Newsletter 22nd May, 2018




Welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Sochi, Russia President Vladimir Putin Monday emphasised on “defence cooperation” between the two countries — at a time when the US is moving to target Russian tie-ups in the sector.

Stressing that Modi’s visit for an informal bilateral summit would give a fresh impetus to ties, Putin said, “Our defence ministries maintain very close contacts and cooperation. It speaks about a very high strategic level of our partnership.”

The two leaders also reiterated the significance of longstanding partnership in the military, security and nuclear energy fields and welcomed the ongoing cooperation in these areas, a statement from the Indian side said.

Modi said the strategic partnership between India and Russia has now been elevated into a “special privileged strategic partnership”, which is a “very big achievement”. “I am grateful to President Putin who invited me for an informal meeting and hence, in the long friendship of ours, this is a new aspect that has been attached to our relationship. You have added a new aspect of informal summit in the bilateral relationship which I think is a great occasion and creates trust,” he said.

After the informal summit, Modi and Putin went on a boat ride from Bocharev Creek to Olympic Park, with the two leaders conversing in English without interpreters.


Moving to settle the disquiet over power sharing in Karnataka where their coalition is set to take charge Wednesday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy, meeting in the presence of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi Monday, agreed to “forget the past, look at the future and forge a long-term relationship”.

Both sides exuded confidence that the cabinet formation formula would be thrashed out well before the swearing-in. The discussions on the power-sharing arrangement will take place in Bengaluru today.

Both the JD(S) and Congress are keen to make the swearing-in ceremony Wednesday a grand affair to showcase Opposition unity. Kumaraswamy said both Rahul and Sonia had agreed to attend. Also there will be Mayawati, TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Earlier in the day, Karnataka Congress chief Parameshwara voiced some unease. “I do understand the sentiments of many people that we should not have gone with the JD(S). But there was a need to stop the BJP from coming to power again in Karnataka. Keeping this in mind, our seniors took a decision to support the JD(S). We all must accept their decision… We may see difficult times ahead. We are visualising the challenges ahead, but we need to bear all the hardship to build a strong party,” he was quoted as saying at a party meeting in Bengaluru.

Kumaraswamy accused the BJP of setting up the downfall of its Lingayat leader Yeddyurappa despite being aware that the party did not have the numbers to form a government.



BJP president Amit Shah yesterday hit out at the Congress, wondering what was its “jashn” (celebration) all about given that the “mandate of the people” had been “anti-Congress” and against the Congress Chief Minister.

Maintaining there was nothing “improper” in the BJP approaching the Governor and staking claim to form the government, Shah rejected criticism that it had overlooked the single-largest-party factor to form governments in Manipur and Goa. The Congress, he pointed out, had not approached the Governors to stake claim in the two states despite winning the largest number of states.

Addressing the press in New Delhi, Shah also accused the Congress of “violating democratic norms” by keeping its MLAs and those of the JD(S) in “five-star hotels”. “If those parties had not locked up their MLAs in five-star hotels to save themselves from the summer and to swim in the swimming pools, if they were left free, people would have told them who should they vote for. Even if they had been allowed to take out victory processions, people would have told them who should they vote. Then the BJP would have won the trust vote,” he said, adding that the Congress, which accused the BJP of horse trading, had in fact bought an entire stable.

Taking a swipe at the Congress and the JD(S) for “celebrating” the Karnataka results, Shah said: “With JD(S) and Congress coming to one platform to form a government, people in Karnataka are not celebrating… Congress should tell the people of the country what its celebrations are all about. Their seats were 122, it has come down to 78. More than half its ministers lost the elections. Are they celebrating that? Are they celebrating their Chief Minister’s defeat?… What is it that JD(S) is celebrating? That its tally is 37 or that it lost its deposit in 80 per cent seats? Please clarify.”

“The Congress is now starting to have faith in Constitutional bodies like the Supreme Court, Election Commission, and they even like EVMs,” Shah said, adding that he hopes that the Congress will continue to show the same faith when it loses and is unable to form government.




Although there have been no official announcements about a positive movement on India-Pakistan relations, there are signs that both sides are looking at “windows of diplomatic opportunity to move forward”.

Indian High Commissioner to Islamabad Ajay Bisaria says: “We have in recent months been working on small steps forward, particularly on the humanitarian side, to build an atmosphere of trust between the countries,” he said. “One of these steps we have proposed is the exchange of all prisoners, particularly those in the vulnerable category (women, seniors and the mentally challenged). We have had some traction this year, including on agreements to exchange medical delegations and resuming the institutional mechanism of the Joint Judicial Committee, which will inspect jails and accelerate the process of repatriation of prisoners.”

“Whether it should be a grand reconciliation or small steps, we have to take the first steps. That will take us forward,” Major General Asif Ghafoor, DG ISPR and spokesperson for Pakistan military told a group of visiting South Asian journalists in Islamabad recently. “Issues between India and Pakistan can only be resolved through dialogue; positive engagement based on trust can take us forward. If we continue to be dictated by history, we will continue to make mistakes,” added Ghafoor.






