Newsletter April 25, 2018








Ahead of the informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan on April 27-28, India on Tuesday maintained its opposition to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that “respect for sovereignty is essential”, in a clear reference to BRI, since the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor passes through areas in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Sources in New Delhi said Modi and Xi would interact in a format of freewheeling exchanges, with strategic conversation to understand each other’s perspective on national and international matters. “There is no protocol, no across-the-table delegation-level talks,” say media reports.

Tempering expectations from the meeting, sources said no joint communique or statement is expected. This was confirmed by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou in Beijing. “Both sides have agreed not to sign an agreement or release any joint document, but reach important consensus to resolve outstanding issues,” said Kong. “The two leaders will have heart-to-heart discussions on overarching issues and try to build consensus to resolve outstanding differences.”

Asked whether the Doklam issue and the boundary dispute would figure in the talks, Kong said: “The two countries need to create conditions and trust between them to resolve the boundary issue,” he said.

Kong said both Xi and Modi have strategic vision and historical responsibility. “Both of them have been widely supported by their people. Both leaders have attached great importance to India-China relationship,” he said.

Meanwhile, speaking at the SCO defence ministers’ meeting, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “Arguments of political convenience to provide an alibi for terrorist organisations that support terrorism through material support or otherwise are no longer tolerable. Indeed, as the world has now realised, there are no good terrorists.”





Mounting a scathing attack on the Congress a day after Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu rejected the Opposition notice for a motion of impeachment of the Chief Justice of India, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Tuesday said the “object of the notice was not the passage of the motion but intimidation of India’s judiciary”.

He said there was “a growing tendency of lawyer Members (of Parliament) to drag intra court disputes into the parliamentary process”.

In a Facebook post headlined Why the Malafide Impeachment Motion was bound to fail?, Jaitley, who is also Leader of the House, said the Congress decision to challenge the rejection of the impeachment motion notice in the Supreme Court is “a suicidal future move of the Congress”. Cautioning the Opposition party, he wrote: “For the Congress party to carry forward its mistake of subjecting legislative processes to judicial review would be a blunder. The Parliament is supreme in its own jurisdiction. Its process cannot be subjected to judicial review.”

“The Congress party is capable of dragging the judges into an unsavoury controversy and make them controversial, should their judicial opinion not appear favorable in the cases in which the party has an interest. To any political analyst, it was clear that the impeachment motion would never get support of two-third majority in both Houses of Parliament. The Congress party knew this. Its object was not the passage of the motion but intimidation of India’s judiciary.”

Pointing out that an impeachment motion “was intended to be filed in the rarest of rare cases”, he said “these cases would include those where a ‘gross misconduct’ has been indulged in by a delinquent judge during his tenure as a judge. There has to be strong and hard evidence to substantiate this. Hearsay and rumours are not a substitute for evidence. The present impeachment motion has been filed on untenable grounds. It has been filed for collateral purpose to intimidate the Chief Justice of India and other judges of the highest judiciary.”





Triggering a controversy, senior Congress leader and former Union minister Salman Khurshid, while responding to a question on the communal riots that took place when the Congress was in power, admitted that “there is blood on our hands”.

Khurshid made the remarks while addressing students at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) on Sunday. While Khurshid on Tuesday accused the media of distorting his reply, the Congress said it “completely disagrees” with his statement.

The Congress said it disagreed with Khurshid. “Salman Khurshid is a senior leader. But as far as his statement is concerned, the Congress party completely disagrees with his statement. It may be his personal opinion. The Congress party has nothing to do with it,” party leader P L Punia told reporters at the AICC press conference.

Meanwhile, BJP spokesman Anil Baluni said: “Today seems to be that one day out of 365 when the Congress has decided to speak the truth. Salman Khurshid has admitted a dark truth of the Congress — that the Congress has the blood of Muslims on their hands. In fact, the Congress has the blood of all faiths on their hands. We saw the Qatl-e-Aam in 1984, we also saw, time and again, how their vote bank politics has led to the killing of several Hindus… The politics of pseudo secularism has its limitations and the Congress is realising this.”





Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said the promulgation of an ordinance on rape demonstrated his government’s determination to act on the issue, but stressed that people had to respect their daughters and make their sons more responsible for a safer atmosphere.

Modi also pitched for a social movement to ensure the safety of women and girls while the National Panchayati Raj Sammelan at Ramnagar in the tribal-dominated Mandla district.

“Shivraj ji (Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan) just referred to the capital punishment provided in the ordinance for rape against minors and I could see that it (the remark) received cheers from everyone present here,” he said.

“There is a government in Delhi which listens to your voice and takes decisions. So, the Centre has made a provision for capital punishment to the monstrous intent,” he said while referring to the recent ordinance.









