Newsletter 5th June, 2018





Speaking about an interview Modi gave at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) on June 1, Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted that the PM’s interviews on public platforms were scripted. Calling Modi the first Indian PM who took “spontaneous” questions to which the translator had pre-scripted answers, Gandhi said it would be an “embarrassment” if he took “real” questions.

Even though Modi’s oratorical flourishes and impromptu speeches have mostly impressed people, the incident in Singapore raised a few eyebrows. After the prime minister had responded to a question on challenges being faced by Asia, his English translator read out a passage from a paper that included facts and figures which were not part of Modi’s answer.

It appeared that, as part of the interview, Modi was supposed to say everything the translator read out from the piece of paper, but forgot to. This has fueled speculation that the queries posed to the PM were scripted.

On Sunday, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor had pointed out the gaffe in the prime minister’s speech and tagged a news report on the NTU interview. “Oh dear. When the translator says what the PM was supposed to say, but didn’t,” he tweeted.





Maintaining that there was no space for any war with India owing to nuclear capabilities of both countries, Pakistan Army on Monday warned that its desire for peace should not be mistaken for weakness. “War happens when diplomacy fails,” Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, the Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) – the media wing of the army said while addressing a press conference.

Ghafoor said though two sides remained in touch with each other over bilateral issues, India backed out of having a dialogue. He also accused India of carrying out 1,077 ceasefire violations since the start of 2018 to date. “The Indians have to realise and understand where they want to go (in the future),” he said. “We are two nuclear powers, and there is no space for war.”

The ISPR chief said Pakistan had not responded to Indian firing, which followed an agreement by the two countries’ militaries last week to adhere to the 2003 ceasefire agreement, but was “compelled” to respond only when civilians were targeted.





With the Cauvery river water dispute hotting up again, Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy on Monday asserted that the contentious issue with Tamil Nadu will be solved through mutual understanding. The newly-elected CM met actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan earlier yesterday and urged the latter to be a bridge between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in resolving the water-sharing dispute.

“Farmers of both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are equally important,” CM Kumaraswamy emphasised, while delving into the topic.

Kamal Haasan said the water sharing issue can be resolved if the states come together for dialogue. “Court should be the last resort. If the people of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka come together, the issue can be resolved,” he said. The actor’s visit to Karnataka comes on the heels of the state’s film distributors’ decision to not screen Tamil actor Rajinikanth’s “Kaala” in theatres across the state protesting against the superstar’s stand on the Cauvery river row.

67-year-old Rajinikanth has often faced the wrath of pro-Kannada organisations for his comments on the Cauvery issue. The Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) is upset with Rajinikanth’s reported statement that whichever government comes to power in Karnataka should implement the Supreme Court order on Cauvery water sharing in toto.

In a related development, Kannada actor Prakash Raj said the film fraternity was being targeted. “What has the film ‘Kaala’ got to do with the Cauvery issue? Why is film fraternity targeted always?

“Will the JD-S-Congress government let fringe elements take law into their hands… like the BJP did with ‘Padmaavat’ or will you step in to assure common man his right for choice?” Raj tweeted.

‘Kaala’ is scheduled for a worldwide release on June 7.





Two weeks after Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto’s remarks on the “turbulent political atmosphere” created a row, his Goa counterpart has said the Constitution was in danger while alleging that human rights were being trampled in the name of development. Urging Catholics to play an active role in politics, Goa’s Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao, in his annual pastoral letter, said the community should work hard towards protecting the Constitution, more so because the 2019 general elections were around the corner.

“Today, our Constitution is in danger, (it is a) reason why most of the people live in insecurity. In this context, particularly as the general elections are fast approaching, we must strive to know our Constitution better and work harder to protect it,” Ferrao said in the pastoral letter for 2018-19, which was formally released on Sunday

Alleging that a new trend of mono-culturism was emerging in the country, the archbishop said, “In recent times, we see a new trend emerging in our country, which demands uniformity in what and how we ear, dress, live and even worship. Human rights are under attack and democracy appears to be in peril.”

“The various minorities fear for their safety. People are being uprooted from their land and homes in the name of development. The first victim of development is the poor person. It is easier to trample upon the rights of the poor because those who will raise their voice for them are very few,” he said.

“It is advisable that the faithful play an active role in the political field; they should, however, follow the dictates of their conscience while doing so and shun ‘sycophantic’ politics. They should thus strengthen democracy and, on the other hand, help to improve the functioning of the state administration.”









Italy will no longer be “Europe’s refugee camp”, newly installed interior minister Matteo Salvini said on Monday as he promised tough action to reduce migrant arrivals and send back those who have already come.

Salvini, head of the right-wing League and a deputy prime minister in the eurosceptic coalition, has made curbing immigration a clarion call of his party whose popularity is rising fast in opinion polls.

Two days after the government was sworn in on Friday, Salvini headed for Sicily, the main port of call for more than 6,00,000 migrants who have arrived on Italy’s shores from north Africa since 2014.

