Newsletter May 1, 2018








RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, a prisoner serving a sentence, on Monday saw a hint of political conspiracy in his discharge from AIIMS where he was recently admitted with a range of ailments.

“This is unjust. It is a conspiracy to ensure that my health deteriorates. I am being shifted to a place where there are no facilities. It is a tough time, but I will face it,” Lalu said after his discharge from the hospital.

The RJD chief, however, made it a point to put his grievance on record in a letter to AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria. In the letter, Lalu not only alleged political conspiracy in his “sudden” discharge, but also said AIIMS, New Delhi, would be responsible if something happened to him in transit or in AIIMS, Ranchi, where Lalu stands referred.

“I am down with heart problem, kidney problem and diabetes. I have backache and have fallen in the toilet. My blood pressure and sugar keep rising. I’m being treated for all these ailments here at AIIMS, New Delhi. I want to tell you that in Birsa Munda prison, Ranchi medical colleges and AIIMS-Ranchi there’s no arrangement to address kidney ailments. Every person has a right to health. I have no idea under the pressure of which political outfit or agency I am being discharged. You know I’m a prisoner and it takes 16 hours to reach Ranchi by train,” he said.

Lalu’s supporters even created ruckus in AIIMS, allegedly damaging a glass door of Cath Lab from the rear entrance and injured a hospital security guard. AIIMS later filed a complaint with police.

AIIMS, however, stood by its statement: “As per the advice of the medical board constituted for Lalu’s treatment, he is being referred back to Ranchi Medical College for management of his chronic issues. He is stable and fit to travel.”




The Supreme Court has berated the Centre for engaging in frivolous litigation at taxpayers’ expense and simultaneously seeking judicial reforms “in the garb of ease of doing business”.

“The website of the Department of Justice shows that the National Litigation Policy, 2010, is being reviewed and formulation of the National Litigation Policy, 2015, is under consideration. When this will be finalised is anybody’s guess….

“There is also an action plan to reduce government litigation which was formulated on 13th June, 2017. Nothing has been finalised by the Union of India for the last almost eight years and under the garb of ease of doing business, the judiciary is being asked to reform. The boot is really on the other leg,” a bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta said in a recent judgment.

The 2010 policy was intended at reducing the average litigation duration or “pendency time” from 15 years to three years.

“None of the pious platitudes in the National Litigation Policy have been followed,” Justice Lokur said, writing the judgment. The court was ruling in a case that underscored the need for two points in the action plan: avoid appeals in routine matters and quickly withdraw vexatious litigation.

“Unfortunately, the Union of India has learnt no lesson and has continued its non-cooperative attitude. The Union of India must appreciate that by pursuing frivolous or infructuous cases, it is adding to the burden of this court and collaterally harming other litigants…,” Justice Lokur said.

The court noted that for the batch of appeals on the same issue, the Centre had engaged the services of 10 lawyers. “The real question is: when will the Rip Van Winkleism stop and Union of India wake up to its duties and responsibilities to the justice delivery system?”




Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Monday made light of government claim of 100 per cent rural electrification saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi was taking credit for electrifying just 18,000 villages.

Addressing a gathering of the Indian Youth Congress, Chidambaram said the claim was a complete farce.

“What are they saying? There are 5.97 lakh villages in the country. Around 1,000 days ago, Modi announced there are 18,000 villages that have not been electrified and that I will electrify these villages in the next 1,000 days. Let us assume he did this. But who electrified the remaining 5.8 lakh villages? Those villages were not electrified in last 1,000 days. They were electrified by previous governments. He comes in, electrifies the last 18,000 villages and says it is a great achievement. I have electrified all villages…It is like somebody makes ice-cream and puts it in a cup and someone comes and puts a cherry on it and says I made this ice-cream,” he said.




The meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Wuhan on April 27-28 could result in “coordinated patrolling” and “sticking to mandated protocol” along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by troops of either side.

Aimed at reducing tension along the LAC, these two steps along with the setting up of a telephonic hotline at the level of Director-General Military Operations (DGMO) could form the new set of rules for troops on either side of the LAC, the de facto boundary along the Himalayan ridgeline.

An Indian statement from Wuhan said the two leaders asked the militaries to build “trust” and have a mechanism to “prevent” incidents in the border regions. It further spoke of enhancing predictability and effectiveness in the management of border affairs.

A coordinated patrol would mean giving advance information to one another when patrol parties enter disputed areas along the LAC.

The matter of setting up a DGMO-level hotline was revived at a meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs in Beijing in November last year. The two sides have coordinated on how to have a Mandarin-to-English translator in India and the reverse of it in China.







Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Iran had lied about not pursuing nuclear weapons and had continued to preserve and expand its nuclear weapons knowledge after signing a 2015 deal with global powers.

“Iran’s leaders repeatedly deny ever pursuing nuclear weapons,” said Netanyahu. “Tonight I’m here to tell you one thing: Iran lied.”

