Newsletter May 9, 2018










Ticking off the Centre that it was in “sheer contempt” of court by not acting on its ruling on the Cauvery river water matter, the Supreme Court Tuesday directed the Secretary, Union Ministry for Water Resources, to appear before it on May 14 with the draft of the Cauvery management scheme drawn up by the government.

“By now, the authority should have framed the scheme. It can’t go on like this. What you have done is sheer contempt,” a three-judge bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud told Attorney General K K Venugopal when he sought more time, on behalf of the Centre, to finalise the draft scheme.

Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for the Tamil Nadu government, told the bench that “we have been taken for a ride by the Centre on one pretext or another”.

Venugopal said the draft was before the Cabinet but had not been ratified yet as the Prime Minister and others were busy with the Karnataka assembly elections. The issue was a very sensitive one and had even led to riots in the past, Venugopal said, adding that this was one reason why the Centre had sought time to implement it after the elections.

Naphade sought to know if the government was afraid of implementing the Supreme Court order fearing violence. The Attorney General replied “we will like to avoid it, if avoidable” and referred to the deaths which happened in the wake of the Supreme Court’s March 20 order stopping automatic arrests for offences under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.





Speaking at an interaction in Bengaluru, at the inauguration of Samrudha Foundation, a think-tank “to propagate liberal, secular and republican values’’, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said that a convergence of Opposition parties will lead to the downfall of the BJP in the next Lok Sabha polls.

“As a political analyst, I will tell you — you may laugh over what I say — that it is highly unlikely that the BJP will form the next government. And it is close to impossible that Narendra Modi will be the Prime Minister of India (after next polls),’’ Rahul said. “The deadliest thing in Indian politics is Opposition unity — it will smash everything in its path. Mr Rajiv Gandhi had 415 seats and 40 per cent of the vote (in 1984 elections), but he could not withstand Opposition unity.”

Asked whether he could become the Prime Minister in 2019, Rahul said it would depend on the Congress’s performance. “If the Congress party is the biggest party, sure I will be,’’ he said. Rahul said that all Opposition parties had resolved to “remove the BJP and RSS from power’’.

Answering a question on how long he expects the Congress to be in political wilderness, Rahul said, “An opposition alliance in UP — whether it is (of) three parties or two parties — will ensure that the BJP does not get more than five seats. The BSP, SP and Congress are at 70 per cent (vote-share). That will take the BJP straight to 200.

“At 200 (Lok Sabha seats for BJP), Mr Modi is not going to be the Prime Minister because no ally will support him — they will favour Mr (Nitin) Gadkari or somebody else. That is the math.”

If you do the math, in the entire northern belt the Congress ended up with practically zero seats last time. (But) there is no way we are getting less than 20 seats in Rajasthan; there is no way we are getting two seats in MP — we will win in MP — and there is no way we will get one seat in Chhattisgarh…. If you remove UP and Bihar, you have a BJP that is unlikely to win the election.”





Two Congress MPs, who challenged Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu’s decision to reject a notice of motion for removal of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, on Tuesday withdrew their petition after a five-Judge Constitution Bench refused to give them a copy of the administrative order placing their petition before a Constitution Bench.

“The petition is dismissed as withdrawn,” said the five-Judge Constitution Bench headed by Justice AK Sikri after hearing arguments from senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the petitioners, and Attorney General KK Venugopal.

Venugopal contended that only two of the 64 MPs had come to the court against the Rajya Sabha Chairman’s order, which meant the rest of the MPs had accepted the order rejecting the notice for motion to remove the CJI.

The Attorney General said only one of the seven political parties had approached the court against the rejection order and the rest six parties had accepted the Rajya Sabha Chairman’s order.

The Bench kept persuading Sibal to proceed with his arguments on the merits of the case without getting into the procedural aspects, particularly about the manner of listing of the case.

But Sibal was adamant on seeing the copy of the order to place the petition before a Constitution Bench.

As the Bench refused to share the administrative order, Sibal said, “Then we will withdraw the petition.”

“Dismissed as withdrawn,” said the Bench.





Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Tuesday that there was no tension between India and China as both the neighbours “are now talking and meeting each other”.

She was referring to last month’s informal summit Prime Minister Narendra Modi held with Chinese President Xi Jinping and visits by her and foreign minister Sushma Swaraj to that country. “There is no tension between the two neighbours. We are talking and meeting each other. That is a big change,” Sitharaman told reporters after inaugurating the bi-annual commanders’ conference in New Delhi.

Her statement comes against the backdrop of India’s rising concerns over the increased militarisation in the Indian Ocean where China is expanding its presence.









US President Donald Trump on Tuesday pulled out of the landmark nuclear deal with Iran, an Obama-era accord which he has repeatedly criticised.

