Newsletter July 21 2018





Minutes after the NDA-led government sailed through the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha, after 11 P.M. last evening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his gratitude to the “125 crore people of India” and political parties for extending their support to the government. The debate went on for about 12 hour, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi having the last word.

The government registered a comfortable victory with 325 votes as against the 126 votes. Members of the Shiv Sena, BJD and TRS were not present in the House when the voting took place. Several AIADMK members had opposed the motion, in a boost to the NDA.

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the numbers only indicated the increased level of trust by the citizens in the government.

After the day long session in the Lower House saw the government and the opposition trade charges, the PM rose to speak at around 2130 hrs and went on for about 90 minutes. Terming the no-trust vote against his government a result of the opposition’s “arrogance”, Modi had earlier called on all parties to dismiss the move and accused the Congress of working with the mindset of ‘Modi hatao’ (remove Modi). Responding to the debate on the motion, he said some people are indulging in “negative politics.”

In a point-by-point rebuttal to allegations levelled against him by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the Nehru-Gandhi family “thekedar” (contractor) and “saudagar” (trader), and said the no-confidence motion against his government by “some people” was only to spread instability in the country through “negative politics”.

In a swipe at the Congress and the Opposition arraigned against his party and government. Modi said: “I pray to God to give you the strength to bring a no-confidence motion in 2024 also.”

Modi used Rahul Gandhi’s remark that he (the Prime Minister) could not look him in the eye.

“A member said that I can’t look them in the eye. He is right. He is a big naamdaar while I am a backward caste man born of a poor mother. I am a simple kaamdaar. How dare I look them in the eye?” continued the prime minister, adding, “whenever anyone tried to look into their eyes — be it Subhas Chandra Bose, Morarji Desai, Jayaprakash Narayan, Chaudhary Charan Singh, Chandra Shekhar, HD Deve Gowda – see what happened to them. Sharad Pawar or even Pranab Mukherjee tied to look at them in the eye, look at the way they were discarded”.

He ridiculed UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi for her reported remark that the Opposition could have the numbers to push the no-trust motion. “See her arrogance. I was reminded about 1999. She stood outside Rashtrapati Bhavan and said, we have 272 and more are joining us. She destabilised Atalji’s (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) government and never formed one herself.”


The debate was opened by TDP MP Jayadev Galla. He said, “The saga of Andhra Pradesh during this Modi-Shah regime is a saga of empty promises.” Hitting out at the prime minister for ignoring Andhra Pradesh, Galla said, “You (PM) are singing a different tune which people of Andhra Pradesh are keenly observing and they would give you a befitting reply in the upcoming polls.”

Rahul Gandhi led the charge for Congress and attacked the Modi government on a number of issues including lack of jobs, issues of women’s safety, GST, demonetisation, and farmers’ issues. Gandhi called the promises made by PM Modi as ‘jumlas’ saying, “You said every person will get Rs 15 lakh – this is jumla No 1. You said two crore youth will get jobs every year, this is jumla No 2.” Taking a dig at the Prime minister, Gandhi described the ‘symptoms of the jumla strike’ as, “A great sense of excitement, happiness, there is a feeling of shock and then there are 8-hour-long speeches.”

Rahul Gandhi also questioned PM Modi’s silence over the rising number of lynching cases in the country. Calling it an attack on the constitution and this House. He said, “The difference between us and PM Modi and Amit Shah is that we are willing to lose power. The prime minister and BJP president act out of fear. This is the fear that is translating in India.”

He said, “You can call me Pappu, give me names, but I will never have hatred for you.” He further added that he had no hatred for the prime minister, the BJP, and the RSS, instead, he thanked them for teaching him the meaning of “Congress, life and being a Hindu.”

Training his guns on Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Gandhi accused her of lying on the details of Rafael deal with the France government. He maintained that the French president had told him specifically that there is no pact of secrecy between the two governments. Within hours, a

clarification came from France (see below). And then  a BJP member filed a privilege motion against Rahul Gandhi, accusing him of lying on the floor of house. The speaker will rule on the motion.


Hours after Congress president Rahul Gandhi said in Parliament that French President Emmanuel Macron told him there is no secrecy pact between India and France, the French government countered his claim with an official statement confirming that a secrecy pact exists between the two countries.

In a statement issued from Paris, the French foreign ministry, which found itself dragged into a domestic political controversy, said: “We have noted the statement of Mr Rahul Gandhi before the Indian Parliament. France and India concluded in 2008 a security agreement, which legally binds the two states to protect the classified information provided by the partner, that could impact security and operational capabilities of the defence equipment of India or France. These provisions naturally apply to the IGA concluded on 23 September 2016, on the acquisition of 36 Rafale aircraft and their weapons. As the President of the French Republic indicated publicly in an interview to India Today on March 9, 2018, ‘In India and in France, when a deal is very sensitive, we can’t reveal all details’.”

