Newsletter Aug 6, 2018





BJP chief Amit Shah on Sunday asked the Opposition to clarify its stand on the issue of illegal immigrants. Using the renaming ceremony of Mughalsarai Junction as Deen Dayal Uphadyay Junction to target the Opposition over NRC, Shah pointed out that NRC had been brought on the orders of the apex court.

“I would like to ask the SP, BSP and the Congress to clear their stand on whether they want illegal Bangladeshi immigrants to stay here or evict them,” asked Shah.

“Bua-Babua and Rahul baba cannot defeat the BJP even if they join hands for the elections. The BJP and its governments have worked for the people and the people will return us to power”, claimed Shah.

The Congress in turn called Amit Shah the “king of lies”, saying the false propaganda was part of a conspiracy to create discord ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections.

“It is conspiratorial politics; blatant lies are being used to mislead the people. Amit Shah is the king of lies,” Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera told a media conference.

“The history of the NRC is known to everybody. The astonishing truth is that the Narendra Modi government was censured by the Supreme Court for delaying the execution of the process.”

The Congress has been unusually vocal on the NRC. Apart from speaking up in both Houses of Parliament, the party has held several media conferences over the past few days since the draft register was published last week. It had even called a meeting of its highest policy-making body, the CWC.

Rahul had issued a statement the very next day the draft was published.

After the CWC meeting on Saturday, Congress communications chief Randeep Surjewala had made an elaborate presentation on the NRC. The Congress has always insisted that the NRC was its own baby and the CWC betrayed no signs of nervousness in reiterating that position.

Surjewala said the NRC process had been initiated by the Congress through the Assam Accord in 1985, a fact the party has been repeating ad nauseam.

Former BJP veteran Yashwant Sinha in a tweet attacked Shah. “The Mughalsarai station renaming function was an official one arranged at the government cost. Did it behove Amit Shah to ask for votes for the BJP at this function? The finest values of our democracy are being destroyed one by one, nobody even notices, much less worry (sic),” pointed out Sinha.



Having dispensed with a no-confidence motion at the start of the session itself, the government’s party floor managers have managed to run the monsoon session of Parliament successfully, with several key legislations being passed and both Houses being equally productive.

There has been just one day of adjournment in Rajya Sabha when opposition parties protested over BJP president Amit Shah’s remarks on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam on July 31.

Productivity of the current session is in sheer contrast to the preceding budget session — which was a virtual washout as Lok Sabha’s productivity was only 4% and Rajya Sabha’s 8%. Acceptance of the no-confidence motion was key to the session functioning smoothly while negotiations with opposition parties helped, government managers said. The government decided to avoid a logjam after the budget session, which was the least productive in 15 years.

Junior minister for parliamentary affairs Vijay Goel said he met opposition party leaders every morning to sort out issues on pending bills. “We have been considerate to opposition’s views and were never adamant,” Goel said.



A fresh controversy has broken out over Justice K.M. Joseph’s name figuring at the bottom of the August 3 government notification that confirmed the appointments of three apex court judges.

Some Supreme Court court judges feel that Justice Joseph’s name should have been at the top because the collegium had nominated him on January 11 while Justices Vineet Saran and Indira Banerjee were recommended on July 20.

On Saturday, the Supreme Court registry too had placed Justice Joseph’s name at the bottom in a communiqué announcing that the three judges would be sworn in on Tuesday.

There’s a perception among some that the Centre is at the very least trying to embarrass Justice Joseph, whose appointment it had delayed for nearly seven months before being forced to clear it after the collegium reiterated the recommendation on July 20.

Some sources within the judiciary, however, said there were no clear-cut rules about who should be at the top among judges appointed on the same day. They added that Justices Saran and Banerjee were senior to Justice Joseph as high court judges and were older than him too.

Supreme Court Bar Association president Vikas Singh blamed the controversy on a “mistake” by the collegium.

“The government is perfectly right because both Justice Saran and Justice Banerjee are senior to Justice Joseph,” he said. “However, since Justice Joseph’s name was originally recommended on January 11, the collegium could have formally requested the government to maintain his seniority in the Supreme Court. It was a mistake on the collegium’s part (not to do so).”



Stating that reservation will not guarantee employment as jobs are shrinking, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has said there is a “school of thought” which wants policy-makers to consider the poorest of poor in every community.

