Newsletter 10th June, 2018





Building on the momentum from the informal summit in the Chinese city of Wuhan six weeks ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit.\

In a boost to ties, Xi also accepted Modi’s invite for an India ‘summit’ in 2019. While Xi described Wuhan as a new starting point, Modi called the summit a milestone in the relationship. Stating that the spirit of Wuhan “underpinned” the Qingdao meeting, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale called Xi’s acceptance of Modi’s invite for another informal summit in 2019 in India as a significant takeaway from the meeting on Saturday.

Of the two bilateral agreements signed yesterday, one would allow India to export non-Basmati rice to China. Beijing had earlier been denying access to non-Basmati rice, claiming that it failed to meet its norms.

The other agreement was on sharing hydrological data on the Brahmaputra. The Brahmaputra originates from Tibet and flows into Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. For India, hydrological data is helpful in preparing for floods in the Northeast. Under a previous agreement, Beijing is supposed to share the river data, but it stopped last year after the two armies had a 73-day faceoff at Doklam in the eastern sector.

The two sides also held discussions on other bilateral issues affecting the two countries.

“Met this year’s SCO host, President Xi Jinping, this evening. We had detailed discussions on bilateral and global issues. Our talks will add further vigour to the India-China friendship,” Modi said in a tweet.

This is the first time India is participating in the summit as a full-time member of the SCO. India, along with Pakistan, became full-time members during the 2017 summit in Kazakhstan.

Modi is on a two-day visit to China, as part of which he will hold multiple meetings with other SCO leaders.





The Congress on Saturday demanded an apology from Narendra Modi after the Prime Minister’s Office said it had no information about any conspiracy that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other dignitaries allegedly hatched with Pakistan during the Gujarat election.

During the Gujarat poll campaign last December, Modi had insinuated that Singh had secretly met the Pakistani high commissioner and a former Pakistani foreign minister at party colleague Mani Shankar Aiyar’s home, where Islamabad pushed for Congress politician Ahmed Patel being made chief minister.

The Congress had clarified that Aiyar, a former diplomat, had hosted a dinner for friend and former Pakistani foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri and invited friends such as Pakistani envoy Sohail Mahmood and party colleagues, including Singh.

A Congress worker, Saket Gokhale, filed an RTI query about this, which the PMO initially ignored. Later, ordered by the appellate authority to respond in 30 days, it replied: “While information sought does not form part of records held by this office, it may be noted that inputs received from multiple channels, including formal and informal, form the source of PM’s statements.”

“Modiji made a false charge to influence voters,” Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said on Saturday. “The PMO reply was interesting – the information sought pertains to the Prime Minister speaking during a political campaign…. You talk of an international conspiracy after hearing something from an informal source?”

He went on: “(Modi) made false allegations against Manmohan Singh, former Vice-President Hamid Ansari, former army chief and other dignitaries (who were at the dinner). This allegation shocked the nation. And what is worse, he didn’t order any investigation after making such a grave charge. Does his responsibility end with making speeches?”





Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday met disgruntled Karnataka MLAs led by MB Patil in the national capital but the talks remained inconclusive.

After the meeting, Patil said the next plan of action would be decided after discussions with the 15-20 MLAs, who were unhappy with the Cabinet expansion. He, however, asserted that he had no plans to quit the Congress.

At the Congress meeting, senior leader Ahmed Patel, Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao and new cabinet minister Krishna Byre Gowda were also present. “We are trying to resolve the differences. The process is on at the moment. No decision has been taken yet,” Gowda said.

Meanwhile, BS Yeddyurappa claimed that several disgruntled leaders from the ruling coalition were eager to join the BJP.





Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Saturday alleged a “witch hunt” against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) at the behest of the Prime Minister and Lt-Governor of Delhi. Kejriwal tweeted that the investigative agencies are “randomly picking” files from the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), which he heads in his capacity as the water minister. The chief minister further said that he will be placing the files being allegedly sought by the agencies in the public domain.

“CBI and ACB started randomly picking files from DJB. No specific enquiry. Becoz now I am Min-in-charge, their effort is somehow frame me in something PM, LG n BJP — If u hv specific info, pl investigate. But don’t victimize Delhi’s people by paralyzing all depts of Del govt “I will put out in public domain list of all files sought by PM’s CBI n LG’s ACB. PM n LG shud explain reasons for seeking those files. Else they shud apologise to Delhiites for this witch hunting exercise…Sought time to meet Hon’ble LG for Mon afternoon to discuss some imp matters,” he said in a series of tweets.








The Taliban announced its first ceasefire in Afghanistan since the 2001 US invasion on Saturday, with a three-day halt in hostilities against the country’s security forces that was greeted with relief by war-weary Afghans.

But the group warned the suspension of fighting for the first three days of Eid, the holiday that caps off Ramadan, did not extend to “foreign occupiers”, who would continue to be targeted by the militants.

The unexpected move came two days after the Afghan government’s own surprise announcement of a week-long halt to operations against the Taliban. It is the first time in nearly 17 years of conflict that the militants have declared a ceasefire, albeit a limited one.

