IAMC Weekly News Digest, 30th April 2021
….Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has ordered social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to remove dozens of posts about its pandemic response. These companies should stand up for themselves, but the United States and its peers should stand up for them, too…. Facebook and Twitter tend to take down content when it violates their own rules and to “geoblock” content – restricting visibility only in a given jurisdiction – when it doesn’t violate their rules but does violate the laws of a country in which they operate…. The problem is, no one can know for sure, because Mr. Modi’s regime has eschewed any semblance of transparency, not even specifying what legislation it used to justify its demands. …. Their choice should be to say “no” to any egregious curtailment of civil liberties. President Biden and the leaders of like-minded nations should do whatever they can to bolster companies when they resist bullying….
India, home to the world’s worst ongoing coronavirus outbreak, has reported more than 17.6 million cases since the pandemic began last year. But the real number, experts fear, could be up to 30 times higher – meaning more than half a billion cases…. As of Tuesday, India has reported nearly 198,000 coronavirus deaths. However, Mukherjee estimates Covid fatalities could be underreported by a factor of between two and five – meaning the real death toll could be close to 990,000.
The number of mass funerals, cremations and bodies piling up have cast doubt on the official reported deaths in numerous cities these past few weeks….
Following an Al Jazeera investigation, a broad coalition of Indian American activists and United States-based civil rights organisations has called on the US Small Business Administration (SBA) to probe how Hindu right-wing groups received hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal COVID-19 relief funds…. Last week, Al Jazeera reported how five Hindu right-wing groups with links to Hindu nationalist organisations in India received more than $833,000 in direct payments and loans, according to data released by the Small Business Administration (SBA), a US federal agency that helps small business owners and entrepreneurs…. The coalition of US-based rights groups and activists asked the Office of the Inspector General, which probes fraud, waste and abuse of SBA programmes, to “take cognisance of the expose published by Al Jazeera and open a formal investigation into the matter”….