Newsletter July 27 2018






Results: PTI-118, PML-N-59, PPP-41, Others-50


Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has won Pakistan’s General Elections, termed by a majority mainstream and small parties as rigged. The PTI is in a position to form the central government through a coalition and an independent government in the province of Khyber Pukhtunkhawa. It is in a neck-and-neck race with the PML-N to capture the Punjab province also, with the help of Independents.

People from a cross-section of Pakistan society fear political instability during the next few months with the Opposition preparing for a long haul of agitation politics inside and outside the National Assembly. Jailed former premier Nawaz Sharif alleged the people’s mandate had been “stolen”. He vowed to fight on as party leaders and his brother Shehbaz Sharif met him in Rawalpindi’s Adiyala Jail.

In an addressed the nation as premier-in-waiting through live telecast, Imran Khan tried to calm down the agitated opposition parties, agreeing to get the rigging  allegations investigated to their satisfaction.

Observers are keenly monitoring the PPP’s next move – whether it embraces the PTI for a share in central government or opts for Opposition benches in the National Assembly. Bilawal Bhutto’s party is in a position to form government in Sindh. There is a feeling that it may not respond to the opposition’s call for a phase-wise agitation.

Imran Khan has vowed to make a ‘Naya Pakistan’ which would be an Islamic welfare state.

Extremist and banned groups, including Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-backed Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek, have failed miserably in the elections despite their massive campaign. Hundreds of individuals linked with hardline and banned groups were competing in the polls but so far, according to the unofficial results, none of them was seen as winning a seat in the national or provincial assemblies.





Pakistan is ready to improve its ties with India and his government would like the leaders of the two sides to resolve all disputes, including the “core issue” of Kashmir, through talks, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan said on Thursday, asserting that the blame game between the two neighbours, detrimental to the sub-continent, should stop.

“If they take one step towards us, we will take two, but at least (we) need a start,” 65-year-old Khan said at his first public address after leading his party to victory. He said Kashmir was the “core” issue between the two countries and it should be resolved through talks.

“I am a person who arguably knows most people in India because of my days in cricket. We can resolve the poverty crisis in S-E Asia. The biggest problem is Kashmir,” he said, suggesting that the two sides should come to the table.

“We want to improve our ties with India, if their leadership wants it too. This blame game that whatever goes wrong in Pakistan’s Balochistan is because of India and vice versa brings us back to square one,” he said. He said good India-Pakistan relations would be beneficial for the entire region and suggested increased trade ties between the two neighbours.




Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday highlighted the importance of industrial technology, skill development and multilateral cooperation in creating a better world as he attended the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg.

Modi said the new industrial technology and digital interface that the world is building is an opportunity and also a challenge.

“At the session with fellow BRICS leaders, I shared my thoughts on various global issues, the importance of technology, skill development and how effective multilateral cooperation creates a better world,” Modi tweeted after his address.

He said India wants to work with BRICS nations on the fourth industrial revolution and called for sharing the best practices and policies in the area. The fourth industrial revolution is the fourth major industrial era since the initial Industrial Revolution of the 18th century. It is characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres.

Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss furthering the friendship between India and China.





The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed a landmark Bill to criminalise and penalise trafficking for exploitative sex, forced and bonded labour, begging, surrogacy and forced marriages.

The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill is the first standalone legislation to prevent trafficking of persons, especially women and children, provide care, protection and rehabilitation to the victims, prosecute offenders and create a legal, economic and social environment for the victims.

The Bill passed on Thursday evening seeks to punish perpetrators of aggravated form of trafficking with rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than 10 years but which may extend to imprisonment for life and will be liable to fine not be less than Rs 1 lakh. For a repeat offence, the punishment will be RI for the remainder of the offender’s natural life and fine not less than Rs 2 lakh. Further, whoever keeps or manages, acts or assists in trafficking by managing a premises that holds victims will also be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years and fine up to Rs 1 lakh.

The Bill is unique as it does not put any conditions on victims to testify to get their entitlements under the law. The Bill will now be taken to the Rajya Sabha for passage. It has been in the making for a year.








U.S. President Donald Trump and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday agreed on a plan to defuse the festering trade dispute between the two major economies.

Germany’s Economy Minister described the agreement — which means Washington will not follow through with a threat to impose tariffs on autos that would hurt the dominant German car industry — as a “breakthrough” that “can avoid trade war.”

The pair — who met for more than two hours of talks at the White House — also said they would work to “resolve” the existing duties on steel and aluminum imposed by Washington, which had angered key allies including the European Union.

