Dear Reader,

India chose to keep away from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the 15-nation Asian trade grouping, which came into effect last week. Swarajya argues that India’s decision was sound, as RCEP is largely a “Chinese club” in its present form. Plus, India has usually emerged less-off in free-trade agreements, because ‘services’, India’s strength, is largely ignored in these free-trade treaties.

The highest court in the land has once again reiterated the paramountcy of “personal liberty” of the citizen when courts weigh the merits of a case. However, The Wire finds that there are a bevy of cases, mostly against activists and journalists, where this dictum has been summarily disregarded.

And, The Caravan reports on how the majority of rejection of nominations, on “flimsy grounds”, for the just-concluded Bihar elections were first-time candidates, civil activists and aspirants from the marginalised communities.

Please read on for a selection from the coverage of our grantees this week.


Sunil Rajshekhar

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As Long As Services Are Not Part Of The Deal, Neither RCEP Nor FTAs Are For India

As the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) comes into force, Swarajya argues that India has chosen well to keep out of it. It asserts that in its present form RCEP is “nothing but a Chinese club”. While the other 14 signatories would want India to be a part of it, as a counterweight to China, India should not join until ‘services’ get its due share in the treaty and the country attains greater traction in manufacturing and cost competitiveness in goods.

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A List of Activists, Scholars and Scribes Whose Personal Liberty Remains at Judiciary's Mercy

Even as the Supreme Court of India emphasizes the importance of “personal liberty”, The Wire compiles a list of activists and journalists who have been arrested in the past years and have been denied regular hearing in the courts and have their basic ‘personal liberty’ violated.

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Many grassroot leaders among rejected nominations for Bihar polls

In the just-concluded Bihar polls, 614 of a total of 4,463 nominations were rejected by the electoral officers. The Caravan reports that the vast majority of them were the nominations of first-time candidates, civil society activists or candidates from marginalised groups. Most of the rejections were on “flimsy grounds”. This has led to disillusionment and erosion of trust in the election process.

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‘Government violating rights of Tamenglong people by depriving them a court’

Imphal Free Press reports on the Tamenglong district, one of the most backward districts in Manipur, which does not even have a district court. This forces people of the district to travel to Imphal, the state capital, 147-km away, to access the legal system. This is on top of the abysmal health facilities and lack of all-weather roads that Tamenglong suffers from.

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COVID-19 in India: Less than half the tests are RT-PCR

Down to Earth points out that less than half the tests conducted in the country are RT-PCR. Many states have disregarded the guidelines that symptomatic persons should undergo the RT-PCR test even if their rapid test is negative. This neglect has thwarted Delhi’s attempts in tracing and isolation leading to huge spike in cases. The rise in pollution, the cold weather, the wedding season and the failure of people to abide by the distancing and mask guidelines have added to the surging numbers.

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