Rahul, however, said he stood by his statement in Parliament. “Let them deny if they want. He (Macron) said that before me. I was there, Anand Sharma and former prime minister Manmohan Singh were also there,” he said.





When Congress president Rahul Gandhi began walking towards the well of the House after his sharpest attack on the Centre in Parliament Friday, members on the treasury benches looked on curiously. Rahul walked past the well and stopped only at the far end, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was seated.

There, he turned into the aisle, bent and spoke to Modi and both shook hands. MPs thought the gesture was a little unconventional but believed Rahul was done. He clearly was not. Rahul gestured to Modi to get up so they could hug, and the Prime Minister, visibly taken aback, stayed put in his seat.

The Congress president stretched across and wrapped Modi in an awkward hug leaving the Prime Minister, who remained seated, more than surprised. Rahul turned to walk away when Modi called him back. A few more words were exchanged, Modi patted Rahul and another hand-shake followed.

His mission accomplished, a beaming Rahul returned to his corner seat in the second row and winked at his party colleagues – Jyotiraditya Scindia and KC Venugopal – as he sat down almost as if to convey mission accomplished.

On returning to his seat, Rahul said: “The meaning of being Hindu is to embrace the whole world. The whole world may abuse you, call you Pappu, but you should have love in your heart. This is the history and the future of this country.”

The hug and wink after evoked polar reactions across the political spectrum. While the Congress lauded Rahul’s “unscripted” gesture, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said the “drama” was against Parliament decorum, while Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the hug reminded him of the Chipko Movement in Uttarakhand.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor tweeted: “What an astonishing performance by @RahulGandhi. It was a game-changing speech, tearing apart the Govt’s claims & ending with that unscripted hug that has literally taken the BJP’s breath away”.

While BJP MP Kirron Kher invited Rahul to join Bollywood, Union minister Babul Supriyo said: “What is this? This is no gallery show. Is it a one-act play that one comes and hugs the Prime Minister? Somebody should make him understand the dignity of his position.” A Left MP, wishing anonymity, said: “We think it (the hug) was childish, but it was good for optics. It also shows that Rahul can match acting with acting.”








US president Donald Trump, under fire over his Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin, has doubled down by saying he looks forward to meeting the Russian leader again — with talks already underway for a visit to Washington in the fall.

Trump has come in for bipartisan criticism for what many saw as his unsettling embrace of the Russian strongman this week — and his seeming disavowal of his own intelligence agencies and their assessment that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election.

The backlash has thrust Trump onto the defensive, leading to days of conflicting statements from both the president and the White House.

But Trump has largely shrugged off the criticism, and on Thursday, took aim at the “fake news media” for failing to recognise his achievements. “The summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the ‘Fake News Media’,” Trump said on Twitter. “The Fake News Media wants so badly to see a major confrontation with Russia, even a confrontation that could lead to war.”

In an interview with CNBC television, Trump said “getting along with President Putin, getting along with Russia’s a positive, not a negative”. “Now with that being said if it doesn’t work out I’ll be the worst enemy he’s ever had,” he said of Putin. “I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed,” Trump said.

The invitation came as an apparent surprise to the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats when he was told about it during a live interview at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado. “Say that again?” Coats asked the interviewer. “OK. That’s going to be special,” he said, laughing.

Coats also said that three days after Trump met with Putin, he does not know what the two men discussed. “I don’t know what happened in that meeting,” he said.

The US upper chamber issued a sharp rebuke to Trump earlier in the day, voting 98-0 to oppose any move by his administration to make US officials available for questioning by Russian government officials.




Hackers have stolen health records belonging to 1.5 million Singaporeans, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who was specifically targeted in the city state’s biggest ever data breach, authorities said on Friday.

Singapore’s health and information ministries said a government database was broken into in a “deliberate, targeted and well-planned” strike, describing the attack as “unprecedented”.

“Attackers specifically and repeatedly targeted the personal particulars and outpatient information of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong,” health minister Gan Kim Yong told a media conference. Officials declined to elaborate on the identity of the hackers citing “operational security”.

Wealthy Singapore is hyper connected and on a drive to digitise government databases and essential services.









Countering the Opposition attack on the government, especially over the incidents of lynching, Home Minister Rajnath Singh tore into the Congress, saying “the biggest incident of mob lynching happened during 1984” when anti-Sikh riots broke out following the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

Speaking in Lok Sabha during the debate on the motion of no-confidence on Friday, Singh, referring to remarks like ‘Hindu Taliban’ by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and ‘mini-Pakistan’ by a TMC MLA, cautioned Opposition parties against dividing India.