“We want to further strengthen this trade relationship to the benefit of all American and European citizens,” Mr. Trump said in a statement delivered from the White House Rose Garden.

“A breakthrough has been quickly made that nobody thought possible!” he wrote on Twitter, later adding: “Great to be back on track with the European Union. This was a big day for free and fair trade!”








The Central government on Thursday approved the merger of Vodafone and Idea Cellular, creating the country’s largest mobile operator with 35 per cent market share.

Bharti Airtel is currently the market leader with 344 million customers. The merged entity, which would have over 430 million subscribers, came after Idea Cellular and Vodafone India made a joint payment of Rs 7,268.78 crore to the Department of Telecom (DoT) for merging their respective telecom businesses. The payment was, however, made ‘under protest’.

Kumar Mangalam Birla will be the non-executive Chairman and Balesh Sharma the new CEO of the merged entity, which will remain listed. Vodafone will have a 45.1 per cent stake in the combined entity, while Aditya Birla Group will have 26 per cent and Idea shareholders 28.9 per cent.

The Aditya Birla Group has the right to acquire up to a 9.5 per cent additional stake from Vodafone under an agreed mechanism with a view to equalising the shareholdings overtime.

Incidentally, the merger will help the two operators to jointly take on the might of Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Jio in the fiercely competitive domestic telecom market where there are now just three telecom operators.





Women devotees, who ran “Ready to wait” campaign to support the restriction on entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 years in Sabarimala Temple in Kerala, on Thursday told the Supreme Court that Lord Ayyappa’s right to privacy as an ‘eternal celibate’ must be respected.

“A deity, having a distinct legal personality, was entitled to the rights under Articles 21, 25 and 26 of the Constitution….Lord Ayyappa’s right to maintain his ‘eternal celibate’ status is covered under the right to privacy under Article 21,” advocate J Sai Deepak told a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra on behalf of People4Dharma which represents the women devotees of Lord Ayyappa.

A nine-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had in 2017 declared right to privacy a fundamental right under Article 21 (right to life and liberty).

Article 25 and Article 26 deal with right to religion and right of religious denominations, respectively.

Deepak contended the celibate nature of the deity was integral to the practice which should not be disturbed and whether a particular practice was essential to practise a faith was a question of trial that would require leading evidence for and against.

His arguments were contested by Justice DY Chandrachud who said a practice, even if essential, cannot violate constitutional principles.

Sometimes judges would be required to don the mantle of theologians in deciding issues relating to religion, Deepak responded giving the example of Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai. In that case, the Bombay High Court had gone into Hadiths and other Islamic scriptures and recorded evidence to deliver its verdict. He also emphasised that every exclusion didn’t amount to discrimination.




The National Commission for Women (NCW), submitting a report on the two sex scandals in churches in Kerala, has recommended that the government should intervene to abolish the practice of confession in churches as “they come in the way of security and safety of women.”

“We have recommended that confession should abolished from the church. It is being misused by the priests. Many women are suffering. Women cannot share their private life with priests,” says NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma. “The confession could give an opportunity for the priests to exploit even men. With women, they can sexually exploit them. But with men, they could blackmail them for money. So this confession should go from the churches,” she said.

Asked if the NCW could make a recommendation that affects essential customs of a religious community, Sharma said: “If religious customs and practices are coming in the way of security and safety of women, NCW can definitely seek remedies. The women should not confess, especially before men. If we do not raise such issues and try to make changes, who will?”





“The right hand does not know what the left hand is doing,” an angry Supreme Court said on Thursday pulling up the Centre and Uttar Pradesh Government for lack of coordination in taking measures to protect and conserve Taj Mahal.

A Bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur was surprised to know that the Uttar Pradesh Government prepared a vision document on the ‘monument of love’ with the help of School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Delhi without consulting the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) which has been assigned the task of its upkeep.

“Someone has to take responsibility. There has to be one authority which takes charge. It seems that authorities have washed their hands off the Taj. We are now in a situation where a vision document is prepared without ASI’s involvement,” the Bench said.

“Why have you given a draft plan? Are we supposed to vet it for you? Is it our job to vet it?” it asked the state government advocate… the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing,” commented the Bench —which had earlier said, “Either restore it (Taj Mahal) or demolish it.”





The government on Thursday extended the last date for filing income tax returns for assessment year 2018-19 by a month to August 31.

The new income tax return forms were notified early in April and taxpayers (whose accounts are not liable for audit) were allowed to e-file their ITRs till July 31 .





