Newsletter 25th June, 2018





Less than a week after the BJP pulled out of the Mehbooba Mufti-led coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir, a war of words has begun between the two former allies. While BJP president Amit Shah, on Saturday, accused the PDP of not honouring the Agenda of Alliance (AoA), the former CM hit back on Sunday.

“Many false charges levelled against us by our former allies. Our commitment to the Agenda of Alliance, co-authored by Ram Madhav & endorsed by senior leaders like Rajnath Ji never wavered. It is sad to see them disown their own initiative & label it a ‘soft approach’,” she tweeted.

In a series of tweets on Sunday, the former chief minister said the measures taken were “recognised and endorsed by BJP”. “Status quo on Article 370, dialogue with Pakistan & Hurriyat were a part of AoA. Encouraging dialogue, withdrawing cases against stonepelters & the unilateral ceasefire were much needed measures to restore confidence on the ground. This was recognized & endorsed by BJP,” she tweeted.

“Allegations of discrimination against Jammu & Ladakh have no basis in reality. Yes, the Valley has been in turmoil for a long time & the floods of 2014 were a setback, therefore needed focused attention. But that does not mean that there was any less development elsewhere,” she said. “Results on the ground for all to see. If anything, they should review the performance of their own ministers, who largely represented the Jammu region if there were any such concerns, none among them, either at state or central level, talked about it during the last 3 years,” she said.





The Congress on Sunday asked BJP chief Amit Shah not to “lecture” other parties and, instead, introspect on how miserably his party’s coalition government had performed in Jammu and Kashmir, plunging the state into turmoil.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala was responding to Shah’s speech in Jammu on Saturday, where he had attacked the People’s Democratic Party, National Conference and the Congress.

“Facts are sacrosanct. Instead of doing choreographed drama, Shah should reflect upon hard facts. After pushing the state into darkness, the BJP-PDP government ran away from responsibility,” Surjewala said.

He detailed the alleged failures of BJP governments at the Centre and in the states: “Sixteen major terror attacks took place on security installations. In the last 48 months, 381 jawans have been martyred and 240 civilians have died. The (Narendra) Modi government invited the Pakistan’s rogue ISI to investigate the Pathankot attack and the BJP president hailed Pakistan’s role in the Pathankot terror probe.”

Surjewala added: “In the past 48 months, there have been 3,000 ceasefire violations by Pakistan compared to 563 ceasefire violations during the last 48 months of the Congress government. They (the BJP) created an atmosphere of fear and radicalisation among the youth of the state.

“The public lynching of DSP Ayub Pandith and the Kathua rape shook the conscience of the nation. The horrific killing of an editor of a daily in the heart of Srinagar and the abduction and subsequent killing of the army Jawan, Aurangzeb, are prime examples of apathy.”

Surjewala recalled how schools have been burnt in Kashmir and youths forced out of work, while radicalisation has gone on unchecked.

“Tourism has dropped from 14.5 lakh visitors in 2012 to just 4.5 lakh in 2016.”





External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was on Sunday trolled and abused on Twitter over a controversy involving the issuance of passport to an inter-faith couple.

Last week, a Passport Seva Kendra official, Vikas Mishra, in Lucknow was transferred after the inter-faith couple alleged that he humiliated them when they went to the office with their passport applications.

According to the couple, he asked the husband to convert to Hinduism and pulled up the wife for marrying a Muslim.

A section of social media attacked Swaraj and the ministry for taking action against Mishra, claiming that he was just doing his duty.

However, the minister took it on the chin and retweeted some of the tweets that were even abusive and communal in nature.

Her reaction to the trolls was praised by the Congress. No matter the situation or reason, nothing calls for threats of violence, disrespect & abuse. @SushmaSwaraj ji, we applaud your decision to call out the heinous trolls of your own party. – Congress (@INCIndia)

Mishra had said in his defence that he was secular and had told the woman that her ‘nikahnama’ showed her name as Shazia Anas, which should be endorsed in her file.

“For this she refused. If she had consented… we would have sent it to the ‘A’ section for data modification. We have to see which person is taking the passport in what name. There is documentary proof, how can we ignore that. I am secular and I have myself had an inter-caste marriage,” he told the media.

Congress had earlier attacked the BJP over the incident, claiming that it reflected the psyche of hatred and division imbibed by the BJP.







Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan claimed victory in Sunday’s presidential election and said his ruling AK Party and its alliance partner had won a parliamentary majority. However, the main opposition party said it was too early to concede defeat and said it believed Erdogan could still fall short of the 50 per cent needed to avoid a runoff on July 8.

“Our people have given us the job of carrying out the presidential and executive posts,” he said in a short speech from Istanbul. “I hope nobody will try to cast a shadow on the results and harm democracy in order to hide their own failure.” Sunday’s vote ushers in a powerful new executive presidency long sought by Erdogan and backed by a small majority of Turks in a 2017 referendum. Critics say it will further erode democracy in the NATO member state and entrench one-man rule.

