Newsletter May 12, 2018










Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a two-day visit to Nepal, on Friday along with his Nepalese counterpart K P Sharma Oli jointly inaugurated a direct bus service between Janakpur and Ayodhya, a move that connects Lord Rama’s birthplace Ayodhya with goddess Sita’s birthplace Janakpur. The move is a part of “Ramayan Tourism Circuit” theme, which promises to boost the tourism sector, both in Nepal and India. PM Modi, speaking during the launch, termed the move as ‘historic’ and highlighted the religious significance of the two ancient cities. He said, “India and Nepal will work towards building ‘Ramayan’ circuit between both the countries. This will act as foundation for strong people to people contact between the two nations.”

PM Modi noted the importance of strengthening bilateral ties between the two nations. Pointing out Nepal’s achievement in the field of power generation, PM Modi said, “Trade between India and Nepal is also an important link of relationships. Today, India supplies about 450 MW of electricity to Nepal. We laid new transmission lines for Nepal.”

Prime Minister Modi assured that Nepal is at the top of India’s Neighbourhood First policy and also announced a Rs 100 crore package to develop Janakpur.

Speaking at a civic reception in Janakpur, PM Modi said, “Whenever there has been a problem, India and Nepal have stood together. We have been there for each other in the most difficult of times.”

This is the third visit of Prime Minister Modi to Nepal and the first high-level visit from India since the formation of the new government in Nepal this year.





Supreme Court Collegium on Friday unanimously agreed in principle to reiterate the recommendation to elevate Uttarakhand Chief Justice K M Joseph as an apex court judge. The Collegium, comprising of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, made the decision during an hour-long meeting which was held after the recommendation was returned by the Centre.

Besides this, the Collegium also decided to recommend names of other judges for elevation to the top court. On May 2, the Collegium had discussed the matter of elevation of judges from Calcutta, Rajasthan, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh “in view of the concept of fair representation”.

“The Chief Justice and other members of the Collegium have, on principle, unanimously agreed that the recommendation for appointment of Justice K M Joseph, Chief Justice, Uttarakhand High Court [Parent High Court: Kerala] as a Judge of the Supreme Court should be reiterated,” the Collegium, in a resolution, said It added, “However, the said reiteration should also be accompanied by the recommendation of the names of Chief Justices of High Courts for elevation as Judges of the Supreme Court, for which detailed discussion is required.”

The next meeting has been slated for May 16. “In view of the aforesaid, the meeting stands deferred for being held at 4.15 PM on Wednesday, May 16, 2018,” it said.

The apex court is functioning with 24 judges out of a total strength of 31; four judges are expected to retire this year.





After weeks of high-voltage campaigning, which saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi often trade charges, Karnataka will vote today to elect a new government.

Seen as a precursor to polls in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh later this year, the ruling Congress attempts to retain the only large state other than Punjab and the BJP hopes to form the government in south India for the second time. The JD(S), fighting for political relevance, completes the three-cornered contest in Karnataka and may well play the kingmaker in the event of a hung assembly.

No government has won a second term in Karnataka since 1985. Then, the Janata Dal under Ramakrishna Hegde had retained power.

A day before voting, Congress Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was confident. “I am often told history is against me as no sitting government in Karnataka has been re-elected in a long time. But we are here to create history and not to obey it,” he tweeted.

Polling will be held in 222 constituencies of the 224-member Assembly after elections in two constituencies were countermanded. In Jayanagara, following the death of BJP candidate and sitting MLA B N Vijaykumar and in Rajrajeshwari Nagar after the Election Commission said there is “definite inference” to suggest that efforts were made to induce voters.





With Bangladesh leaning on India for support on the Rohingya issue, New Delhi has moved a step forward and, for the first time, called for “safe, speedy and sustainable” return of the refugees to Rakhine State in Myanmar.

This assumes significance as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina are scheduled to meet in Shantiniketan in West Bengal later this month.