“It is clear to me that we cannot prevent Iran’s nuclear bomb. The Iran deal is defective at its core. Therefore, I am announcing today that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal,” Trump said.

Moments later he signed a fresh set of sanctions against Iran and warned countries against any cooperation with Iran on its nuclear weapons programme.

Ever since his election campaign, Trump has frequently criticised the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA.

The Iran nuclear deal was reached in Vienna in July 2015 between Iran and the P5 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council) plus Germany and the European Union.

Trump’s announcement was hailed by Washington’s principal allies in the Middle East, Israel and Saudi Arabia, both sworn foes of Iran.

Under the deal, Iran curbed its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of most sanctions imposed on the country.





Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that Iran would remain committed to the multinational nuclear deal despite US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from it.

“If we achieve the deal’s goals in cooperation with other members of the deal, it will remain in place… By exiting the deal, America has officially undermined its commitment to an international treaty,” Rouhani said in a televised speech.

Europe will stand by the international nuclear accord with Iran, EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a live press statement in Rome on Tuesday. “The EU is determined to preserve it,” she said. “We expect the rest of the international community to continue to preserve it, for the sake of collective security.” “The nuclear accord belongs to the whole of the international community,” Mogherini added.

“We will work collectively on a broader framework, covering (Iran’s) nuclear activity, the post-2025 period, ballistic activity, and stability in the Middle-East, notably Syria, Yemen, and Iraq,” said Emmanuel Macron, French President

“Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal is misguided. I believe that the decision to put the JCPOA at risk without any Iranian violation of the deal is a serious mistake,” said Barack Obama, former US President





In further trouble to Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s top anti-corruption body on Tuesday ordered a probe against the embattled former Prime Minister and others for allegedly laundering USD 4.9 billion to India, media reports said.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in a press release said its Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal took notice of reports making rounds on news channels claiming that Sharif allegedly laundered USD 4.9 billion to India. The statement claims that the amount was laundered to the Indian Finance Ministry after which Indian foreign exchange reserves witnessed an increase and Pakistan suffered as a result.

Sharif is facing three corruption cases at the accountability court following the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papers case. An NAB inquiry is also under way against him for alleged illegal expansion of a road leading to his estate in Lahore’s Jati Umra locality.

Once formulated, this will be the fifth case against the ousted premier by the NAB.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan had disqualified Sharif last year, forcing the three-time prime minister to resign. Sharif has dismissed the corruption charges as politically motivated.









On Monday, 22-year-old R Thirumani, who was travelling with his parents to a resort in Gulmarg, was hit on the left of his head by a stone during a protest at Narbal on the outskirts of Srinagar. He was admitted to a hospital where he succumbed to injuries.

Thirumani’s father Rajavel, who works at the Avadi Ordnance Factory, said the incident took place on the third day of their Kashmir tour, soon after they set out for sightseeing in the morning.

Rajavel said the Tavera in which he and his family were travelling, came to a halt at a place where other vehicles had also stopped. “We were waiting to move, when suddenly the stones started flying.. I was sitting next to the driver and screamed for everyone to duck. That’s how my daughter escaped, she was sitting by the window behind the driver. My son was sitting behind me. He didn’t duck,” he said.

“The left side of his face was completely smashed, his jaw, teeth and nose were broken. There was a huge pool of blood under him. So many strangers came forward to help. They offered money for treatment, gave me their numbers. I am thankful to them. At the hospital, everyone was very helpful, but my son was already gone. They tried their best,” said Rajavel.

“This was the work of a few men gone wild. That is what I told the J&K Chief Minister, too. She asked for my forgiveness. It was good of her to come and see me,” said Rajavel.





Embattled liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, undergoing an extradition trial in a UK court over fraud and money laundering charges by Indian authorities, yesterday lost a lawsuit filed by 13 Indian banks in the UK High Court seeking to collect from him more than $ 1.55 billion.

Judge Andrew Henshaw refused to overturn a worldwide order freezing Mallya’s assets and upheld an Indian court’s ruling that a consortium of 13 Indian banks were entitled to recover funds amounting to nearly $ 1.55 billion. The victory for the banks will enable them to enforce the Indian judgment against Mallya’s assets in England and Wales.

The worldwide freezing order prevents him from removing any assets from England and Wales up to that value or to in any way dispose of, deal with or diminish the value of his assets in or outside of this jurisdiction, up to the same value. The claim brought by 13 Indian banks was heard in the High Court last month.

The claim relates to a judgment of the Debt Recovery Tribunal in Karnataka, which concluded that Mallya was “liable” to the banks in the sum of INR 62,033,503,879.42 plus interest.

Mallya’s defence team has been deposing a series of expert witnesses to try and establish that the default by Kingfisher Airlines was the result of business failure within a wider context of a global financial crisis and that its owner had no “fraudulent” intentions.





