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It wouldn't have taken a soothsayer to foretell the fate of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling government on the first day of the winter session in the Parliament. As the political establishment met yesterday, the Opposition unleashed its wrath on the current dispensation. The CPM, Congress and the Trinamool Congress reacted with taunts and jeer. The PM's various remarks were dissected and he was compared with Hitler, Mussolini, Gaddafi and Marie Antoinette. An MP sharply criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) move of making the PM's 96-year-old mother stand in a queue at a bank to exchange old currency notes.
Sandip Roy notes the turn the debate on demonetisation has taken since the move was announced. The initial euphoria over the curbing of black money was soon replaced by public anger. And before long, the jawans were dragged into the discourse, along with the forbidden N-word. "The debate is no longer about demonetisation, whether it works or not, whether its rollout has been mishandled or not," he writes. "It has been transformed into a 'debate' about a topic on which debate, achhi or not, is forbidden — nationalism."
The new ₹2,000 note is an unmitigated design disaster: Abhisek Sarda, founder and creative director of Beard Design shows us the reasons behind this claim. Looking at the typefaces, weights, colour, dimension and other details on it that may have never struck an ordinary person, he explains, from a strictly design point of view, why the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has done such a bad job of a big move.
If the introduction of the new ₹2,000 note has resulted in a myriad miseries for ordinary citizens, it has also caused a severe headache to bankers. Over 200,000 ATMs machines across the country, which act as a lifeline to the people, are being recalibrated to make them dispense the new denomination. The process involves changing the software as well as hardware of these machines and is expected to take 2-3 weeks to complete across the nation. With about 12,500 machines being fixed each day, the cap on cash withdrawal is going to stay until the situation returns to being normal.
Many people were woken up early this morning by strong tremors, measuring 4.2 on the Richter Scale, in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR). The earthquake, which lasted one whole minute, hit the region around 4.30 am. The epicentre of the quake was in Haryana. No immediate loss of life or property has been reported from anywhere.
With cash flow reduced due to demonetisation, the real estate market has been badly affected, The Hindu reports. Since 8 November, the day PM Modi announced the move, the number of registrations has dropped along with loan disbursals. Payment to workers on the site has been the worst hit. "Property developers are putting up a brave front on prices," the report claims, in spite of "a sharp fall in revenue" in big markets in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana and Tamil Nadu.
Off The Front Page
A woman in Delhi ran over two people on a highway in Haryana in an alleged case of drunk driving, the police said. Two labourers were killed and three injured by 36-year-old Preeti Bhardwaj driving a Swift. After causing the accident, she kept going on but was stopped by the locals who gave chase. A case has been registered against her and she has been kept in custody.
Although China has four times the rate of greenhouse gas emissions compared to India, the latter has beaten the former on the number of deaths caused by pollution every year. According to a Greenpeace report, air pollution caused 3,280 premature deaths a day in India in 2015, compared to 3,230 in China. Some of these figures may have changed since then, especially given the shocking smog which enveloped the north of the country for days on end in the last few weeks.
Bob Dylan wouldn't be going to Stockholm to collect the Nobel Prize for Literature, a choice which has been much lauded as well as loathed since it was announced. After the 75-year-old American singer-songwriter was awarded the prize on 13 October, "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition", he maintained stony silence for days on end, without reacting to the news. Finally, he seemed to have told the Swedish Academy "he wishes he could receive the prize personally, but other commitments make it unfortunately impossible".
In Mint, Salil Tripathi refutes PM Modi's "astonishingly callous" remark that the poor are sleeping peacefully, while the rich are popping sleeping pills, in the wake of the crackdown on black money through the ban on higher currencies. "The government has sucked in liquidity from the country for the ostensibly laudable — but apparent — aim of eradicating black money," he writes, "[this] has unnerved the poor who simply do not have the 'working capital' — cash reserves — to tide over what is uncaringly referred to as 'temporary inconvenience'."
Political scientist Timothy Garton Ash writes in The Telegraph about the rise of populist nationalism in the West, signalled most prominently by Trump's unexpected victory in the American presidential elections. In Vladimir Putin's Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Turkey or Angela Merkel's Germany, the sentiment on the ground is not too different from the US. In France, Marie Le Pen (who glowingly congratulated Trump after his victory) is waiting to seize the moment. "What we see in all these nationalist populisms is an ideology, which claims that the directly expressed will of 'the people' trumps (the verb has already acquired a new connotation) all other sources of authority," writes Garton Ash.
The BJP government in Assam is yet to complete six months in office but already agitations against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 have gained momentum. The protests are based on the assumption that Hindu Bangladeshis will overshadow Assamese identity, with the passing of this bill, but the implications of its fate will be significant, writes defence and cyber policy analyst Subimal Bhattacharjee in the Hindustan Times.
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