Newsletter 20th June, 2018





The awkward political alliance in Jammu and Kashmir came unstuck on Tuesday with the BJP, citing the PDP’s “inability” to address core issues and improve law and order in the state, suddenly withdrew support to its partner of three years.

‘Frenemies’ at the best of times, the saffron party let go of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s hand and said it had become “untenable” to go with her any further in Jammu and Kashmir. The announcement, made by BJP general secretary Ram Madhav in New Delhi, set the stage for Governor’s Rule —  if imposed, it will be the fourth time since 2008 and the eighth since 1977 — and triggered frenetic talk of early elections in the state.

In Srinagar, Mehbooba, claimed she was “not shocked” by the BJP’s decision to pull the plug on her tentative administration. After an emergency meeting with the top PDP leadership she said that her party has always maintained that a “muscular security policy” would not work in the state and that reconciliation was the way out. “Our alliance was not liked by people, but the ideas, for which it was made, were bigger. These included talks with Pakistan, ceasefire, reconciliation and confidence-building measures,” she said soon after submitting her resignation as Chief Minister to Governor NN Vohra.

The two partners had campaigned hard against each other in the run-up to Assembly polls in which the BJP won 25 seats and the PDP 28 in the 87-member House.

The NC snapped up 15 seats and the Congress 12. Other parties won seven. But soon after results were out, the bitterness during campaigning was forgotten and an alliance forged two months after the December 2014 elections. They had then said that behind the “agenda of alliance” was the dream that the state would be pulled out of the unending cycle of violence.

Madhav said the BJP joined hands with the PDP respecting the mandate of the people of the state, but the alliance partner showed little interest in improving law and order.





The Congress and National Conference (NC) are not looking at the option of forming a new government in J&K with the PDP after Mehbooba Mufti resigned Tuesday as Chief Minister following the BJP’s withdrawal from her government.

Reacting to the state government’s collapse, NC leader Omar Abdullah called for fresh elections while the Congress indicated that it preferred the imposition of Governor’s rule at this juncture.

Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the situation in J&K is not conducive for elections, and that the way ahead is imposition of Governor’s rule. But this stand is at variance with that of some Opposition parties, including the Left, which believe that Governor’s rule “may not help in addressing the deepening alienation of the people”.

The only other option on the table is formation of a new government by the BJP and the NC.

While sources in the BJP did not rule out this possibility in the long term, Congress sources said they do not foresee such a scenario. “After the PDP experience, we don’t think the NC would take such a risk,” a senior Congress leader said.

Azad, a former J&K chief minister and Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, said the Congress would not have any tie-up with the PDP, directly or indirectly. “For us, there is no difference between the BJP and the PDP now. That difference was there three-and-a-half years ago… PDP is responsible for bringing the BJP into J&K,” Azad said.

The “only option now is Governor’s rule”, he said, adding that elections can be held in the state a year later along with the general elections.

Abdullah, meanwhile, met Governor N N Vohra after which he demanded early elections. “I told the Governor that in the 2014 elections, the National Conference did not have the mandate to form a government and today also we don’t have the mandate. We have neither been approached nor have we approached any party for support to form a government in the state. The Governor has no option but to impose Governor’s rule and improve the situation so that a democratic government is formed in the state after holding fresh elections,” he said.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi stated that the ‘opportunistic’ nature of the coalition had ‘set fire to Jammu and Kashmir’ and resulted in the killing of countless brave soldiers as well as innocent civilians. Gandhi said that the damage shall continue even if Centre imposed governor’s rule in the state.





Bringing an end to the nine-day political deadlock in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Tuesday called off his sit-in at the Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal’s residence after bureaucrats started attending meetings with AAP ministers,

“We have nothing against IAS officers, 99% of them are good people, we have worked with them to improve governance in Delhi. They were just a front for interference by central govt & LG,” Kejriwal said in a press conference after leaving the L-G’s residence. He also stated that the “struggle” will continue until Delhi is granted full statehood.

The development came hours after the L-G wrote to the chief minister asking him to meet officers urgently to address concerns of both sides through dialogue. Baijal shot off a letter to Kejriwal in response to his deputy Manish Sisodia’s communication in which the latter had asked for a meeting between the government and bureaucrats to end the impasse.

“The L-G requested the CM to urgently meet the officers at the Secretariat so that apprehensions and concerns of both sides can be suitably addressed through dialogue in the best interest of the people of Delhi,” an official from Baijal’s office said in a statement.





The government has decided not to go ahead with Air India stake sale in an election year and will provide required funds for its operations, a senior official said on Tuesday.

The decision comes less than three weeks after the proposed 76% strategic stake sale in debt-laden national carrier failed to attract any bidder.

Air India will very soon get funds from the government for its day-to-day operations and will even place orders for a couple of aircraft, the government official said.

The decision was taken at the high-level meeting convened by Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday. The meeting was attended by Piyush Goyal, who has been temporarily given the charge of Finance Ministry, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and other senior officials of finance and civil aviation ministries.

