What’s Going On In France: Free Speech, Murder & International Reactions

What's Going On In France: Free Speech, Murder & International Reactions

The recent killing of a teacher for showing cartoons of Prophet Muhammed has sparked the debate over religious extremism and freedom of expression in France, which has witnessed similar events in recent past.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Incident
Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old history and geography teacher in Paris, was beheaded on 16 October. The crime was done by Abdullakh Anzorov, an18-year-old refugee student born in Chechnya (Republic in southwestern Russia).

Anzorov was shot dead by police after he attempted an assault on the police officers who went to arrest him.

Reason

  • Paty arranged a class on freedom of speech.
  • Showed teenagers a caricature of Prophet Muhammad published in ‘Charlie Hebdo’ magazine – depiction of Allah or Prophet is considered blasphemous in Islam.
  • Paty reportedly asked the Muslim students to leave the classroom if they didn’t wish to see the cartoons.
  • Several parents demanded his resignation afterwards.
  • Paty also became target of social media hate campaign afterward.
  • 16 October: Anzorov beheaded Paty (10 days after his class).

About The Charlie Hebdo Magazine

  • Charlie Hebdo is a satirical magazine in France.
  • Attacked thrice: 2011, 2015, and 2020.
  • 2015 attacks were the worst as 12 people including cartoonists of the Magazine were killed.
  • September 2020: Knife attacks at former headquarters as it re-published its cartoons on Prophet.
  • All 3 attacks occurred after publishing cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, whose depiction is banned in Islam.

Reaction

  • French Government has launched a crackdown on several organizations potentially linked with Islamist extremism.
  • Mass rallies occurred across France with the slogan “Je suis enseignant” (I am a teacher).
  • 10 people have been arrested so far. 231 people having extremist religious views would be allegedly deported.
  • Several French mosques have openly condemned the attacks. Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned the attack but also condemned the “blasphemous” cartoons against Prophet.

Macron Reaction

  • France President Emmanuel Macron stated that Paty was a “victim of a typical Islamist terrorist attack”. He also defended French Laïcité (secularism) and freedom of speech (especially cartoon culture).
  • 2 weeks before the incident, Macron had claimed that “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today” over alleged extremism rise. However, he lamented inadequate work done for the betterment of immigrants, and said “we have not sufficiently created diversity, or ensured economic and social mobility”.

International Tussle

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Macron’s response, saying “Macron needs treatment on a mental level”.
  • Turkey, Kuwait, and Qatar have initiated a boycott of French goods.
  • Mentioned countries have been slammed by critics for speaking against cartoons but maintaining silence against Uighur Muslims in China. More than 1 million Uighurs are held in detention camps, with cases of forced labour and organ harvesting being reported.

Curiopedia
  • France has the most number of time zones (12), mostly due to the various territories it controls around the world. They range from French Polynesia (10 hours behind UTC) to the islands of Wallis and Futuna (12 hours ahead of UTC).
  • ‘Je Suis Charlie’ which means ‘I am Charlie’ became the rallying cry for all the supporters of freedom of speech and freedom of Media after the 2015 attacks.
  • Stéphane Charbonnier was a French satirical caricaturist and journalist. He was assassinated by Islamic terrorists during the Charlie Hebdo shooting on 7 January 2015.
  • Satire is a genre of literature and performing arts in which vices, follies, abuses and shortcomings are held up to ridicule individuals, corporations, government, or society itself into improvement. A feature of satire is strong irony or sarcasm —“in satire, irony is militant”, according to literary critic Northrup Frye.

Centre V/S State In India Part 1: CBI

Centre V/S State In India Part 1: CBI

Maharashtra withdrawing its general consent from allowing CBI to investigate into the state has initiated a ‘Centre vs State‘ debate concerning the organization, which has witnessed similar conflicts in the past for several reasons.

Crux of the Matter

Maharashtra Government recently withdrew the ‘general consent’ for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Consequently, the CBI now requires the permission of the Maharashtra State Government to enter the state and investigate.

The case of Maharashtra is an addition to the Centre versus State conflicts regarding CBI. Several states have withdrawn consent in the past, which include Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, etc.

Reason For Withdrawal
Uttar Pradesh swiftly transferred a TRP fixing case filed in the state to CBI. The move came days after Maharashtra police filed an FIR against Republic TV for TRP rigging. As per analysis of Shekhar Gupta, founder of The Print:

  • TRPs is not state-specific.
  • CBI, investigating TRP case in UP, could have made it “an inter-state case”.
  • CBI could have then taken over “related FIRs in all states” – including Maharashtra.
  • Maharashtra Govt reportedly wants to handle the Republic TV case by itself.

