1. The cuts run deep
From geopolitics and religion to the police, the Central Board of Film Certification’s ambit has grown beyond traditional concerns
The on-screen version of the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Pathaan introduces one of the villain’s henchmen as an ex-SBU agent. The SBU, or the Sluzhba Bespeky Ukrayiny, is the Security Service of Ukraine. However, the original, pre-screen cut of the film announced the character as ex-KGB, a former agent of the erstwhile Soviet Union’s spy agency, the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti.
The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), which orders cuts and modifications to films before they are released, asked the filmmakers to make this change before it could be screened publicly.
In fact, this is just one of over 1,000 cuts and changes ordered on over 300 films across multiple languages (including English) that were cleared for theatrical release across the country over the past few months. The Hindu collected and reviewed the censor board’s data on cuts made between November 2022 and the first week of February 2023 from two of the CBFC’s nine regional offices (Mumbai and Chennai), to understand the larger context in which the board seeks changes to films.
In the case of Pathaan, for instance, the seemingly innocuous swap of spy agencies could reflect on India’s growing oil imports from Russia, even as the country balances its global position with regard to the war in Ukraine. It is unlikely that the antagonist Jim’s henchman being either ex-SBU or ex-KGB made any difference to filmgoers; the film has reportedly grossed over ₹887 crore since it was released on January 25.
The CBFC routinely orders changes to movies: a toning down or removal of sexual content, violence, and abusive language, especially if the filmmaker would like a more favourable age rating (a U or U/A, rather than an A or S).
Of late though, a different kind of censorship has taken shape, regardless of what a film’s classification is. These modifications go beyond the guidelines on the CBFC website. Instead, they span the government’s concerns on diplomatic relations, police overreach, political balance, religion and caste.
2. Constitutional values will help to fight inequality: CJI
Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud on Saturday said that the best and surest way to make inequality a distant dream of the past would be to inculcate the spirit of constitutionalism in society.
“But much work remains to be accomplished till we rest. The deep-rooted inequality, which fractured our society at the time of Independence, persists even today,” CJI Chandrachud said at the first convocation ceremony of the Maharashtra National Law University in Nagpur.
He highlighted the difficulties faced by the “Father of the Constitution” B.R. Ambedkar. “The decks were stacked against Dr. Ambedkar because of a society diseased with caste and yet he persisted and went on to become one of the most towering personalities in the history of our country, probably the world,” the CJI said.
When confronted with a situation where one would have to choose between saying or doing nothing and saying or doing something, the first option might probably be safer and less risky, but choosing the more difficult one and making a realignment of law and society with justice, was being courageous, the Chief Justice of India said.
By attempting to make the world a better place, people would be upholding constitutional values, he added.
Talking about the Preamble to the Constitution, the CJI said that it was a short but weighty party to the Constitution, and stated that the people of India had given to themselves this Constitution.
He said everyone was a citizen of substance in the truest sense and there must be a fulfilment of the promise in the Preamble that the citizens would secure social, economic and political justice for all.
3. DRDO asks industry to join fifth generation fighter development
The new indigenous jet will be a fifth generation 25-tonne, multi-role and twin-engine stealth aircraft, which is being designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency; firms invited to participate as technology-cum-investment partners
The Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), under the Defence Research and Development Organisation, has invited Indian industry players to join the development and manufacture of the indigenous fifth generation fighter jet, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).
“To accelerate the development and production of the AMCA, the ADA is looking for interaction with prospective firms which are willing to participate as technology-cum-investment partners towards development and manufacturing of the AMCA,” said a notification issued by the Agency, specifying that the invitation was for Indian companies only.
Based on the success of the indigenous light combat aircraft, the Centre has entrusted the Agency with the design of a new fighter jet for the Indian Air Force, which will be a fifth generation, medium-weight, multi-role and twin-engine aircraft. Responses are to be submitted by February 28, and a forum of interactions is planned on March 17 and 18, the ADA said.
India’s ambitious effort to build an indigenous fifth generation fighter, which only a handful of countries have accomplished, is in the critical design review phase and is now awaiting approval from the Cabinet Committee on Security. In 2009, the Union government had allocated ₹90 crore for a feasibility study on designing a fifth generation fighter, with an additional ₹447 crore sanctioned later.
Agency officials said that once the project is sanctioned, the first prototype could be rolled out in three years, with the first flight expected to take place in a year to a year-and-a-half after that, as reported earlier by The Hindu. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., the production agency for the project, has already begun manufacturing activities.
The AMCA is envisaged as a 25-tonne twin-engine stealth aircraft with an internal weapons bay and diverterless supersonic intake, which has been developed in India for the first time. It is intended to have an internal carriage of 1,500 kg of payload and 5,500 kg of external payload with 6,500 kg of internal fuel.
Last September, the Cabinet Committee on Security sanctioned the development of the LCA-Mk2, a new light combat aircraft, at a development cost of ₹9,000 crore, of which ₹2,500 crore has already been spent. The first prototype is expected to roll out in 2025-26 with the first flight planned for 2026-27, ADA officials said at the Def Expo 2022, held in Gandhinagar.
The LCA-Mk2 will be a heavier and much more capable aircraft than the current light combat variants as well as the LCA-Mk1A, 83 of which have been contracted under a ₹48,000-crore deal with the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. The IAF has given a commitment to procure six squadrons of the LCA-Mk2.