July 05, 2020
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Seven Days

The states of the nation: news, headlines, gossip, rumours, things we learnt

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Seven Days
Degrees Of Criminality

There were 14 Union ministers with criminal cases in 2014. Seven of the 19 new ones are accused of attempt to murder or rioting. And yet, for Delhi Police, reporting to the MHA, the misdemeanours of AAP MLAs—alleged intimidation, domestic violence, fake degrees, casteist remarks­—are top of mind. Ten MLAs have been arrested so far, of whom one spent a month and a half in jail. Barr­ing Arvind Kejriwal, though, nobody is crying foul.

The Pursuit Of Poverty

Poverty, they say, is a great teacher. Surat diamond magnate Savji Dholakia, who’d  once gifted his 1,200 workers a car, a flat and jewellery, has now sent his only son, Dhravya, an MBA student in the US, to Kochi with three pairs of clot­hes and Rs 7,000, to be used only in emerge­ncy. Till  now, he’s worked at a bakery, a call centre, a footwear shop and a McDonald’s outlet.

Trump’s Indian Backer

The man behind the yagna and prayers in India for Donald Trump, it now appears, was a Punjabi NRI who could well have funded the show. Ambala-born, Chicago-based Shalabh Kumar’s claim to fame so far was an alleged friendship with Narendra Modi. But that changed since he went on to endorse Trump “for his stand on Pakistan and for his vow to profile Muslims”. He also stu­ffed in $900,000 to the Republican ­nominee’s war chest.

The Attention He Didn’t Seek

Author and editor Amit Chaudhuri, whose edited anthology Picador Book of Modern Indian Literature is due in August, was dragged into a public ­controversy when newspapers reported that a teenaged boy was killed at his daughter’s birthday party. Chaudhuri protested and claimed neither his ­teenaged daughter nor he knew the boy. But then, out of 180 flat owners in tony Ballygunge’s Sunny Park, why was he alone informed of the boy bleeding in the car park? And why did he take the boy to the hospital? The investigators are ­looking for the answers. 

The Iron Lady Moves On

Historically, August 9 is ‘Quit India’ day. This August, Irom Sharmila, the most famous Manipuri mascot of  the movement against the draconian AFSPA, will break her 16-year hunger strike and gear up to contest elections. The  44-year-old ‘iron lady’ will also get married to long-time beloved Desm­ond Couti­nho, a Briton of Goan origin. While some rights activists see her decision as an acknowledgement that her hunger strike may not put an end to the impunity that AFSPA provides the armed forces, others call this the Centre’s second big feat in the Northeast after the “framework agreement” with the NSCN(IM) in Nagaland. There is also a buzz that she will now tour the world with the message of peace.

Snowden’s Snitch-Proof Phone

On July 21, just before leading via video the session­ ‘Against the Law: Countering Lawful Abuses of Digital Surveillance’ at the MIT Media Lab symposium ‘Forbid­den Research’, NSA whistleblower ­Edw­ard Snowden and hardware hacker And­rew Huang published a paper on an add-on to the iPhone6 they call the “introspection engine”. It will turn the smartphone into a “cyber fortress” that can’t be compromised through its radio hardware.

Close-Quarters Critic

Former Tata executive and entrepreneur Roohi Nazki hit the high note with her Facebook post calling the security forces’ response to Burhan Wani’s killing “imm­­­­oral, unethical, tragic and wrong”. Interestingly, while she and finance ­minister Haseeb Drabu have lived apart for years, two of her kin are ministers in the state and one is the police chief.

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