Newsletter July 31 2018






A Supreme Court-monitored exercise to identify genuine Indian nationals living in Assam on Monday excluded over 40 lakh people from the draft list, triggering a political slugfest, with the Opposition alleging it was a BJP gameplan to divide the people for electoral gains.

The excluded amount to nearly 12 per cent of the population of the state.

To be recognised as citizens, all residents had to produce documents proving that they or their families lived in India before March 25, 1971.

Authorities said the citizenship test was crucial to protect ethnic Assamese, many of whom have demanded removal of outsiders they accuse of taking jobs and cornering resources.

Minutes after release of the final draft, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the exercise was carried out in an ‘impartial and transparent’ manner. “No coercive action will be taken against anyone. Hence, there is no need for anyone to panic,” he told reporters in New Delhi.

The opposition – Trinamool Congress, Congress, CPM and Samajwadi Party criticised the government over the publication of the list, saying it puts “human rights and democratic rights” of people at stake.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hit out at the Centre, accusing it of resorting to ‘vote bank politics’. “This divide and rule policy will finish the country”, she said. Banerjee also claimed that names of people who have passports, Aadhaar and voter cards have also been excluded from the final draft.

Chief Minister Sonowal said that no one should spread misinformation about the NRC. “Assam is a very peaceful state. We are confident that all sections of society will come forward to maintain peace and tranquillity. “We have always been abiding by the directions of the Supreme Court (in the NRC process), and whatever direction the Supreme Court will pass on to us, we will sincerely follow it and observe it,” Sonowal said. “It (NRC) is a draft only, it is to be remembered,” he said.

Rajnath Singh said the NRC was demanded in Assam for a long time and the previous state government had set up foreign tribunals following the Supreme Court order. “In publishing NRC, the government has done nothing. Everything is being done as per Supreme Court order. The allegation of the opposition against the government is baseless,” Singh said.

Meanwhile, tking on the Trinamool Congress, the BJP on Monday said there should be a similar effort to “identify illegal migrants from Bangladesh in West Bengal”, claiming that their “number could run into crores”.

“The youth in West Bengal want to identify the illegal migrants from Bangladesh as they are facing several problems like unemployment and law and order issues. The BJP supports their demand,” says Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP general secretary in charge of West Bengal.




Days after former cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan emerged as the top contender for the Pakistan prime minister’s job in the elections held on July 25, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday reached out to him.

Modi spoke to Imran Khan, chairperson of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party, that emerged as the largest party defeating Nawaz Sharif’s PMLN and Bilawal Bhutto’s PPP in the recent polls.

Prime Minister Modi congratulated him for his party emerging as the largest political party in the National Assembly of Pakistan.

“Prime Minister Modi expressed hope that democracy will take deeper roots in Pakistan. He also reiterated his vision of peace and development in the entire neighborhood,” said an official statement.

Imran Khan on Monday said that he would take oath as Pakistan’s Prime Minister on August 11.





The Congress on Monday iterated that it was against crony capitalism and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of distorting facts to project the Opposition’s fight against corruption as an anti-industry stand.

“It is good if you stand with industrialists,” senior leader Ahmed Patel tweeted in response to the Prime Minister’s assertion that he was not afraid of standing with corporate honchos.

“But this should not be for the protection of the interests of two individuals and filling the coffers of a party. You should stand with the industry for the future of the country and its youth.”

Modi had on Sunday projected himself as the defender of the business fraternity, casting himself as a modern-day Mahatma Gandhi whose good intentions made him unafraid of being seen with industrialists in public.

Congress leaders said the Prime Minister’s claim was irrelevant as nobody had asked the government to oppose industry. What the Opposition was against, they said, was the undue favours for a chosen few.

The Prime Minister, they insisted, had resorted to pro-industry rhetoric to avoid answering specific questions about the offset contract given to industrialist Anil Ambani’s firm in the Rafale deal.

“The Prime Minister should talk with responsibility. We challenge him to prove the charge he made yesterday – that industrialists are being called chor-lutera. When did any Congress leader use these words? When did we abuse (or) insult captains of industry?” party spokesperson Anand Sharma told a media conference.

“The Congress always supported industry and the country witnessed unprecedented growth during Manmohan Singh’s tenure between 2004 and 2014. India became the first country to quadruple its GDP in ten years.”




In a major boost to India, the US on Monday eased export controls for high-technology product sales to it by designating it as a Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 (STA-1) country, the only South Asian nation to be on the list.

The granting of STA-1 status to India comes after the US recognised India as a “Major Defence Partner” in 2016, a designation that allows India to buy more advanced and sensitive technologies from America at par with that of the US’ closest allies and partners.

