Newsletter 29th June, 2018





A day after the US abruptly postponed crucial dialogue with India scheduled in Washington next week citing “unavoidable reasons”, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nation, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi “knows exactly why” and the reason had nothing to do with India.

“There is a very good reason. PM Modi knows exactly what. The rest of the world will know soon. It has nothing to do with India at all,” Nikki Haley told NDTV. “Things happen. It will come to light why this has been rescheduled. But the relationship between India and US has never been stronger in our eyes and I hope in the eyes of India it is the same way,” she said.

Nikki Haley also spoke about US pressure on India to cut oil imports from Iran and her conversation with PM Modi on the subject. She told the Prime Minister on Wednesday that it was important India cut its dependence on Iranian oil, adding that the US would work to allow India to use an Iranian port as corridor to Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, on a day when the Jammu-Kashmir police blamed elements across LoC for the killing of journalist Shujaat Bukhari, Haley said the US was approaching its relationship with its frontline partner “differently than in the past”.

“But we cannot tolerate its (Pakistan) government, or any other government, giving safe haven to terrorists. We won’t tolerate it. We are communicating this message to Pakistan more strongly than in the past and we hope to see changes,” she said.

Asked about Trump’s immigration crackdown impacting Indians too, Haley sought to make a difference and said, “We believe in legal immigration. We cannot start to have illegal immigrants come to America when terrorism is starting to be predominantly around.”

Speaking of her roots, she recalled her parents meeting and falling in love in Dharamsala and moving to the US with eight dollars in their pocket five decades ago as well as her visit to Golden Temple during her last visit to India as the Governor of South Carolina.





Accusing the BJP government of playing politics on the blood of soldiers, the Congress on Thursday said the sacrifice of soldiers was a matter of pride, not politics.

Reacting to the release of a video on the September 2016 surgical strikes on terrorist launch pads in Pakistan, the Congress said the “BJP was in a habit of using the valour of Army personnel for electoral benefits”.

“Our forces have given a befitting reply to every challenge to India’s integrity, both internal and external. Decisive demolition of the terror infrastructure has been a hallmark of the untiring mettle of our armed forces. Conducting strategic ‘surgical strikes’ with utmost precision and effective penetration at different times in last two decades has been characteristic of the grit and determination of our forces,” Randeep Surjewala said, seeking to underscore the point that these strikes are not new.

The Congress said the BJP “shamelessly politicised the 2016 surgical strikes for the March 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections and went to the extent of organising “samman samaroh” of then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in Agra besides running a high voltage publicity campaign by pasting posters and hoardings giving credit of the strikes to the PM”.

“BJP trashed every tradition of restraint by belligerent chest thumping to claim credit of surgical strike with an eye on political and electoral gain. BJP president Amit Shah went to the extent of claiming in October 2016 that the Army had crossed the LoC for the first time in 68 years,”




Ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament starting July 18, the government on Thursday began its outreach to enlist Opposition support for 68 pending bills in Lok Sabha and 40 in the Rajya Sabha.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel met former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as part of the government’s engagement with the wider Opposition to seek cooperation for the legislative agenda. This early outreach of the govt follows a washout of the Budget session recently.

The meeting lasted half an hour with Goel telling the veteran Congress leader that the government was ready to discuss all issues on the floor of the House.

Goel later said the former PM welcomed the government initiative to reach out to Opposition leaders and MPs and noted that it was the “responsibility of both ruling and Opposition parties to ensure both Houses worked smoothly”.

Important pending Bills are the Muslim Marriage (Protection of Marriage Rights) Bill, 2017, to end the practice of instant triple talaq; Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2017; Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017, and Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013.

The session also needs to replace six ordinances with Acts: Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance; Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance; Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of HCs (Amendment) Ordinance; Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Ordinance; National Sports University Ordinance; Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Ordinance.





With the SP and the BSP tying up to defeat the BJP in two key Lok Sabha bypolls this year in UP, including in CM Yogi Adityanath’s Gorakhpur, Prime Minister Narendra Modi set the tone for the 2019 elections, warning people to be wary of those who had cheated Dalits, backwards and deprived, and instead focused on building bungalows for themselves.

Addressing a gathering in Maghar, after laying the foundation stone of the Sant Kabir Academy, the Prime Minister said: “Those who talk about Samajwad or Bahujan, we can see their greed for power today. Just two days ago was the 45th year of the imposition of Emergency. Such is the greed for power that those who opposed Emergency and those who imposed it are today walking shoulder to shoulder to snatch power).”

“They do not think of the country or society, they are concerned only about the welfare of their own families. They are those who build their own bungalows by cheating the poor, Dalits, backwards, the deprived and oppressed. The people of Uttar Pradesh and this country should be cautious of such people,” he said.









