Newsletter 18th June, 2018






The Centre on Sunday announced an end to the month-long unilateral Ramazan ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir, blaming the recent spate in terrorist violence for the decision.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh announced on Twitter that the government had decided not to extend the ceasefire, regretting that the “terrorists have continued with their attacks”.

Rajnath said in his tweet that the unilateral ceasefire had been announced “to enable the Muslim brothers and sisters to observe Ramazan in a peaceful manner” and lauded the security forces for their restraint. “It was expected that everyone will cooperate in ensuring the success of this initiative. While the security forces have displayed exemplary restraint during this period, the terrorists have continued with their attacks on civilians and SFs, resulting in deaths and injuries,” he posted.

Rajnath and the Centre’s Kashmir interlocutor, Dineshwar Sharma, were said to be for ceasefire to be extended but the murders of senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari and army jawan Aurangzeb ahead of Id had made such a move untenable.

Separatist organisations in J&K were tightlipped over the Centre’s decision while mainstream Opposition parties in the Valley described the decision as a setback to the peace process.

“Its (suspension of operations) failure is the failure of everyone, who wanted to give peace a chance,” Leader of Opposition and ex-CM Omar Abdullah said in a tweet. Abdullah’s party National Conference said in a separate statement that the decision was a “collective failure of state and central governments”.

The ruling PDP blamed militants for rejecting the initiative and doing “everything to provoke the security forces”.


A group of IAS officers has held a rare media conference to contest Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s “misinformation and false campaign” that they are on strike but acknowledged that they are not attending some “routine” meetings out of fear.

“We strongly refute the misinformation and false campaign about IAS officers in Delhi being on strike. We are at work at our office and attending meetings,” Delhi revenue secretary Manisha Saxena told a media conference at the Press Club of India.

“We are completely apolitical…. We are taught to work with neutrality and anonymity…. Never thought we would have to hold a press conference and clarify our stand,” she said, adding that they were compelled to speak.

Transport commissioner Varsha Joshi said: “Yes, we are feeling threatened. We don’t feel safe. We feel threatened and intimidated. All of us have come across instances of verbal assault.”

The Delhi IAS officers, in response to questions, acknowledged that while they were attending all “statutory meetings”, they had refrained from going to some “routine meetings” called by the lawmakers at odd hours fearing for their safety.

Around 8pm, Kejriwal tweeted an “appeal to my officers of Delhi govt”. “I am told that IAS Officers Association has expressed concerns about their safety in a press conference today. I wish to assure them that I will ensure their safety and security with all powers and resources available at my command. It is my duty. I have given similar assurances earlier also to many officers who have been meeting me privately…,” he tweeted.

Meanwhile, thousands of AAP supporters marching towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s residence from Mandi House were stopped midway by Delhi Police. Delhi Police said no permission was sought by the Aam Aadmi Party for a protest march to the prime minister’s residence.





Having achieved a growth of 7.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017-18, India now has a challenge to take the economic growth rate to double-digits, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday, adding that many more steps need to be taken for that. Modi was speaking at the Niti Aayog’s fourth governing council meeting, which was attended by chief ministers of 23 states and the Lt Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Modi stressed on the fact that the world expects India to become a $5 trillion economy soon, it said.The Prime Minister also urged chief ministers to “give fresh ideas” to the 15th Finance Commission for incentivising outcome-based allocations and expenditure correction, amid demands by some states to revisit panel’s terms of reference. Modi said India has no shortage of capabilities, capacities and resources and in the current financial year, the states would receive over Rs 11 lakh crore from the Centre — an increase of about Rs 6 lakh crore from the last year of the previous government.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Niti Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar said some of the issues raised by the chief ministers included the Centre meeting the provisions of bifurcation for states that were separated such as Jharkhand from Bihar, Telangana from Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand from Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh from Madhya Pradesh. To this, Kumar said, the PM assured that the provisions would be met in “letter and spirit”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also called for a “widespread” debate on the holding of simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the Assemblies, saying such a practice would save money.




Even as Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s sit-in at the L-G’s house has attracted the Opposition’s support, the Congress continues to maintain a distance from Aam Aadmi Party, slamming its “trademark dharna politics” and Khalistan stand.

“AAP is a party without any ideology. Sukhpal Singh Khaira, the Leader of Opposition in Punjab, representing AAP is talking of Khalistan in this day and age. You want the Congress to join hands with a party which talks of Khalistan? No, it will never happen,” Pawan Khera, Congress leader and a confidante of former CM Sheila Dikshit said yesterday, articulating the party’s stand.

Meanwhile, Congress veteran Ahmed Patel met TMC chief and Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee this evening to signal a resilient anti-BJP Opposition unity despite the Delhi stalemate where the Congress has taken a stand reverse to the larger Opposition — something Banerjee doesn’t appear comfortable with.

The meeting was timed after Banerjee, Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy, Andhra CM N Chandrababu Naidu and Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to the Centre seeking resolution of Kejriwal’s issues.

