Newsletter July 15 2018





Accusing the Congress of stalling the triple talaq Bill in Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday asked if the party was “only for Muslim men”.

“All I want to ask is, is the party only for Muslim men or is there place for women in it too? These people block laws in Parliament and do not allow it to function,” Modi said at a rally in Azamgarh after laying the foundation stone of the Purvanchal Expressway, a Rs 23,000 crore project that is expected to connect Eastern UP with Lucknow.

Modi’s attack comes ahead of the upcoming Monsoon session of Parliament. The triple talaq Bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha but is pending in the Rajya Sabha.

“All these parties have been exposed by their stands on triple talaq. On the one hand when the Centre is trying to make lives easier for women, these parties are working to make the lives of women, especially Muslim sisters and daughters, more difficult…I would tell these dynastic parties, these parties that are toiling day and night to oust Modi, that there are still four to five days left for Parliament to begin. Meet the Muslim women who suffer due triple talaq, meet the mothers and sisters who suffer because of halala, ask them about their plight, and then put your point of view in Parliament,” he said.

Attacking Rahul Gandhi over an alleged remark attributed to him – in an Urdu daily — during his interaction with Muslim intellectuals on Wednesday, Modi said, “I have read in newspapers that the Congress naamdar (dynast) has said that the Congress is a party of Muslims. This debate has been on for the last two days. I am not surprised because during the Manmohan Singh government, the prime minister himself that said that Muslims have the first claim on the country’s resources….”

Targeting Opposition parties for coming together against the BJP, Modi said, “Those who couldn’t see eye to eye, those who didn’t like each other, they are now together. Whenever they meet, day or night, it’s ‘Modi, Modi, Modi’… all these dynastic parties are coming together and are bent on stopping development.”




Rahul Gandhi has cited his respect for free speech to indicate his opposition to legal action against a Netflix series where his father Rajiv Gandhi is dubbed a coward, taking a rare stand in a country known for banning books and films and in a polity growing increasingly intolerant.

A character in an episode of Sacred Games calls then Prime Minister Rajiv a “fattu” -“coward” in Hindi slang – for getting the Supreme Court’s Shah Bano judgment overturned through an act of Parliament in 1986, allegedly to placate Muslims.

At least two Youth Congressactivists have approached police alleging an insult to Rajiv, and a lawyer, Nikhil Bhalla, moved Delhi High Court seeking deletion of certain scenes.

But Rahul, the Congress president, tweeted on Saturday: “BJP/RSS believe the freedom of expression must be policed & controlled. I believe this freedom is a fundamental democratic right. My father lived and died in the service of India. The views of a character on a fictional web series can never change that. #SacredGames”

The position of the new Congress president is all the more remarkable because governments led by his own party have not been so shy of wielding the ban in the past.




Startled at how indigenously produced military equipment was costing more than the same equipment if supplied by foreign makers, the Ministry of Defence has set up a committee to examine how the Indian public sector companies arrive at the cost of each equipment supplied to the armed forces.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sithraman said: “I have asked a panel to look into the costing of products manufactured by the Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs).”

The Army, Navy and the IAF have been complaining about DPSUs pricing higher than what the original manufacturer supplied the same equipment for. Prime examples have been the Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets, Tatra trucks,  Dornier-228 surveillance planes and warships, among other items.




President Ram Nath Kovind has nominated eminent classical dancer Sonal Mansingh, academician Rakesh Sinha, Dalit leader Ram Shakal and artist Raghunath Mahapatra to the Rajya Sabha on the advice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Ram Shakal is an eminent people’s leader and public representative from Uttar Pradesh, who has devoted his life for the welfare and well-being of the Dalit community.

Rakesh Sinha, a RSS ideologue, is the founder and honorary director of the Delhi-based think-tank “India Policy Foundation.”

Raghunath Mohapatra is an internationally renowned authority on stone-carving. Practicing since 1959, he has trained over 2,000 students. He has contributed to the preservation of traditional sculpture and ancient monuments, and has worked on the beautification of the Sri Jagannath Temple, Puri.

Constitution provides that the President can nominate to the Rajya Sabha 12 persons having special knowledge, or practical experience, in respect of literature, science, art and social service. There were currently eight nominated members in the Rajya Sabha, and hence, four vacancies.

With these four new nominations, the government numbers will also go up in the Rajya Sabha, where it is still struggling to push through key legislative agenda due to paucity of a favourable figure. The new additions to NDA numbers will also help the ruling dispensation in the upcoming elections to the post of the Deputy Chairman, which fell vacant after the expiry of the tenure of PJ Kurien recently.









US President Donald Trump played golf on Saturday at his course on the western coast of Scotland ahead of a summit with Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin that could be overshadowed by accusations that Russians meddled in the US 2016 election.

In an uproarious trip to Europe, Trump harangued members of the NATO military alliance, scolded Germany for its dependence on Russian energy and shocked Britain by publicly criticising Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit strategy.

