Daily Briefing: Govt hid facts, says Oppn on Pegasus; IT ministry proposes ID that can access other IDs

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The Big Story 

The Pegasus issue is likely to play out in the upcoming Budget session, with Opposition parties asking the Government to come out of its “denial mode” and acknowledge its role in targeting political leaders, journalists, judges and civil society activists using the spyware. A report by The New York Times claimed that New Delhi bought the Israeli spyware in 2017 as part of a $2-billion package for weapons. The Congress accused the Modi government of “lying to Parliament” and misleading the Supreme Court. 

Only in the Express 

Former Union minister P Chidambaram writes on the amendments proposed by the central government in IAS cadre rules. ” If the Modi government has its way, we will have the Indian Beholden Service; the current states will be reduced to mere provinces; and service under the government will be reduced to servitude.”

One unique ID to access multiple digital IDs, from PAN to Aadhaar, is being proposed by the  Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to “empower” the citizen by “putting her in control of these identities and providing her the option of choosing which one to use for what purpose.” The proposal is expected to soon be in the public domain and the Ministry will seek comments by February 27.

From the Front Page 

“There were some risks involved. But isn’t life full of risks?”  That was 38-year-old Sunita Kumari, who was part of the all-women BSF motorcycle daredevil team that performed at Rajpath on Republic Day. And the mother of three children was asked to join the team only a fortnight before the event. Her husband, a BSF constable, died in 2016. With no means to bring up her children, Sunita joined the BSF in August 2020. Like her, there were 13 others who were provided jobs in the BSF on compassionate grounds following the death of their husband or father while on duty. This is their story. 

BJP candidates are finding it difficult to campaign in some villages in western Uttar Pradesh, with over a dozen incidents of convoys of contestants being shown black flags or having mud thrown at them. Some of them were even heckled by villagers. A sitting BJP MLA, however, brushed it aside saying: There is nothing new. Such incidents do happen during campaigning.”

Must Read 

Since 2019, there has been a growing mistrust across Kerala against ‘SilverLine’, a pet project of the Pinarayi Vijayan government to build a semi-high-speed railway corridor. The government says it will help decongest Kerala’s roads, provide a sustainable commuting option, and along the way, develop ecosystems that will enable infra-progress. But, for large sections of the state, the Rs 63,940 crore project is a disaster in the making. 

The BJP’s list of 91 names announced on Friday appears to bear the stamp of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, with as many as 11 sitting MLAs dropped in the Gorakhpur region, which is his fiefdom. While BJP leaders said the candidates were rejigged as they were either ageing or to tackle anti-incumbency, sources admit the party is having to contend with many more aspirants in each seat given the scale of the BJP’s 2017 win.

On January 24, Justice Ayesha Malik, a graduate of Punjab Law College and Harvard Law School (1998), was sworn in as a justice of the Pakistan Supreme Court, becoming its first-ever woman judge. Malik is many things to many people — a milestone in Pakistan’s patriarchal society, a tough judge who gave a landmark rape ruling, even an example of gaps in judicial appointments. She herself sees her role as “a voice that nudges, to improve, to include”

Almost three decades after deciding to uproot his life as a tailor in Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu to find work in Mumbai, Cruzmuthu Sathyaseelan finds himself in a seemingly inescapable debt trap. The multiple Covid-induced lockdowns only made matters worse, turning the city of dreams into a nightmare for Sathyaseelan and his family. But he is not alone. According to a survey, the poorest 20% of Indian households took the hardest hit from the pandemic, seeing their incomes fall for the first time since liberalisation. 

And Finally 

“How does one tell a ghost story without showing the ghost? Or even if I am showing a ghost, how does it connect with the characters or the context of the film?” We speak to Malayalam director Rahul Sadasivan about his chilling new film ‘Bhoothakaalam’, why a psychological edge to horror works, and the difficulty in making such films.

Until tomorrow, 

Leela Prasad G and Rahel Philipose 

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