President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday declared an apparently unilateral week-long ceasefire with the Taliban. It would last “from the 27th of Ramadan until the fifth day of Eid-al-Fitr”, Ghani tweeted from an official account, indicating it could run from June 12-19. — AFP

19 cops killed ahead of ceasefire

At least 19 Afghan police officers were killed on Saturday in a pre-dawn raid by the Taliban on a base in the northern province of Kunduz, officials said, hours before the militants announced an unprecedented ceasefire

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which came a day after the insurgents stormed a military base in the western province of Herat, killing 17 Afghan soldiers





G7 leaders, who can usually at least pretend to be the best of friends, wrapped up a two-day summit in Canada yesterday that was marked by startlingly outspoken criticism.

While many of the barbs have been directed at Donald Trump, the US president has given as good as he got. Here are some of the most memorable exchanges:

“The European Union is brutal to the United States … They know it. When I’m telling them, they’re smiling at me. You know, it’s like the gig is up” — Trump said.

“If the expectation was that a weekend in beautiful Charlevoix surrounded by lovely people was going to transform the president’s outlook on trade and the world, then we didn’t quite perhaps meet that bar” — summit host Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“I think it would be an asset to have Russia back in. I think it would be good for Russia, I think it would be good for the United States, I think it would be good for all of the countries of the current G7” — Trump

“Let’s remember why the G8 became the G7. And before discussions could begin on any of this, we would have to ensure Russia is amending its ways and taking a different route” —Britain’s Theresa May





President Donald Trump on Saturday said he has “a clear objective” for his upcoming nuclear summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, though he acknowledged that potential progress “will always be spur of the moment.”

The president told reporters that it’s “so far, so good” as he headed into what he called “unknown territory in the truest sense.” He said he thinks “it’s going to work out very well.” Trump, who prides himself on his deal-making prowess, said he thinks he will know `within the first minute” of meeting Kim whether the North Korean leader is serious about the nuclear negotiations. “I think I’ll know pretty quickly whether or not, in my opinion, something positive will happen. And if I think it won’t happen, I’m not going to waste my time. I don’t want to waste his time,” Trump said.

Trump hopes to persuade Kim to completely abandon the arsenal of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that the North Koreans have spent more than a generation amassing.









With the monsoon arriving in Maharashtra on Friday, it reached Mumbai and adjoining areas of the state on Saturday, as heavy rains threw life out of gear in Maximum City.

Several parts were inundated as the Colaba observatory recorded 18 mm of rainfall while the Santacruz observatory registered 4.4 mm, according to IMD Mumbai. Vehicular movement was adversely affected due to heavy flooding and diversions were put in many places to avoid traffic snarls.





Lalu Prasad Yadav’s elder son and former Bihar health minister Tej Pratap Yadav stirred a hornet’s nest after he expressed unhappiness over what he called being “ignored and sidelined” in the party, leading to speculations of a rift with his younger brother Tejashwi. However, as the news garnered media attention, Tej Pratap dismissed any bad blood with Tejashwi and said some party leaders with vested interests were trying to create division among them.

The controversy erupted after Tej Pratap, alluding to ‘Mahabharat’, said he wished to leave the empire for Arjun and go on a leave. The 29-year-old added that a few people were worried that he would be known as the ‘kingmaker’. Tejashwi, Leader of Opposition in the Bihar Assembly, is considered by many as the heir apparent to Lalu Prasad in RJD.

Tej Pratap also had a word of caution for elements in the party who were trying to drive a wedge between the brothers. “For RJD and its allies, the main responsibility is to oust the BJP-led government at the Centre in 2019. But there are some anti-social elements in the party who are keen to break the unity,” he tweeted.





One of Delhi’s most wanted gangsters, Rajesh Bharti, the leader of ‘Kranti gang’, was killed in a shootout with Special Cell officers in Delhi’s Chhatarpur area on Saturday. Three of his gang members — Sanjeev Vidrohi, Umesh alias Don and Veeresh Rana — were killed too. Another  member, Kapil, was said to be in a critical condition.

PS Kushwaha, DCP, Delhi Police Special Cell, said a team intercepted Bharti and his men at Fatehpur Beri. Asked to surrender, they opened fire. More than 100 rounds of gunfire were exchanged. Eight police officers were injured, of whom  Head Constable Girdhar, Constable Gurdeep and Sub-Inspectors Krishan Kumar, Raj Singh and Bijender sustained bullet injuries.

The Special Cell sleuths had been keeping an eye on a farmhouse in Chhatarpur.

The police found five semi-automatic pistols in the Ford Endeavour in which Bharti and his aides were travelling. The owner of the vehicle is one Sangeet. The police are looking for him. An i20 car at the site  was believed to have been abandoned by the other gang members, who managed to flee. As many as 40 number plates were found in its boot.





Former RBI governor YV Reddy slammed both the previous UPA administration as well as the present NDA regime for the mess in the banking sector. Reddy has blamed the earlier regime for post-crisis measures, which he blames for the present surge in bad loans. At the same time, he hit out at the current government for large frauds and for losing public trusts on safety of bank deposits.