“We have granted to India Strategic Trade Authorisation STA-1,” US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced on Monday.

Currently there are 36 countries on STA-1 list. India is the only South Asian country to be on the list. Other Asian countries designated as STA-1 are Japan and South Korea.

STA-1 status, Ross said provides India with greater supply chain conditions for defence and other high-tech products. According to the Department of Commerce, items that are eligible for export to STA1 destinations or nationals include items that are subject to control for: national security, chemical or biological weapons, nuclear nonproliferation, regional stability, crime control and significant items.








US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he is ready to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani without any precondition at any time.

“I believe in meeting, I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet,” Trump said at a White House joint news conference with visiting Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Trump was responding to a question if he is willing to meet Rouhani.

“I don’t know that they’re ready yet, they’re having a hard time right now. I ended the Iran deal, it was a ridiculous deal. I do believe that they will probably end up wanting to meet, and I’m ready to meet anytime they want to,” he said.

“I don’t do that from strength or from weakness, I think it’s an appropriate thing to do. If we could work something out that’s meaningful, not the waste of paper that the other deal was, I would certainly be willing to meet,” Trump said.

Responding to another question, he said he would meet without any precondition. “No preconditions. If they want to meet, I’ll meet anytime they want, anytime they want. Good for the country, good for them, good for us and good for the world. No preconditions. If they want to meet, I’ll meet,” said the US president.



The number of elderly people committing suicide in Singapore reached a record high last year, a non-government group said yesterday, urging stronger support for the over 60s in the rapidly ageing city-state.

Samaritans of Singapore (SOS), which focuses on preventing suicides, said fear of becoming a burden to family, social disconnection, physical impairment and deteriorating mental health are the most common challenges faced by the elderly.

With persistently low birth rates and longer lifespans, affluent Singapore is grappling with a rapidly ageing population which has been described as a ticking “demographic time bomb”.

SOS said in a statement posted on its website that the number of people aged 60 and above who took their own lives in 2017 rose to 129, which was the highest on record and accounted for nearly 36 percent of that year’s total suicides.

“It is very worrying that many elderly are turning to suicide as the only choice to end their pain and struggles,” said SOS executive director Christine Wong.

Official projections show the number of Singapore citizens aged 65 and above will go from 5 lakh in 2016 to 9 lakh in 2030.








Accusing their leaders of selling out to the government, a splinter group of Maratha youths came out on the roads in Pune and set vehicles on fire before blocking roads in different parts of Maharashtra Monday afternoon.

State police control room officials said fresh reports of violence were reported from the Chakan and Khed neighbourhoods of Pune, where a splinter group belonging to the Sakal Maratha Samaj organisation called for protests. The Pune-Nashik highway was blocked and nearly a 100 vehicles set on fire by protesters. Police said they had to fire in the air after attempts to disperse the mob by firing tear gas shells at them failed to have any effect.

Leaders of the Sakal Maratha Samaj and the Maratha Kranti Morcha had met with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and decided to postpone their protests after the government promised to call a special session of the assembly.

Youths belonging to the community accused the government of trying to fob off the Marathas with false promises and called for fresh protests across the state.

Various communities have now threatened to follow suit in Maharashtra. Foremost among them is the Dhangar or shepherd community. Rajya Sabha MP Vikas Mahatme said the community members would hold a meeting on Tuesday and agitate to push for the ST status.





DMK president M Karunanidhi is stable and well, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami said today after visiting the hospital to enquire about the leader’s health.

DMK workers continued to swarm the hospital premises, where Karunanidhi is being treated at the ICU for the third consecutive day, here despite police asking them to avoid crowding the area and party leader MK Stalin appealing for calm and cooperation with police in maintaining law and order.

“DMK chief’s health condition is stable. He is well.A medical team is attending on him. Me and deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam along with DMK party working president M K Stalin and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi visited him in person,” Palaniswami told reporters after visiting Karunanidhi.




External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said that illegal agents have started using asylum seeking as a means for trafficking people from India to other countries.

She said Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat report the highest number of such cases where agents traffic people to other countries and they seek asylum on political grounds in those countries.

“The illegal agents take Rs 20-25 lakh from these people and some of them have to cross five countries to reach Mexico and upon reaching the US, they seek asylum,” she said while addressing a conference of state women commissions on the issues of NRI Marriages and Trafficking of Women and Children on Friday.

However, when embassy officials go to meet these asylum seekers they refuse as the agents have told them that if they meet the officials it would appear that they are being helped by the Indian government and their request for seeking asylum would be rejected, said Swaraj.





The contentious Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill has been withdrawn. In a motion before the joint committee on FRDI Bill, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said the Bill was being withdrawn because of apprehensions in the minds of the public about several provisions in the Bill.

