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Newsletter Aug 07, 2018




 The Lok Sabha on Monday passed a Bill to reverse a judgment of the Supreme Court and restore original provisions of a law on atrocities against Dalits and tribals.

The Bill, an amendment to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, was passed with voice vote.

The Bill negates a Supreme Court judgment of March 20. It states that the investigating officer will not require the approval of any authority for the arrest of an accused and a preliminary inquiry will not be required for filing an FIR. The Act states that those accused of committing an offence under the Act cannot apply for anticipatory bail. The amendment Bill clarified that this provision would apply despite any orders of a court that provide otherwise.



As the Supreme Court deferred Monday’s hearing of a challenge to the article’s constitutionality, Kashmir observed a shutdown for the second day running against the alleged conspiracy to scrap the article. Muslim-majority areas of Jammu too witnessed a general strike.

Support for Article 35A cuts across the separatist-mainstream divide in the Valley. Two major pro-India parties, the People’s Democratic Party and the National Conference, have threatened “catastrophic ramifications” and an end to Jammu and Kashmir’s accession, respectively, if the article is tinkered with.

On Monday, former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s key aide and one-time minister Naeem Akhtar echoed Pakistan and the separatists, calling Kashmir’s relations with India an “occupation”. “Repealing it (Article 35A) will be like a marital rape. Converting a constitutional relationship into occupation,” Akhtar tweeted.

Under Article 35A, only permanent residents of the state can acquire immovable property or secure government jobs or scholarships.

Two public interest pleas have challenged the constitutional validity of the article, introduced through a presidential order in 1954. One says it discriminates against Kashmiri women and thus violates Article 14, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of gender, religion, race, caste or place of birth.

Under Article 35A, the legal heirs of Kashmiri women who marry men from other states are denied the right to acquire property in the state, but no such restriction applies to the heirs of Kashmiri men who marry non-Kashmiris.

The other petitioner has argued that Article 35A violates the right to equality by denying thousands of second, third and fourth-generation migrants, born and residing in the state, from buying immovable property.

Petitions against Article 35A have been dismissed thrice by the Supreme Court: in 1956, 1961 and 1970. The central governments of the day had opposed the pleas but this time, the Modi government hasn’t.



 The BJP on Monday launched an intense attack on Congress MP Shashi Tharoor for his remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi donning “outlandish” Naga and other headgear on his trips but refusing to sport a Muslim skull cap. Terming the comment as an insult to the PM, senior leader Ram Madhav said that Tharoor should learn to respect all customs.

“For Shashi Tharoor, Naga headgear is ‘outlandish’ and ‘hilarious’. In his overzealous love for skull cap, Tharoor doesn’t mind insulting the customs of the Nagas and other North East people,” Madhav said.

Demanding an apology from the Congress, MoS Home Kiren Rijiju said, “I demand an apology from the Congress Party for insulting the people of India’s North East & Tribals.”

Meanwhile, Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said that the arrogance towards the people of India has become the hallmarks of Congress. In a tweet, Rathore said, “Shashi Tharoor insults the proud cultural heritage of the people of North-East.  This condescension & arrogance towards the people of India have become hallmarks of.”

The controversy brewed after the Thiruvananthapuram MP while addressing a seminar on “Standing up to hatred, violence, and intolerance in contemporary India” said, “I ask you why does our prime minister wear all sorts of outlandish headgear wherever he goes around the country or around the world? Why does he always refuse to wear a Muslim skull cap? You see him in Naga headgears with feathers. You have seen him in various kinds of extraordinary outfits which is a right thing for a prime minister to do. Indira Gandhi has also been photographed wearing various kinds of costumes. But why he still always says no to one?”

“Why does he refuse to wear green, the colour that he says is identified with Muslim appeasement? What kind of talk it is?” Tharoor added.



The stage is set for a rare contest to elect the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. Given the numbers of the ruling alliance and the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, with neither side currently commanding a majority, the election is set to be a close one.

The BJP led NDA has picked Janata Dal (United) MP Harivansh as its candidate. Leaders of the Congress and other opposition parties held a meeting on Monday and agreed that they will be fielding a common candidate.

The BJP-led NDA doesn’t have a majority in the Rajya Sabha. To win, the BJP would need to convince fence-sitters like the AIADMK, Telangana Rashtra Samiti, YSR Congress Party and Biju Janata Dal to vote in favour of its candidate. The Opposition ranks have been bolstered after the Telugu Desam Party parted ways with the BJP. It is also not known which way the Shiv Sena MPs might vote.

The election to the deputy chairman is mostly decided by consensus, but opposition leaders complained that the Narendra Modi government was yet to reach out to them. The post has been lying vacant for over a month after P J Kurien retired.





Saudi Arabia said on Monday it was expelling the Canadian ambassador and had recalled its envoy while freezing all new trade, in protest at Ottawa’s vigorous calls for the release of jailed activists.