US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will hold their first summit meeting on July 16 in the Finnish capital Helsinki to mend bilateral relations, the White House and the Kremlin announced yesterday.

The summit will take place four days after a NATO summit on July 11 and 12 in Brussels, Belgium, where Trump will meet leaders of US military allies. Trump plans to visit London to meet British Prime Minister Theresa May on July 13.

The two leaders “will meet on July 16, 2018, in Helsinki, Finland,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said. “The two leaders will discuss relations between the United States and Russia and a range of national security issues,” Sanders said in a statement.

In Moscow, the Kremlin press service said Putin and Trump will discuss “the current state and prospects of further development of Russian-US relations and also vital issues of the international agenda.”





A gunman opened fire at a local newspaper office in Maryland, killing five people and injuring others in what police said was a “targeted attack”.

Staff at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis said the attacker, armed with a shotgun and smoke grenades, shot through a glass door into the newsroom.

US media have named a suspect held by police as Jarrod Ramos, who is reported to have unsuccessfully sued the newspaper group in 2012 for defamation.

Police have not confirmed a motive. They said a white male suspect in his late 30s was taken into custody at the scene of the shooting and was being questioned.

President Donald Trump was briefed on the attack. He tweeted that his “thoughts and prayers” were with the victims and their families.









A 12-seater aircraft crashed into a bustling Mumbai suburb on Wednesday afternoon but the death toll was limited to five probably because the pilots guided the highly combustible mass towards a building under construction that was devoid of workers because of rain.

The dead include pedestrian Govind Pandit; pilots Maria Zuberi, 48, and Pradeep Rajput; engineer Surabhi Brijeshkumar Gupta, 34, and technician Manish Tejpal Pande, 21. Several people later credited Maria with averting a higher toll.

The King Air C-90 aircraft, which was on a test flight, crashed in Jagruti Nagar of Ghatkopar in eastern Mumbai at 1.11pm. It had taken off from Juhu at 12.20pm.

A section of civil aviation officials also felt that the pilots had tried to crash-land on the under-construction building to prevent higher casualties. But an official said immediate confirmation was not available as the aircraft’s communication link with the Mumbai air traffic control had snapped. They said DGCA officials had traced the aircraft voice data recorder (black box) and expressed the hope that it would offer a more conclusive account.

“The aircraft had just received its airworthiness certificate. The test flight today (Thursday) would have formally completed the process and the plane would have been ready for commercial flights,” an official said. The plane was bought by UY Aviation from the Uttar Pradesh govt in 2014 and, for the past two years, it was undergoing an overhaul.





Dissatisfied with the reports filed by the state’s Special Investigating Agency (SIT) and CBI in the murder cases of rationalists Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar, respectively, the Bombay High Court on Thursday directed Additional Chief Secretary (Home) and Joint director of CBI to be present before it on July 12.

Dabholkar was shot dead on August 20, 2013, in Pune while Pansare was shot on February 16, 2015, in Kolhapur and succumbed to his injuries on February 20. After the probe reports were submitted to the court in a sealed envelope, a division bench of Justice S C Dharmadhikari and Justice Bharati H Dangre said: “We are not satisfied with this report.”

Justice Dharmadhikari asked if the CBI and SIT were firm on their statement that they are coordinating with the Karnataka Police that is investigating the murder case of journalist Gauri Lankesh. The court added that the CBI and SIT were claiming that they were keeping a watch on certain ‘sansthas’, then how did the Karnataka authorities manage to make an arrest from Maharashtra?

“Is there a lack of coordination, or are the authorities before us restricting their probe to merely pursuing mobile phone records,” the court asked the agencies.  “We are not satisfied with the reports and also not satisfied with the investigating agency,” the court said.




As the college admission season gets under way, with much-in-demand universities setting stiff cut-off marks for eligibility, academics warn that the contest is not even for students across the school boards.

Different boards award marks with varying generosity, but the reputable universities that attract applicants from all over India tend to set the same cut-offs for everyone.

As in previous years, the top 20 percentile score — the score of a student who has outdone 80 per cent of her peers from her board — has crossed 85 per cent in the school boards of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka. Ditto the CBSE.

The corresponding scores for the boards in Bihar, Jharkhand, Manipur and Uttarakhand are less than 65 per cent. It’s traditionally 65 to 70 per cent in Bengal, whose percentile scores aren’t out yet, and in Odisha.

Delhi University executive council member Rajesh Jha says that Bihar’s students do quite well in national-level exams, indicating they do not lack competence.

A former CBSE official said the board asks largely objective-type questions and awards a few marks if a student merely attempts a subjective question. A CBSE humanities student scored 499 out of 500 this year, topping the Class XII exams.

