Important News Stories That Missed Our Attention Amidst The Gurmehar Controversy
For the past few days, Gurmeher Kaur’s personal opinions have made national headlines. It’s almost as if we as a people have become comfortable with discussing the personal opinions of private individuals on such a mass scale.
Here are some other news items that have not received equal attention the past few days:
- The head of Samsung, one of the world’s largest conglomerates, was indicted on bribery and embezzlement charges on 28 February. Prosecutors have accused Samsung of paying $37.74 million in bribes to secure government favours.
- On 27 February, the WHO unveiled the first list of the world’s most deadly superbugs. This was done with the aim of urging businesses and governments to get serious about developing new antibiotics. The list contains 12 drug-resistant bacteria classified according to urgency – “critical”, “high”, and “medium.”
- Protests escalated in France in support of a young black man who was allegedly assaulted by police. The unrest developed after Adama Traore, a 24-year-old black youth, died shortly after being arrested in the town of Beaumont-sur-Oise. An autopsy revealed signs of violence. This adds to the case of a 22-year-old black youth worker who had been arrested in France and allegedly raped with a baton. The protesters were campaigning against police brutality and called for justice and reforms.
- Disproving grim forecasts inspired by the impact of demonetization, India retained the title of the world’s fastest-growing major economy. India’s economy grew at a healthy 7% in the fiscal third quarter. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) retained its projection that the economy will grow 7.1% in 2016-17.
- In a significant development in the Syrian Civil War, Russia and China vetoed a measure in the UN Security Council that would have punished Syria for using chemical weapons. It was Russia’s seventh Security Council veto in defence of Syria’s controversial President Bashar al-Assad.
- Karnataka’s coastal districts, known for heavy rains, are facing quite an abnormal situation this year. The State government has declared two taluks in Dakshina Kannada, seven in Uttara Kannada, and all three taluks in Udupi district drought-hit.
- Campaigns intensified as the date of the Dutch election nears. The 2017 Dutch general election will take place on 15 March. The Netherlands has experienced much political instability in the past two decades. It saw five elections between 2002 and 2012 before a coalition of two political parties – the Labour Party (PvdA) and the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) – formed the Government in 2012 with incumbent Mark Rutte as Prime Minister.
- The World Health Organisation said that over five crore Indians suffer from depression which is a major contributor to global suicides which occurs mostly in lower or middle-income countries. The study also revealed that 320 million people live with depression worldwide and nearly half of them live in the Western Pacific region and in South-east Asia, reflecting the large populations of China and India.
- SpaceX will fly two private citizens on a trip around the moon in 2018, the company’s founder Elon Musk announced on 27 February. This will be the first privately funded tourist flight beyond the orbit of the International Space Station.
- For the first time since 2011 (Somalia), a famine was declared – this time, in South Sudan. This follows years of instability in the country’s food supply caused by war and drought. The famine has been estimated to affect 50% of the South Sudanese population, with food shortages expected to spread.
- To enact his vision of a “merciful church” to sex offenders by reducing punishments, Pope Francis reduced sanctions against some pedophile priests. He has been criticised for his lenient treatment by survivors and activists. The sexual abuse of minors by members of the Catholic Church is an open secret. For decades, priests and nuns have been sexually abusing minors – some as young as three years old.
- An umbrella body of nine Indian bank unions called for a day-long strike on 28 February to protest the government’s “anti-people banking reforms” and to press the compensation to employees for extra work done on account of booking loan and demonetization. The strike covers all the officers and employees in all public sector banks which include State Bank of India (SBI), foreign banks, all old-generation private banks, regional rural banks and cooperative banks.
- The campaigns for the French election began in earnest as all parties sought the French Presidency at a time when the European Union witnesses much uncertainty. The main political parties contesting the election are the Socialist Party, the Republicans, and the National Front. Incumbent President Francois Hollande of the Socialist Party dropped out of the race due to low approval ratings. Following their primaries, the Republicans nominated former Prime Minister Francois Fillon. The candidate of the National Front is far-right Marine Le Pen.
- A 1991 climate change awareness film produced by Shell Oil Company resurfaced. It revealed that Shell knew of the drastic effects of climate change back in 1991 but that did not stop it from endorsing fracking, polluting the Arctic, and funding climate denial.
- In a first, an issue of Aadhaar data breach caused several privacy concerns and raised questions about the security of the data possessed by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). The UIDAI lodged a criminal complaint on 15 February against three firms with cyber cell of Delhi Police. The firms are being probed for attempting unauthorised authentication and impersonation by using stored Aadhaar biometrics, which is a clear violation of the law. The issue has been raised at a time when the government is pushing for Aadhaar-based transactions to promote its digital mission.