The kingdom gave the Canadian ambassador 24 hours to leave the country.

The move, which underscores a newly aggressive foreign policy led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, comes after Canada demanded the immediate release of human rights campaigners swept up in a new crackdown. “The Canadian position is an overt and blatant interference in the internal affairs of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the Saudi foreign ministry tweeted.


US President Donald Trump admitted on Sunday that a meeting at Trump Towers in 2016 between his top campaign aides, including his son Donald Trump Jr, and Russians — among them a lawyer with ties to the Kremlin — was aimed at collecting information about political opponents, setting off a new round of claims and counterclaims in an already furious and fractious polity.

Trump’s disclosure came in response to a story that he was increasingly concerned about the possibility of Russia probe by the FBI special counsel Robert Mueller zeroing on his son who was part of a meeting that was purportedly claimed to be about adoption.

“Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics — and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!” Trump tweeted, igniting further controversy on just how much, and if at all, he and his campaign had colluded with Russia.

While critics of the President, including the liberal media that sees him as being in cahoots with Russians bent on subverting the United States, claimed he had made an important and possibly self-incriminating admission, Trump suggested the meeting was perfectly legal, a routine in politics, and in any case, he was unaware of it. The claims were seen by his critics as setting the record straight after investigations appeared to show that previous claims about the meeting being about adoption was not entirely accurate.

On Monday morning, Trump went on a counterattack even as his disclosure that the meeting was centred around getting dirt on his political opponent (Hillary Clinton) was seen as an admission of collusion. The President claimed it was Hillary who had colluded with Russia.

“Collusion with Russia was very real. Hillary Clinton and her team 100% colluded with the Russians….Collusion is very real with Russia, but only with Hillary and the Democrats, and we should demand a full investigation,” Trump tweeted.




 There has been a decline in the health condition of DMK president M Karunanidhi, who has been in Kauvery Hospital in Chennai since July 28, hospital authorities said in a statement on Monday. “Maintaining his vital organ functions continue to remain a challenge considering his age-related ailments,” the statement issued by Executive Director Dr Aravindan Selvaraj added.

It added, “He is on continuous monitoring and being treated with active medical support. His response to the medical intervention over the next 24 hours will determine the prognosis.”


Former Union minister and veteran Congress leader Rajinder Kumar Dhawan passed away at B L Kapur hospital in the national capital around 7 pm on Monday. He was 81.

The former Rajya Sabha MP, was a close aide of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Expressing its condolences to the family of the senior leader, the Congress tweeted, “We’re saddened to hear about the passing away of RK Dhawan, a valued member of the Congress party. Our thought and prayers are with his family tonight.”

Dhawan started out as Gandhi’s personal assistant and was with her from 1962, until the day she was assassinated in 1984. The senior Congress leader was also a part of the former PM’s innermost circle during the Emergency years (1975-77).



 Patients’ rights groups have accused the Centre of trying to use a decade-old programme that delivers inexpensive medicines through govt-supported retail outlets to promote the BJP.

The Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) and the All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN) on Monday expressed concern at what they said was the “misuse of the public-funded Pradhanmantri Bharatiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana for the promotion of one political party”.

They said the NDA government had renamed the Jan Aushadhi scheme first to ‘Pradhan Mantri Bharatiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana’.

“Clearly, this was a blatant attempt to insert the acronym BJP into the name of the scheme,” the JSA and the AIDAN said in a statement released on Monday.

They said the labels of the drugs dispensed through the scheme and its website highlight the letters “B, J and P” in saffron colour. In Hindi, the letters “Bha, Ja and Pa” are highlighted. In the heartland, the BJP is often referred to as “Bhajpa”.


 A parliamentary panel has suggested the RBI should restore letters of undertaking/comfort, banned by the RBI after the Punjab National Bank-scam. “Issuance of LoUs/LoCs should be restored with proper safeguards,” said a report by the parliamentary committee on commerce headed by Rajya Sabha member Naresh Gujral of the Shiromani Akali Dal.

The central bank had banned LoUs/LoCs after PNB informed the exchanges in February that jewellers Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi had allegedly secured fraudulent LoUs in connivance with some of the employees at a Mumbai branch of the bank.

“Discontinuation of the practice of issuance of LoU/LoC for trade credit by the RBI was a knee-jerk reaction. The committee feels that the RBI got unnerved with the PNB fraud and it hastened the decision to ban LoU/LoC without much thought and consideration,” the report said.

The panel added that none of the stakeholders from industry and banks suggested the LoU/LoC was a flawed document.



The Gujarat government has decided to publish in its education monthly journal the names of over 6,000 teachers who were found to have committed errors while evaluating the answer sheets of students who had appeared for the Class 10 and Class 12 board exams.