TRP Scandal Timeline

  • Mumbai Police announced involvement alleged involvement of Republic TV in a TRP scam. The announcement came on the basis on complaint by Hansa research group to Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC).
  • Notably, Republic found complaint of Hansa and claimed that no mention of Republic was there and that India Today was mentioned.
  • Mumbai Police filed an FIR against Republic journalists and editorial team for inciting “disaffection” towards police.
    Mumbai Police recently announced owners of Republic TV, News Nation and Maha Movie as accused in TRP scam.
  • Days after Maharashtra police filed FIR against Republic TV for alleged TRP rigging, another FIR was filed, reportedly on behest of an ad company promoter in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. UP govt referred the case to CBI.

CBI ‘Consent’
CBI was established in 1963 and is governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.

  • Section 6 of the Act: Consent of state Government mandatory for investigating in that state.
  • 2 types of consent: General and Case-specific.
  • General consent: Facilitates smooth investigation in cases concerning Central Government employees in the state. All other cases required case-specific consent.

Impact Of Withdrawal

  • All cases (whether against Central Government employee or any private individual/organization) now require state consent.
  • CBI officers “lose all powers of a police officer as soon as they enter the state unless the state government has allowed them”.
  • Doesn’t apply on existing cases.
  • No consent required if any High Court or the Supreme Court directs CBI investigation.
  • CBI can still investigate cases involving people from such states if it files case outside that state.

Why Withdraw Consent?
State Governments withdraw General consent after alleging “loss of faith” in the organization, and allege unfair use by Central Government to target State Governments. The Central Government, on the other hand, claims that State Governments withdraw consent to conceal their own corruption and malpractices.

State Of West Bengal V/S Centre: The Case Of CBI

  • November 2018: West Bengal withdrew General consent from CBI.
  • February 2019: CBI went to question then Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar – reportedly went without an order from Court. Kumar investigated the Saradha chit fund scam.
  • CBI blamed State police for ‘destruction of evidence’ in the scam.
  • State Police detained CBI officials instead of letting them question Kumar, and released them after questioning.
  • Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee rushed to Kumar’s house.
  • Banerjee later sat on ‘Dharna’ (non-compliant demonstration) against the CBI.
  • Finally, the Supreme Court directed Rajeev Kumar to appear before CBI in Shillong (a neutral place). It also directed that no “coercive action” (arrest) should be taken against Kumar by CBI.
Curiopedia
  • P. Ayyakannu is a lawyer and farmer born in Tamil Nadu. He is famously known widely throughout India for his protest against the central government at New Delhi, demanding the agricultural loan in cooperative banks to be abandoned. 
  • The breadbasket of a country is a region which, because of the richness of the soil and/or advantageous climate, produces large quantities of wheat or other grain. The Punjab and Haryana regions are considered the breadbaskets of India.
  • CBI is exempted from the provisions of the Right to Information Act. This exemption was granted by the government in 2011 on the basis of national security. It was criticized by the Central Information Commission and RTI activists, who said the blanket exemption violated the letter and intent of the RTI Act.

What Is The Quad?

What Is The Quad?

Quad is a quadrilateral security alliance formed by India, Japan, Australia and US. Recently, on India’s invitation, Australia agreed to join the Quad’s flagship Malabar naval exercise. Let’s have a look at how was Quad formed, what are its purposes and how it will play a role in the geopolitics of creating a multipolar world.

Crux of the Matter

What is Quad?
In 2007 Japan, Australia, the US, and India started an informal strategic forum among themselves called the Quad or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD). They organize semi-regular summits, information exchanges, and military drills. Diplomatically, as experts say, it is formed to counter the rise of China in the Indo-Pacific region.

In 2008, the Quad alliance stopped as then Australian President Kevin Rudd withdrew Australia. However, during the 2017 ASEAN Summits, four countries renegotiated to resume the Quad alliance. Former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe intended for the Quad to establish an “Asian Arc of Democracy”. Quad countries are also members of the Malabar Naval Exercise that has also become its flagship military drill.

Role Of Malabar Exercise
In 1992, the Indian and the US Navies initiated Malabar Naval Exercise as part of a bilateral treaty. While the Quad was formed in 2007, in which all four nations joined the Malabar drill, Japan became a permanent participant in 2015. Considering China’s increasing muscle in the Indo-Pacific, Australia has been showing a keen interest in becoming a permanent member. This year, on India’s invitation Australia will take part in the Malabar Drill.

What Is Quad Plus?
Quad Plus is an alliance of Quad nations with other regional countries. Recently, Quad plus – 4 member nations along with South Korean, New Zealand, and Vietnam – teleconferenced about how to respond to the pandemic and realization of a “free and open Indo-Pacific”. This has led to speculation that the US might invite South Korea to join Quad.