“The party is over,” for migrants in Italy, he said, before visiting a so-called “hotspot” or reception centre, in the port of Pozzallo, where boat-borne arrivals are registered, photo-identified and fingerprinted.

The migration topic has divided the EU’s 28 member states since the influx in 2015 of more than 1 million mainly Muslim migrants from mainly the Middle East and Africa. EU leaders will again discuss migration at a summit at the end of June.




US President Donald Trump said yesterday that he has “absolute right to pardon” himself as he slammed the opposition Democratic party for witch-hunt against him alleging that the appointment of a special counsel is unconstitutional.

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller is the Special Counsel appointed by the Department of Justice to investigate into the allegation of Russian interference in the 2016 poll in Trump’s favour.

“The appointment of the Special Counsel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Despite that, we play the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong!” Trump tweeted.

“As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” he tweeted.

“In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!” he said, unleashing a series of tweets on completing 500 days in office. Trump claimed that he has accomplished more than any other presidents in the first 500 days in office. “Massive Tax & Regulation Cuts, Military & Vets, Lower Crime & Illegal Immigration, Stronger Borders, Judgeships, Best Economy & Jobs EVER, and much more…,” he said.









Prices of farm produce remained high and stocks of vegetables and milk precarious in cities across northern and central India as the ongoing farmers’ strike across several states entered its fourth day.

The June 1-10 boycott of wholesale markets – called “Gaon Bandh” or “Kisan Avkaash” – has been called by 172 farmer organisations in eight states to demand minimum support prices at one-and-a-half times the cost of production and a waiver of all farm loans.

The impact has been felt in Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh where vegetable prices have shot up by around 30 per cent.

At the epicentre of the stir in Madhya Pradesh, the Aam Kisan Union’s Kedar Sirohi – who rose to prominence during last year’s farmers stir in the Malwa and Nimar regions when police shot six people dead – hailed the rise of what he called the “village intellectual”. “The biggest achievement has been that people in village squares are now talking about the withering away of the farmer vote bank. Politics has divided villages to ensure that we only exist to serve cities, either by selling cheap or migrating to cities as labourers,” he told this paper.





After undergoing a kidney transplant three weeks ago, Union minister Arun Jaitley on Monday returned home and held a meeting with key finance ministry officials through video conferencing.

Finance secretary Hasmukh Adhia, economic affairs secretary Subhash Chandra Garg and chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian briefed the minister on the macro-economic situation, sources said.

He has started working in a controlled environment from his house and will hold more such meetings through video conferencing, they added.

held the finance portfolio till he went for the surgery on May 14. During the period of his indisposition, railway minister Piyush Goyal has been given additional charge of the ministry.





Disillusioned by separatists, an angry Kashmiri youth on Monday slammed Hurriyat leaders at the mourning of his cousin Kaisar Bhat who had climbed on the bonnet of a CRPF Gypsy and was subsequently run over by the vehicle while it was being attacked by stone-pelters in Srinagar three days ago. Accusing the Hurriyat of duplicity, his outburst was captured in a video that went viral, embarrassing the separatist leadership.

However, nine hours after the first video went viral, another video was mysteriously released through a local Kashmiri news portal in which the youth, while admitting he had become emotional, emphasised his earlier statement was shown “out of context”. He added the Hurriyat was like “family” to him.

In the first video, Kaisar’s cousin Irfan Ahmad is seen questioning the visiting Hurriyat leaders, headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s close associate Mohammad Shafi Khan, at the house of the deceased’s aunt. Lashing out at top Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani without taking his name, Irfan says: “You talk of implementing Nizam-e-Mustafa (sharia) here but send your wards to Christian schools.”

“A person should be buried immediately after his sacrifice but you put the bodies on display on roads. Is this Nizam-e-Mustafa? Our Prophet (peace be upon him) never let any funeral wait,” he says.

He then tears into the Hurriyat directly, “There is just sloganeering. Give us one answer as to what the leadership is doing? What does a martyr do in his grave?” Irfan further says: “Lakhs are now scared by the name of Hurriyat. I was also a fan of Geelani sahib, but now I have to change my opinion.”

However, in the second video, Irfan retracted his earlier statement, “What TV channels are showing is totally out of context. They show that youth of Kashmir are not with Hurriyat. When you watch my entire conservation with Hurriyat leaders, you will come to know that I simply wanted to convey my grievances to my family members called Hurriyat.”





India received its first consignment of Russian natural gas from Gazprom, priced close to $7 per million British thermal unit – the cheapest for any long-term arrangement.

“First we renegotiated price of LNG from Qatar, then reworked Australian supplies and now gas from Russia under renegotiated terms has started to flow,” oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan said after receiving the consignment in Dahej.

India will import LNG worth an estimated $25 billion over the contract period of 20 years from Russia. “Gazprom price (after being reworked) is very competitive,” Pradhan said.