India’s new and more robust position was conveyed to Myanmar’s top leadership by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during her two-day visit to Myanmar that concluded on Friday.

This has been the most emphatic statement by the Indian government on the Rohingya refugees since last September, and represents a nuanced evolution in India’s position. This is also a sharp, but gradual shift from what Prime Minister Modi had said last year. During his visit to Myanmar in September last year, Modi had referred to the “extremist violence in Rakhine State” in his prepared statement after a bilateral meeting with Suu Kyi. “We are partners in your concerns over the loss of lives of security forces and innocent people due to the extremist violence in Rakhine State,” he had said.









France’s finance minister says European countries should push back harder against the Trump administration over the Iran nuclear deal and not act as “vassals” to the US.

Bruno Le Maire said on Friday that Europe should not accept that the US is the “world’s economic policeman.” He wants European companies to be able to continue trade with Iran despite US President Donald Trump’s decision this week to re-impose sanctions.

As a result of the new US sanctions, companies worldwide must stop doing business with Iran or risk US fines or other punishment.

“Do we want to be vassals who obey decisions taken by the United States while clinging to the hem of their trousers?” Le Maire asked.

“Or do we want to say we have our economic interests, we consider we will continue to do trade with Iran?” European and American companies could lose billions of dollars in commercial deals struck since the 2015 Iranian nuclear accord, and lose access to a major new export market.

Merkel took a more measured tone. “This is a serious event, we have to say that, but it is not a reason to call into question the entire trans-Atlantic partnership,” she said during an appearance Friday in the western German city of Muenster.





Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken with Germany’s Angela Merkel and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a bid to keep the Iran nuclear deal alive after the US decision to withdraw, the Kremlin said today.

Putin has previously voiced “deep concern” over US President Donald Trump’s decision and Russian officials have said they would work with European partners to preserve the agreement.

“The importance of preserving the deal from a point of view of international and regional stability was highlighted,” the Kremlin said in a statement following a call between Putin and Merkel.

The two leaders also discussed the situation in Syria as well as Merkel’s planned working visit to Russia next week, Moscow said.

Merkel has previously said Germany and its European partners would “do everything” to ensure Iran remains in the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

The Russian president also spoke with his Turkish counterpart Erdogan, with the pair saying Trump was “wrong” to pull out of the accord, according to a Turkish presidential source late yesterday.





Malaysia’s newly-elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Friday that the country’s monarch has indicated he was willing to grant a full royal pardon to jailed politician Anwar Ibrahim immediately.

The Southeast Asian nation’s political landscape has been shaped for decades by a bitter feud between Anwar and Mahathir, whose decision to sack Anwar as his deputy sparked an opposition movement, Reformasi, or Reform, in 1998.

But in 2016, Mahathir abandoned the long-ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, and joined Anwar’s opposition alliance to fight against scandal-hit former premier Najib Razak.

“It is going to be a full pardon, which means not only pardoned, but he is released immediately and after that he will be free to participate fully in politics,” Mahathir told reporters a day after he was sworn to office following his alliance’s shock win in Wednesday’s election.

Mahathir said the king indicated he was willing to pardon Anwar immediately. A full pardon by the king would mean Anwar can return to active politics.

Before the election, Mahathir had said he would step down and give the prime minister’s post to Anwar when he is pardoned. He has said Anwar’s wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail will be the deputy prime minister in his cabinet.

Mahathir said he would announce a cabinet on Saturday that would include himself, Wan Azizah and 10 others, including the ministers for finance, foreign affairs, defence and home affairs.









Maharashtra Additional Director General of Police Himanshu Roy, who handled several high profile cases, committed suicide Friday at his south Mumbai house by shooting himself with a licensed revolver.

Police said Roy (54), who was battling bone cancer and had a relapse, was on sick leave since 2016 and had visited the United States for treatment. According to the police, Roy shot himself with his revolver at his residence — Suniti building in Nariman Point — while he was alone in his bedroom around 1 pm. His wife, Bhawna was in the adjoining room.