Emmanuel Macron has called for a “new deal” with Iran after Donald Trump criticised the current nuclear agreement as “insane” and “ridiculous”.

The comments came ahead of a State Dinner at the White House, the culmination of a day which showcased the “bromance” between the two leaders. The French president said the deal should cover Iran’s ballistic missiles activity and involvement in the Middle East, including Syria, as well as nuclear issues.

The comments will not calm EU fears that Trump is preparing to rip up the existing Iran deal when it is up for renewal on May 12.

At a press conference after talks on Tuesday, Macron hinted that France and other supporters of the deal – such as Britain – must work on a new agreement. Macron said of the pair’s discussions on Iran: “It is not a mystery, we did not have the same starting stances and neither you nor I have a habit of changing our stances or going with the wind.”

He said the discussion had been “very frank”, adding: “We therefore wish, from now on, to work on a new deal with Iran.”

Mr Macron said four areas needed to be addressed: Iran’s nuclear programme before 2025, long-term nuclear ambitions, ballistic missile activities and involvement in the Middle East.





The Trump administration is planning to propose to end giving work permits to the spouses of H1-B visa holders to work legally in the US, a top federal agency official has told lawmakers. A formal communication is expected to be made later this summer, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Francis Cissna said in a letter to Senator Chuck Grassley.

The Trump administration’s move to end the Obama-era rule could have an impact on more than 70,000 H-4 visas holders, who have work permits.  H-4 is issued to the spouse of H-1B visa holders, a significantly large number of whom are high-skilled professionals from India. They had obtained work permits under a special order issued by the previous Obama administration.





As North and South Korea prepare for their first summit in more than a decade this Friday, there is something different in the air in Korean peninsula.

Korea has for decades been the site of the world’s largest annual military manoeuvres between the US and its ally South Korea. This year’s exercises began on April 1 and are expected to continue through the end of the month, possibly longer. Normally they begin in March or earlier.

At their height in the late 1980s, 2,00,000 troops participated in Team Spirit, making them the largest annual manoeuvres in the world. The head count for Foal Eagle/Key Resolve — as the exercises are known today was quite lower.

The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and its battle group, which joined in last year and drew a threat of “merciless, ultra-precision strikes” from the North, were absent.  The lower-key exercises have so far generated nothing like the heated threats of last year. Getting a postponement of the manoeuvres appears to have been South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s idea ahead of the meet.









In an encounter with the C-60 squad of the Maharashtra police and CRPF, at least 37 Maoists have been gunned down in the past 48 hours in the Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra. Several bloated bodies were pulled out of the Indravati River. The state security forces had on Sunday launched an aggressive assault on Maoists in Kasansur village of Gadchiroli, with continuous weapon firefight for nearly four hours claiming the lives of 16 ambushed Naxals.

On Monday night, 15 more ultra-left insurgents were gunned down in another fresh gunfight in the Kapewancha area in Rajaram Kahnhila village of Jimlagatta region, barely 36 hours after Sunday’s encounter. On early Tuesday, the C-60 commandos recovered 6 more bodies as part of their search operations. No police casualty was reported.

The bodies of the Maoists, which were bloated and had started to decompose, were found floating in the river which flows along the Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh border.

Maharashtra Director General of Police has attributed the success to “pinpointed intelligence” inputs that the C-60 commandos of the Maharashtra police were receiving during the intense operation.

A blow to Naxals’ rebellious activities in the region, this operation is the biggest anti-Maoist battle in over 38 years. The Gadchiroli district is among the worst affected by the Maoist insurgency.





The Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday asked Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana to tighten security and deploy additional forces ahead of the verdict by a Jodhpur court in a rape case against self-styled godman Asaram, an official said.

Asaram is accused of raping a teenage girl from Shahajahanpur of Uttar Pradesh, who was studying at the self-styled godman’s ashram at Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh.

In a communication, the Home Ministry told the three states to deploy additional forces in sensitive places and ensure that no violence takes place after the verdict. Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana have a large number of followers of Asaram.





Saroj Khan, who is one of Bollywood’s top choreographers, said that the casting couch is “age-old” and added: “At least the film industry gives work, doesn’t rape and abandon.” She later apologised for the comments but the damage was done.

Speaking to news agency PTI, Saroj Khan said: “I have already said I am sorry. But you don’t know the question that was asked… And now there’s so much ruckus.”