The Congress believes in its resurgence in Delhi and sees AAP as a dying force. Patel may well have hammered this point to Banerjee whose stand on coalitions has been clear. She has said everyone should back the party most likely to defeat the BJP in a given state. “In Delhi that’s us,” says Congress.

Ideologically, the Congress sees AAP as closer to BJP. The party also asks why AAP fights elections only in states where Congress stands to gain in a bipolar contest. Cases in point are Punjab and now Haryana. “AAP is BJP’s B team and Kejriwal played a major role in making Narendra Modi the PM in 2014,” says Delhi Congress chief Ajay Makan.









Greece and Macedonia set aside three decades of dispute on Sunday as they agreed on a new name for the former Yugoslav republic, paving the way for its possible admission to the European Union and NATO. The foreign ministers of the two countries signed an accord to rename the former Yugoslav republic the “Republic of North Macedonia”, despite a storm of protest over a deal seen as a national sellout by some on both sides.

In the idyllic setting of Prespes, a lake region that borders Greece, Macedonia and Albania, leaders from the two countries embraced and shook hands in the presence of European and United Nations officials.

Following the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991, Greece’s northern neighbour took the name Macedonia. Athens refused to accept it, saying it implied territorial claims over the Greek province of Macedonia and an appropriation of ancient Greek culture and civilisation.

The agreement still requires the approval of both parliaments and a referendum in Macedonia. That approval is far from assured, as it faces stiff opposition from the Greek public, and Macedonia’s president has vowed to block the deal.

“Very few believed we would be able to leave behind 26 years of unfruitful dispute,” Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said.

“We have a historic responsibility that this deal is not held in abeyance,” Tsipras said as he and his Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev received a standing ovation.

Tsipras survived a no-confidence vote mounted by the opposition in parliament on Saturday. But up to 70 percent of Greeks object to the name compromise, an opinion poll by the Proto Thema newspaper showed on Saturday.

Veteran UN mediator Matthew Nimetz, who has overseen talks for a quarter-century, described the agreement as a fair and honourable deal. It was, he said, an example of “how neighbours can solve a problem if they really work at it”.

Athens had blocked Macedonia’s hopes of joining the EU and NATO, objections it must now lift under the deal. “One big concern is Russia. Moscow has noticeably refused to endorse the agreement,” said James Ker-Lindsay, professor of politics and policy at St Mary’s University in London. “It knows that this will see Macedonia join NATO,” he said.









AAP leader and Delhi’s health minister Satyendar Jain has been hospitalised after his health deteriorated last evening.

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal confirmed the news on Twitter. “Satyendar Jain shifted to a hospital due to his deteriorating health,” Kejriwal wrote on Twitter.

Satyendar Jain along with Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, deputy CM Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai were staging a sit-in protest at L-G Anil Baijal’s house. He began an indefinite hunger strike on June 12 to press for their demands.





Pro-India and anti-Pakistan slogans rang out as rifleman Aurangzeb, shot by terrorists after being abducted last week on his way home to celebrate Id, was laid to rest on the festive day in his native hamlet in the border district of Poonch.

Salani is home to mostly serving soldiers or those who have served in Indian armed forces.

The coffin, wrapped in the Tricolour, was carried on their shoulders by army jawans and officers who trekked a serpentine path in the mountainous belt for over half an hour to reach the village on the evening of Saturday, the day most of India celebrated Id.

Thousands had joined the soldier’s last journey, while several thousand more thronged the hamlet, raising patriotic slogans and demanding that the army avenge the killing.

Aurangzeb’s parents Hanief and Raj Bi, brothers and five sisters broke down. “We want the government and the army to take revenge. Those involved in his killing should be eliminated within 72 hours. I urge Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take stern action and not show weakness with regard to Kashmir and clean up all those bad people,” Aurangzeb’s father Mohmmad Hanief said.




The forthcoming Madhya Pradesh assembly election is set to witness a high-octane campaign between the BJP and Congress not only in cities and villages but also on social media. Nearly 65,000 ‘cyber warriors’ of the BJP are preparing to take on ‘Rajiv Ke Sipahi’ of the Congress in cyber space in a bid to woo young voters on social media platforms.

The BJP’s state information technology (IT) cell in-charge, Shivraj Singh Dabi, announced that about 65,000 ‘cyber warriors’ have been deployed by the party in the last three months and 5,000 more will be deputed shortly.

On the other hand, the state Congress has set up a team of around 4,000 ‘Rajiv Ke Sipahi’ (named after their leader and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi) to battle it out against the BJP on social media. The grand old party will train 5,000 more people for the task, the state party’s IT cell in-charge, Dharmendra Bajpai, said. “We are going to hold training sessions in the state’s revenue divisions from June 25,” he said.

Laying out the plan, both the leaders emphasised that they were going to reach out to people on popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter with a special focus on WhatsApp owing to its wide reach. “During elections, our biggest weapon is going to be WhatsApp,” Bajpai said.