“There have been remarks like Hindu Taliban and mini-Pakistan. Where are you taking the country?… India is the only country where minorities are prospering…. Don’t incidents of a Kerala professor’s hands being chopped by Islamic fundamentalists, or attacks in Kashmir remind you of Taliban?”

He said his government has already asked states to take stringent action and make strict laws against incidents of lynching and vigilantism. “The biggest incident of mob lynching happened during 1984… and a big leader (a reference to Rajiv Gandhi) said when a big tree falls, the earth shakes. And they (Congress) are trying to give us lessons on mob lynching,” he said.

Singh spent a good part of his speech to list the achievements of the BJP-led government and credited Prime Minister Modi for it. He also had a dig at Congress president Rahul Gandhi: “Some are born with a silver spoon. What will they know of the farmer’s plight? They can only hear about these problems, but will not understand their suffering.”




Despite the Centre’s reservations, the Supreme Court Collegium has “reiterated” its decision to recommend Uttarakhand Chief Justice K M Joseph as an apex court judge. The Collegium also said that it had found “nothing adverse regarding” his “suitability” in two letters sent by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asking the Collegium to reconsider its decision.

The Collegium met on July 16 and said in its resolution: “The Collegium, on due consideration of all the aspects mentioned in the aforesaid two letters, resolves to reiterate the afore-mentioned recommendation, especially since nothing adverse regarding suitability of Mr Justice K M Joseph has been pointed out in the aforesaid letters.”

“We have carefully considered the observations made by the Law Minister in his letters dated 26th April, 2018 and 30th April, 2018 addressed to the Chief Justice of India referring back, for reconsideration, the recommendation made by us on 10th January, 2018 for appointment of Mr Justice K M Joseph, Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court, as Judge of the Supreme Court.”

The Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and A K Sikri also recommended the names of Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Orissa High Court Chief Justice Vineet Saran as Supreme Court judges.





The hashtag TalkToAMuslim is the most recent addition to Twitter. In India, this trend has started with with tweets from Bollywood celebrities like Gauahar Khan and Swara Bhasker urging people to initiate a dialogue about breaking Muslim stereotypes and putting an end to the communal divide.

It all started when Rahul Gandhi met “Muslim intellectuals” at his residence on July 11 and was subsequently trolled for it.

Gauahar Khan first posted on the micro-blogging site saying, “#TalkToAMuslim seriously didn’t think a day would come where talking to a muslim leader or a commoner would question ur patriotism or ur belief in ur own faith!!by land I am a Hindu ,by faith I am a Muslim and by heart n soul INDIAN is my identity !!! #killThehate #spreadlove”.

Her tweet, along with other such tweets, received mixed reactions. While some found this helpful, others found it demeaning. “Completely flaggerbasted [flabbergasted] by the #TalkToAMuslim hashtag. It imbues TALKING to muslims with a stigma that never was, and is patronising as heck. I’d imagine people with friends of different religions including Islam are quite taken aback by this and unsure what it attempts to fix,” tweeted Narasinga, to which Swara Bhasker replied, “I respectfully disagree. Muslims r being ‘othered’ by the discourse which goes hysterical because the leader of opposition ‘talked’ to a group of Muslims. They r creating a political culture where ‘talking’ to Muslims as a group will become taboo. Best counter is #TalkToAMuslim”





The Delhi High Court on Friday set aside an order of JNU’s appellate authority imposing a penalty on its former student union president Kanhaiya Kumar in connection with a 2016 incident in which alleged anti-India slogans were raised at an event.

Justice Siddharth Mridul said the JNU office’s order was “unsustainable on innumerable counts” after which the counsel for the varsity submitted that they are recalling the decision.

A Rs 10,000 fine was imposed on Kanhaiya  Kumar by the appellate authority in connection with the incident in which slogans were allegedly raised at the event relating to Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s hanging.




Under pressure to stop rumours and fake news triggering a spate of horrific lynching incidents, WhatsApp on Friday announced curbs on its service in India, including limiting forwarding messages to five chats at once.

In a statement, WhatsApp said it is launching a test to limit forwarding on the app. In addition, it said it will “remove the quick forward button next to media messages”. “We believe that these changes, which we will continue to evaluate, will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app,” the company said in a statement.

WhatsApp, which had added a feature to let people forward a message to multiple chats at once a few years ago, had earlier this month launched a “forward label” to identify messages that are not original and have been forwarded.





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If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand. – Milton Friedman


A new study says that obese people can lose weight if they walk 3000 metres a day. As a result Marriots is introducing a new 3000 metre long buffet.

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