“The airline is posting operational profits. None of the flights go empty. With all the cost-efficient mechanism in place, we will continue improving its operational efficiency. There is no need to rush in for disinvestment as of now,” the official said.

The government is looking at turning around the airline to ensure that it makes profits on overall basis before going in for listing.









The United States announced Tuesday it was leaving the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, with Ambassador Nikki Haley calling it “an organization that is not worthy of its name.” It was the latest withdrawal by the Trump administration from an international institution.

Haley, Trump’s envoy to the UN, said the US had given the human rights body “opportunity after opportunity” to make changes. She lambasted the council for “its chronic bias against Israel” and lamented the fact that its membership includes accused human rights abusers such as China, Cuba, Venezuela and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights,” Haley said.

The announcement came just a day after the UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, denounced the Trump administration for separating migrant children from their parents.

Haley suggested the decision need not be permanent, adding that if the council did adopt reforms, “we would be happy to rejoin it.” She said the withdrawal notwithstanding, the US would continue to defend human rights at the United Nations.

The move extends a broader Trump administration pattern of stepping back from international agreements and forums under the president’s “America First” policy. Since January 2017, it has announced its withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, left the UN educational and cultural organization and pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. Other contentious moves have included slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum against key trading partners, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv.





Pakistan continues to be ahead of India when it comes to possessing nuclear warheads, with China having double the quantity, according to a report by a leading Swedish think-tank.

Pakistan is believed to have 140-150 nuclear warheads this year, 10 more than last year. In contrast, India is said to have 130-140 nuclear warheads, according to the annual nuclear forces data by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Russia and the US hold over 92 per cent of the total warheads, it said. SIPRI said nine countries — the US, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — had 14,465 nuclear warheads at the beginning of 2018, of which 3,750 were actually deployed.

At start of 2017, the total nuclear warhead count was 14,935, it said. The reduction is largely due to arms control commitments by the US and Russia in 2010 Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms.









Civil society groups in Nagaland on Monday held a demonstration in Kohima and started a signature campaign across the state demanding that the incumbent director general of state police be retained.

The issue of 1992 batch Nagaland-cadre IPS officer Rupin Sharma (51) continuing as the DGP became a bone of contention between the government and civil society groups ever since Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, Deputy Chief Minister Y Patton and Chief Secretary Temjen Toy wrote letters to Home Minister Rajnath Singh in March seeking Sharma’s replacement.

“He (Sharma) is a people’s DGP and an honest officer. He has done several good things for Naga people and has effected positive changes in functioning of the police department. Therefore he is enjoying full public support,” said a senior administrative officer at the headquarters.

Members of several Nagaland-based Facebook groups are coordinating for the signature campaign. “After a long time, Nagaland got to see an honest and transparent officer that we have been longing for years. The government does not want him so that they can do whatever they want,” said Pito Swu, founder of The Naga Mirror, which claims to be the largest Facebook group in the state.





Giving an impetus to the low-cost housing segment, the Reserve Bank of India Tuesday stated housing loans of up to Rs 35 lakh, for dwellings costing less than Rs 45 lakh, will be treated as priority sector lending. PSL loans are relatively cheaper than market interest rate.

“…the housing loan limits for eligibility under priority sector lending will be revised to Rs 35 lakh in metropolitan centres, and Rs 25 lakh in other centres…,” the RBI said in a notification.

However, it comes with a condition that the overall cost of the dwelling unit in the metropolitan centre (with population of ten lakh and above) and at other centres should not exceed Rs 45 lakh and Rs 30 lakh, respectively, for being classified as priority sector.

At present, loans to individuals for up to Rs 28 lakh in metropolitan centres and Rs 20 lakh in other centres, can be classified under priority sector, provided that the cost of dwelling unit does not exceed Rs 35 lakh and Rs 25 lakh respectively.





The possibility of a full-blown trade war between the US and China spooked global markets on Tuesday, with its impact being felt on the domestic bourses as well.

The BSE Sensex plunged around 262 points to end at a two-week low of 35286.74, while the broader Nifty dropped 89 points to 10710.45. US President Donald Trump has threatened to impose additional tariffs on Chinese goods and Beijing has vowed to retaliate.

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 2.78 per cent, while Japan’s Nikkei ended lower 1.77 per cent and China’s Shanghai Composite Index slumped 3.53 per cent. Taiwan and Singapore also closed with losses. European markets, too, were down in their early session. Frankfurt was trading lower 1.22 per cent, while Paris CAC 40 fell 1.10 per cent. London’s FTSE was down 2.25 per cent.

Dow Jones was trading down 1.41 per cent, while the Nasdaq was down 0.79 per cent in morning trade.





