News Wrap


Although Jammu and Kashmir was a Muslim majority state the slaughter and consumption of beef were prohibited. The ban was imposed in 1862 by the then Durga ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and not removed by any government in Srinagar, whether headed by National Conference, Congress or PDP. The ban was scrapped because of the enactment of the J and K Reorganisation Act, that bifurcated the state into two union Territerties on 05 August 2019. Under the Act, all 153 state laws were repealed. The beef ban was one such law. The 157-year-old beef ban has disappeared, much to the dismay of Hindu and Buddhist communities.

Rural Wages and Inflation
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), even with existing rural poor wages is said to be running out of funds, due to the increased demand for work, caused by drought and floods. It is now planned that wages under the MGNREGS Act will be linked to the updated inflation index, the base document, that will be revised every year. Following the rise in income, and the estimated 10% increase in expenditure it is expected to boost the purchasing power and revise rural demand. If the MGNREGS is to beat the inflation rate, the budgetary allocation will have to be increased from the Rs 60,000 crore for fiscal 2019-20. The "base pay rates" are known to vary from state to state. They are below the market rates in several states, with little or no relation to the cost of living index. Hence, linking wages to hugely rising inflation cannot ipso facto stimulate demand. The effectiveness of the MGNREGS has been impeded in its coverage in terms of population, a disparity that has differed from state to state, even more than a decade after it was floated.

Russian Mercenaries
Diamonds are still being trafficked by rebels, who fight over the mines adding fuel to a six year uprising, that has killed thousands, and displaced more than 1 million people in the Central African Republic. Russian mercenaries have fanned out across the Central African Republic, to train local soldiers. The Russians shuttled warlords to peace talks with the government helping lead to a deal with more than a dozen armed groups to stop fighting. The Central African Republic has welcomed the Russians, hoping that stability will enable it to sell more diamonds legally, and use the money to rebuild the nation. The representatives of the Russian Federation have struck deals with the government to mine diamonds, where the trade is legal. Russia's push into the country is closely tied to profits Russian operatives have even teamed with murderous rebels to obtain diamonds in areas, where the trade is outlawed. The nation's troops are being trained by Russian mercenaries. The Russian trainers have been accused of human rights abuses, including rounding up innocent bystanders in mass sweeps. Yevgeny Prigozhin a confidant of Russia president Vladimir Putin is a central figure in the Russian involvement. Facebook sites are full of pro-Russian themes, showing photographs of local residents in T-shirts, bearing a giant red heart, and the slogan "Russia 2018". The Central African Republic has offered Russia blue print that it can export to other oil and mineral rich nations, in exchange for mining rights. Russians are pushing hard into the African continent, expanding its presence in unstable nations, with abundant natural resources.

Xi Jinping Thought
China's president Xi Jinping, after being bestowed the title of core leader, putting him on par with Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin, has been presented as the only leader capable of guiding China to socialist modernisation. Officially called "Xi Jinping thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristic for a New Era" the doctrine is enshrined in both state and party constitutions. It is Xi's blue print for a modern China, laying out the road map for the next 30 years. By that time, China hopes to accomplish several goals like eradicating poverty, opening up of the country's markets, building a world class military, and ultimately leading the world, while the West is in disarray. Xi Jinping Thought is in schools, newspapers, television, mobile apps, and game shows. The Chinese government has issued a circular, making it mandatory for its citizens, to become familiar with Xi's eponymous doctrine. Beijing has been paying for posts on social media to defend the government's politics and policy, financing an anime series to promote communism and its virtues, and using hip-hop, groups to rap praises about the Communist Party and its leader. The aims ensure that all of China, and the world, are familiar with the voice of the party. Xi presided over China's largest parade, on 01 October, 2019 National Day in Beijing, showcasing China's military might and unity among top leaders, to celebrate the Communist Party of China's (CPC) hold on power for 70 years. The two million strong world's largest army flexed its muscles, displaying some of the most sophisticated weapons including long range Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMS). Xi aged 66years, who heads the party, the military and the presidency, said that the founding of the Peoples Republic of China (CPC) under the leadership of the CPC has completely changed "China's miserable fate" of being poor and weak and being bullied and humiliated for over 100 years. since the advent of modern times. About Hong Kong, Xi emphasised the journey forward, upholding the principles of "peaceful reunification" and "one country, two systems", maintaining lasting prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and Macao.

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Vol. 52, No. 32, Feb 9 - 15, 2020