Newsletter 8th June, 2018





Warning that hatred and intolerance diluted national identity, former President and Congress veteran Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday spoke from an RSS platform to declare nationalism was not bound by race or religion.

As his visit to the RSS headquarters in Nagpur sparked criticism from Congress leaders, including his daughter, Mukherjee cautioned that any attempt to define India through “religion, dogma or intolerance” would only dilute the country’s existence.

His half-an-hour address had a lesson for everyone. To the RSS, the former President recalled “vasudhaiv kutumbakam” (the world is one family) as the soul of Indian nationalism; to new Sangh recruits he spoke of the need for harmony; to his parent party Congress, he emphasised the need for dialogue and to PM Narendra Modi, he quoted Kautilya’s lessons in governance.

Unfazed by the fact that he was standing with people he had ideologically opposed all his life, Mukherjee used the occasion to drive home “diversity and acceptance” as the bedrock of Indian nationalism. “We derive our strength from tolerance. We accept and respect our pluralism. We celebrate our diversity. Any attempt at defining our nationhood in terms of dogmas and identities of religion, region, hatred and intolerance will only lead to dilution of our national identity,” the former President said.

To sceptics, the ex-President said informed public engagement was essential in democracy. “A dialogue is necessary not only to balance competing interests, but also to reconcile them. We may argue, may agree, may not agree but we cannot deny the existence of multiplicity of opinions,” he said.

Wading through India’s past, Mukherjee spoke of how through 3,500 years of being ruled by dynasts, India’s 5,000 years of civilisational unity remained unchanged while foreign elements were absorbed to create a new synthesis of national unity.

Mukherjee said as he marveled the fact that 1.3 billion Indians used 120 languages, 1,600 dialects, followed seven major religions, belonged to three ethnic groups and still stood united under one flag, one Constitution and one identity.

“This is Bhartiyata,” the former President said at the RSS headquarters after he had paid tributes to Sangh founder KB Hedgewar, calling him a “great son of Mother India”.





Ever since it became known that Mukherjee would attend the RSS event, many Congress leaders had requested him to refrain from going to Nagpur. Some like M Veerappa Moily had berated him. The Congress had not reacted officially, rather letting individual leaders voice their opinion.

Minutes before Mukherjee began his speech came a tweet from senior Congress leader Anand Sharma. “The images of Pranab da, veteran leader and ideologue at RSS Headquarters have anguished millions of Congress workers and all those who believed in pluralism, diversity and the foundational values of the Indian Republic… Dialogue can only be with those who are willing to listen, absorb and change. There is nothing to suggest that the RSS has moved away from its core agenda as it seeks legitimacy,” he said.

Hours earlier, Ahmed Patel, close aide of Sonia Gandhi, had said, “I did not expect this from Pranab da!”

But soon after the speech, the mood subtly shifted and the party went into damage control mode. “Pranab Mukherjee has shown the mirror of truth to the RSS at RSS headquarters in Nagpur by reminding them of India’s ‘pluralism’, ‘tolerance’, ‘secularism’ and ‘inclusiveness’ as an article of faith and soul of the country,” Congress communication department head Randeep Surjewala said in a statement. “Let the RSS and BJP publicly commit today to change its character, orientation, thought process and path and accept the sagacious advice of their guest.”

Anand Sharma said that “Pranabji in a statesmanlike way, with clarity and conviction, has articulated his views on nation and nationalism, stressing on Indian civilization, its composite culture, pluralism and diversity which in essence is integral to our identity….”

Asked about his tweet, Sharma said he stood by what he said as the images — of no rendition of national anthem and absence of national flag — from the RSS headquarters and what Mukherjee wrote in the visitor’s book about RSS founding Sarsanghachalak Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, calling him a “great son of Mother India”, were “disturbing”. “After all, they opposed the freedom struggle,” he said. “But the question now is whether the RSS will absorb what Pranabji has said.”

But not all were convinced in the opposition and in the Congress. “It is perplexing that in the history capsule that Pranab Mukherjee delivered at the RSS headquarters, there is no mention of Mahatma Gandhi and his assassination. It speaks volumes. He referred to Nehru, Patel and Tagore… how come Gandhi is missing,” CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.





Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who is on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir to review the security situation, on Thursday did not rule out extending the suspension of anti-militancy operations beyond the month of Ramzan and said a final decision would be taken after talks with the stakeholders. Singh, who unveiled a list of projects related to creating employment opportunities and sports infrastructure to attract Kashmiri youths, also lashed out at Pakistan for letting terror groups use its land as a launchpad against India.

“Pakistan should stop letting its land being used as a terror haven. If you cannot stop infiltration and reign in terrorists, then take help from us,” the Home Minister said, adding that India was the only country where people of all major religions reside peacefully.