“After signing the nuclear deal in 2015, Iran intensified its efforts to hide its secret files,” he said. “In 2017, Iran moved its nuclear weapons files to a highly secret location in Tehran.”

Netanyahu said that Iran continued to preserve and expand its nuclear weapons knowledge for future use. He also said his government has obtained “half a ton” of secret Iranian documents proving the Tehran government once had a nuclear weapons program.

Iran has denied ever seeking nuclear weapons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and French leader Emmanuel Macron on Monday called for the “strict observance” of the current Iran nuclear accord, with U.S. President Donald Trump still deciding whether to scrap the agreement.

“The Presidents of Russia and France spoke in favour of keeping the Plan and its strict observance,” the Kremlin said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The statement was released after Macron called Putin to inform him of his talks with Trump in the United States.




After Facebook, another major social media outlet, Twitter has now been caught up in the data scandal involving Cambridge Analytica.

Aleksandr Kogan, who created tools for Cambridge Analytica that allowed the political consultancy to psychologically profile and target voters, bought the data from Twitter in 2015, before the recent scandal came to light.

Kogan had established Global Science Research (GSR), which was granted access to Twitter data. The academic said the information had only been used to create “brand reports” and “survey extender tools” and that he had not violated Twitter’s policies.

Kogan bought tweets, usernames, photos, profile pictures and location data from Twitter over a five-month period between December 2014 and April 2015 through his GSR.





US President Donald Trump suggested on Monday that his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un be held in the truce village that straddles the border separating the two Koreas.

Trump has previously listed the number of locations under consideration for the historic summit, which would be the first between a sitting US president and a leader of North Korea, but this is his first public comment on a potential site.




Pakistani-origin MP Sajid Javid was on Monday appointed as Britain’s new Home Secretary, hours after his predecessor Amber Rudd resigned after admitting that she had “inadvertently misled” Parliament over the existence of deportation targets for immigrants.

The resignation of 52-year-old Rudd, a key ally of May, followed weeks of pressure ever since her statement to the Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee denying knowledge of any targets to remove illegal migrants from the UK.

Leaked memos and letters in the media seemed to contradict her claims, resulting in her decision to step down.

Javid, the son of a Pakistani bus driver whose family migrated to Britain in the 1960s, was promoted from his Cabinet post of Communities, Local Government and Housing minister.

The 48-year-old former investment banker becomes the first South Asian origin MP to hold the key portfolio in the UK Cabinet.








The rape of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua’s Rasana village, which sparked outrage across the country, is a “minor issue” and giving the case “too much importance” is “not the right thing” to do, according to J&K’s new Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Kavinder Gupta.

Gupta was the J&K Speaker before swapping posts with Nirmal Singh in a reshuffle directed by the party.

On Monday, among the eight legislators inducted to the Council of ministers were BJP state president Sat Sharma and Kathua MLA Rajiv Jasrotia.

In February, Sat Sharma had sent two BJP ministers at the time, Chander Parkash Ganga and Lal Singh, to address a rally of protesters who had gathered under the Hindu Ektya Manch, a new outfit, to back the accused in the rape case and demand a CBI probe. The two later resigned after the visit sparked controversy. Jasrotia was also present at the gathering.

Reacting to the new appointments, former chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah posted on Twitter: “2 BJP ministers removed in J&K for attending a pro-rapist rally & a MLA who is reported to have attended the same rally is promoted as a minister. Why are the BJP/ @MehboobaMufti confused about where they stand on the #Kathua rape?’’

BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav responded that both ministers had resigned on their own “on high moral grounds” after the “wrong impression” was created about their presence at the rally.

Kavinder Gupta, who replaced Singh, is a first-time MLA from Gandhi Nagar but an old BJP and RSS hand.

Sat Sharma and Jasrotia are first-time MLAs from Jammu West and Kathua, respectively.

With the latest reshuffle, the PDP and BJP have filled the quota of 25 members in the Council of Ministers. The PDP has 12 Cabinet ministers and two ministers of state. The BJP has nine Cabinet ministers and two ministers of state.





Two Dalit-related developments have unnerved the BJP as election campaigning is gathering momentum for the Karnataka Assembly polls next week.

Pictures have emerged of police recruits in Madhya Pradesh with the abbreviations “SC” (Scheduled Caste) or “ST” (Scheduled Tribe) scrawled on their chests with felt-tip pens during a medical examination in a government hospital on Saturday.

At Una in Gujarat, another BJP-ruled state, the Dalits who were flogged by cow vigilantes embraced Buddhism on Sunday.

The BJP fears the back-to-back incidents will have an impact in Karnataka, where Dalits constitute the single largest chunk of voters (around 18 per cent). The party managers fear the incidents could reaffirm the anti-Dalit image that the Opposition has been seeking to saddle the BJP with.

On the chest-stamping, the BJP maintained silence, even letting Rahul Gandhi attack the party without a repartee – a rare occurrence. BJP insiders said they had very little to say in defence and so had chosen to sidestep the issue.