“In some ways, today’s problems are traceable to global financial crisis ten years ago and how we managed it,” Reddy said.

He pointed out that post Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008, the government and RBI had taken measures to providing fiscal stimulus, monetary stimulus and regulatory forbearance including higher exposure limits to corporates, groups and industries. According to Reddy, the measures taken were ‘more than needed and, were continued for longer period than necessary’.

“Banks had also been encouraged to lend to infrastructure, which was not the core competence of the banks, apart from creating asset and liability mismatch. Disclosures of real position were delayed. So, the accumulated problems came to the open in 2013-14 and in subsequent years,” said Reddy.

In a strong critique of the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill 2017, the former RBI governor said, “The objective (of the bill) was to equate the bank depositor on par with other creditors. This caused nationwide concern, and rightly so. Fortunately, the law has been deferred or dropped. Yet the proposal has itself created a panic, and some withdrawal of deposits took place. To an extent, some permanent damage has been done to the trust in safety of bank deposits.”





Two men were lynched in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district on Friday night, apparently on suspicion of being child kidnappers, police said on Saturday.

Nilotpal Das, 29, a sound engineer working in Goa, and his friend Abhijeet Nath, 30, had gone to the Kansi Langso waterfall to capture its sounds. On their way back to hometown Guwahati in Nath’s SUV, the duo stopped at Panijuri village, where a mob of 250 beat them to death.

Their “long hair” apparently aroused the suspicion of the villagers, who had heard on social media that child kidnappers from outside Assam were roaming the state, a police officer said. He didn’t explain why long hair would be deemed suspicious.

In a cellphone video of the incident, circulating on social media, the youths can be heard pleading for their lives and shouting they are Assamese. The police took the injured victims to a hospital but they died on the way. Five people have been arrested.





Noor Jehan, Shah Rukh Khan’s paternal cousin will be contesting the upcoming general elections from a Peshawar constituency. The news spread like wildfire and grabbed many eyeballs, many latched at the opportunity to question his loyalty towards India.

In a series of rants and tweets filled with profanity, many even photoshopped images of the Bollywood actor with Pakistani flag and circulated online. While some highlighted his “love for Pakistan” by stating how he chose Pakistani players for his IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders, others opined about Pakistani actor Mahira Khan in Raees after the Uri terror attack and called it an evidence for him not being a true “patriot”. What’s more, some even asked if he would “campaign for her”.





World number one Simona Halep ended years of heartache to clinch her first Grand Slam title with 3-6 6-4 6-1 victory over American Sloane Stephens in the French Open final on Saturday.

The popular Romanian, who had lost three major finals before Saturday, showed signs of nerves at first but recovered to outclass her 10th-seeded opponent.

U.S. Open champion Stephens used her powerful game to full effect to take the first set but then ran out of steam as Romania’s Halep completed a memorable victory.





Ten-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal will face first-time Grand Slam finalist Dominic Thiem in the men’s singles final today, but the Spaniard said his domination at the French Open will not go on “for 10 more years.”

Thiem won 7-5, 7-6 (12-10), 6-1 over unseeded Marco Cecchinato to earn a place in the final. while Nadal made it look like a routine affair as he crushed Argentine fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 to enter the final at Roland Garros for the 11th time.

The Spaniard is just the second man in the Open Era to advance to 11 championship matches at a single Grand Slam, joining Roger Federer, who has won eight titles from 11 finals at Wimbledon.

Nadal is now 110-2 in best-of-five-set matches on the surface, 85-2 in Paris. Over the past two years, including best-of-three matches, the Spaniard is 49-2 at clay tournaments.

Thiem is responsible for both of those losses – at Rome in May 2017, and at Madrid last month – which at least lends a little twist to Sunday’s proceedings.





Sunil Chhetri-led India will face Kenya in the summit showdown of the Intercontinental Cup tomorrow. The tournament is being used by hosts India as a preparatory ground for the AFC Asian Cup to be held in January next year and a win in the final will surely boost their confidence going ahead.

India had blanked Kenya 3-0 in the league game at the Mumbai Football Arena, which was skipper Chhetri’s 100th appearance in the national colours. And the India captain made the game memorable by scoring a brace. The Indian team will look to replicate the performance of their league game against the African side again in the summit clash, which the organisers have claimed to be a ‘sold out’ match in Mumbai.





A son can bear with equanimity the loss of his father, but the loss of his inheritance may drive him to despair. – Niccolo Machiavelli





Frank and Audrey had gotten up in years. One day, Audrey said to her husband, “Say, dear. Would you be kind enough some ice cream from the kitchen?”

“Of course,” Frank replied. And he stood up to go into the kitchen.

“Dear,” Audrey said. “Don’t you think you should write it down so you don’t forget?”

“Nonsense,” replied her husband. “My memory isn’t that bad.”

A while later he came back into the room with a tray full of cereal, eggs, and bacon.

“Frank, I knew you should have written it down,” said Audrey, a little annoyed. “You’ve forgotten the toast!”

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