Despite adverse impact on GST implementation, India saw a 20 per cent increase in both the number of dollar millionaires and their wealth in 2017 to emerge as the fastest growing market for high net worth population, a report said on Tuesday. The report, which comes amid growing concerns over social ramifications of asymmetry in wealth distribution, said the number of high net worth individuals grew 20.4 per cent to 263,000 people, while their collective wealth grew 21 per cent to over $1 trillion. “India was the fastest-growing market globally,” the report by French tech firm Capgemini said.

The country’s growth on both the number of HNIs and wealth is faster than the global average of 11.2 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively, the report by French tech firm Capgemini said.

At the same time, 670 million Indians comprising the population’s poorest half saw their wealth rise by just 1 per cent, as per the survey released by the international rights group Oxfam ahead of the annual World Economic Forum had said.





Miss Anukreethy Vas, 19, from Tamil Nadu was declared the winner of the 55th edition of Femina Miss India 2018 pageant held in New Delhi.

Miss Meenakshi Chaudhary from Haryana and Miss Shreya Rao from Andhra Pradesh bagged the first and second runner up positions respectively. The winners were crowned by the previous year winners, Miss World 2017, Manushi Chillar, Miss United Continents 2017, Sana Dua and Miss Intercontinental 2017, Priyanka Kumari for the respective titles to the end of the event.

The 30 participants were judged by Miss World 2017 and former Miss India Manushi Chillar, cricketers K L Rahul and Irfan Pathan, actors Bobby Deol, Kunal Kapoor, Malaika Arora Khan, Bollywood’s top fashion designer Gaurav Gupta and Indian journalist Faye D’Souza.





World Cup hosts Russia virtually booked their place in the second round with a 3-1 win over Egypt on Tuesday that moved them to top of Group A with six points from two games.

Three goals in the space of 15 minutes early in the second half put the Russians firmly in command before Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, who had a subdued game on his return from injury, struck from a penalty, awarded after a video review.

Should Uruguay (3 points) beat Saudi Arabia (0 points) on Wednesday it will ensure the South Americans and the Russians go through to the round of 16 with a game to spare.

Japan beat 10-man Colombia 2-1 in Group H to become the first Asian side to beat a South American one at the World Cup. Asian teams had managed three draws in 17 matches against South American sides but the four-times Asian champions made their extra man count after Colombia midfielder Carlos Sanchez became the first player to get a red card in Russia.

His sending-off in the third minute, for a deliberate handball, was the second fastest in World Cup history after Uruguay’s Jose Batista was dismissed after 55 seconds against Scotland in 1986. Shinji Kagawa scored from the resulting penalty to give Japan the lead.

Senegal has taken full advantage of its opponents’ errors to beat Poland 2-1 in their opening Group H match, finally giving Africa something to cheer about at the World Cup as the group favourites failed to fire.

The result leaves Senegal, famous winners over defending champions France in the opening match of its last World Cup appearance in 2002, level with Japan.





England stormed to a world record 481/6 as they demolished Australia’s bowling attack in the third match of their ODI series at Trent Bridge, Nottingham on Tuesday. In reply, Australia were bowled out for 239 in 37 overs, losing the match by massive margin of 242 runs.

Jonny Bairstow’s swashbuckling 139 and a magnificent 147 by Alex Hales took England past the total of 444/3 they made against Pakistan, also at Trent Bridge, two years ago.

Captain Eoin Morgan joined in the fun as he struck a 21-ball half century — the fastest by an England batsman in ODIs — to become his country’s leading One-day run scorer.

It looked as though England would go past the 500-run barrier before a few late wickets caused the run flow to dry up slightly.

England failed to score any boundaries in the last four overs but before that they struck 21 sixes during an incredible display of strokeplay. Australia fast bowler Andrew Tye suffered the worst punishment, his nine overs going for 100 runs.

England are no up 3-0 in the 5-match series.





Sensex 35,287 (-262), Nifty 10,710 (-90), Trading Value NSE (Rs.crores) 26,499

Nasdaq 7,726 (-21) Dow 24,700 (-287), S&P 2,763 (-11)

US$-Rs. 68.10 GBP-Rs. 89.89, Euro-Rs. 78.90, UAE Dhm-Rs.18.53, Can$-Rs. 51.37, Aus$- Rs. 50.26

GBP 0.75 /US$, Euro 0.86 /US$, Jap.Yen 109.90 /US$, Aus$ 1.35 /US$, Sing 1.35 /US$, Bang Taka 83.42 /US$, Can$ 1.32 /US$, Mal Ring 4.00 /US$,

Pak Re 120.11 /US$, Phil Peso 53.30 /US$, Russian Rouble 63.76 /US$, NZ$ 1.44 /US$, Thai Baht 32.70 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 26.25 /US$

Bitcoin – USD 6,713

Dollar Index 94.72 Brent Crude 75.33  BDI 1442

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,273 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 3137 / 2949, Silver (Rs. Per KG) 43,500





Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are, to some extent, a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it, piece by piece — by thought, choice, courage, and determination. – H. Jackson Brown





I hope England enforce the follow on. – Michael Vaughan, after Australia lost the Trent Bridge ODI by 242 runs.

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