The decision is in line with a series of actions taken by the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) against what they call “repeat offenders”.

The 6,634 names were shortlisted from nearly 20,000 evaluators deployed for evaluation of answer sheets in the science and general stream, officials said. The final number includes those whose evaluation was found during verification to have been faulty by ten marks or more, they said.

The list will be published across two editions of the GSHSEB journal ‘Shikshan Ane Parikshan’. The board publishes over 17,000 copies of the journal every month, which is subscribed to by all secondary and higher secondary schools affiliated to it.

The Gujarat State Higher Secondary Teachers Federation, with nearly 35,000 members, said it supported the board’s move. “We know there are many teachers who do not do their job properly. Even during our district and state-level education seminars, we tell our teachers to evaluate all answer sheets thinking that they were submitted by their own children,” said Pankaj Patel, GSHSTF president.



 Indra Nooyi, long-time chief executive of PepsiCo Inc, will be stepping down on October 3, ending a 12-year reign during which she cranked up the food and beverage maker’s sales by 80 per cent to $63.5 billion in 2017.

Nooyi, 62, who grew up in Chennai and is an alumna of the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, has enjoyed a stint as PepsiCo’s leader that is longer than twice the average for a chief executive of an S&P 500 company, which is five years.

Ramon Laguarta, 54 – a 22-year PepsiCo veteran who took over as president and Nooyi’s deputy last year – will take over as chief executive officer and a member of the company’s board of directors.

Nooyi, who had fought off activist investor Nelson Peltz’s attempt to break up the snacks and beverage maker in 2014, will stay on as chairman of PepsiCo’s board of directors until a mutually agreed date in early 2019.

PepsiCo’s international operations rely less on beverages and more on snacks, an area Nooyi is largely credited with reshaping and expanding as consumers shifted away from sodas and focused on healthy foods. The Frito Lay snacks business now contributes 46 per cent in total operating profits, nearly double its beverage business.

In her climb to CEO, she had a major hand in reshaping PepsiCo, helping it to spin off its interest in Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell as a top executive at the company. Since 2009, Nooyi has been on an acquisition binge – inking 80 tactical deals, including buying its bottling operations and the recent dehydrated fruit chips maker Bare Foods.



As Priyanka Chopra’s engagement rumours with boyfriend Nick Jonas make headlines, the actor yesterday said her personal life is not for “public consumption”. The 36-year-old actor said she does not feel the need to give an explanation about her relationships to anyone.

“My personal life is not for public consumption. 90 percent of my life is for public consumption but 10 percent is for me. I am a girl and I have the right to keep that to myself. My family, friendship, my relationships are things I don’t think I need to defend or explain it to anyone. I am not running for the Office, so I don’t think I need to give explanations,” Priyanka said.

Reports of Priyanka getting engaged to Nick started doing the rounds after she opted out of Salman Khan’s Bharat and director of the film Ali Abbas Zafar dropped a hint that she left the film because of a “very special reason”, which she told the makers in the “Nick of time”.

Over the last two months, the 25-year-old singer Nick Jonas and Priyanka have been spotted on several outings, including a dinner date in New York City and a Beauty and the Beast Live in Concert show in Los Angeles.



 Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar rubbished comparisons between Kapil Dev and Hardik Pandya, saying the legendary all-rounder is a once-in-a-century cricketer and cannot be compared to anyone.

Batting great Gavaskar was not at all amused when asked about the tendency among some experts to compare the two.

“Kapil Dev should not be compared with anyone. He is not just a once-in-generation player but a once-in-a-century cricketer just like Sir Don Bradman and Sachin Tendulkar. We should not compare him with anyone,” a visibly agitated Gavaskar told ‘Aaj Tak’.



 India notched up one of its most memorable football triumphs when the country’s under-20 men’s team stunned traditional giants Argentina 2-1 despite being reduced to 10 men in a pulsating contest at the COTIF Cup in Valencia

Deepak Tangri (4th minute) and Anwar Ali (68th) were the stars for the Indian team on Sunday as the Floyd Pinto-coached side scripted a historic result against the six-time U-20 world champions, coached by 2006 World Cupper Lionel Scaloni and former mid-field star Pablo Aimar.

It was a massive boost for Pinto’s side, who had lost 2-0 to Murcia before going down 3-0 to Mauritania. They were held to a goalless draw by Venezuela in their previous match in the tournament.

“This victory will definitely earn Indian football more respect in the world. It opens up a window of opportunity to test ourselves against the best in the world on a regular basis,” Pinto said.




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It is important for our friends to believe that we are unreservedly frank with them, and important to friendship that we are not. – Mignon McLaughlin



Swamiji, I think my husband has been cheating on me…. I suspect one woman…. what to do?

“Take your husband’s phone to that woman’s front door…and see if the wi-fi connects automatically.”

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