Category : Aura Staff
Author : Shayma. S

For March, here are some major issues that came up in the media :

1. Electoral Bonds data made public :

Electoral bonds are a financial instrument introduced by the Government of India in 2018 for donating to political parties. These bonds were aimed at promoting transparency in political funding by allowing individuals, companies, and entities to purchase them from authorised banks and then donate them to the political party of their choice. Introduced by the late Arun Jaitley, the electoral bonds scheme has been subject to intense criticism over the years due to the possibility of quid quo pro and its transparency challenge.

In a judgment dated 15 February 2024, the Supreme Court declared the Electoral Bond Scheme unconstitutional and underscored that it violates the right to information under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. In turn, the SBI revealed details of electoral bonds purchased since 2019. Journalists who analysed the data showed that in many cases, evidence of quid quo pro between parties and large donors was clear.

2. Attack on Muslim students at Gujarat University :

On March 16th, Gujarat University, located in Ahmedabad, made headlines as a group of outsiders assaulted international students who were engaged in Taraweeh prayers. The attackers, later revealed to be affiliated with the Bajrang Dal, vandalised the students’ vehicles and hurled stones at them.

Footage from the incident depicts individuals in saffron shawls chanting religious slogans, throwing stones, and even pushing over a security guard who attempted to intervene. Although some of the accused were arrested, more disturbing news emerged from the university when the Vice Chancellor announced that international students would be given sensitisation lessons to ensure they adjust to the country’s cultural norms.

3. Gangrape of Spanish tourist in Dumka, Jharkand  

Early in March, a Spanish travel vlogger and biker was gang-raped by seven men in Jharkhand’s Dumka. She and her husband had biked through many countries and were spending time in India. According to the FIR, the survivor was allegedly threatened with a dagger, kicked, punched and then raped by these men during the incident that lasted two and a half hours. Her husband was also beaten up as he tried to intervene. The incident garnered international and national outrage, particularly when the National Commission of Women chief effectively victim-blamed the survivor and tried to deflect from the case.

Upcoming General Elections and polarisation :

About 969 million people will participate in the general elections to decide who will be elected to the Parliament. They will elect 543 politicians to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament. Two other members will be nominated to make up a total strength of 545 in the house. The elections come at a time of great polarisation, with the ruling NDA alliance facing off against the opposition INDIA alliance.

5. Women’s IPL concludes with Bangalore emerging winner :

The second edition of the Women’s Indian Premier League concluded with Royal Challengers Bengaluru emerging as winners. The five-team tournament was watched with great interest in a country where women’s sports are still second-rung and poorly supported. The visuals of people flooding the streets to celebrate the win and packed stadiums in Delhi and Bengaluru have been a positive sign for women’s sports in the country.

6. CAA rules framed :

After being brought out from cold storage after four years and concreted protests against it in 2019, the CAA rules have been notified. This has raised concerns, particularly about a possible NRC in the near future and its discriminatory features.

7. Onslaught continues in Gaza worshippers in Ramadan struggle to find food to open their fast :

Also in the news is the situation in Gaza, which has been exceedingly dire even around the six-month mark; the first day of fasting in Gaza was marked with residents shivering in the cold in tents, constant attacks, flour massacres and a widespread famine situation.

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