The government on Tuesday opened for bidding the biggest city gas distribution licensing round, offering 86 permits for selling CNG and piped cooking gas in 174 districts in 22 states and UTs.

As many as 86 geographical areas (GAs), made by clubbing adjacent districts, are on offer in the 9th city gas distribution bidding round, according to oil regulator Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB).

The GAs cover 24% of the country’s area and 29% of its population, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said at a roadshow organised here to promote the round.

The round is likely to attract an investment of Rs 70,000 crore, a PNGRB presentation made at the roadshow said. The last day for bidding is July 10. Pradhan said the government is targeting to raise share of natural gas in the primary energy basket to 15% from current 6%, in next few years.





Google opened its annual developer conference known as I/O with a keynote led by CEO Sundar Pichai at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. For Google, I/O is its most important conference, which sets the tone of future products for the year. Android P, a more powerful Google Assistant, revamped Google News app and new features to Maps, Google Lens were the major announcements. However, the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) on powering many of these products was clear in the keynote.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai opened the keynote by pointing out how ML and AI tools from the company were helping in areas like medicine and healthcare. But he was also clear that one needs to address some serious questions about the impact of technology on society. “It’s equally clear that we can’t just be wide-eyed about what we create. There are very real and important questions being raised about the impact of technology and the role it will play in our lives,” said Pichai in the opening part of his keynote.

“We know the path ahead needs to be navigated carefully and deliberately—and we feel a deep sense of responsibility to get this right. It’s in that spirit that we’re approaching our core mission,” he added.





Surrounded by her close-knit family, Sonam Kapoor today tied the knot with her longtime beau Anand Ahuja in an intimate yet lavish ceremony befitting a Bollywood star.

The couple got married according to Sikh ceremony, Anand Karaj, at Sonam’s maternal aunt’s bungalow in Bandra.

At the ceremony, cousins Arjun and Ranveer Singh sang a hip hop version of Sonam’s chartbuster “Masakali” from “Delhi 6”.

Sonam’s other family members including uncles Boney and Sanjay Kapoor, Boney’s daughter Anshula, Janhvi and Khushi and Sanjay’s daughter Shanaya and son Jahaan were a part of the celebration.

From Bollywood, megastar Amitabh Bachchan, son Abhishek and daughter Shweta were among the first ones to arrive at the venue. Karan Johar, Saif Ali Khan, who arrived with wife Kareena Kapoor and son Taimur, Karisma Kapoor, Rani Mukerji, Jacqueline Fernandez, Swara Bhasker, Javed Akhtar, designer Masaba Gupta, Aamir Khan, wife Kiran Rao and elder son Junaid were also spotted at the wedding.





India announced a 15-man squad for a Test match against Afghanistan which will be played from June 14-18, 2018, in Bengaluru. Ajinkya Rahane has been handed the captaincy as Virat Kohli decided to skip this match for County cricket in England. Apart from Kohli, other top stars of Indian cricket including R Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara are included in the squad.

India squad for Afghanistan Test: Ajinkya Rahane (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Karun Nair, Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Shardul Thakur

India squad for the T20Is against Ireland and England: Virat Kohli(c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Siddarth Kaul

India squad for England ODI series: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni(wk), Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Siddarth Kaul, Umesh Yadav





Jos Buttler’s 85-run knock helped Rajasthan Royals beat Kings XI Punjab by 15 runs to stay afloat in the Indian Premier League.

Batting first in a must-win game, Rajasthan Royals scored only 158/8 despite Jos Buttler’s 58-ball 82 at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium. Royals, however, fought back with the ball as they restricted Kings XI Punjab to 143/7 in their stipulated 20 overs.

With this win, Royals (4 wins out of 10) have now moved to the sixth place, while KXIP (6 wins out of 10) remain in the third position.





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Pak Re 115.32 /US$, Phil Peso 51.88 /US$, Russian Rouble 63.15 /US$, NZ$ 1.43 /US$, Thai Baht 31.86 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 26.10 /US$

Bitcoin – USD 9,264.44

Dollar Index 92.95 Brent Crude 76.65  BDI 1384

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,311 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 3162 / 2974, Silver (Rs. Per KG) 43,000





Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen. – John Steinbeck





Every Monday morning for years, at about 11:30 am, the telephone operator in a small Sierra-Nevada town received a call from a man asking the exact time.

One day the operator summed-up the nerve to ask him why the regularity.

“I’m foreman of the local sawmill,” he explained. “Every day, I have to blow the whistle at noon, so I call you to get the exact time.”

The operator giggled, “That’s really funny,” she said. “All this time, we’ve been setting our clock by your whistle.”



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