Three sisters were found dead in east Delhi’s Mandawali area with initial postmortem report hinting that it was a case of starvation, prompting the city government to order a magisterial probe into the matter, even as the BJP and Congress attacked the AAP over the incident.

The girls, aged eight, four and two years, were brought to a hospital by their mother and a friend at around 1 pm on Tuesday, and the hospital authorities informed police about their deaths. According to the initial postmortem report, the girls died due to malnourishment/starvation and its complications”.

However, police said that the second autopsy will establish the cause of death with finality. They added that there were no traces of food found in the stomach of the girls.

The girls’ father, a casual labourer, is missing since Tuesday, though locals said he had gone in search of work and would return in a couple of days. The girls’ mother is not “mentally sound” and told police that she did not know what happened to her daughters and how they died.

A political slugfest broke out on Thursday over the issue, with the Union Government attacking the Arvind Kejriwal dispensation for the incident.





Innovator from Ladakh Sonam Wangchuk, on whose life Bollywood flick ‘3 Idiots’was made,  is one of the two Indians declared winners for Ramon Magsaysay Award this year.

“His unique initiative to harness science and culture for economic progress improved the lives of Ladakhi youth,” read a citation by the award foundation.

Wangchuk had earlier received Rolex Award for helping Ladakh farmers overcome water shortage through an artificial glacier. Dedicating the award to teachers and students, a humble Wangchuk said: “It belongs to everyone — students, teachers and leaders.”

The other winner is Mumbai-based Bharat Vatwani, a psychiatrist recognised for “his tremendous courage and healing compassion in embracing mentally afflicted destitute”. He and his wife established Shraddha Rehabilitation Foundation in 1988 that rescues mentally ill persons living on the streets, provides them food and shelter and reunites them with their families after psychiatric treatment.





America’s first Sikh-American Attorney General, of New Jersey, Gurbir Grewal, has been racially targeted by two radio hosts who repeatedly called him the “turban man” on air, drawing severe criticism from politicians and netizens over their “xenophobic and racist” comments.

Dennis Malloy and Judi Franco, who host a show on the radio show, were talking about Grewal’s decision to suspend marjiuana prosecutions in New Jersey when they began calling him the “turban man”.

“You know the attorney general guy? I’m never going to know his name, I’m just gonna say the guy with the turban,” Malloy said. “Turban man!” Franco repeated in a sing-song tone. “If it offends you, then don’t wear the turban, man, and I’ll remember your name,” Malloy said, as both the hosts laughed.

“This is not the first indignity I’ve faced and it probably won’t be the last. Sometimes, I endure it alone.  Yesterday, all of New Jersey heard it. It’s time to end small-minded intolerance,” Grewal tweeted.

He recalled the day he was nominated to become the 61st Attorney General of New Jersey, a commentator had asked where will Grewal “park” his “elephant.”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who had appointed Grewal to his post, strongly condemned the language of the radio hosts, demanding action by the station.

The radio station later tweeted that it is aware of the “offensive comments” made by Malloy and Franco during the broadcast. “We have taken immediate action and have taken them off the air until further notice,” it said in the tweet.




The Indian women are in danger of missing out on a quarterfinal berth after Ireland beat them 1-0 in their World Cup league match here today. A 13th-minute penalty corner conversion by Anna O’Flanagan was all Ireland needed to win as they doggedly defended their lead to record a second consecutive upset in the tournament to book a quarterfinal berth. Ireland had earlier shocked world No. 7 USA 3-1 in their first match.

It was also India’s second consecutive defeat to Ireland, having lost to them 1-2 in their last encounter, at the Hockey World league Semifinals in Johannesburg last year.

By virtue of this win, Ireland now top Pool B with six points, followed by England (2 points), India and USA (1 point each).

India, world No. 10 against Ireland’s No. 16, were the favourites today but they never looked the part. Ireland, on the other hand, grew in confidence as the match progressed and looked more threatening.





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In every age “the good old days” were a myth. No one ever thought they were good at the time. For every age has consisted of crises that seemed intolerable to the people who lived through them. – Brooks Atkinson


One of our friends is always telling his wife that her housekeeping would be a snap if only she would organize her time better. Recently he had a chance to put his theory into practice while his wife was away.

When I popped in one evening to see how he was managing, he crowed, “I made a cake, frosted it, washed the kitchen windows, cleaned all the cupboards, scrubbed the kitchen floor, walls and ceiling and even had a bath.”

I was about to concede that perhaps he was a better manager than his wife, when he added sheepishly, “When I was making the chocolate frosting, I forgot to turn off the mixer before taking the beaters out of the bowl, so I had to do all the rest.”

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