The US on Monday threatened to apply “unprecedented” financial pressure on Iran along with other punitive measures if Tehran does not give up its reported goal of developing nuclear weapons. At the same time, the Trump administration promised resumption of diplomatic and economic relations with Iran, along with financial aid, and technology transfers if Tehran agreed to a verifiable regime to give up its nuclear weapons and missile programme. In his first major foreign policy speech, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought the support of European allies and other global partners and friends, including India.


Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro faced international condemnation on Monday after his re-election in a vote foes denounced as a farce that cemented autocracy in the crisis-stricken oil-producing nation.

Maduro, 55, hailed his win in Sunday’s vote as a victory against “imperialism,” but his main rival alleged irregularities and refused to recognise the result.

Venezuela’s mainstream opposition boycotted the election, given that two of its most popular leaders were barred from running. Turnout was under 50 per cent.


In a significant move to attract talent and investment, the United Arab Emirates has announced a slew of radical changes, including 10-year visas for specialists working in medicine, science, research and technical fields. The UAE will now allow foreign companies to own 100 per cent of their business and students will be able to secure 5-year visas. ‘Exceptional’ graduates can stay for 10 years.

These are massive changes for the country with potentially far-reaching consequences, at a time when major developed countries like the US are putting up barriers in visas and immigration policy.

According to the new rules announced on Sunday night, the UAE will also offer visas of up to 10-years for the families of specialists working in medicine, science, research and technical fields.

The new rules will also let foreign investors establishing a business or putting money in the country secure a visa of up to 10 years. Foreign companies will also be able to own 100 per cent of their business in the UAE. At present, they must offer an Emirati partner a substantial stake.

This is expected to benefit many Indian businesses and entrepreneurs, who may be facing challenges currently in the UAE and other parts of the world. Most shops and restaurants are outside the free zone and require a local partner to operate in the UAE.






The government seems to be running out of options to deal with the spike in crude prices and its impact on the economy. A marginal cut in excise duty would be seen as tokenism, while bringing it under the GST would provide relief to consumers. But, this option would face stiff resistance from states as they would have to forgo substantial revenues.

Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the government would try to work out a solution soon to deal with the situation as people, especially the middle-class, have to suffer because of the price hike.

“It’s not in our hand. There is less production of oil in Opec countries. The government will soon come out with a solution,” he said. Pradhan did not spell out the details.

Petrol price has hit a record high of Rs 76.57 per litre in Delhi, beating the previous all-time high of Rs 76.06 of September 2013 after oil marketing companies raised prices by 33 paise on Monday.

The spike in crude prices and weakening of the rupee is making imports expensive as the country buys 80 per cent of its crude requirement from overseas. The world oil prices have spiked by more than 40 per cent over the past 12 months.

The Indian currency at 67.53 per dollar has fallen by 6 per cent against the greenback in 2018 so far.

India Inc on Monday urged the government to cut the excise duty on petrol and diesel immediately. Ficci and Assocham also pitched for inclusion of automobile fuel under the ambit of the, GST as a long-term solution to rising prices.


Disturbed by recent controversies that raised questions about its independence, former poll panel heads have urged the Election Commission (EC) to get to the root of why this is happening and fix it.

The issue was flagged at a meeting of former Chief Election Commissioners (CECs) with incumbent commissioners O P Rawat, Sunil Arora and Ashok Lavasa on Monday.

Ex-CECs M S Gill, J M Lyngdoh, T S Krishnamurthy, B B Tandon, S Y Quraishi, V S Sampath, H S Brahma and Nasim Zaidi, and former Election Commissioner GVG Krishnamurthy attended the meeting.

“The questions raised about the Commission’s image were discussed. Irrespective of whether these questions are legitimate or not, the former Chief Election Commissioners felt that the Commission should try to get to the root of why this is happening and address it,” Quraishi said.

The EC, under A K Joti as CEC, had come in for criticism after it delinked the announcement of polls in Himachal Pradesh from Gujarat and sent its opinion to the President in the office-of-profit case against AAP MLAs without holding oral hearings on the merits of the complaint. The Delhi High Court, subsequently, said that the EC had failed to “comply with the principles of natural justice” when it disqualified 20 AAP MLAs and “quashed” the disqualification.

The former CECs felt that there was a need to increase the number of polling stations where results of EVMs are matched with paper-slips dispensed by VVPATs. Currently, VVPAT slips of only one polling booth in every seat are matched with votes polled by EVMs.


Causing an embarrassment to the Congress in Karnataka, its MLA Shivaram Hebbar on Monday dismissed as “fake” an audio clip released by the party to allege that the BJP offered money and a ministerial berth to him for cross-voting during the floor test in the Assembly. Three audio tapes were released by the Congress in the run up to the floor test. One of the audio tapes released by the party allegedly had a conversation between Hebbar’s wife and BJP leaders, who allegedly offered money and ministerial post to woo him to vote for the BJP.