There is no policy for expansion of the Quad, though the group is a still somewhat undefined entity in and of itself.

Steve BiegunUS Deputy Secretary of State

Speaking on speculation of the US inviting S. Korea to the Quad, an Indian Foreign Ministry official was of the opinion that India should be at the driver’s seat because the US may resort to forming alliances as per its old template. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, has been emphasizing India’s stand on a Multipolar world, where more than one superpower exists.

Where Is China In All This?
China is a major trade partner for all Quad members. It has already started targeting one of the Quad members – Australia – on the trade front. First, China put a high tariff on barley when Australia asked for an investigation into the emergence of Coronavirus, and now it has increased tariff on cotton coming from Australia. Experts believe that the Quad should not indulge in trade policies or economics because China can then easily pick any nation and target it on trade.

China is also forming one-to-one treaties with countries in the Indo-Pacific region. For instance, China is the largest provider of arms to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, etc.

China cannot prevent gatherings of the four countries by exerting diplomatic pressure. But China has had the initiative in its relations with India, Japan, and Australia, with abundant resources to keep them away from the US’ anti-China strategy.

Chinese Communist Party’s Global Times Editorial
Curiopedia
  • Japan and China have been in a water dispute themselves regarding Senkaku/Diaoyus islands. They are known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyus in China. Before 2020, the last crisis took place in 2012 when Japan nationalized the islands as they were privately owned then. A dispute between China and Japan could get heightened as the USA is obliged to defend Japan if it comes under a foreign attack according to Article 5 of the US-Japan Security Treaty.
  • In the month of July, relations between Australia and China escalated when China imposed 80.5% tariffs on barley and banning the import of beef from four major meat processing plants. China is Australia’s biggest trading partner and this move has devastated the economy of Australia.
  • India and Japan defense forces organize a series of bilateral exercises namely, JIMEX, SHINYUU Maitri, and Dharma Guardian. Whereas India and the USA conduct Joint Military Exercises namely, Yudha Abhyas. Exercises between India and Australia include PitchBlack and AUSINDEX.
  • Singapore has been the only non-permanent member to be a part of the Malabar exercise in the year 2007

Trump, Biden And Media Partisanship

Trump, Biden And Media Partisanship

As one of the most polarising elections draws near, several media as well as scientific journals have endorsed Biden and opposed Trump. The phenomenon has ignited the age old debate: if and when should media be non-partisan?

Crux of the Matter

Rolling Stone Magazine
Rolling Stones magazine recently announced its official endorsement of Democrat candidate Joe Biden. Previously, the magazine had endorsed Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Elections. The magazine wrote “we’ve lived for the past four years under a man categorically unfit to be president” for Donald Trump.

Rolling Stone magazine also wrote that “four years of Trump have left 215,000 of us and counting dead from a serious but preventable public-health crisis, and the public’s faith in its elected representatives at an all-time low”. They backed Biden by saying that his “platform offers progressive solutions to every major problem facing the country”.

USA Today
USA Today, reportedly the “highest-circulation newspaper” of the US, endorsed a candidate for the first time. It has claimed that “Biden is well-positioned to repair the wreckage Trump has made of the federal government”.

USA Today cited a Washington Post report, which claims that Trump made 20,000 false/misleading claims within 1,267 days of service. On average, that comes down to 15.8 false/misleading claims per day.

Science Journals
In an unprecedented move, several scientific journals have openly endorsed Biden or opposed Trump. The move came amidst Trump claiming “people are tired of hearing Fauci (top US epidemiologist) and all these idiots”.

  • The Lancet Oncology wrote, “Trump has repeatedly politicised, undermined, and slashed funding to US federal scientific and health agencies” – and officially endorsed Biden.
  • Scientific American wrote, “Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people—because he rejects evidence and science”. Endorsed Biden – its first endorsement in 175 years.

Republicans Against Trump
Republican Voters Against Trump, The Lincoln Project, and several other groups comprising of former Republicans have been formed. These groups have urged people to vote against Trump (Republican candidate).

  • Michael Steele, the first African American chairman of the Republican National Committee, has openly backed Biden against Trump.
  • Ron Reagan, son of former President Ronald Reagan (Republican), recently claimed that his father would have been “horrified” of Trump administration.
  • NY Times reported in June 2020 that former President George W Bush (Republican) would vote for Biden instead of Trump.

Twitter And Hunter
Twitter and Facebook recently restricted a story regarding Joe Biden’s son Hunter, with Twitter banning the sharing of the link. The story, coming from New York Post, has claimed that Hunter arranged a meeting between “a Ukrainian energy firm and his father” when his father was the vice president.

The story has been labelled “false” by several fact-checks. However, Twitter later reversed the ban.

Question For Readers

Overall, two camps exist regarding non-partisanship in media:

  1. Media should always be non-partisan.
  2. Non-partisanship can be abandoned in times of emergency.

Here are 2 questions for the readers:

  • Should media always be non-partisan?
  • Is the current situation fit to be called ‘Emergency’ where non-partisanship can be abandoned?

Send us your views on namaskar@summachar.in.

Curiopedia
  • The United States federal government shutdown of 2018–2019 occurred from December 22, 2018, until January 25, 2019 (35 days). It was the longest U.S. government shutdown in history of the USA. The shutdown stemmed from an impasse over Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion in federal funds for a U.S.–Mexico border wall.
  • The Apprentice is an American reality television program that judges the business skills of a group of contestants. Donald Trump was the show’s host for the first fourteen seasons, with the show affording him popularity that contributed to his rise to the presidency of the United States.
  • The 1988 presidential campaign of Joe Biden was considered one of the potentially strongest campaigns in the field. However, in September 1987, newspaper stories stated he had plagiarized a speech by British politician Neil Kinnock. Other allegations of past law school plagiarism and exaggerating his academic record soon followed. Biden withdrew from the race later that month.

Trading Card Games: Are Your Childhood Toys Worth Millions Today?

Trading Card Games: Are Your Childhood Toys Worth Millions Today?

Trading Card Games (TCG) have come out as an alternative investment option in recent as card games are rapidly moving online and collectibles or physical cards are becoming a rarity. Let’s see what they are and how can you value them. Go fetch your old Pokémon deck and see if it can fetch millions.

Crux of the Matter

Trading Card Games (TCG)
Trading Card Games (TCG) are types of card games that mix strategic deckbuilding elements with features of trading cards. Games are commonly played between two players with rules as per the specific TCG franchise. Due to the increasing popularity of digital versions of these games, the collectible aspect of the physical cards has grown over the years which has resulted in a new form of high-end collectibles/investment opportunity.

Methods To Collect Cards

  • The first way to collect cards is by opening booster packs that contain a limited number of cards out of a large pool and is highly based on luck for the collectors/players to pull out their desired card.
  • The second way is by trading/buying them from other players. This option has resulted in a new market. Pokemon and athlete cards are the most popular and traded amongst all.

Although the majority of these cards are made to be played with, a few of them are seen as investment opportunities by collectors around the globe.

Why Do People Invest In Them?
These cards don’t hold any actual value but have appreciated in value over the years due to their rarity and the sentimental values held by them. Just like bitcoin, such investments are part of a very niche asset bubble and will drop down to 0 value once everyone loses interest in them. Although for TCGs, it is comparatively hard to burst such bubbles because of their popularity.

How Is The Value Measured?
The value of a card is generally determined by the following factors:

  • Rarity – If fewer cards are in rotation then the value is estimated to be higher and vice versa.
  • Condition – What is the condition of the card? A card with scratches may not fetch much value.
  • GradeBeckett Grading Services and Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) are 2 of the major grading services. These companies provide grades to specific cards if submitted to them. “Higher the grade, higher the value”
  • Recent Purchase – The value of any particular card is directly affected by the sales of the same cards in the open market.

Should You Invest?
Nowadays items like sneakers, merch/collectibles autographed by celebrities, and iconic products in factory sealed packaging – For example, the first iPhone or Classic Nintendo Consoles like NES, etc. have great potential for increment in its value in future.

Now one should only invest TCG if you are genuinely interested in the commodity and it won’t affect you financially if it drops down in value. If you are looking at these just as an investment and not actual collectibles then such markets are never suggested as an investment opportunity over traditional and safer options.

Curiopedia
  • The famous American reality television series, Pawn Stars, declined to buy a set of Pokemon TCG cards collection in 2017 for $500,000. The same collection is worth more than $5 million today. The video posted by the show on the internet went viral and is often credited for appreciating the card collection market in the subsequent years.
  • T206 Honus Wagner baseball card is worth millions today because Wagner refused to allow the production of his baseball card to continue, either because he did not want children to buy cigarette packs to get his card, or because he wanted more compensation from the ATC. The ATC ended production of the Wagner card and a total of only 50 to 200 cards were ever distributed to the public, as compared to the “tens or hundreds of thousands” of other T206 cards.
  • A media franchise is a collection of related media in which several derivative works have been produced from an original creative work of fiction, such as a film, a work of literature, a television program, or a video game. With revenues over $100 Billion since its inception, Pokemon is the world’s most valuable media franchise ever.