Newsletter July 16 2018





In an apparent reference to the problems of running a coalition government, Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy said he was “not happy” and was swallowing the pain “like Vishakantha”.

Striking an emotional note at a gathering of party workers on Saturday, a teary-eyed Kumaraswamy said: “All of you are happy because your elder or younger brother has become the chief minister. But I am not happy. I am swallowing my own pain like poison, like Vishakantha (Lord Shiva, who drank poison to save the world).’’

Wiping his tears with a towel, he said: “What I sought from the people was not to be made chief minister, but to be in a position to solve the problems of the people of the state, to complete the unfinished agenda of my father, to solve the problems of farmers, workers and labourers of the state, without caste and religion barriers… The people of the state have not taken me into their confidence to deliver on my dreams.’’

The JD(S) won 37 of the 224 seats in the Karnataka assembly, while its coalition partner, the Congress, won 80 seats. While the two parties fought against each other, they joined hands to form the government as the election threw up a hung verdict.

Reacting to Kumaraswamy’s statement, the Congress said he should be happy to be the chief minister. “A chief minister has to be happy always. Only if he is happy can we all be happy,’’ said Congress Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara.

The BJP called it “amazing acting’’. “Our country has produced talented actors who have mesmerised the audience with their brilliant performance. Here, we have another legendary actor, Mr Kumaraswamy, an actor who has constantly fooled the common man with his amazing acting skills,’’ the state BJP tweeted.




The Congress on Sunday launched a blistering attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his comment that it was “a party for Muslim men”, saying it reflected that he was a “peddler of untruths” with a “sick mentality”. At a rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Azamgarh on Saturday, the Prime Minister raised a contentious media report that claimed Congress president Rahul Gandhi had said his was “a party of Muslims” – a statement that the Congress has firmly denied.

PM Modi’s move to reiterate the charge Defence Minster Nirmala Sitharaman first made on Friday came hours after the Congress strongly rebutted the claim and insisted that the report in the Urdu newspaper was “concocted”. Historian Irfan Habib, who was also present at the recent meeting between Muslim intellectuals and Rahul Gandhi, had also denied that Mr Gandhi had said anything of the sorts.

“The prime minister has continuously hurt the dignity of his office. We strictly oppose what he said yesterday. It shows his sick mentality and twisted mindset,” senior Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said.

“There is an attempt by him to divide society… His main opposition, the INC, led the national movement, spearheaded the fight for independence… to call it a Muslim party does not behove a PM. His sick mindset is an issue of national concern. The prime minister gives out statements which are wrong as per history and facts,” Sharma said, calling the Prime Minister a “peddler of untruths”. Instead of giving an account of the last four years, “the prime minister is resorting to untruths, half-truth and lies”, he alleged.

The Congress, he said, was a party “for all Indians and respects the diversity the country has to offer”.

In his comment asking if the Congress was “a party for Muslim men”, the Prime Minister had alleged the opposition was stonewalling the government’s efforts to secure the life of women, especially Muslim women, with moves like the outlawing of “triple talaq” instant divorce law.

Sharma said the Congress was against triple talaq but they were not in favour of the government bypassing the parliament to introduce a law.




Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday attacked previous governments of shedding crocodile tears for farmers, but keeping development projects to help them stalled for decades.

Addressing a public rally at Mirzapur after inaugurating the Rs 3,420-crore Ban Sagar Project that will irrigate 1.5 lakh hectares, he said the project was to initially cost Rs 350 crore, but it escalated to Rs 3,420 crore after a lapse of 20 years.

“You are the people who suffered because of this. Had this project been completed in time, you would have been benefitted by it two decades ago,” he said.

“This was one of the atki, latki, bhatki (suspended, pending and derailed) projects of the previous government that was taken up by us”, he said. The Prime Minister said those shedding crocodile tears for farmers kept the proposal of increasing MSP hidden in files as they had no time to take it up.




In the Lok Sabha bulletin for legislative business of the upcoming monsoon session, one bill stands out because it is the only one about which no details have been furnished.

The bill seeks to amend the Right to Information Act of 2005, and the ironical opaqueness has alarmed transparency advocates who have mounted a pushback.

As many as 18 bills are listed for introduction, consideration and passage in the monsoon session, scheduled to begin on July 18.

For 17 bills listed under the “E” category of new bills, some detail or the other of the “purport” has been provided or there have been consultations with the stakeholders as in the case of the changes in the GST law.

However, in the case of the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2018, all that the “purport” column says about the draft legislation is “To amend the Right to Information Act, 2005”.

This has upset not just transparency activists but also users of the RTI route as repeated efforts to get details of the amendments from the ministry of personnel, public grievances and pensions have been stonewalled.

Shailesh Gandhi, a former central information commissioner, questioned the move to amend the Act. “We have one of the best RTI Acts in the world. NOBODY should bring any changes in it. WE need better implementation. Focus on that,” he tweeted amid fears that the government was trying to dilute the law.









