Newsletter July 12 2018




A carefully drafted affidavit, filed the Ministry of Home Affairs, before the Constitution Bench reserved its right to object to anything “other than” Section 377 if it were to be considered during the course of adjudication.

“In the event this Hon’ble Court is pleased to declare Section 377 viz. ‘consensual acts of adults in private,’ to be unconstitutional, no other issue/issues and/or rights are referred for consideration and adjudication and therefore, may not be gone into,” said the government’s affidavit declaring its intent to be heard on “any other right in favour of or in respect of LGBTQ”.

This affidavit was apparently crafted keeping in view the sensibilities of party’s core supporters and match the position worked out by the party leadership.

The party source emphasised BJP’s apprehensions against the issue spreading beyond the limited rights of consensual same-sex relationships to areas like marriage and adoption rights among others.

While the BJP has refrained from spelling out its cohesive position on homosexuality, its ideological fountainhead RSS stepped out in March 2016 favouring decriminalization of homosexuality with a caution that it should not be glorified. “Homosexuality is not a crime but socially immoral act in our society. No need to punish but to be treated as a psychological case,” RSS joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale said on Twitter in March 2016 adding, “approach to homosexuality should be ‘no criminalization, no glorification either’”.

On gay marriage, the RSS leader was clear: “Gay marriage is Institutionalization of homosexuality. It should be prohibited.”




Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday met a group of intellectuals from the Muslim community in a rare informal interaction. He told them that the BJP will not form the next government and that the Congress will work with like-minded regional parties to defeat the ruling party in the next Lok Sabha elections.

Among those who attended it were historian Syed Irfan Habib, noted scholar and academic Abusaleh Shariff, writer and activist Farah Naqvi, writer Rakhshanda Jalil, former IAS officer M F Farooqui, the Raja of Mahmoodabad Mohammad Amir Mohammad Khan besides senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid and AICC minority department head Nadeem Javed.

The Congress chief intends to reach out to those intellectuals and professionals who can “influence public opinion” ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Rahul wanted to know what issues the Congress should raise when it goes to the people.

At least one member, historian Syed Irfan Habib, is learnt to have told him that the Congress should raise issues which are of concern to all the people of India and not just Muslims.

Sources said some of them also talked about the “wrongs which Congress has committed over the years” and asked “will the party learn”. Rahul is learnt to have told them that the Congress has lost ground in so many ways and the party is aware of what had gone wrong. He told them that the party is taking corrective measures.




India has surpassed France to become the world’s sixth-biggest economy, an AFP report said on Wednesday, quoting updated World Bank figures for 2017. The GDP of the world’s largest democracy was $2.597 trillion at the end of last year compared with France’s $2.582 trillion, it said.

However, in terms of per capita GDP, France is much ahead of India  — India’s population is over 130 crore as compared to around 6.7 crore of France.

According to the report, the US is the biggest economy, followed by China, Japan, Germany, UK and India.




The Telecom Commission, the highest decision making body in the Department of Telecommunications, has approved the net neutrality rules implying internet will remain open to everybody in the country.

Apart from net neutrality rules, the commission has also approved the new telecom policy that is aimed at promoting investments, ease of doing business, and emerging technologies like 5G.

The move on net neutrality is meant to ensure no service provider can restrict or discriminate in the treatment of content by blocking, slowing down or granting preferential speeds while providing internet access.

Reacting to the net neutrality rules, industry body COAI said it has already expressed its support on issues pertaining to nondiscriminatory use of the internet, including no blocking, no throttling and adoption of same service same rules. It said light touch regulatory approach should be adopted so that innovation was not hampered by the net neutrality rules.









US President Donald Trump traded barbs with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a tense NATO summit yesterday after he accused Berlin of being “captive” to Russia and demanded it immediately step up defence spending.

The two-day meet in Brussels is shaping up as the alliance’s most difficult in years, with Europe and the US engaged in a bitter trade spat and Trump demanding that NATO allies ‘reimburse’ Washington for defending the continent.

European alliance members were braced for criticism from Trump on defence spending, but his blistering attack on Germany at a breakfast meeting with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg took the summit by surprise.

“Germany is a captive of Russia because it is getting so much of its energy from Russia,” Trump said, taking particular aim at the proposed Nord Stream II gas pipeline, which he has previously criticised.

“Everybody’s talking about it all over the world, they’re saying we’re paying you billions of dollars to protect you but you’re paying billions of dollars to Russia.” Merkel ramped up the febrile atmosphere of the summit with a sharp reply on arriving at NATO HQ. “I myself have also experienced a part of Germany being controlled by the Soviet Union,” she said.

“I am very glad that we are united today in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and that we can therefore also make our own independent policies and make our own independent decisions.”

