutions are not Vedshalas or Madrasas where students are required to wear religious identity specific clothes,” Mehta said.
  • He said the petitioners approached the HC claiming hijab to be essential religious practice but failed to prove their case even by relying on the Quran.

It’s about state’s power

  • As the state argued only on its statutory power and shunned the argument by Muslim sides claiming hijab to be a religious practice, whether essential or not, to get protection of Constitution, the apex court said the Karnataka High Court could have avoided getting into testing the essentiality of hijab and that too based on commentaries and interpretations of Quran by scholars without bothering to go into the original verses of the holy book.
  • “Enforcing school uniforms does not hurt anyone’s sensibility or religious sensitivity. If each student’s interpretation of their religious text mandated dress code is taken into account and clothing supposedly mandated by religion is allowed to be worn over and above the uniform, then there will be no discipline leading to violation of unity and equality,” the SG said.
2. Will India continue its biggest ‘freebie’ programme?
2. Will India continue its biggest ‘freebie’ programme?
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has to take a call soon on whether to extend a food dole out that has cost India $44 billion since the pandemic began, or ease the strain on government finances and food supply. The scheme was widely appreciated at the WTO high-level seminar on food security.

World’s biggest free food scheme

  • The PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana — rolled out during the first nationwide Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020 — provides 5 kg free rice or wheat and 1 kg chana per person per month to over 810 million people in addition to the subsidised ration provided under the National Food Security Act.
  • The government in March extended the PMGKAY for six months to September.

A concern

  • The Department of Expenditure has argued against extending the free food ration scheme beyond September or making any major tax cuts, warning of consequences for the government’s fiscal position.

The cost

  • Food subsidies have a budget of Rs 2.07 lakh crore in FY23 against Rs 2.86 lakh crore for FY22. The PMGKAY extension may swell the subsidy bill to Rs 2.87 lakh crore.
  • Extending the scheme by a further six months could cost another Rs 80,000 crore in FY23.
  • The total expenditure under PMGKAY has touched nearly Rs 3.40 lakh crore.
  • But withdrawing a populist scheme has a political cost for the ruling BJP, which eyes another term in power in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh this year.