Hebbar, however, questioned the authenticity of the audio clip, saying his wife did not receive any such call. In a Facebook post, he wrote, ”This is not my wife’s voice and she has not received any such calls. The audio tape is fake. I condemn it.”


Four days after the Uttar Pradesh government served notices to six former Chief Ministers, including BSP chief Mayawati, to vacate their government bungalows within 15 days, a signboard reading “Shri Kanshiram Ji Yaadgar Vishram Sthal” surfaced on Monday outside her 13A, Mall Avenue bungalow.

Notices, also sent to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, SP leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav and Congress veteran N D Tiwari, came after the May 7 Supreme Court order that struck down a provision in the Uttar Pradesh Act that made former CMs eligible for official accommodation even after the end of their term.

A senior BSP office-bearer said that the step was taken as the bungalow contains “precious memories” of Kanshiram and has his statue on its premises.


With 6 deaths due to suspected Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala’s Kozhikode district, the entire state has been put on high alert, even as the Centre launched a multi-agency effort to contain the outbreak.

A rapid response team from the National Centre for Disease Control, New Delhi, National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, and Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme, Kerala, have initiated a joint investigation into the outbreak.

More than a hundred samples collected from patients with suspected symptoms have been sent to NIV for confirmation.

Nipah virus infection is an example of a zoonotic disease, where animal diseases can be transmitted to people. In a zoonotic disease, the chances of a human being getting the disease will be lesser if the animal is given adequate antibiotics.

Nipah virus affects the brain. An infected person will have fever, weakness and lethargy.


Indian Navy’s six-member all-women crew arrived yesterday in Goa after circumnavigating the globe in over eight months on board the naval vessel INSV Tarini. The group was congratulated by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba.

The crew left to circumnavigate the globe on September 10 last year. The expedition was christened ‘Navika Sagar Parikrama’.

Led by Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, the crew completed the feat in the 55-foot sailing vessel, INSV Tarini, which was inducted into the Indian Navy on February 18 last year.

A Navy spokesperson said that the expedition was completed in six legs, with stopovers at the Fremantle (Australia), Lyttleton (New Zealand), Port Stanley (Falkland Islands), Cape Town (South Africa) and Mauritius. “The crew covered 21,600 nautical miles in the Indian-built sailing vessel INSV Tarini that visited five countries and crossed the Equator twice. It sailed across four continents and three oceans, and passed south of the three Great Capes – Leeuwin, Horn and Good Hope,” the spokesperson said.


Sunrisers Hyderabad meet the Chennai Super Kings in Qualifier 1 today, in Mumbai. The net run-rate separated the two teams in the points table after both finished the league stage on 18.

With the winner guaranteed a spot in the summit clash, the riveting contest at the Wankhede will spell out who goes directly to the May 27 final, also scheduled at this venue. The loser will have to play Qualifier 2 in Kolkata on Friday.

The Super Kings seem to hold a slight edge going into the match as they have not only got the better of the Sunrisers twice in the league stage of the competition, but also have the winning momentum going into the match on what promises to be a bouncy track.

The Sunrisers have been on a three-game losing run, having sealed their play-off spot with a victory on May 10 against the Delhi DareDevils. They had somehow not been able to muster up the intensity shown in the better of their league stage campaign and to some extent their highly-rated bowling attack also looked off-coloured in the previous three games.


Sensex 34,616 (-232), Nifty 10,517 (-79), Trading Value NSE (Rs.crores) 29,839

Nasdaq 7,394 (+40) Dow 25,013 (+298), S&P 2,733 (+20)

US$-Rs. 68.08 GBP-Rs. 91.40, Euro-Rs. 80.07, UAE Dhm-Rs.18.53, Can$-Rs. 53.00, Aus$- Rs. 51.36

GBP 0.74 /US$, Euro 0.85 /US$, Jap.Yen 111.15 /US$, Aus$ 1.32 /US$, Sing 1.34 /US$, Bang Taka 83.84 /US$, Can$ 1.28 /US$, Mal Ring 3.97 /US$,

Pak Re 115.32 /US$, Phil Peso 52.34 /US$, Russian Rouble 62.02 /US$, NZ$ 1.44 /US$, Thai Baht 32.15 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 25.99 /US$

Bitcoin – USD 8,436

Dollar Index 93.58 Brent Crude 79.38  BDI 1273

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,291 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 3163 / 2975, Silver (Rs. Per KG) 43,100




We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them. – Kahlil Gibran


A young boy enters a barber shop and the barber whispers to his customer, “This is the dumbest kid in the world. Watch while I prove it to you.” The barber puts a dollar bill in one hand and two quarters in the other, then calls the boy over and asks, “Which do you want, son?” The boy takes the quarters and leaves.

“What did I tell you?” said the barber. “This kid never learns!”

Later, when the customer leaves, he sees the same young boy coming out of the ice cream store.  “Hey, May I ask you a question? Why did you take the quarters instead of the dollar bill?”

The boy licked his cone and replied, “Because the day I take the dollar, the game is over!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar