Newsletter 26th June, 2018





The Assumption Island project was discussed by PM Narendra Modi and visiting President Danny Faure on Monday despite the Seychelles President reportedly telling his country’s media ahead of his India visit that it would not be discussed in formal talks in Delhi.

Prime Minister Modi after formal talks announced that discussions on the Assumption Island ambitious project would continue pending ‘a mutually agreeable solution based on respective interests’. And the two countries would work towards a solution to build the base.

President Faure whose party is in minority in parliament has been forced to not push for ratification of an amended agreement on developing the joint military base because of opposition protests. Faure also assured of the agreement not being derailed.

Meanwhile, India and Seychelles have agreed to enhance their defence cooperation. Prime Minister Modi today announced a $100 million line of credit to the island nation to build its defence capabilities and purchase weapons from India.





Arun Jaitley, the convalescing minister without portfolio, has revisited the 1975 Emergency through a blog, likening Indira Gandhi to Adolf Hitler, cautioning against attempts to curb free speech and unwittingly drawing a parallel with contemporary India.

“If you curb free speech and allow only propaganda, you become the first victim of propaganda because you start believing that your own propaganda is the truth and the full truth,” Jaitley wrote.

The senior minister was marking the 43rd anniversary of the Emergency

“Both Hitler and Mrs Gandhi never abrogated the Constitution. They used a republican Constitution to transform democracy into dictatorship. Hitler arrested most of the opposition members of parliament and converted his minority government in Parliament into a 2/3rd majority government,” Jaitley wrote.

Jaitley drew a distinction between Indira and Hitler, too. “The Representation of People Act was retrospectively amended to insert those provisions so that the invalid election of Mrs Gandhi could be validated by changes in law. Unlike Hitler, Mrs Gandhi went ahead to transform India into a ‘dynastic democracy’,” he wrote.





Parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar yesterday announced the dates of the Mosoon Session –  the session will run from July 18 to August 10.

The legislative business for the session will include bills to replace the six ordinances that were promulgated after the budget session.

Trinamul Congress leader Derek O’Brien accused the BJP-led government of never being serious about Parliament, saying the schedule announced by Ananth Kumar reduced the number of working days by a week compared with 2010 and 2011.

The triple talaq bill, which has been passed by the Lok Sabha, is pending in the Rajya Sabha.

The last session – the post-recess budget session – was a complete washout, with the Narendra Modi government facing its first no-confidence motion notice moved by an erstwhile ally, the Telugu Desam Party. It was not taken up on the premise that the Lok Sabha was not in order although the Desam – backed by almost the entire Opposition – had submitted fresh notices every day.





None from the Narendra Modi government had till Monday evening stood up for Sushma Swaraj following Right-wing trolls’ abusive attacks on her, in contrast to some of the BJP’s political opponents who expressed support for the foreign minister.

Sushma had angered the trolls by first transferring a Lucknow passport official accused of bias against an inter-faith couple, and then re-tweeting some of the hate messages that came her way.

Her re-tweets had further incensed the trolls, who accused her of playing the “victim card”.

What many found curious was that Sushma, who has kept a low profile throughout the Modi era, should have stirred the hornet’s nest with a swipe at what is widely believed to be the Right-wing ecosystem.

Some like Congress politician Abhishek Singhvi complimented her for the grace with which she had taken the trolls on. “Appalled at the trolling level of @SushmaSwaraj by the usual / some unusual SM suspects. Admired at the way she handled it with dignity & grace. We can all learn a trick from Sushma Ji’s book,” he posted.

While Sushma has been under fire on Twitter earlier too, what made it particularly vicious this time was the way some of the messages dwelt on her kidney transplant while wishing the worst for her.




Raising the heat on the Ayodhya issue ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said Monday that “there should be no doubt” that a temple will be built at the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site.

This is the first time in the recent past that Adityanath has spoken so strongly in favour of the temple’s construction.

His remarks came after Ram Vilas Vedanti, one of the participants and a member of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, declared on the dais that they would start construction of the temple without waiting for a court order. Assuring the gathering that he was one of them, Adityanath said: “You have shown so much patience so far, you should show patience for some more time.”

Warning of a conspiracy to create hurdles in the way of building the temple, Adityanath said: “On one hand, they file an application in court to ensure that the hearing does not take place before 2019. On the other hand, they talk of BJP not doing anything in the direction. Ultimately, whether it’s the BJP or any government, efforts will be made to find a solution in a Constitutional way.”








Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan won sweeping new executive powers on Monday after his victory in landmark elections that also saw his Islamist-rooted AK Party and its nationalist allies secure a majority in Parliament.

Erdogan’s main rival, Muharrem Ince of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), conceded defeat but branded the elections “unjust” and said the presidential system that now takes effect was “very dangerous” because it would lead to one-man rule.

Erdogan, 64, the most popular – yet divisive – leader in modern Turkish history, told jubilant, flag-waving supporters there would be no retreat from his drive to transform Turkey, a NATO member and, at least nominally, a candidate to join the European Union.

The vote ushers in a powerful executive presidency backed by a narrow majority in a 2017 referendum. The office of Prime Minister will be abolished and Erdogan will be able to issue decrees to form and regulate ministries and remove civil servants, all without parliamentary approval.





US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he will not put a timeline on negotiations for North Korea’s denuclearization, contradicting a senior defense official who said Washington would soon present a timeline to North Korea with “specific asks.”

Pompeo, who has been charged with leading negotiations aimed at persuading North Korea to give up a nuclear weapons program that threatens the United States, said he would “constantly reassess” whether enough progress was being made to continue talks. “We hope that we will have an ongoing process of making progress,” CNN quoted him as saying. “I am not going to put a timeline on it, whether that’s two months, six months, we are committed to moving forward in an expeditious moment to see if we can achieve what both leaders set out to do,” Pompeo told CNN, referring to a June 12 summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.








As Mumbai recorded the season’s highest rainfall, 14 cars slid and crashed into a 60-foot pit at 4 am after a portion of this plush Central Mumbai apartment’s compound wall collapsed into an adjoining plot of land being developed by Dosti Realty.

Residents say they have taken Dosti Realty to court over the construction pit, alleging that the pit had weakened the foundation of Lloyd’s Estate. Even as a structural audit of the building is underway, residents also said that their concerns were relayed to the Antop Hill Police the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Dosti Realty said the heavy rains had caused the landslip.

Some 120 families living in one wing at Lloyd’s Estate have now been asked to vacate their homes as a precautionary measure. Officials say their building is located precariously close to the landslip.

The torrential rains since Sunday night claimed three lives in Mumbai and its adjoining areas. Water-logging across the city disrupted both road and rail traffic as the city recorded the season’s highest rainfall. On Monday morning, the Santacruz observatory recorded 231.4 mm rainfall in the last 24 hours. This is the first time that it has crossed 200 mm this year.

The Mumbai Police registered a case against the top brass of Dosti Realty Ltd, along with unnamed officials of the BMC’s Building Proposals department and of the ward office’s Buildings and Factory department.




A judicial probe set up by the Madhya Pradesh government into the gunning down of eight SIMI members hours after they escaped from the Bhopal Central Jail in October 2016 has held that “the use of force resulting in (the) death of the escaped persons was quite inevitable and quite reasonable under the prevailing circumstances”.

The eight SIMI members were lodged at the state’s most secure prison and were being tried for several cases including offences punishable with death or life imprisonment. They had escaped after tying up one guard and slitting the throat of another. They had then opened the lock of the cell with a key and scaled the outer jail wall using a ladder made of bedsheets and wooden pieces, the one-man judicial commission noted, in its 17-page report tabled in the MP Assembly Monday.

Two videos purportedly of the encounter recorded on mobile phones had surfaced hours after the encounter in the intervening night between October 30 and 31, 2016, raising questions and causing a political storm. While the home minister and senior police officers maintained that the encounter was genuine, Opposition parties had alleged that the suspects were neutralised without giving them a chance to surrender or take them alive.

Retired High Court judge Justice S K Pande was asked by the government on November 7, 2016, to probe the jailbreak and the subsequent encounter.

According to the probe report, three police teams zeroed in on the accused to arrest them but when asked to surrender they (SIMI members) opened fire and tried to injure policemen with sharp-edged weapons. “This act of firing from firearms and use of sharp-edged weapons created apprehensions in the minds of villagers and prevented further advance of police parties to make arrests. Under these forced circumstances, the police opened fire and the injured persons succumbed on the spot,’’ the judge said. The report does not mention how did the SIMI members access firearms and weapons and if they got any outside help.





Major Nikhil Rai Handa, arrested for killing fellow officer Major Amit Dwivedi’s wife Shelja, had gifted her a phone and made 3,000 calls this year, show call records. In judicial custody for four days, Major Handa will be taken to Meerut to reconstruct the crime. The police have arrested his uncle and a cousin for “helping” him.

In Amritsar, where Shelja was cremated on Monday, her brother Sukaran Kalia, a lawyer, said his sister “did not have an affair with Major Handa. He had been stalking her. Such claims by the police have hurt the family”.

The Delhi Police have recovered the clothes Major Handa was wearing when he allegedly killed Shelja as well as two Swiss knives. While fleeing to Meerut, Major Handa reportedly got his car washed to remove the victim’s bloodstains and also threw away her cellphone. But a forensic team took seven blood samples from the car which matched with Shelja’s blood group. The hair samples found in the car matched too. The dumped cellphone has been recovered.





The income-tax (I-T) department has attached over 1,500 unaccounted properties worth Rs 43 billion across the country within one and a half years of the introduction of the revised benami legislation. Jaipur and Mumbai top the list, with attachments of 200 properties each.

\Patna has seen the least number of attachments at 30, followed by Lucknow at 50, while in Kolkata, Chandigarh, and Hyderabad, 144, 110, and 100 properties got attached, respectively, says a finance ministry official. “The I-T department has worked swiftly in identifying benamitransactions since the enactment of the revised legislation. Over 1,500 properties have been attached so far. Many are on the radar. Search and surveys are on involving gold dealers, bankers, hawala operators, senior government officials, and politicians, etc,” said another official.

The benami legislation that existed since 1988 was reworked and made more stringent by the current government from November 1, 2016.The Act enables the violators to be prosecuted with a rigorous imprisonment of anywhere between one and seven years and a penalty of up to 25 per cent of the fair market value of the property.

Earlier this month, the government had announced a reward scheme for whistle-blowers of benami transactions, under which an individual can get a reward of up to Rs 10 million for providing information to the tax authorities.

Benami transactions essentially mean black money is invested in properties in the names of others, even though the benefits are enjoyed by the investor concealing his/her ownership in the tax returns.




With Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) joining Saudi Aramco as a strategic partner in the Rs 3-lakh crore Ratnagiri mega refinery project in Maharashtra, it will be the single largest overseas investment in the Indian oil refining sector.

Saudi Aramco, which had earlier joined the project in April, on Monday signed a pact with ADNOC to jointly develop and build an integrated refinery and petrochemicals complex at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra. The project will be implemented by Ratnagiri Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd (RRPCL).

RRPCL, which is promoted by a consortium of India PSUs consisting of IOCL, BPCL and HPCL, will now have Saudi Aramco and ADNOC as overseas strategic partners. The project will be set up as a 50:50 joint partnership between the consortium from India and Saudi Aramco and ADNOC.

Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said this would be the largest FDI in the refining sector but more than the investment, the pact signifies the strategic partnership between India, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.





A preliminary examination by regulator Sebi has favoured adjudication proceedings against ICICI Bank and its CEO Chanda Kochhar for alleged violation of disclosure norms regarding “conflict of interest” in the business dealings of her husband with the Videocon group, a PTI report said.

ICICI Bank may face a penalty of up to Rs 25 crore under Sebi regulations for such lapses, while the fine for Kochhar may go up to Rs 1 crore, besides other penal actions, the news agency quoted a senior official as saying.

The adjudication process will formally convene soon, after taking into account the replies to the showcause notices issued by Sebi to ICICI Bank, Kochhar and others in this matter, the report said.




Uruguay burnished their World Cup credentials with a 3-0 victory over 10-man Russia on Monday, finishing top of Group A with a perfect record while dampening the hopes of the tournament hosts, who had to settle for second.

Luis Suarez grabbed his second goal of the tournament to open Uruguay’s account with a free-kick after 10 minutes and they doubled the lead with an own goal from Russia’s Denis Cheryshev soon after.

That silenced a vociferous home crowd who had been in party mode after Russia’s opening two victories and were not expecting their final group contest to be effectively ended in the 36th minute when Igor Smolnikov was sent off for a second booking.

In an inconsequnetial match, Saudi Arabia beat Egypt 2-1.

Spain snatched a 2-2 draw against Morocco to qualify for the World Cup last 16 and take top spot in Group B ahead of Portugal on goals scored.

Morocco striker Khalid Boutaib gave the African side a shock early lead, but Isco levelled, blasting high into the net after a layoff from Andres Iniesta.

Morocco, already eliminated, struck again in the 81st minute when substitute Youssef En-Nesyri crashed in a header which looked set to inflict a first defeat on Spain since Euro 2016. But substitute Iago Aspas levelled in stoppage-time after consultation from the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), putting Spain on top ahead of Portugal, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Iran.

In the last 16s, Uruguay will meet Portugal while Spain will meet Russia.




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Fear is good in small amounts, but when it is a constant, pounding companion, it cuts away at who you are and makes it hard to do what you know is right.” – Christopher Paolini


A man wanted to determine if both his wife and mistress were faithful to him. So he decided to send them on the same cruise, then later question each one on the other’s behavior. When his wife returned, he asked her about the people on the trip in general, then casually asked her about the specific behaviour of the passenger he knew to be his mistress.

“She slept with nearly every man on the ship,” his wife reported. The disheartened man then rendezvoused with his cheating mistress to ask her the same questions about his wife.

“She was a real lady,” his mistress said.

“How so?” the encouraged man asked.

“She came on board with her husband and never left his side.”

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