Inflationary pressure

  • Rice and wheat prices — 10% of retail inflation — are rising due to lower production amid a heatwave and patchy monsoon. Inflation has been above RBI’s ceiling of 6%.
  • PMGKAY is very expensive to sustain, and needs an abundant supply of cheap grains — forcing the government to restrict exports of wheat and rice.
3. Union minister has an illegal bungalow
3. Union minister has an illegal bungalow
  • Narayan Rane, the Union minister, was ordered on Tuesday by the Bombay High Court to pay a fine of Rs 10 lakh for unauthorised construction in Mumbai’s Juhu area. The high court also directed the Mumbai civic body to demolish the unauthorised construction at Rane’s Juhu bungalow.
  • Why: Rane had constructed portions of his bungalow, violating the Floor Space Index (FSI) and Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules.
  • And more: A division bench of Justices RD Dhanuka and Kamal Khata said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) cannot be permitted to consider and allow the second application filed by a company run by the Rane family, seeking regularisation of the unauthorised construction as it would encourage “wholesale unauthorised constructions”.
  • Deadline: The court gave the BMC a deadline of two weeks to demolish the unauthorised parts and submit a compliance report to the court one week thereafter.
  • Rane’s counsel sought a stay on its order for six weeks so that he could approach the Supreme Court in appeal. But the bench rejected it.
  • The court dismissed the petition filed by Kaalkaa Real Estates, a company owned by Rane’s family seeking directions to the BMC to decide their second application uninfluenced by the orders passed by the civic body earlier. The BMC had in June this year rejected the regularisation application, noting that there were violations in the construction.
  • The company filed a second application in July, saying it was seeking regularisation of a smaller portion as compared to what it had sought previously, and under new provisions of the Development Control and Promotion Regulation 2034.
4. Curious case of front-runner wanting backer to take lead
4. Curious case of front-runner wanting backer to take lead
  • Eyes on Ashok Gehlot: The Rajasthan CM is said to be the choice of the Gandhis to contest the Congress presidential election. Speculation got more currency with Gehlot calling a late night meeting with the MLAs on Tuesday night in Jaipur when his biggest rival Sachin Pilot is in Kerala with Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra.
  • But Gehlot is said to be still trying to convince Rahu to take up the president’s job. Before filing his nomination this week, reports say, Gehlot is likely to persuade Rahul again. While Gandhis want Gehlot to be the president, the word in the Congress is that Rahul is Gehlot’s first choice.
  • Rahul hasnot told us anything” on the presidential election, said the Congress, adding that the Gandhis “will be neutral” in the race for the top party post.
  • Will it be really neutral? Jairam Ramesh, known as a Gandhi loyalist, took a swipe at Shashi Tharoor over reports that he got the green signal from Sonia Gandhi to run for party president. Ramesh tweeted, “Nobody needs anybody’s nod to contest, especially that of party leadership”.
  • Meanwhile, at least seven state units of the Congress have passed resolutions favouring the return of Rahul Gandhi as the party president. This began in Gehlot’s backyard Rajasthan last week and spread to states such as Bihar, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
  • Election schedule: The contenders can file nominations till September 30, and if needed some 9,000 voters will vote on October 17. The result is expected on October 19.
  • The last time the Congress held a presidential election, it was in 2000 involving Sonia Gandhi and Jitendra Prasada. And Sitaram Kesri was the last non-Gandhi Congress president. A coup against Kesri brought Sonia to the top Congress position in March 1998.
6. How to prepare for hybrid warfare
6. How to prepare for hybrid warfare
  • The security environment in our neighbourhood remains far from ideal, Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari said on Tuesday, stressing upon the need to complement India’s economic progress with a mirroring trajectory of homegrown military capabilities.
  • What: Noting that the country is faced with a wide variety of threats, the IAF chief said the distinct challenge lies in the convergence into hybrid wars and the country must prepare for such a warfare.
  • Why: “The impact of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is being felt the world over. The world is staring at an economic recession, with many smaller countries already facing the brunt of political and economic instability caused by hyperinflation. In this environment, India continues to be an outlier as our economy has shown a robust recovery,” he said at the India Defence Conclave in New Delhi.
  • How: Chaudhari said that given the political scenario prevalent today, it is important for the Indian Air Force to enhance its capabilities across the conventional, sub-conventional and non-conventional domains. “We need to build and maintain a technological edge over our adversaries and prepare for hybrid warfare. This makes indigenous research and development and production of platforms, sensors, weapons or networking, very critical for future capability building,” he added.
7. It’s not cricket…as you knew it
7. It’s not cricket…as you knew it
From October 1, a host of new rules will come into play after the Chief Executives Committee (CEC) of the International Cricket Committee (ICC) accepted the recommendations of the Sourav Ganguly-led Men’s Cricket Committee, which were also endorsed by the Women’s Cricket Committee. Next month’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia will be the first tournament to be played under the new rules.

So, what’s new?

  • No more spit and shine: Tha ban on use of saliva to polish the ball, which had been introduced “as a Covid-related temporary measure”, is now a permanent affair. During the saliva ban, the players resorted to the use of sweat to shine the ball, which has proven to be effective.
  • Hold still: Under the new rules, “any unfair and deliberate movement while the bowler is running in to bowl could now result in the umpire awarding five penalty runs to the batting side, in addition to a call of ‘dead ball’.”
  • On strike: Regardless of whether the batters crossed, if the striker is out caught, the new batter will come in at the end the striker was, prior to the catch being taken.
  • Timed entry: An incoming batter will now be required to be ready to take strike within two minutes in Tests and ODIs, while the current threshold of 90 seconds in T20Is remains unchanged.
  • Striker’s right to play the ball: This is restricted so as to require some part of their bat or person to remain within the pitch. Should they venture beyond that, the umpire will call and signal Dead ball.
  • Mankading gets respect: Mankading, or running out the non-striker which was considered unfair play earlier, has now been given legitimacy and moved to the ‘Run out’ section in the Code of Laws on Cricket.
  • Thrown out: While previously, a bowler who saw the batter advancing down the wicket before entering their delivery stride, could throw the ball to attempt to run out the striker, under the new rules, umpires will now declare it a dead ball.