Urging separatists not to play with the future of Kashmiri youths, Singh said they were also India’s children and that was why the decision to withdraw cases against minors and those “misled into stone pelting” was taken. “They (separatists) can play any kind of politics, but they should not play with future of children. They are not only children of Kashmir but also of India, they are an asset. Keeping this in mind we took back cases of first time stone pelters,” Singh said. The Union Home Ministry had late last year ordered withdrawal of cases against youths involved in stone pelting.

Lauding the security forces for exercising caution in the face of adversity, Singh said, “I have no hesitation in saying that our security forces, including Army and Police, have worked with utmost restraint.”









US President Donald Trump yesterday said that he was “well-prepared” for the much-awaited summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on June 12 in Singapore and asserted that the meeting would be “more than a photo-op”.

“I think I’m very well prepared. I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about the attitude. It’s about willingness to get things done. But I think I’ve been preparing for the summit for a long time,” Trump told reporters in a brief joint media appearance with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Responding to a question, the US president said it will be more than a photo-op. “Well, it’s gonna be much more than a photo-op. I think it’s a process. I’ve told you that many times before. I think it’s not a one meeting deal. It would be wonderful if it were…I’d love to say it could happen in one deal, maybe it can,” he said.

Trump insisted that N Korea has to denuclearise. “They have to denuke. If they don’t denuclearise, that will not be acceptable. We cannot take sanctions off,” he said.

“By the way, with Iran, we’re adding tremendously powerful sanctions. They understand that very well. I think Iran already is not the same country. “So, it’s a big difference. It was number one nuclear, but also out of it, you also get the side benefit that Iran is a different place,” he said in response to a question.





A book written by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s estranged wife Reham Khan has caused a lot of trouble for the cricketer-turned-politician who is in the race to be Pakistan’s prime minister after the 25 July general elections in the country.

Reham said on Monday that her former husband is not ‘sadiq and amin’ (honest and righteous) in line with constitutional provisions as he hid his third marriage for two months. Reham, whose marriage with Khan in 2015 ended after 10 months, asked Pakistan Supreme Court Chief Justice Saqib Nisar to take suo motu notice of the matter.

Nawaz Sharif was disqualified as prime minister in the Panama Papers case by the Supreme Court under the same provision.

Reham’s book is premised on her personal experiences as a “mother, wife, journalist and warrior”. According to News18, Reham has also said that the tell-all book will reveal instances of sexual assault or sexual favours, including some which are directly linked to Khan.

Reham has been served a legal notice by four persons: Her first husband Ijaz Rehman, cricketer Wasim Akram, British businessman Syed Zulfiqar Bukhari, and Khan’s PTI media coordinator Anila Khawaja, who have claimed that she defamed them in her book. Imran’s another former wife, Jemima Khan has also threatened to sue Reham.









The Shiv Sena on Thursday reaffirmed its decision to snap ties with the BJP and fight the general election alone, appearing to rebuff Wednesday’s outreach by BJP president Amit Shah.

“We know what the agenda of Amit Shahji is but the Shiv Sena has passed a resolution that we will contest all upcoming elections on our own. There will be no change to that resolution,” Sena spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut said.

Shah had on Wednesday visited Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s home in Mumbai, shrugging off months of scathing criticism from the restive ally, and spent nearly two-and-a-half hours there.





Speaking out against the arrests this week in the Koregaon-Bhima case in BJP-ruled Maharashtra, NDA ally and Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale has said that it is not right to arrest Dalit rights activists after labelling them as Naxalites. Instead, he said, police should investigate the role of Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide for allegedly instigating the violence against Dalits on January 1.

Maharashtra Police had earlier booked upper-caste leaders Bhide and Milind Ekbote for inciting violence against the Dalits gathered to mark the 200-year anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon in Pune on January 1.

The investigations have now changed track with the police Wednesday making five arrests of persons they described as “top urban Maoist operatives”. Three of them were prominent Dalit rights activists, including Sudhir Dhawale, the leader of Mumbai-based Republican Panthers Jati Antachi Chalwal (RP), Nagpur-based advocate Surendra Gadling, and Delhi-based activist Rona Wilson.

Two other Left-leaning leaders — Nagpur University Professor Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut, a former Prime Minister’s Rural Development (PMRD) Fellow — were also arrested.

Pune police Thursday began probing a seized email that suggested plans to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi in “another Rajiv Gandhi type incident” by “targeting his roadshows”.





Telangana Director General of Police M Mahender Reddy on Thursday sent out a list of 395 names to all district SPs and police commissioners, of persons who were allegedly collecting ‘mamools’ (monthly bribes/protection money) from businessmen across the state. The 395 persons are Head Constables, Police Constables, and Assistant Sub-inspectors working at various police stations in the districts or commissionerates, and their names and numbers have been given out by the DGP.