Trump apologised to May for the furore over his withering public critique, blaming “fake news” and promising instead a bilateral trade agreement with Britain after it leaves the European Union in March.

While Trump took tea with Queen Elizabeth, a US federal grand jury charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with stealing data from the campaign of Hillary Clinton.




Around 1,500 PML-N workers and leaders, including Pakistan former PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and party president Shahbaz Sharif, were today booked on terrorism and other charges for taking out a rally here in support of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The police said Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders and workers yesterday took out the rally in violation of law, attacking policemen and rangers, causing damage to the public property and hurling abuses at judiciary and military.

Thousands of PML-N workers had set up their march to reach the Allama Iqbal International Airport here to welcome Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz arriving from London to face jail terms of 10 and seven years.




Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday the United States was more isolated than ever over sanctions against Iran, even among its allies.

Rouhani, in remarks carried live on state television, spoke after meeting the heads of parliament and the judiciary. He appeared to be trying to ease popular concerns fuelled by US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from world powers’ 2015 deal with Iran on its nuclear programme.

The likely return of US economic sanctions has triggered a rapid fall of Iran’s currency and protests by bazaar traders usually loyal to the Islamist rulers.

“Today, we are in conditions in which the United States is more isolated than ever over the sanctions issue. America’s illegal actions … have even isolated it among its own allies as we just saw,” Rouhani said, referring to protests held in Britain against Trump’s visit there.

“The government pledges to the people that there will be no problems for the country in terms of energy, transportation, basic goods and production,” Rouhani said.








A 32-year-old Google software engineer was beaten to death and three others, including a Qatari national, critically injured by a mob in Bidar district of Karnataka which suspected they were a group of “child lifters”.

Officials said that Mohammed Azam Ahmed of Malakpet in Hyderabad, who works with Google as a software engineer, died on the spot, while a Qatari national, Salham Eidal Kubaisi (38), and Noor Mohammed and Mohammed Salman from Barkas in Hyderabad suffered critical injuries and were admitted to the Bidar Government hospital initially before being shifted to Hyderabad.

An official from the Aurad Police Station, in whose area the lynching took place, said that three WhatsApp administrators who circulated the photos and messages that the four men were child kidnappers have been arrested. “We have also arrested 30 people who were part of the mob,’’ the official said.

Kubaisi’s wife Zaibunnisa said that the four had set off from Hyderabad Friday morning to meet a relative at Bidar and attend a social function. After the function, they were en route to see a piece of land which they were interested in purchasing.

“When they stopped for tea near a school at Murki village in Aurad taluka at about 4.30 pm, they saw school children heading home. Salham started handing out foreign chocolates, which he was carrying, to students. However, someone raised an alarm that strangers were luring kids with chocolates and people started gathering immediately,” she said.

She also said that the four men, sensing danger, fled in the Toyota Innova they were travelling in but by that time some people had taken photographs of them and circulated it on WhatsApp that they were kidnappers and should be stopped. The photos and the messages soon went viral.

“According to the victims, in the next village, villagers blocked the road with a felled tree. To avoid the blockade, Azam, who was driving, tried to go around it at high speed but ended up jumping over a culvert and the vehicle fell into the ditch. The mob pulled them out and beat them mercilessly,” said Ahmed Balala, MIM MLA from Malakpet.




Mahendrasinh Vaghela, former Congress member of the Gujarat Assembly and son of the former Chief Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela, on Saturday joined the BJP. His political heavyweight father “disapproved” of the “manner” of his joining the ruling party.

Mahendrasinh, who had resigned from the Congress along with 13 other Congress MLAs, including his father, on the eve of the Rajya Sabha elections in August last year, had remained in political wilderness ever since even as most of his other “turncoat” colleagues had donned the saffron colour before the December 2017 Assembly elections.

He did not contest the elections. He instead supported his father’s new outfit “Jan Vikalp Morcha” which set up candidates for 105 constituencies but could not even save their deposits even in one.





In India, the army enjoys the highest level of “effective trust”, followed by the supreme court (SC) and the high courts (HC), according to a 2018 study. Political parties were at the bottom in a list of 16 elected and non-elected institutions and offices.

The study, covering eight states by Azim Premji University (APU) and Lokniti (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS)), defines effective trust as the difference between percentage of respondents who opted for a “great deal of trust” at one end of the scale and “no trust at all” at the other.

The study, accessed by IndiaSpend, was conducted in 22 assembly constituencies with 16,680 respondents. Nearly 77% respondents showed the most trust in the military, followed by 54.8% in the SC and 48% in the HCs.

On average, elected offices and institutions such as the president, prime minister, chief minister, parliament, vidhan sabha (state legislature) and panchayat/municipal corporation (MC) enjoyed an “effective trust” of 40%.

But there are wide variations within these categories across the eight states.

Maharashtra showed high levels of trust, over 60%, in elected institutions–parliament, vidhan sabha, panchayat/MC–while Andhra Pradesh (AP) showed least level of trust, with parliament and vidhan sabha garnering -4% and -2% of “effective trust”, as per the report.