And what else?

  • The in-match penalty introduced in T20Is in January 2022 — whereby the failure of a fielding team to bowl their overs by the scheduled cessation time leads to an additional fielder having to be brought inside the fielding circle for the remaining overs of the innings — will now also be applicable to ODIs, albeit after next year’s ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League.
X-plained
8. An anti-hijab stir that’s drawing global attention
8. An anti-hijab stir that’s drawing global attention
  • A top United Nations official on Tuesday demanded an independent probe into the death of an Iranian woman in police custody, an issue that has sparked days of protests across the country, including the capital, Tehran, where demonstrators chanted against the government and clashed with police
  • Custodial death? Iran’s police detained 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last Tuesday for not covering her hair with the Islamic headscarf, known as hijab, which is mandatory for Iranian women. Police say she died of a heart attack and deny that she was mistreated. But her family alleged she had no history of heart trouble.
  • The morality police are often made up of and backed by the Basij, a paramilitary force initially mobilised to fight in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. Basij has a presence in every Iranian university to monitor people’s dress and behaviour.
  • Protests: Videos posted on social media have shown demonstrations in numerous cities, with women waving their headscarves and protesters facing off with security forces. In 2014, photos and videos of Iranian women openly flouting hijab laws were widely shared.
  • ‘Persecution of women’: The United States also condemned Amini’s death and called on the Islamic Republic to end its “systemic persecution” of women.
  • Global implications: The incident comes at a time when Iran has just joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a central Asian security body spearheaded by Russia and China to counterbalance US influence even as Washington is trying to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.
9. A ‘high’ drama at Frankfurt airport?
9. A ‘high’ drama at Frankfurt airport?
Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Tuesday said he would look into the allegations that Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann was deplaned from a Delhi-bound flight at the Frankfurt airport as he was “drunk”.

The airline said…

  • German airline Lufthansa said its flight was delayed due to “delayed inbound flight and an aircraft change”.

SAD allegation

  • It was Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal who had on Monday alleged that Mann was deplaned from a Lufthansa flight at the Frankfurt airport because he was in an inebriated state. Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa sought an inquiry into the matter and shot off a letter to Scindia.
  • The Punjab CM returned from his eight-day trip from Germany on Monday where he had gone to attract investments. As an MP from the Aam Aadmi Party (MP), Mann had in 2019 pledged to quit drinking.

Kejriwal’s defence

  • AAP national convener and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal said the Opposition is spreading lies as it cannot find faults in his work.
  • “What Mann Saheb had done in the last six months, no government in Punjab had done in the last 75 years. After 75 years, Punjab has got a ‘kattar’ honest and hard-working chief minister,” Kejriwal said.

Past allegations

  • In 2016, then-Punjab MP Harinder Singh Khalsa had complained to Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan that his seat in the lower house be changed as Mann, who used to sit next to him, reeked of alcohol.
Answer to NEWS IN CLUES
Answer to NEWS IN CLUES

Kashmir. The centrally administered territory’s first multiplex opened in Srinagar on Tuesday, 33 years after a radical Islam outfit, Allah Tigers, banned cinema halls, along with beauty and video parlours. Kashmir is the world’s third largest and India’s largest producer of saffron. The Pir Panjal railway tunnel, at more than 11km, is India’s longest such tunnel while the Chenab rail bridge, at 359 metres above the Chenab river, is the world’s highest rail bridge. The Betaab Valley, located 15km from Pahalgam, is named after the eponymous Bollywood movie which was shot there.

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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Tejeesh Nippun Singh, Jayanta Kalita, Prabhash K Dutta
Research: Rajesh Sharma



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