Your Daily Wrap: Centre announces 10% quota for Agniveers, Farooq turns down offer to be Oppn’s presidential candidate; and more

◾ Taking yet another step to quell the growing anger among Armed Forces aspirants against the new Agnipath recruitment policy, Home Minister Amit Shah today announced that there will be a ten per cent quota in the Central Armed Police Forces and Assam Rifles across the country for the Agniveers. Meanwhile, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a meeting with the chiefs of the three services. There was no official statement about the meeting. However, the Defence Ministry too announced 10 per cent reservation in jobs in the ministry and in the Defence Public Sector Undertakings for Agniveers.

◾ As the protests intensified, several Opposition parties as well as the BJP’s biggest ally, the JD(U), has been vocal in its reservations about Agnipath. Congress president Sonia Gandhi termed the scheme “completely directionless”, and appealed to people to engage in peaceful protests. However, the ruling BJP has defended the scheme, urging students not to be “deceived”.  In an interview with The Indian Express, BJP’s national spokesperson Guru Prakash Paswan denied rollback of the plan, saying it came up after due consultation with all stakeholders.

◾ Ahead of the Presidential elections next month, the Opposition parties are trying to zero in on a consensus candidate for the polls, but without success so far. After Sharad Pawar, National Conference president and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah has declined to be the joint Opposition’s presidential candidate, saying that the Union Territory needs him to “help navigate these uncertain times”. Abdullah said he was “very grateful to Mamata didi (Mamata Banerjee) for proposing my name,” but “I have a lot more active politics ahead of me and look forward to making a positive contribution in the service of J&K and the country.”

◾ In the world of crypto, Bitcoin dropped below $20,000 on Saturday to its lowest level in 18 months, extending its slide as investors pull back from riskier assets amid rising interest rates. As the cryptocurrency market is plunging to a new low every day and countries are trying different approaches to regulate digital assets, know how crypto tax works in India and countries across the world, in this week’s ‘Crypto Knight’ column.

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◾ India’s experimentations with fertility control programmes dates back to the period preceding its Independence. In fact, it was one of the first countries to introduce an official programme of birth control intended to reduce the rate of population growth, but to this day the relative population size and fertility rates remain a contentious issue in electoral politics. In July 2019, a Population Regulation Bill, proposing to introduce a two-child policy per couple, was introduced in the Rajya Sabha. However, the Bill was withdrawn earlier this year following intervention by the Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya. So does India need a population policy? Experts discuss in this week’s #ExpressResearch.

◾ Weekend is here and so are the movie reviews! This week we review Shilpa Shetty’s comeback film Nikamma, Chris Evans’ Lightyear, Cooper Raiff’s Cha Cha Real Smooth, and Sai Pallavi’s Virata Parvam.

Political Pulse

◾ For the June 23 Rampur Lok Sabha bypoll, the BJP is banking on the Yogi Adityanath government’s policies and development work. But it faces an uphill battle in a constituency that is considered the bastion of Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan. Though a former Congress MLA from Rampur is also backing the BJP candidate in the bypoll, which became necessary after Azam vacated the seat following his election to the UP Assembly in March, it may not be enough. Asad Rehman reports.

◾ Days after the setback of the Rajya Sabha polls, when the BJP cocked a snook at the Shiv Sena by winning the crucial sixth seat, and with a couple of days left for the June 20 elections to the Maharashtra Legislative Council polls, the lack of coordination within the Maha Vikas Aghadi is all too evident with each party working separately to secure its vote bank. With the Sena and NCP set to get the numbers to see their candidates through, the fight is likely to boil down to the Congress and the BJP. Read Shubhangi Khapre’s report.

Express Explained

◾ The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, on Friday recommended that Ukraine be formally granted candidate status in the EU, the first step in the long journey to become a member state of the bloc. The announcement by EU President Ursula von der Leyen came a day after representatives of France, Germany, and Italy, the most powerful member states of the organisation, visited Kyiv for the first time, where they backed Ukraine’s bid to join the bloc. What happens with Ukraine’s application hereon? What is the process of joining the EU? Read here.

◾ On many occasions during the trial, it seemed that Amber Heard, who lost the defence case against ex-spouse Johnny Depp’s defamation suit, was expected to be the perfect victim. When survivors open up about sexual assault or domestic violence, one of their biggest fears is that they would not live up to the expectations of “perfect victimhood”. It is a major reason why survivors do not come forward and seek legal help, and one of the biggest myths about sexual violence. What does the term mean? How does perfect victimhood affect survivors? Read here.

Weekend Reads

◾ Hues of Khurja: The heritage and changing trends of pottery in the ceramic city

◾ In Chamor, Sheba Jose looks at the world through a child’s eyes

Each poem in The Penguin Book of Indian Poets is history recorded in a language of one’s own

◾ Know Your City: How Pune’s Kayani Bakery became a heritage landmark of the city

◾ Long Read: ‘I’m like, is my brain stupid? How did it just forget my periods’

ICYMI: Here’s a list of best news reports, Opinion, Explained, and features from The Indian Express this week.

◾ Express Investigation — Part 1: From Emergency to Gujarat riots, lessons of past deleted from textbooks of future

◾ Under fire over Agnipath, BJP’s youth, unemployment headache

◾ Explained: What are the ED and IT cases against Rahul and Sonia Gandhi?

◾ Explained: Two years after Galwan clash, where India-China relations stand today

◾ Prayagraj demolition falls foul of Allahabad HC order, says former CJ

◾ Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: Why Agnipath is not the reform the armed forces need

◾ What the US Fed’s biggest rate hike in 28 years means for India and the global economy

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