“Four years back, we were importing LNG from only Qatar. Today we are getting LNG from Australia, US and now Russia,” Pradhan said.

India, he said, is pushing towards a gas-based economy by raising the share of the environment-friendly fuel in its energy basket to 15 per cent from 6.2 per cent.





The Apple Worldwide Developer Conference this time was like none other, given that there was no mention of hardware. However, there were some clear indicators on the direction Apple wants to take: it wants to offer a unified experience across the multiple devices and operating systems it offers.

With iOS 12, which will be available for developers to start working on from today, Apple claims it is pushing for performance like never before.

The biggest highlight of iOS 12 will be how it brings in Augmented Reality into daily use with a new Apple app called Measure. No, it is not new for apps to use AR to measure surfaces or areas, but when Apple pushed this as a native app then it means business and gives the technology a push. With the app running on all phones that have iOS 12, more people will be exposed to AR as a technology and will most probably prompt them to adopt other AR apps at a faster pace.

Also, it seems Apple’s new USDZ file format could be the other push AR has been waiting for given that it makes content created using ARkit much more easier to port and work on.

Along with a bunch of other features, notably Shortcuts on Siri, Apple is also finding ways to get users to use the phone less with iOS 12. There will be new features that will give users a deep dive on how much they use the phone, which apps consume the most time and which apps are drawing them in. And if self-control does not help, there will be features that will let users limit their usage of a particular app across devices. This will also work with children and enable parents to control the type and time of access. In fact, while this new Screen Time limits the use of the device itself, it might end up being a good selling point for Apple devices as addiction to devices and certain apps are emerging as a big issue globally.





Sunil Chhetri’s impassioned plea led to a full house at the Mumbai Football Arena and the capacity crowd were not disappointed as ‘Captain Marvel’s’ brace along with Jeje’s stunning piledriver propelled India to a 3-0 victory over Kenya in the second match of Intercontinental Cup 2018.

With this win, India now has one foot in the final and play New Zealand in their next fixture.





Maximilian Marterer probably wondered what all the fuss was about when, two games into his first match against the best claycourt player ever on Monday, he led French Open champion Rafael Nadal 2-0 on the Spaniard’s favourite patch of red dirt. The German youngster quickly discovered just what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a pummelling by the Spaniard though, as Nadal swept to a 6-3 6-2 7-6(4) victory to reach the quarterfinals in Paris for a 12th time.

In doing so, 10-times champion Nadal extended his current streak of consecutive completed sets won at Roland Garros to 37. Only Bjorn Borg (41) has a longer streak and the way Nadal, who celebrated his 32nd birthday on Sunday, is devouring the opposition, it is hard to see who can stop him.

World No. 1 Simona Halep cruised to a 6-2 6-1 victory over Belgian Elise Mertens to reach the quarter-finals of the French Open for a second consecutive year. The top seed shows no signs of slowing down and will now face German Angelique Kerber who beat France’s Caroline Garcia 6-2, 6-3.

Serena Williams announced her shock withdrawal from the French Open with injury on Monday just minutes before her scheduled fourth-round clash against long-time bitter rival and fellow Grand Slam icon Maria Sharapova.


Men’s Single Quarter Finals Line Up


A. Zverev (2) vs D. Thiem (7)

M. Cecchinato  vs N. Djokovic (20)

D. Schwartzman (11) vs  R. Nadal (1)

J. del Potro (5) vs M. Cilic (3)


Women’s Single Quarter Finals Line Up


M. Keys (13) vs Y. Putintseva

S. Stephens (10) vs D. Kasatkina (14)

G. Muguruza (3) vs M. Sharapova (28)

A. Kerber (12) vs S. Halep (1)





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GBP 0.74 /US$, Euro 0.85 /US$, Jap.Yen 109.65 /US$, Aus$ 1.30 /US$, Sing 1.33 /US$, Bang Taka 83.62 /US$, Can$ 1.29 /US$, Mal Ring 3.97 /US$,

Pak Re 115.39 /US$, Phil Peso 52.53 /US$, Russian Rouble 62.03 /US$, NZ$ 1.42 /US$, Thai Baht 31.94 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 26.02 /US$

Bitcoin – USD 7,555

Dollar Index 93.98 Brent Crude 75.44  BDI 1156

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,292 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 3137 / 2949, Silver (Rs. Per KG) 42,600





Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save. – Will Rogers





A suspicious husband hired a private investigator to follow his wife and in less than a week, had all the information that he needed on the “other man”.

Being a man of the 21st century and all, he decided to handle the matter in what he judged to be sophisticated and business- like manner. He sent the following e-mail to his wife’s lover: Sir, It has been brought to my attention that for some time now you have been carrying on an affair with my wife. So that we may settle this matter in an intelligent fashion, please be at my office at 3 PM on Friday next.

The “other man” was highly amused by the husband’s formal manner and sent the following reply: Dear Sir, I have received a copy of your mass mailing this morning. You may be advised that I will attend the scheduled conference in your office’s auditorium.

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