Erdogan’s main presidential rival, Muharrem Ince of the main opposition Republican People’s Party urged election monitors to remain at polling stations to help ensure against possible election fraud, as final results came in from large cities where his party typically performs strongly.

With 96 per cent of votes counted in the presidential race, Erdogan had 53 per cent, comfortably ahead of Ince on 31 per cent, broadcasters said.





President Donald Trump said on Sunday that people who enter the United States illegally should be sent back to where they came from immediately without any judicial process.

Facing a public outcry and pressure even from within his Republican Party, Trump last week reversed his policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border so the adults could be detained and prosecuted, a process that typically takes months.

Since buckling on the issue on Wednesday, Trump has redoubled his criticism of US immigration laws on Twitter and in speeches where he likened illegal immigrants to invaders trying to “break into” the country.

“We cannot allow all of these people to invade our country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no judges or court cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order. Most children come without parents,” Trump said Sunday on Twitter. “Cannot accept all of the people trying to break into our Country. Strong Borders, No Crime!”





Saudi women celebrated taking the wheel for the first time in decades yesterday as the kingdom overturned the world’s only ban on female motorists, a historic reform expected to usher in a new era of social mobility.

The much-trumpeted move is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to modernise the conservative petrostate—but it has been dented by the jailing of female activists who long opposed the driving ban. Apparently, it was to prevent these activists  from taking credit for tythe lifting of ban.

For now, the women taking to the roads appear mainly to be those who have swapped foreign licences for Saudi ones after undergoing a practical test.









Amid the ongoing controversy over Britain’s failure to include Indian students in the liberalised visa norms, no official from the Indian government has approached the British High Commission to India on the matter. This was stated by Sir Dominic Asquith, the British High Commissioner to India.

“The terms being offered to Indian students this year are no different from what they were last year. Last year, to our delight, we saw 30 per cent more students going to the UK.”

Highlighting the silence in India about the British post-graduate degrees not being recognised by Indian universities, he said: “I am surprised that no one talks about the 14,000 students who do Master’s in the UK and come back, and that qualification is not recognised in India. I find that a bit odd.”

Responding to a question on some individuals like Vijay Mallya, Lalit Modi and Nirav Modi, who are wanted by Indian agencies, finding shelter in the UK, the High Commissioner said: “The idea that we are somehow carefree about this is utterly ludicrous. We have a judicial system that we are extremely proud of. It may seem a bit protracted to an Indian audience, though to be fair, they have a legal system which is quite protracted as well. But the scrupulous adherence to judicial process is part of our democracy,” he said, while refusing to go into the details of individual cases.




The Supreme Court collegium’s recommendation for the appointment of two lawyers as judges of the Allahabad High Court has been returned for the second time by the unuion govt, citing complaints against them.

The two lawyers are Mohammad Mansoor and Basharat Ali Khan.

The NDA government had on an earlier occasion returned the file recommending the two names, citing complaints against the candidates. But the collegium reiterated its recommendation, terming the complaints as frivolous.

Last month, the recommendation was returned by the government to the collegium for reconsideration, after keeping the matter pending for over two-and-a-half years.




The state-wide plastic ban, including carry-bags and thermocol by the Devendra Fadanvis government, will result in loss of up to Rs 15,000 crore and nearly 3 lakh job, says the plastic manufacturing industry.

On March 23, the state announced a ban on manufacture, use, sale, distribution and storage of plastic materials such as one-time-use bags, spoons, plates, PET and PETE bottles and thermocol items. The government had given three months time to dispose of the existing stocks, which ended on June 23.

While retailers across the megapolis have said heavy fines for violating the bank will make them financially unviable and force them to turn away many customers, consumers have complained of inconvenience, and wondered whether the ban makes any sense.




After he allegedly murdered the wife of an Army Major and dumped her body near Delhi Cantt Metro station on Saturday, police said the accused, Major Nikhil Rai Handa (40), returned to the crime scene, but turned back on seeing police personnel. He then allegedly fled to Meerut, from where he was arrested on Sunday morning in connection with the crime.

On Saturday, 35-year-old Shailza Dwivedi was found with her throat slit at Brar Square. Police said that since the area is isolated, nobody spotted her body for a while. Around 1.30 pm, a water tanker driver passing by saw her lying in a pool of blood and made a PCR call.

According to police, around 11 am, Handa had picked up Shailza in his Honda City from the Army Base hospital. “They were headed towards the Ring Road when they got into a heated argument… and he allegedly slashed her neck with a knife. Shailza got out of the car and tried to run, but he mowed her down before fleeing from the spot,” alleged a police officer.

Police said two knives have been recovered from his car, which was seized from Meerut Cantonment. “Police said Handa lives with his wife, two children and parents.

Shailja’s husband, Major Amit Dwivedi also told the police that he suspected Major Handa for his wife’s murder.


Long ago, BA Programme would be the course students would take admission to if they missed out on Honours courses at Delhi University. In the last few years, though, the trend has started to change. This year, in a break from the past, the highest cut-off was for BA (Programme), released by Lady Shri Ram (LSR) College for Women at 98.75 per cent. Admission figures released by the university after the first list also revealed that maximum admissions (1,889) had taken place in the BA Programme course across colleges.