The pair later met for a one-on-one meeting and while Trump insisted they had a “very very good relationship”, their frosty body language suggested otherwise. Merkel said she welcomed the chance to have an “exchange of views” with Trump.





Embattled former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has criticised the election commission’s decision to deploy soldiers inside polling stations, saying his party would oppose the efforts being made to “engineer” the outcome of the July 25 general elections.

Speaking to journalists in the British capital where his wife Kulsoom is undergoing treatment for throat cancer, Sharif said he and his daughter Maryam would return to Pakistan on Friday after being sentenced in a corruption case last week.

The 68-year-old three-time prime minister said, “The nation will not accept these things; the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz won’t accept these things at any cost,” he said yesterday.

Sharif’s relations with the powerful military has deteriorated since his ouster. “Our candidates were forced to change their loyalties and election symbol,” he said.









Under fire over alleged misuse of the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016, the state government on Tuesday cleared amendments to the law which will dilute some of its stringent provisions.

“The cabinet has given its nod to the proposal for amendments in the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016,” said Principal Secretary Arun Kumar Singh. He, however, did not give details of the proposed amendments.

Amendments will be brought in the monsoon session.

“One of the proposed amendments is doing away with provisions related to seizure of house/ vehicle in case liquor is recovered from a house or vehicle. Another major amendment could be diluting the penal provisions in cases related to just consumption of liquor, while increasing the fine imposed. There could also be additional provision allowing fine for first and subsequent offence.

The provision which allows “arrest of all adults in a family if an adult of the house is found consuming, distributing or storing liquor” may also be amended. “This provision is very stringent as it means that the women of a household are also arrested, leaving the minors with nobody to take care of them. This section will be made milder,” said an official.

The official said the government was also looking at revisiting the provision related to imposition of fine on the entire community if liquor was found to be manufactured in a particular area.





Three manipulated video clips were among those responsible for inciting part of the mob violence that left nine dead and 10 injured within 25 days in Maharashtra.

“All the three videos misrepresent incidents of kidnapping in order to create panic,” said Harsh Poddar, Additional Superintendent of Police, Nashik Rural.

The most widely circulated video, which has been doing the rounds in other parts of the country too, shows two men on a motorcycle approaching a group of children playing by the side of the road, picking up one of them and riding away. Various versions of this video forwarded on WhatsApp have captions claiming that the incident took place in India.

However, the original video is part of a campaign by an NGO in Karachi in 2016 to raise awareness about missing children.

Another clip shows a group of women walking down a road, changing into a burqah, and a child following them. “It wasn’t even a case of kidnapping, but the video was spread with the claim that the women are kidnappers and that the incident had taken place in Nandurbar, which is close to Malegaon. However, we found that the actual location of the video is Bengaluru,” Poddar said.

The third, and latest, video began to be seen widely in the first week of July and shows a man travelling with a child and being picked up by police in Shirdi. In the video, the child is seen telling journalists that he was kidnapped by the man in Buldhana. This is only half the story, though, investigations revealed. Police said the edited clip omits the fact that the boy later retracted his story and confessed to having willingly accompanied the man, a family friend, to Shirdi from Buldhana and to having lied because his family owed money to the man.




Either restore it or demolish it, an angry Supreme Court said on Wednesday, piqued at the failure of government agencies in taking appropriate measures to preserve the Taj Mahal. “You can shut down Taj. Demolish it if you like… You can also do away with it if you have already decided,” a Bench said after a “vague” answer from the Ministry of Environment and Forest.

“Eiffel Tower gets 80 million visitors every year, eight times more than Taj Mahal and it is more beautiful than Eiffel Tower that looks like a TV tower. Due to sheer apathy of officials, this country is losing crucial foreign exchange,” said the Bench.

“Do you realise the loss due to this sheer lethargy? Foreign exchange, infrastructure, everything is lost due to this. There is a loss to tourism. One monument can do it, but there is apathy,” the Bench told the Additional Solicitor General AS Nadkarni. The judges got angry after he said the Centre has set up a committee to hire external experts as advised by the court. He said it will find out the exact source of pollution in and around Taj, adding that three-four months were needed for preparing the report.





The Baghpat jail where gangster Munna Bajrangi was shot dead did not have a single CCTV camera installed — this despite a deadline of March 31 to set up 30 cameras at the prison.

Additional Director General (Prisons) Chandra Prakash says that they had hired a government agency to survey jails across Uttar Pradesh and install surveillance cameras back in 2014-15. “We had decided to install 30 cameras here and the deadline was set as March 31, 2018. But they (the agency) were not able to meet the deadline and they are still working on it,” he said.