Decades of commercial mountaineering have turned Mount Everest into the world’s highest rubbish dump as an increasing number of big-spending climbers pay little attention to the ugly footprint they leave behind en route the summit of the 8,848-metre peak.

“It is disgusting, an eyesore,” says Pemba Dorje Sherpa, who has summited Everest 18 times. “The mountain is carrying tonnes of waste.” As the number of climbers on the mountain has soared — at least 600 people have scaled the world’s highest peak so far this year alone — the problem has worsened.

Melting glaciers caused by global warming are exposing trash that has accumulated on the mountain since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made the first successful summit 65 years ago.

Pemba shrugs that many just don’t care. Compounding the problem, some officials accept small bribes to turn a blind eye, he said. “There is just not enough monitoring at the high camps to ensure the mountain stays clean,” he said.

The Everest industry has boomed in the last two decades. This has sparked concerns of overcrowding as well as fears that ever more inexperienced mountaineers are being drawn by low-cost expedition operators desperate for customers.

This inexperience is exacerbating the rubbish problem, warns Damian Benegas, who has been climbing Everest for over two decades with twin brother Willie.





With Maruti bringing the new generation Alto and Hyundai introducing a completely new entry-level model, buyers in India’s small car market, who have had little to choose from in the absence of new launches since five years, would now be spoilt for choice.

“We would be launching a contemporary car that will address the entry-level of the car market,” said Rakesh Srivastava, director – sales and marketing at Hyundai Motor India.

The all-new model would also derive its strength from high quality and high aspiration levels akin to the Creta in the SUV segment and Elite i20 in the compact car segment, he said. The new model, which is likely to be badged as the Santro, would eventually replace the ageing Eon and is expected to be bigger and wider than its rivals.

Amid shifting buyer preferences and lack of choice, the segment, which once accounted for a lion’s share in the domestic passenger vehicle market, has been ceding ground to pricier and bigger models.





At least 75 lakh users consumed more than 7,100 terabytes (TB) of data in April alone at 370 railway stations offering WiFi services — the equivalent of almost 23 lakh high definition (HD) movies streamed online.

Data consumption also saw a four-fold jump over the last year: Compared to April 2018, 60 lakh people in 110 stations consumed 1,600 TB in March 2017. And, the usage pattern suggested high consumption and more users in several non-metro cities: Almost 10,000 users in Pune, Allahabad, Vijayawada, and Visakhapatnam consumed, on average, over 2 TB of data.

The figures were compiled by RailTel and Google, which teamed up in 2016 to hook 400 stations to public WiFi and completed the project about a week ago. “[The project] validates our belief that there is this huge data hunger in India,” said K Suri of Google’s Next Billion Users Initiative.

According to Prasanto Roy, vice president of NASSCOM, Internet in India is penetrating into the next 300 million users, who consume less text and more video because they are largely non-English speaking and have lower literacy levels.





Defending champions Germany made a disastrous start to their bid to win back-to-back World Cups with a shock defeat by Mexico. Hirving Lozano’s first-half goal was the difference between the two sides in an enthralling encounter in Moscow.

Aleksandar Kolarov scored a spectacular free-kick to give Serbia a deserved victory in their opening World Cup Group E match against Costa Rica.

Brazil joined the host of big guns who have failed to fire in their opening World Cup game as lax defending from a corner allowed Switzerland to cancel out Philippe Coutinho’s spectacular curling strike and grab a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

The five-times world champions took a deserved lead midway through the first half in the Group E game when Coutinho’s irresistible long-distance shot cannoned in off the far post, but Tite’s side, who had looked so impressive in the tournament build-up, failed to build on their advantage.

The highly organised Swiss hit back early in the second period from one of their few chances as Brazil’s Casemiro and Miranda switched off and the unmarked Steven Zuber barely had to leave his feet to nod in Xherdan Shaqiri’s whipped corner.

Brazil went all out in pursuit of a winner and came agonisingly close to finding it but had to settle for a point and joined fellow tournament favourites Germany, Spain and Argentina in failing to win their first game.




Seasoned batsman Suresh Raina was on Saturday named as a replacement for Ambati Rayudu in the ODI squad against England after the Hyderabadi batsman failed to clear the mandatory fitness test. The 32-year-old Rayudu’s score was found to be well below the threshold mark of 16.1 after he underwent the yo-yo test along with the rest of the England-bound squad, including skipper Virat Kohli, at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.



The indispensable first step to getting the things you want in this life is this: Decide what you want. – Ben Stein


A man was driving down the road when a policeman stopped him. The officer looked in the back of the man’s truck and said, “Why are these penguins in your truck?”

The man replied, “These are my penguins. They belong to me.”

“You need to take them to the zoo,” the policeman said.

The next day, the officer saw the same guy driving down the road. He pulled him over again. He saw the penguins were still in the truck, but they were wearing sunglasses this time. “I thought I told you to take these penguins to the zoo!” the officer said.

“I did,” the man replied. “And today I’m taking them to the beach.”

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