What explains the sudden popularity of the course? Kanika S Ahuja, associate professor of psychology at LSR, said it has a lot to do with students’ piquing interest in Civil Services. “Two subjects — history and political science — which are in the Mains, are both covered by joining BA Programme. We have seen that this has become the most sought-after combination recently. More and more girls are realising that it’s possible to crack the UPSC exam right after college. A few years ago, the most popular combination in BA Programme was psychology and economics,” she said.


IIFA Awards 2018 came to end on Sunday night. The big winners of the awards gala were Tumhari Sulu (Best Film), Sridevi (Best Actor – Female, for Mom), Irrfan Khan (Best Actor – Male, for Hindi Medium), Saket Chaudhary (Best Director, for Hindi Medium), Meher Vij (Best Supporting Actor – Female, for Secret Superstar) and Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Best Supporting Actor – Male, for Mom).

Bollywood stars like Rekha, Ranbir Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor, Kriti Sanon, Anil Kapoor, Karan Johar, Bobby Deol and Iulia Vantur gave some stunning performances.

Held at Siam Niramit Theatre in Bangkok, IIFA Awards 2018 was hosted by Karan Johar and Riteish Deshmukh.


R. Praggnanandhaa has become the country’s youngest and the world’s second youngest Grandmaster at the age of 12 years, 10 months and 13 days after reaching the final round of the ongoing Grendine Open in Italy.

The Chennai-based player was paired with Grandmaster Prujjsers Roland in the final round, which ensured that he would achieve the feat. After beating GM Moroni Lica Jr in the eighth round, he needed to play an opponent above rating of 2482 in the next round to make his third GM norm.

Ukraine’s Serget Karjakin remains the youngest ever GM, having achieved the feat at 12 years and seven months in 2002.


Lewis Hamilton roared to victory with a polished lights-to-flag drive for Mercedes in Sunday’s restored French Grand Prix to regain top spot in the world championship. The four-time world champion led from start to finish, bar one lap following his pit stop, as he claimed his first win in France, his third this year and the 65th of his career.

Hamilton came home seven seconds clear of Dutchman Max Verstappen with Kimi Raikkonen taking the third spot for Ferrari after passing his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo with five laps remaining.

After 8 races this season, the drivers stand thus:

1 Lewis Hamilton  MERCEDES  145

2 Sebastian  Vettel FERRARI  131

3 Daniel Ricciardo  RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER  96

4 Valtteri Bottas  MERCEDES  92

5 Kimi Räikkönen  FERRARI  83

6  Max Verstappen  RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER  68


India surprised Olympics champions Argentina 2-1 for a second consecutive win in the Champions Trophy hockey tournament. India scored both their goals in the second quarter through Harmanpreet Singh (17th min), who converted a penalty corner, and Mandeep Singh (28th min). Argentina’s lone goal came from the stick of drag-flicker Gonzalo Peillat, who scored from a set-piece in the 30th minute. India, eying their maiden Champions Trophy title, had crushed Pakistan 4-0 in their campaign-opener on Saturday.

India will take on world champions Australia in their next round-robin match on June 27.


Every team at the 2018 World Cup has played two matches, and now the final group stages matches will arrive with so much to play for. Group G saw two teams play on Sunday while every team in Group H played.

England destroyed Panama 6-1 on Sunday, and the win clinches a spot in the round of 16 for England and Belgium, which crushed Tunisia 5-2 on Saturday. Now Gareth Southgate and Roberto Martinez’s squads will meet on Thursday to determine who wins the group.

It was another fine showing from England, who got three goals from Harry Kane and a double from defender John Stones. Kane now leads the tournament with five goals.

Japan salvaged a point against Senegal (2-2) thanks to a late Keisuke Honda equalizer. Both teams stay tied atop the group with four points, leaving plenty to play for in the final match.

Columbia pounded Poland, 3-0, on Sunday to stave off elimination and earn a chance to move on the final matchday.

Next 4 days will see 4 matches each, to finish the league stage.

The four teams of a group will play their last game at the same time so that no team can get an undue advantage of knowing the qualification position in advance.


When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you. – Lao-Tzu


Abe was well known for his cheapness and his ‘eye for a bargain’.

One day he was looking for a cheap wedding present for his niece when he noticed what was previously an expensive glass crystal vase lying in the corner in a shop.. It was in 3 pieces. After some haggling with the owner, Abe bought the broken vase for $5. He then filled in the congratulations card, wrote out his niece’s name and address and gave the owner another $5 so that the broken vase could be gift wrapped and mailed.

Abe then left the shop feeling quite pleased with himself. He expected his niece to think the vase had broken in the mail.

A few days later, he called his niece to see if the present had arrived.

“Yes, Uncle Abe, but unfortunately, it was in 3 pieces when it was delivered.”

“What terrible luck.” said Abe, “The Post Office is getting worse all the time.”

“It’s a shame,” she replied. “It was so beautifully wrapped. Each piece separately.”

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