The FRDI Bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha during the Monsoon Session last year and subsequently sent to a joint committee of both houses for legislative scrutiny. The Bill, which was the government’s response to mounting bad loans in Indian banks, would have established a Resolution Corporation to monitor financial firms, anticipated risk of failure, taken corrective action, and resolved them in case of such failure.

It had provisions of dispute resolution through mergers and acquisitions, or transfer of assets to another firm or liquidation.

Several opposition parties have been opposing the Bill, as have been bank employees’ unions and industry associations such as Assocham. The latter had said that the Bill runs the risk of eroding the country’s trust in the banking system. Their was widespread apprehension over the  “bail-in” clause, which could have empowered financial institutions which are in a state of difficulty to use depositors’ money to bail themselves out of a sticky situation.


Former Union telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran must stand trial in a case that accuses him of misusing his office to help his brother’s business interests, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday.

The bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, R. Banumathi and Navin Sinha dismissed the DMK politician’s appeal against a Madras High Court order directing him to face trial in the so-called BSNL telephone exchange case.

“You have used the telephones for the business interests of your brother. This is not a case for discharge. You face trial,” Justice Gogoi told senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Dayanidhi.

In 2013, the CBI had accused Dayanidhi of misusing his office to install what was virtually a private telephone exchange at his home in Chennai when he was telecom minister in the UPA I government between June 2004 and December 2006. These phone lines were allegedly used, without charge, for business deals involving elder brother Kalanithi Maran’s enterprise, Sun Network.



Indian shuttlers tasted success on the opening day of the BWF World Championships in Nanjing on Monday. Barring the women’s doubles pair of Prajakta Sawant and Sanyogita Ghorpade, who lost to Bengisu Ercetin and Nazlican Inci of Turkey 20-22, 14-21, the rest of the Indian squad advanced to the second round.

Eleventh seed HS Prannoy thrashed Abhinav Manota of New Zealand 21-12, 21-11 in the men’s singles first round.

Sameer Verma eased past Lucas Corve of France 21-13, 21-10 to set up a second round encounter against Lin Dan.

There was no major upset in men’s singles on the first day as defending champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, Olympic champion Chen Long of China and local hope and third seed Shi Yuqi had it easy.

The Indian men’s duo of Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy brushed aside Bulgarians Daniel Nikolov and Ivan Rusev 21-13, 21-18. They now take on Japanese seventh seeds Takuto Inoue and Yuki Kaneko.

All the four mixed doubles pairs progressed to the second round. London Worlds bronze medallist Ashwini Ponnappa and her teen partner Satwiksairaj Rankireddy downed Niclas Nohr and Sara Thygesen of Denmark 21-9, 22-20. The Indians saved three game points to prevail over their rivals in the second game.

Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki Reddy defeated Jakub Bitman and Alzbeta Basova of the Czech Republic 21-17, 21-15. They have a tough match lined up against Indonesian 12th seeds Hafiz Faizal and Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja.

Russian Open silver medallists Rohan Kapoor and Kuhoo Garg, outclassed Toby Ng and Rachel Honderich of Canada 21-9, 21-6. They face Adcocks — Chris and Gabrielle — in the next round.

Sourabh Sharma and Anoushka Parikh had it easy against Nigerians Enejoh Abah and Peace Orji 21-13, 21-12.

Kidambi Srikanth and Saina Nehwal will be in action today.




Ridiculed the world over for faking and diving during a disappointing World Cup campaign in Russia, Brazilian forward Neymar has admitted to “exaggerated” reactions saying he is still learning to deal with frustration.

In a 90-second video made for his sponsor Gillette and published on social media accounts and Brazilian television, Neymar sought to win back fans who criticised his behaviour.

“You might think I exaggerate and sometimes I really do exaggerate. But the fact is that I suffer on the field…..There’s still a child inside me. Sometimes he enchants the world and sometimes he irritates the world. And my fight is to keep this boy alive, but inside of me, not inside the field.”

In the ad he tried to explain why he did not speak right after the Belgium game, which fostered even more criticism of his behaviour at home. “When I leave without giving interviews, it is not because I only want the victory laurels. “It is because I still haven’t learned to disappoint you. When I look impolite, it is not because I am a spoiled kid. “It is because I have not learned how to be frustrated,” the player said.





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The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas — uncertainty, progress, change — into crimes. – Salman Rushdie


A man goes into chemist’s shop asks if he can get something for the hiccups.

The shopkeeper promptly reaches out and slaps the man’s face.

“What the heck did you do that for!?!” the man screams.

“Well, you don’t have the hiccups anymore do you?”

The man says, “No I don’t, you IDIOT… But my wife out in the car still does!”

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