British Prime Minister Theresa May warned her divided party on Sunday that there may be “no Brexit at all” if they wrecked her plan to forge a close relationship with the European Union after leaving the world’s biggest trading bloc.

“My message to the country this weekend is simple: we need to keep our eyes on the prize,” May wrote on Facebook. “If we don’t, we risk ending up with no Brexit at all.”

With less than nine months to go before the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29, 2019, the country, the political elite and business leaders are still deeply divided over what form Brexit should take.

By warning that Brexit itself is in danger, May is sending a blunt message to the dozens of hardline Brexiteers in her party that if they sink her premiership then they risk squandering the victory of an EU exit that they have dreamed about for decades. Some pro-Brexit Conservatives fear that a deal could emerge that leaves Britain tightly bound to EU rules and represents a Brexit in name only. The British government has also stepped up planning for a so called “no deal” Brexit that could spook financial markets and dislocate trade flows across Europe and beyond.

May has repeatedly said Brexit will happen and has ruled out a rerun of the 2016 referendum, although French President Emmanuel Macron and billionaire investor George Soros have suggested that Britain could still change its mind.

May has also revealed that US President Donald Trump had suggested her to “sue” the European Union instead of negotiating with them on Brexit even as she termed it as a “brutal” advice.





Before coming to Europe, US President Donald Trump raised eyebrows by predicting that Monday’s historic Helsinki summit with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin would be the “easiest” stage of his tour. The rest of his trip, to Brussels and Britain, has indeed crackled with the controversy so far.

But new indictments from an investigation into alleged Russian interference in US politics have dropped with embarrassing timing, focusing attention again on whether the Trump campaign may have benefited from Putin’s covert help to win the White House.

And it is far from the only charged issue to loom over the two leaders’ first full-blown encounter.

British accusations that Russia unleashed a deadly nerve agent in an English city, the fears of NATO allies that Trump is not serious about defending the Western alliance, and Putin’s support for the Syrian regime after years of civil war also form part of the crowded backdrop.

Putin will head to the Finnish capital on a diplomatic high after presiding over today’s World Cup final in Moscow, basking in the glow of a trouble-free tournament that burnished Russia’s credentials.

Ahead of the leaders’ first one-on-one summit, the Kremlin said it considers Trump a “negotiating partner”.




World Cup 2018 came to an end with France defeating Croatia 4-2 in an epic final in Moscow. The thrilling match was no less than a dramatic event, from mind-boggling goals to invaders trying to stall the finale. The presentation ceremony too had it’s bit of drama, when it started raining. While most rejoiced it as a good omen, one particular thing on the podium raised many eyeballs online. Standing on the stage Russian President Vladimir Putin was the only one who was offered an umbrella, while others including the President of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and French President Emmanuel Macron got drenched. The footage from the ceremony quickly went viral on social media platforms, with many taking a jibe at Putin.

While some slammed the Russian president for accepting the umbrella while other dignitaries and players got soaked, many took a funny route to troll Putin using punny one-liners and jokes. And even before you knew it, Twitter was flooded with Putin memes.








“DON’T ALLOW these persons in (the) red car to escape. They are child kidnappers.’’

That was the message sent, along with a video of four men distributing chocolates to schoolchildren, to WhatsApp groups in Murki and surrounding villages of Bidar district in Karnataka on Friday evening. Within half-an-hour, one of the men, a software engineer, was killed and the other three were seriously injured after they were attacked by villagers in Murki.

Police said they had traced the WhatApp message to Manoj Patil, a farmer from Handikera village in Aurad taluka. He is among the 30-odd people who have been arrested so far.

In one video, Inspector Dilip Sagar is seen pleading with the mob to spare the lives of the men. “When we reached the spot, one person had already been beaten to death. The mob was raining stones and lathis on the other three persons after dragging them out of the car. Imagine a mob of 400-500 people throwing stones and sticks,” said Sagar.

He said 10 policemen, including himself, tried to form a ring around the victims, but the mob attacked them too.

On Sunday, two days after the attack, there was tension in Murki and the surrounding areas. Villagers were angry that about 30 people had been arrested over the last two days.





No one is calling it a Rosa Parks moment but a Dalit bridegroom broke through a barrier on Sunday evening when he arrived in a western Uttar Pradesh village to marry a girl in a buggy, accompanied by a band and 200-odd relatives and friends.

Nearly sixty-three years ago in Montgomery in the US, Parks had become the symbol of the civil rights movement when she refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger.

Never before had any Dalit been “allowed” to sit in a buggy or organise a wedding procession in Rajput-dominated Nizampur in Kasganj district, where Dalit marriages used to take place “silently” on the village’s fringes.

But Sanjay Jatav, 24, the groom from neighbouring Hathras district, had vowed three months ago that he would “break the rule set by affluent landlords even if I am killed”.

The Rajputs had declared they wouldn’t allow “any breach of the village tradition”. But the local administration got police to book 37 Thakurs on Friday and Saturday and grant them bail only against personal bonds.