Political parties garnered low trust, at -1.75%. With the exception of Maharashtra polling the highest trust at 31%, the other seven states either polled single digit or negative percentage trust. Political parties polled the lowest in the list of 16.

About 73% Indians have shown confidence in their government in 2016 as against 30% Americans, according to Government At A Glance 2017, a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, IndiaSpend reported on July 14, 2017. The confidence level in government has actually declined from 82% in 2007.

The average “effective trust” in parliament was 36.6% in the eight states surveyed. A similar study by CSDS conducted in 2013 indicated that 56% people trust the parliament in varying degrees; this was 43% in 2005, FirstPost reported on October 6, 2015.

The study found significant trust in the judiciary. It observed a steady decline in average trust levels in the SC to HCs to district courts across all states, except AP where 28% stated trust in the district courts. The SC and HCs enjoyed 21% and 20% trust, respectively, in AP. In the other seven states, the SC and HCs enjoyed an average “effective trust” of 60% and 52%, respectively.





Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has been summoned by a Kolkata court for saying India would become a “Hindu Pakistan” if the BJP was voted back to power in 2019, a comment perceived as discouraging voting in the party’s favour.

Tharoor, the Thiruvananthapuram MP, has been asked to be present, through his lawyer, in the court of additional chief metropolitan magistrate (1) M. Dasgupta on August 14.

The petition against Tharoor has been moved by lawyer Sumeet Chowdhury.




England’s World Cup campaign in Russia ended with a 2-0 defeat by Belgium in St Petersburg that meant the Three Lions finished in fourth place.

Gareth Southgate’s team were unable to bounce back from the despair of Wednesday’s extra-time loss against Croatia in the semi-final.

Thomas Meunier put Belgium ahead after just four minutes when he slid in ahead of Danny Rose to divert Nacer Chadli’s cross past goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

England had chances to level in the second half as Toby Alderweireld cleared off the line from Eric Dier, while Harry Maguire also headed wide from a good position.

Eden Hazard wrapped it up for Belgium with eight minutes left when he got the better of Phil Jones to beat Pickford, who had just saved magnificently from Meunier, with a powerful finish.

Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku missed two chances and was substituted without scoring, leaving England captain Harry Kane in pole position to win the World Cup’s Golden Boot with six goals.

Kane will collect the award barring remarkable deeds from France duo Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, who are on three goals apiece, in today’s final against Croatia.



Angelique Kerber ripped up the script when she stunned Serena Williams 6-3 6-3 to win her first Wimbledon title on Saturday.

The 11th seed took advantage of an error-strewn performance by the seven-times champion to become the first German woman to win the title since Steffi Graf in 1996.

American great Williams, playing in only her fourth tournament since becoming a mother last September, had been looking to match Margaret Court’s record 24 Grand Slam titles.

She was also seeking to become the first mother to win Wimbledon since Australian Evonne Goolagong in 1980. The 36-year-old, unbeaten at the All England Club since 2014, had begun to look unstoppable during the fortnight and had dropped only one set in reaching her 10th Wimbledon final.

She had not faced anyone with the pedigree of the German.


Novak Djokovic reached his fifth Wimbledon final as he resisted everything great rival Rafael Nadal could throw at him to win 6-4 3-6 7-6(9) 3-6 10-8 in a two-day classic that concluded in nerve-jangling tension.

Djokovic resumed two sets to one ahead after snatching a third-set tiebreak the previous night before Wimbledon’s 11pm curfew left the match on a knife edge.

As it was for the first three sets the Centre Court roof was closed and, again, the quality on display was sensational. Nadal grabbed the fourth set to set up a monumental 91-minute decider that Djokovic clinched when Nadal fired a forehand wide.


Joe Root struck a fluent 113 as England crushed India by 86 runs in the second ODI at Lord’s to level the three-match series at 1-1.

Chasing a stiff victory target of 323, the touring side struggled after getting off to a decent start in sunny conditions and kept losing wickets at regular intervals.

India’s top three batsmen, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli, failed to go on to big scores after laying solid platforms, putting pressure on the middle order.

A brief glimmer of hope came as Kohli and Suresh Raina shared an 80-run partnership for the fourth wicket but England spinner Moeen Ali trapped captain Kohli lbw to dash Indian hopes.

Former skipper MS Dhoni then played a curious innings, making 37 off 59 balls as the run rate required soared and India’s chase became increasingly hopeless.


Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men. – Lao Tzu


A man, whose level of drunkenness was bordering on the absurd, stood up to leave a bar and fell flat on his face. “Maybe all I need is some fresh air,” thought the man as he crawled outside. He tried to stand up again, but fell face first into the mud. “Oh god,” he thought. “I’ll just crawl home.”

The next morning, his wife found him on the doorstep asleep. “You went out drinking last night, didn’t you?” she said.

“Uh, yes,” he said sheepishly. “How did you know?”

“You left your wheelchair at the bar again.”

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