The police are yet to identify witnesses and in his complaint, the jailor had stated that he was present in his office when he was told of Bajrangi’s killing. Uttar Pradesh DGP O P Singh said, “As per the FIR, there are no eyewitnesses and police are questioning jail staff to ascertain the exact sequence of events.”

Prakash has now set August 31 as the deadline to install cameras.





The CBSE may approach the Supreme Court against the order of the Madras High Court to award 196 marks to each candidate who appeared for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) in Tamil this year.

The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered the CBSE, which conducts NEET on behalf of the Health Ministry, to give four marks each for 49 questions to roughly 24,000 examinees on account of ambiguities in the Tamil translation of the said questions. The Board has been given two weeks to bring out a fresh list of qualified candidates.

Stating that the students who appeared for the exam in Tamil should be provided a level playing field, the court had said: “The difficulty of a student in taking an examination of such importance, in understanding rightly a wrong question, be howsoever mild the error, is to be appreciated, placing ourselves in his shoes and not in the shoes of those having the leisure of easy chair reflection.”

The Board has been asked by the union government to study the court order and deduce the implications of implementing it. Once, all possible scenarios are though of, then a decision on filing an appeal in the Supreme court will be taken.

This year, there are roughly 67,000 MBBS seats and 30,000 BDS seats on offer via NEET. About 13 lakh candidates appeared for the test, of which roughly 1.2 lakh were from Tamil Nadu. A total of 24,000 students had taken the test in Tamil.




Roger Federer was one point away from a rather tidy straight-sets victory in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. One point.

And then, slowly, over the next two-plus hours, all the way until the fifth set reached its 24th game, as the temperature dropped and the spectators’ cries of “Let’s go, Roger!” echoed through the shadows, everything came apart for the eight-time champion against an opponent who’d never beaten him before nor made it this far at the All England Club.

In a stunning turnaround in an unfamiliar setting — No. 1 Court instead of Centre Court – the top-seeded Federer blew a match point and, eventually, all of a big lead in a 2-6, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 loss to No. 8 Kevin Anderson on Wednesday.

This was only the third time in Federer’s 20 years of contesting Grand Slam matches — 269 in all — that he lost one after taking the opening two sets; both of the other defeats came in 2011. And, according to the ATP, it’s the fifth time Federer lost a match at a major tournament after holding a match point, something else that last happened seven years ago.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal rallied to win a grueling five-set match against Juan Martin del Potro 7-5, 6-7 (3), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 and reach the semifinals, where he will face a resurgent Novak Djokovic. Anderson will next face American John Isner.

Isner, the No. 9 seed, beat No. 13 Milos Raonic 6-7 (5), 7-6 (7), 6-4, 6-3 to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal in his 41st appearance. Isner’s 41 attempts to make a semifinal at a major is the second most in the 50-year professional era, behind Sam Querrey, who made the last four at Wimbledon last year with his 42nd try.

Djokovic, a three-time Wimbledon champion, reached his first Grand Slam semifinal since 2016 by beating No. 24 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. Djokovic is a 12-time major champion who’s been in something of a rut, due to right elbow troubles that lasted more than a year until he finally had surgery in February.





On both ends of the field, Sime Vrsaljko got the job done. The Croatia defender set up the equalizer in the second half and then saved a likely goal by clearing a shot off the line in the first half of extra time.

Those two moments of excellence helped Croatia reach its first World Cup final following a 2-1 win over England on Wednesday.

The victory sets up a final against France on Sunday and improves Croatia’s previous best showing at the World Cup, which ended in a 1998 semi final loss to the host French.

With Croatia trailing 1-0, Vrsaljko curled in the cross that Ivan Perisic volleyed into the net in the 68th minute. In extra time, he leaped high to block John Stones’ header, keeping Croatia in the game before Mario Mandzukic scored the winning goal about 10 minutes later.

The Croats entered the match after winning their previous two games on penalty kicks, but they showed no sign of fatigue in the second half against England.

With three straight extra-time matches, Croatia has played the equivalent a full 90-minute match more than France has through six games in Russia. France also has an extra day of rest after beating Belgium 1-0 on Tuesday.





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It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something. – Franklin D. Roosevelt


A man is a person who, if a woman says, “Never mind, I’ll do it myself”; lets her.

A woman is a person who, if she says to a man, “Never mind, I’ll do it myself,” and he lets her; gets mad.

A man is a person who, if a woman says to him, “Never mind, I’ll do it myself,” and he lets her and she get mad; says, “Now what are you mad about?”

A woman is a person who, if she says to a man, “Never mind, I’ll do it myself,” and he lets her and she gets mad, and he says, “Now what are you mad about?” says “If you don’t know I’m not going to tell you.”

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