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Modi. Photo: Chamila Karunarathne/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Indian tax authorities raided the offices of a leading Hindi-language newspaper on Thursday, in what government critics have denounced as yet another attempt to intimidate critical media outlets.

Driving the news: The raid came days after an international journalism consortium reported that Indian opposition politicians, activists and journalists were among those targeted with spyware from Israeli firm NSO.

  • Dainik Bhaskar, the newspaper, has held the government’s feet to the fire over its handling of the pandemic. The paper’s national editor told the Washington Post that the authorities harassed his journalists and seized their phones.

Meanwhile India has become a main focus of the growing NSO scandal — which relates to military-grade "Pegasus" software that was designed to track terrorists and criminals, but appears to have been used for other purposes by governments around the world.

What they're saying: Sushant Singh, one of the journalists targeted for surveillance, writes in Foreign Policy that this is “no less than India’s Watergate moment.”

  • Opposition members disrupted parliamentary proceedings on Tuesday to demand an investigation into what the Congress party called “an attack on the democratic foundations of our country.”
  • Amit Shah, the powerful Home Secretary, called the accusations “conspiracies” intended to “derail India’s development trajectory.” But the government has declined to say whether it used the Pegasus spyware.

The big picture: Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has fallen to 142nd on Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index.

  • Watchdog groups accuse the ruling BJP of unleashing trolls on journalists and pressuring outlets to echo approved narratives. At least 55 journalists were arrested last year for their coverage of the pandemic, The Wire reports.

Go deeper

Scoop: The Modi shot campaign

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The Biden administration is quietly pressuring India to restart vaccine exports with plans to offer a higher-profile role for Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an upcoming COVID-19 global summit in New York if he agrees to release vaccines soon, sources with direct knowledge of the high-level discussions told Axios.

Why it matters: India is the world's biggest vaccine maker. In March, Modi halted exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine — one of the cheapest on the market — because the virus was ravaging his own population.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Maybe we can ignore inflation expectations

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Just because we expect inflation to show up, doesn't mean it will. That's the message from an important new paper throwing cold water on a central tenet of monetary economics.

Why it matters: The Fed hikes interest rates when — and only when — it thinks inflation is otherwise going to be too high. That means it needs a formula to determine where it thinks inflation is going to be. But now a senior Fed economist is saying that the key ingredient in that formula "rests on extremely shaky foundations."

3 hours ago - Technology

Facebook: Metaverse won't "move fast and break things"

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook on Monday said it will invest $50 million over two years in global research and program partners to ensure its metaverse products "are developed responsibly."

Why it matters: "It's almost the opposite of that now long-abandoned slogan of 'move fast and break things,'" Facebook's VP of global affairs Nick Clegg told Axios in an interview at The Atlantic Festival Monday.