The bonds declared they would stay away from the village on Sunday, when the wedding was scheduled, and on Monday, when bride Sheetal Jatav, 22, would leave for her husband’s home.





Electrical engineer Arjun Arunachalam, 38, believes his dream of building a new, fast, portable magnetic resonance imaging scanner is moving close to fruition, after a decade of effort punctuated by periods of frustration.

His prototype scanner, assembled on the first floor of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Bangalore, now awaits human trials in which doctors will compare its images with those from standard MRI scanners.

Radiologists who have watched the scanner take shape have been told the device could be prepared for use in only two hours to provide on-site MRI scans, currently unavailable to people in small towns and villages.

Doctors familiar with commercial MRI scanners, which take a week to be made functional if fully turned off, find the two-hour switch-on feature the prototype promises fascinating.

For, this translates into portability, making the device a mobile MRI scanner. And as important as this mobility, they say, is the speed at which the prototype generates images, which is three to four times faster than the fastest scanners in the market.

Imaging specialists say the prototype, if proved as reliable as commercial scanners, represents a potentially disruptive technology for the existing MRI industry.





Tata Teleservices, which transferred its wireless services business to Bharti Airtel in October last year for free, has reported India Inc’s biggest loss ever at Rs 274.7 billion for the fiscal year ended March 2018 — due to write-offs taken on its wireless service business.

The company’s net worth stood eroded at a negative Rs 452 billion in the same period as Tata Group Chairman N Chandrasekaran sets the house in order. Bankers privy to the development said despite the huge losses, the company has paid all its loans on time. There was not a single default.

Rival Reliance Communications reported the second-biggest loss in corporate history at Rs 239 billion for 2017-18 as the Anil Ambani-run company shut down its wireless telephony business and sold telecom infrastructure to Reliance Jio for Rs 240 billion.




Over the years, World Cup finals have tended to become dreary affairs and there was a danger that a tournament as entertaining as the 2018 edition might be decided by a stinker of a match. How misplaced were those fears?

France won it 4-2, in a thrilling match.

France were put ahead in the 18th minute of the match by an own goal from none other than Mario Mandzukic. He had the dubious honour of becoming the first man to score an own goal in a World Cup final but he would get to make amends later in the match. Exactly 10 minutes later, Ivan Perisic equalised for Croatia after a deft set-piece routine triggered by the inconquerable Luka Modric. The drama was not to end there. Just over five minutes before half-time, then referee, with assistance from VAR gave France a penalty kick due to an apparent handball by Perisic. The validity of that decision was debatable  – replays indicated that Perisic did not move his hands towards the ball. Antoine Griezmann calmly rolled the ball past Danijel Subasic into the bottom left-hand corner and France were in the lead at halftime.

The second half started with Croatia all over the French defence. Deschamps’ men weathered that storm and it was not too long before they extended their lead Paul Pogba sent in a thunderous strike from the edge of the box and extended France’s lead to 3-1.

Minutes later, Kylian Mbappe scored a similar goal, from outside the box and that marked the third record of the day – Mbappe became the first teenager to score a goal in the World Cup final since the great Pele. Croatian shoulders slumped at that point but this match was not done yet.

France goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris has built a reputation of having a sturdy pair of hands and a calm head to go with them in the years in which he has been Tottenham Hotspur and France’s no. 1 goalkeeper but he chose a very wrong time to make an uncharacteristic blunder. He literally put the ball into the path of Mandzukic who tapped it in to goal.

Official awards: Luka Modric, Croatia (Golden Ball for best player); Kylian Mbappe, France (Best Young Player); Harry Kane, England (Golden Shoe for highest scorer); Thibaut Courtois (Golden Glove for best goalkeeper).



Novak Djokovic claimed a fourth Wimbledon title in ruthless fashion as he beat giant South African Kevin Anderson 6-2 6-2 7-6(3) on a sweltering Centre Court.

After the monumental drama provided by both men’s semifinals, the two longest in Wimbledon history, the showpiece proved something of an anti-climax as Djokovic ended a two-year Grand Slam title drought. Anderson had spent 21 hours on court to reach his first Wimbledon final and his tank appeared to be empty in the opening two sets as a clinical Djokovic dominated.

Djokovic, who had been required to finish his epic semifinal with Rafael Nadal on Saturday, lost some intensity at times in the third set and saved five set points as Anderson hinted at an improbable comeback. But he forged ahead in the tiebreak and could celebrate a 13th Grand Slam title when Anderson netted a return.

Novak Djokovic celebrated his win by munching on the Centre Court grass. “The grass tasted really well. I had a double portion this year to treat myself,” said the 31-year-old. The sight of Djokovic snacking on the Centre Court grass has become a Wimbledon tradition since the Serb first did it after beating Rafael Nadal in the 2011 final.

This was Djokovic’s 13th Grand Slam win in all – 4 at Wimbledon, 6 Austrian Opens, 2 US Opens and one French Open.


Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over. – Octavia


Sir, how many umbrellas should we bring?

Putin: Just one. They didn’t let us win. Let them soak!

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