The DGP instructed police commissioners and SPs to immediately rein in the ‘mamool’ collectors and reassign them to the nearest Armed Reserve headquarters without any powers. The DGP is learnt to have collected information and evidence against the 395 police personnel through Intelligence department and tipoffs from victims.

This is the first time that a state’s DGP is admitting to corruption in the form of monthly bribes collection by cops known as ‘Special Parties’ attached to various police stations.





Less than three months after the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal, Facebook is confronted with fresh scrutiny over data-sharing deals it cut with smartphone manufacturers across the world, including brands like Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and BlackBerry, and major Chinese players Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo, and TCL.

An investigation published by The New York Times revealed Facebook gave smartphone makers “deep access” to data on users and friends, in some cases without their explicit consent.

According to The NYT, Facebook entered into “data sharing partnerships” with over 60 smartphone makers, deals that remained in place for over a decade until April, when the company finally started to wrap up some of them.

The data deals, however, went further than just improving convenience, The New York Times said. Some device makers were allowed to pull information on users and their friends’ relationship statuses, political leanings, locations, etc. Data was shared, even if the user’s friends had not given their explicit consent.





After hastily withdrawing their new messaging app amid glaring security flaws, the billionaire and his penurious yoga guru partner are about to have another go at it.

Acharya Balkrishna, who collaborated with celebrity yogi Baba Ramdev to build an Indian consumer goods empire, plans a formal release of the Kimbho messenger app within weeks as he tries to create a challenger to Facebook Inc’s dominant WhatsApp. But first he has to fix it.

“We pledge not to launch the app until a team of expert hackers and security specialists plug all the security and privacy loopholes,” Balkrishna says and promises more advanced features than his rival.

The hurried withdrawal of the app, whose name translates as “what’s up” in Sanskrit, a day after its release in May was a rare setback for Balkrishna and Ramdev.





Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro felled Marin Cilic in a clash of the titans, winning 7-6(5) 5-7 6-3 7-5 on Thursday, and will now aim his heavy artillery at 10-times champion Rafael Nadal in the semifinals.

Rafael Nadal lost his first set at the French Open since 2015 but that blip did not prevent him from marching into the semifinals with a 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory over Diego Schwartzman in their rain-delayed match on Thursday. The world No. 1 had looked out of sorts in damp conditions on Wednesday as Schwartzman bombarded him with winners to cause him all sorts of problems, with the Argentine leading by a set and a break when the players were first called off court due to rain. It was a very different story when the contest resumed on Thursday in drier conditions as Nadal won 12 of the first 13 points before cruising into the semis.

Sloane Stephens maintained her perfect record against fellow American Madison Keys as she blazed into the final with a 6-4 6-4 win on Thursday in a repeat of last year’s US Open final. In the first all-American Roland Garros semifinal since 2002, the 10th-seeded Stephens stayed composed throughout as Keys peppered the court with unforced errors. Stephens will take on twice French Open runner-up and world No. 1 Simona Halep of Romania in Saturday’s final. Halep beat former champion Garbine Muguruza 6-1 6-4. Regardless of the result, the 25-year-old Stephens will become the first American other than the Williams sisters to break into the top five in the WTA rankings since Lindsay Davenport





Head coach Stephen Constantine’s strategy of making seven changes in his starting eleven did not yield the desired result as India suffered a 1-2 defeat at the hands of New Zealand in their final league match of the Intercontinental Cup football tournament.

Despite the loss, the Indian team is still one foot in the final to be played on June 10 with six points from two earlier wins. The home team had beaten Chinese Taipei (5-0) and Kenya (3-0).

India took the lead through captain Sunil Chhetri in the 47th minute but New Zealand rallied through goals from Andre Earnest De Jong (49th) and Moses Dyer (86th) as the Indian defence looked shaky all through the match in front of a full-house in Mumbai.





The Indian team list will once again have the famous Tendulkar surname back as legendary Sachin Tendulkar’s son Arjun was included in U-19 side for the two four-day games against Sri Lanka.

Standing at 6ft 1inch, the 18-year-old is a left arm fast bowler and a handy lower-middle order batsman.

Two India U-19 squads were announced today in Bengaluru with Anuj Rawat and Aryan Juyal leading the side





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I’ve never been poor, only broke. Being poor is a frame of mind. Being broke is only a temporary situation. – Mike Todd





After his application for a job was rejected, the young man sent the following letter to a company.

Dear Sir, Thank you for your letter. After careful consideration I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me employment with your firm. This year I have had been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually large number of rejection letters.  With such a varied and promising field of candidates it is impossible for me to accept all refusals.

Despite your outstanding qualifications and previous experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not meet with my needs at this time. Therefore, I will initiate employment with your firm immediately following my graduation. Yours Sincerely,…..

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