Sri Reddy, who recently staged a nude protest against the casting couch in Chennai, and Sophie Choudry condemned Saroj Khan’s statement. “I lost respect for you Saroj ma’am. It is giving a wrong indication that you have to be a slave to producers,” Sri Reddy told news agency ANI. Sophie Choudry countered Saroj Khan’s statement, in which she also said that artistes have a choice, and tweeted: “Nobody wants to sleep with someone for work. But they are made to feel it’s the only way and “acceptable”. And for those who don’t, it’s a tough road! This has to stop.”

Saroj Khan’s defence of the casting couch infuriated Twitter as well. “Who gave her the right to speak anything unjust and shameless like this?,” read one angry tweet. Another incensed Twitter user tweeted: “What’s wrong with this woman, has she lost it completely. How can she defend casting couch! It’s akin to defending rape!”





Former Rajya Sabha member and Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury on Tuesday waded into a controversy with her remarks that Parliament, like other workplaces, is not immune to sexual misconduct. Chowdhury also criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that he had “denigrated” her dignity when he said during a debate in the Rajya Sabha that she reminded him of a character in the television serial Ramayan.

“It is the bitter truth. The whole film industry may get up in arms against me. With women, it happens everywhere. So don’t imagine that Parliament is immune or some other work space is immune,” Chowdhury said while commenting on veteran Bollywood choreographer Saroj Khan’s comments defending casting couch culture in the Indian film industry.





Observing that the crime attributed to him prima facie appears grave and heinous, and not a “juvenile” offence, a local court in Kathua on Tuesday denied bail to the juvenile, who is among eight people arrested by police on charges of abduction, rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in the district earlier this year.

In his order, Chief Judicial Magistrate Amarjeet Singh Langeh pointed out, the law carves out an exception, recommending denial of bail to a juvenile in two scenarios: when his release would conceivably bring him into association with any known criminal or expose him to moral, physical, or psychological danger; and, second, when bail will have consequences of defeating the ends of justice.

“In the process of determination as to whether release of juvenile on bail would defeat ends of justice or not, factors like depravity or crime, its horrific nature and resultant public outrage, violence wrought on the victim and manner in which (a) child of flesh and blood was brutalized cannot be muffled,’’ the judge observed. On facts, he held, “it is held (that) scales of justice are hugely tilted against the application as of now”.





The Centre on Tuesday defended in the Supreme Court “hanging” as the most suitable mode of execution, rejecting the argument that it was barbaric and instead other methods such as shooting by a firing squad or lethal injection should be explored.

The government submitted an affidavit in response to a directive by a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra for its response on a PIL filed by advocate Rishi Malhotra seeking an end to hanging a convict. According to Malhotra, hanging is a cruel form of inflicting death through pain and violated one’s right to die with dignity as guaranteed in the Constitution.

Denying the petitioner’s contention, the government said: “Hanging is easy to assembly (a reference to the noose); quick and simple, free from anything that would unnecessarily sharpen the poignancy of the prisoner’s apprehension; quick and certain means to execute the death penalty; chances of accidents can safely be excluded as they were found to be minimal; eliminates the possibility of a lingering death and unconsciousness supervenes almost instantaneously after the process is set in motion and death follows.”





Sunrisers Hyderabad produced a stunning bowling performance under pressure as they defended a small total of 118 to beat holders Mumbai Indians by 31 runs in a low-scoring but engrossing IPL match.

Mumbai bowled out the visitors for a paltry 118 in 18.4 overs but then made a heavy weather of the modest target on a lively Wankhede track to be bowled out for the season’s lowest total of 87.

The visitors’ depleted bowling attack struck to their task brilliantly to bundle out the strong home team batting line-up in 18.5 overs as Mumbai slumped to their fifth defeat in six matches. This was the second lowest total defended in IPL history.

Itw as a fired-up Sunrisers’ attack – Leg-spinner Rashid Khan bagged two wickets along with Basil Thampi while medium pacer Sidharth Kaul grabbed three. Sandeep Sharma, Mohammed Nabi and Shakib Al Hasan took one wicket apiece.

The victory, the fourth for Sunrisers after their 6 matches, lifted them to the third spot on the table while MI remained rooted to their seventh spot with just two points from six games.





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People rarely succeed unless they are having fun at what they are doing. – Dale Carnegie





A big-game hunter went on safari with his wife and mother-in-law.  One evening, while still deep in the jungle, the Mrs awoke to find her mother gone.  Rushing to her husband, she insisted on them both trying to find her mother.

The hunter picked up his rifle, took a swig of whiskey, and started to look for her.  In a clearing not far from the camp, they came upon a chilling sight:  the mother-in-law was backed up against a thick, impenetrable bush, and a large male lion stood facing her.

The wife cried, “What are we going to do?”

“Nothing,” said the husband.  “The lion got himself into this mess, let him get himself out of it.”



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