A 1988-batch IPS officer Roy’s cases included the alleged Rs 5,600 crore payment scam at the National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL) and the 2013 IPL betting racket in which he arrested former ICC chairman N Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan. As chief of the Mumbai Crime Branch, he also headed the probe on the murder of journalist Jyotrimoy Dey.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Maharashtra Governor C H Vidyasagar Rao said his death was a loss for the state police force.





Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb came in for fresh criticism after he said Rabindranath Tagore had rejected his Nobel prize in protest against the British government. The opposition was quick to react to the chief minister’s folly.

Tagore never returned the Nobel Prize for Literature, which was conferred on him for his work ‘Gitanjali’ in 1913. He had renounced the British Knighthood in 1919 in protest against the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

The Tripura chief minister has been riding waves of controversy with a slew of remarks such as the existence of the Internet during the Mahabharata war, whether 1994 Miss World Diana Hayden should be considered an Indian beauty and the questionability of mechanical engineers joining the civil services.





Amid the controversy over Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s portrait in the students’ union hall of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Savitri Bai Phoole, the BJP MP from Bahraich, on Friday called Pakistan’s founding father a “mahapurush” — a great man — for his contribution to India’s freedom struggle, and said Jinnah must be respected in a secular India.

The controversy over Jinnah’s portrait started recently after BJP MP from Aligarh, Satish Gautam, wrote to the AMU administration and asked why a portrait of Jinnah was in the students’ union hall on the university’s campus. Last week, some activists of Hindu Jagran Manch allegedly barged into AMU campus and demanded that the portrait be taken down. AMU students subsequently sat on a dharna demanding action against those activists. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had told a news channel last week that Jinnah cannot be respected in India, and that the country cannot accept his glorification.





A victim of gangrape in any part of the country would now get a minimum compensation of Rs 5 lakh.

This is part of a scheme proposed by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) on compensating the victims of sexual assaults and acid attacks, which was approved on Friday by the Supreme Court, which directed that it would be applicable across the country.

As per the “Compensation Scheme for Women Victims/Survivors of Sexual Assault/Other Crimes-2018”, in case of rape and unnatural sexual assault, the victim would get a minimum of Rs 4 lakh and maximum of Rs 5 lakh as compensation.

The scheme says that victim of acid attacks, in case of disfigurement of face, would get a minimum compensation of Rs 7 lakh, while the upper limit would be Rs 8 lakh.

Victims of burning cases would get a minimum compensation of Rs 7 lakh and maximum of Rs 8 lakh in case of disfigurement, the scheme said.

It said in case of pregnancy on account of rape, the victim would get a compensation ranging from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 4 lakh, while for miscarriage or loss of fertility due to such assaults, the victim would get Rs 2 lakh to Rs 3 lakh.





Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp has not yet decided to sell its 20-22% stake in Flipkart to US retailer Walmart Inc. SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son will take a call in the next 7-10 days on whether to exit India’s biggest online retailer or say invested for some more time, they said. Walmart had on Wednesday announced that it will pay about $16 billion to buy 77% stake in Flipkart.

A statement issued by Walmart identified Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal, Tencent Holdings Ltd, Tiger Global Management LLC and Microsoft Corp as the investors who would hold the remaining 23%, implying SoftBank had agreed to sell its 20-22% stake.

But now it turns out that SoftBank is yet to take a call on exiting Flipkart. The factors that hold key to the decision include the tax SoftBank has to pay on profits it would earn from such share sale.

SoftBank had invested $2.5 billion in Flipkart and exiting the company would fetch it up to $4.5 billion. The $2-billion profit would be taxed as per Indian law.





The battle for control of the Rs 4573-crore Fortis Healthcare – the country’s second largest healthcare facility that wound up in intensive care after becoming embroiled in charges of financial fraud and poor corporate governance – isn’t over yet.