On the campaign trail in Karnataka, BJP chief Amit Shah chose to attack Rahul for calling on the convicted Lalu Prasad at the AIIMS but did not refer to the two incidents.




In comprehensive recommendations to the task force set up by the government to redraft the over 50-year-old income tax law, PwC India has made a case for reducing compliances for non-residents to promote the ease of doing business in India.

In November last year, the government had constituted a task force to redraft the Income Tax Act, 1961 in sync with the economic needs of the country.

In its recommendations, PwC India said multiple levy of tax on the same transaction increases the cost of transactions and makes the Indian capital market unattractive to investors. “There should be a single tax levy (either securities transaction tax (STT) or capital gains tax) instead of the current regime of levying both taxes,” it said.

The tax consultancy firm further stressed the simplification of compliance obligations and said there should a single return for income-tax and withholding tax could be made to allow for one consolidated assessment.

On reducing compliances for non-residents, it opined that if full taxes have been withheld, they should be exempt from filing tax returns in India. This regime is available only for dividend and interest incomes.




The co-founder of WhatsApp, a messaging service owned by Facebook Inc with more than 1 billion daily users, said on Monday he was leaving the company, in a loss of one of the strongest advocates for privacy inside Facebook.

Jan Koum’s plan to exit comes after clashing with the parent company over WhatApp’s strategy and Facebook’s attempts to use its personal data and weaken its encryption, the Washington Post earlier reported, citing people familiar with the internal discussions.

Facebook has battled European regulators over a plan to use WhatsApp user data, including phone numbers, to develop products and target ads. The plan is suspended, but WhatsApp said last week it still wanted to move forward eventually.

Stanford alumnus Brian Acton and Ukrainian immigrant jan Koum co-founded WhatsApp in 2009. Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014 for $19 billion in cash and stock.




It was touted to be the biggest Hollywood release of the year and Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War has started off its campaign at the Indian box office in line with the expectations. At Rs 943 million over the first weekend (Friday through Sunday) since its release on April 27, Infinity War has become the second biggest opener of the year, Bollywood and Hollywood included, in India. It is second only to Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat, which raked in Rs 1.14 billion over the first weekend of its release.

Released in 2000 screens, among the highest ever for a Hollywood release in the country, Infinity War set the cash registers ringing with Rs 313 million on its opening day, followed by Rs 305 million on Saturday and a Rs 325 million haul on Sunday. This makes it the biggest Hollywood opener ever, even ahead of 2016’s The Jungle Book which collected Rs 402 million in its first weekend. The Jungle Book, also a Disney film, went on to make Rs 1.88 billion at the Indian box office, and to become the most successful Hollywood film India ever.

“The opening weekend numbers are a testament to Avengers: Infinity War creating a cinematic milestone. The success goes to show the ever increasing fan base and the pop culture phenomena that Marvel as a brand enjoys in India,” says Bikram Duggal, head of studio entertainment, Disney India.

The film has also benefitted from the fact that there is no significant Bollywood film running in the theatres currently. Baaghi 2 has run its course while films like October are fairly niche in their appeal. Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor starrer 102 not out releases on May 4, but that too may not be much competition for Infinity War since it’s a different genre which may well complement the Hollywood superhero flick.




Shane Watson and MS Dhoni scored scintillating half-centuries to set up a 13-run win over Delhi Daredevils, in Pune yesterday. Watson (78 off 40) and Dhoni (51not out off 22) gave a masterclass in power hitting to fire Super Kings to 211/4 after Daredevils opted to field on a good batting surface.

Needing more than 10 per over put scoreboard pressure on the visitors and they wilted under pressure. Delhi kept losing wickets in the chase and at 74/4 in ninth over, it seemed all over for them. However, Rishabh Pant (79 off 45) and Vijay Shankar (51* off 31) took Daredevils close to the target but it was not enough as they ended at 198/5.

Super Kings pacer Lungi Ngidi impressed on his IPL debut, ending with figures of 1/26 in four overs.

It was Delhi’s sixth loss in eight games and they are all but out of the playoff race. With a sixth win in eight games, CSK reclaimed their position at the top of the points table. They are tied on 12 points with Sunrisers Hyderabad but have a better run rate.





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Pak Re 115.13 /US$, Phil Peso 51.69 /US$, Russian Rouble 62.73 /US$, NZ$ 1.41 /US$, Thai Baht 31.49 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 26.08 /US$

Bitcoin – USD 9,287

Dollar Index 91.63 Brent Crude 74.86  BDI 1361

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,313 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 3178 / 2980, Silver (Rs. Per KG) 42,300




I don’t pity any man who does hard work worth doing. I admire him. I pity the creature who doesn’t work, at whichever end of the social scale he may regard himself as being. – Theodore Roosevelt


In a hat shop a saleslady gushed: “That’s the hat for you! It makes you look ten years younger.”

“Then I don’t want it,” retorted the matronly customer. “I certainly can’t afford to put on ten years every time I take off my hat!”

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