“A national-level entrance test on the lines of (America’s) Scholastic Aptitude Test is the only answer to this kind of anomaly,” says Jha.





The general manager of ITC Rajputana, a five-star hotel in Jaipur, has been arrested on the charge of molesting two Mexican women tourists at the hotel on Tuesday night.

Rishi Raj Singh, 40, was arrested on Wednesday night on the basis of the women’s complaint and CCTV camera footage, the deputy commissioner of police (south), Vikas Pathak, said.

The alleged molestation in Jaipur, the gateway to some of the most popular tourist sites among foreigners, took place a day after a poll of experts on women’s issues ranked India as the world’s most dangerous country for women.

The development sent shock waves through the tourism industry, especially since many guests choose expensive hotels for foolproof security and safety. That an insider at the level of a general manager, usually the top official running a hotel, has emerged as the accused has deepened the shock.




On a sweltering evening full of twists and turns Japan scrambled into the knockout stage of the World Cup in rather undignified fashion, courtesy of a goal scored 400 miles away in Samara by Colombia’s Yerry Mina and by virtue of the fact they accrued two yellow cards fewer than Senegal.

That is how tight the margins were in Group H, where Japan and Senegal finished with identical records: level on points, goal difference and goals scored. Japan accumulated four bookings compared with Senegal’s six and that ended up being the deciding factor that also contributed to a bizarre finish to the match.

Aware of the scoreline in Samara and under instructions from their manager, Japan played a game of keep-ball inside their half, in effect running down the clock with no intention of trying to score, despite being behind. Japan knew that unless they had a couple of players booked, or Senegal could score an equaliser, or Poland could score again, they were through to the last 16 for only the third time in their history.

Poland, eliminated after losing two matches, also stood back, rendering the final 10 minutes a non-event and angering many supporters. It all felt a little unsavoury and not exactly in keeping with the spirit of the game, prompting loud whistling, with Japan clearly the guiltier party by far, given the scoreline.

Akira Nishino admitted he had decided to pin everything on the match in Samara and had sent on Makoto Hasebe, who started on the bench but is normally the captain, with instructions to tell the rest of the team to “stay put” and avoid any further yellow cards. Hasebe, in return, asked Nishino to let him know if Senegal scored.

The Japan manager’s plan worked, yet it was obvious he was wrestling with his conscience and wondering whether he had done the right thing. At times in his post-match press conference Nishino seemed be to trying to justify his actions to himself as he gave a rambling answer to the first question that went on for several minutes and ended up with him saying on two occasions that what happened was “regrettable”.




It had been viewed as the game no-one wanted to win but Adnan Januzaj’s fine finish early in the second half gave Belgium a 1-0 victory over England to secure top spot in Group G as both sides made wholesale changes to their lineups.

The result means Belgium, who won all three of their group games to finish on nine points, will face Japan in the last 16 while England, who finished second with six, take on Colombia.

All the pre-match talk had been about whether second place might offer an easier path to the semi-finals, given that the group winners could face Brazil in the last eight.

If that was a consideration then Gareth Southgate’s England side can take some consolation from the defeat given that it offers a potential quarter-final against Sweden or Switzerland rather than Brazil or Mexico, who could await Belgium.





Saturday, 30 June

Match 49: France vs Argentina

Match 50: Uruguay vs Portugal

Sunday, 1 July

Match 51: Spain vs Russia

Match 52: Croatia vs Denmark

Monday, 2 July

Match 53: Brazil vs Mexico

Match 54: Belgium vs Japan

Tuesday, 3 July

Match 55: Sweden vs Switzerland

Match 56: Colombia vs England




India conceded a late goal to settle for a 1-1 draw with Belgium in the Champions Trophy hockey tournament, in Breda yesterday. India scored an early goal through a penalty-corner conversion by Harmanpreet Singh (10th minute) and managed to hold on to the lead till the 59th minute when Loick Luypaert dashed their hopes by converting the 10th of their 11 penalty corners.

With seven points from four games, India are still in with a chance to progress to Sunday’s final. They take on hosts Netherlands in their last round-robin match on Saturday. The top two teams from the round-robin stage will progress to the summit clash.

India goalkeeper PR Sreejesh was outstanding under the post and made numerous brilliant saves to keep Belgium at bay, including a third-minute attempt by Luypaert from their first penalty corner.




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The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there. – Vince Lombardi


Patient: I have fever, headache, cough and cold. I’ve taken some basic medicines for the same.

Doctor: Which ones?

Patient: Paracetamol,







Doctor: Someone please give me an Alprazolam!

Patient: Relax doctor. Alprazolam is an anxiolytic. It may not help you right now. You’re suffering from an Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED). A selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor like Escitalopram will work better.

Doctor: Someone give me passive euthanasia!

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