After 15 hours of deliberations on Thursday, the Fortis board came up with a 5:3 split verdict when it chose to back the bid submitted by the Munjal-Dabur consortium.

Brian Tempest, independent director of Fortis and the head of the audit committee, conceded at a press conference in Gurgaon that the Munjal-Dabur consortium did not have the expertise in the healthcare segment that some of the other bidders possessed.

There were three other binding bids on the table from Malaysian hospital chain IHH Healthcare Bhd, KKR-backed Radiant Life Care and Manipal Hospitals-TPG.

“It was important that there was an immediate injection of liquidity. That’s why we chose the Munjal-Burman bid,” Tempest said.





Shares of telecom companies fell on Friday, a day after Reliance Jio Infocomm launched a plan targeting post-paid users.

The S&P BSE Telecom index dropped 4.25 per cent, the most in seven months, even as the Sensex rose 0.82 per cent. Bharti Airtel, the country’s biggest telecom operator, fell 6.4 per cent, while Idea Cellular plunged nearly 12 per cent, the most in a decade, on fears that Jio’s new plan will erode revenues and margins.

Jio on Thursday unveiled an unlimited post-paid plan for Rs 199, with attractive rates for international calls. The latest announcement came as a fresh blow for incumbents, already under pressure from Jio’s low-cost offerings in the pre-paid segment.

Under the new plan, Jio is offering ISD rates of Rs 0.5 to the US and Canada. The Mukesh Ambani-led company is also offering low tariffs on international roaming.





Rajasthan Royals rode on a heroic batting effort by Jos Buttler to edge out Chennai Super Kings by four wickets in a nail-biting  encounter in Jaipur last evening. Buttler batted through the innings to help Rajasthan overhaul a stiff 177-run target with just one ball to go. Having opened the Rajasthan innings along with Ben Stokes, Buttler continued to defy the CSK bowlers even as wickets fell at the other end. He remained unbeaten on 95 runs off just 60 balls.

Earlier, CSK posted a fighting total of 176/4. It was a fine knock by Suresh Raina (52 off 35 balls), followed by skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s unbeaten 33 and opener Shane Watson’s 39 runs which took the yellow brigade to a good total against the hosts.

Rajasthan now have 5 wins from 11 matches while Chennai have 7 wins from 11.





Sensex 35,536 (+290), Nifty 10,806 (+90), Trading Value NSE (Rs.crores) 28,628

Nasdaq 7,403 (-2) Dow 24,831 (+92), S&P 2,727 (+5)

US$-Rs. 67.12 GBP-Rs. 90.88, Euro-Rs. 80.08, UAE Dhm-Rs.18.27, Can$-Rs. 52.54, Aus$- Rs. 50.61

GBP 0.73 /US$, Euro 0.83 /US$, Jap.Yen 109.34 /US$, Aus$ 1.32 /US$, Sing 1.33 /US$, Bang Taka 83.60 /US$, Can$ 1.27 /US$, Mal Ring 3.96 /US$,

Pak Re 115.19 /US$, Phil Peso 52.26 /US$, Russian Rouble 61.74 /US$, NZ$ 1.43 /US$, Thai Baht 31.85 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 26.05 /US$

Bitcoin – USD 8,703

Dollar Index 92.41 Brent Crude 77.12  BDI 1453

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,318 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 3180 / 2992, Silver (Rs. Per KG) 43,500





The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one’s country deep enough to call her to a higher standard. – George McGovern





The fragrance department of a mall was pushing the latest perfumes. Salesgirls were moving about the floor offering to spray customers with the newest bouquet.

Just outside the mall’s restaurant, a girl sprayed two women who had just finished their lunch. When one woman commented that the perfume was too strong, the girl replied, “The fragrance will be softer once it dries and the alcohol wears off.”

“See!” her friend chided. “I told you not to have that second drink.”



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