Gadkari made the remarks on Saturday, responding to reporters’ queries on the ongoing agitation by the Marathas for reservation and similar demands by other communities in Maharashtra.

“Let’s us assume the reservation is given. But there are no jobs. Because in banks, the jobs have shrunk because of IT. The government recruitment is frozen. Where are the jobs?

“The problem with the quota is that backwardness is becoming a political interest. Everyone says I am backward. In Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, Brahmins are strong. They dominate politics. (And) They say they are backward,” the senior BJP leader said.

“So one school of thought is that a poor is a poor; he has no caste, creed or language. Whatever may be the religion—the Muslim, the Hindu or the Maratha (a caste), in all communities there is one section which has no clothes to wear, no food to eat. “One school of thought also is (that) we must also consider the poorest of the poor section in every community,” he said.

This is a “socio-economic thinking” and it must not be politicised, the Union Minister said.





A drone attack caused pandemonium at a military ceremony where President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela was speaking on Saturday, sending National Guard troops scurrying in what administration officials called an assassination attempt.

The president, who was unharmed, later told the nation, “To all of our friends in the world, I am fine, I am alive.” He blamed right-wing elements and said, “The Bolivarian revolution keeps its path”.

The drone attack was the latest in a string of attempts in recent years to end the tenure of Maduro, who was declared the victor of an election in May that carries his term until 2025. No previous assaults have been as bold, though, and this appeared to have been the first assassination attempt on a head of state using drones.

It was an attack that seemed scripted for Hollywood: Off-camera explosions. Lowflying drones exploding midair. The president and first lady ducking for cover. Thousands of soldiers in a military parade suddenly fleeing in a stampede that was broadcast to the country, live.



At least 32 people were killed on Sunday when Indonesia’s resort island of Lombok was hit by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. The powerful quake triggered panic among tourists and residents, and was also felt on the neighbouring holiday island of Bali. On Lombok, thousands fled from their homes to gather for safety in open spaces.

Singapore law and home affairs minister K Shanmugam, who was in the Lombok town of Mataram at the time of the quake, wrote on Facebook that his 10th-floor hotel room shook violently and walls cracked. “It was quite impossible to stand up. Heard screams,” he wrote.

The quake struck Lombok in the early evening at a depth of 10 km. Most of Lombok suffered power cuts, local media reported. Travellers at the international airports in Lombok and Bali were thrown into panic and there was minor damage to the buildings, but operations were not disrupted, officials said.




President Donald Trump defended his use of tariffs that have inflamed tensions with China and Europe, telling an audience of diehard supporters on Saturday that playing hardball on trade is “my thing.”

“We have really rebuilt China, and it’s time that we rebuild our own country now,” Trump said Saturday during about an hour of free-wheeling remarks at a rally outside Columbus, Ohio. He added that Chinese stocks are down, weakening that nation’s bargaining power in the escalating trade war.

Trump continued his focus on tariffs Sunday morning, tweeting that the duties are working “big time” and that imported goods should be taxed or made in the US. He also suggested duties will allow paying down “large amounts of the $21 Trillion in debt that has been accumulated” while reducing taxes for Americans.

“Every country on earth wants to take wealth out of the US, always to our detriment,” Trump tweeted, “I say, as they come, Tax them.”

The president also tweeted on Sunday that the news media “purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!”

At the Saturday rally, Trump added that the Europeans are “dying to make a deal.”






J&K witnessed a virtual shutdown on Sunday following a call by separatists, which was endorsed by various trade and government employees’ organisations, to protest against the legal challenge to the validity of Article 35A of the Constitution in the SC. Article 35A bars outsiders from acquiring immovable property in the state.

A three-judge constitutional bench of the SC is scheduled to hear a plea challenging the constitutional validity of the presidential order of 1954, which defines “permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir” and bars non-locals from buying and owning land in the state. The presidential order concerning Article 35A was challenged by a Delhi-based NGO — We The Citizens — in 2014.

On Friday, the J&K government had sought adjournment of the case in the SC.




The Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) said rumour mongers attempted to tarnish the image of Aadhaar for a Google’s inadvertent act that led to the appearance of its old helpline number 1800 300 1947 in the contact list of several mobile phone users.

“UIDAI condemns the vested interests who tried to misuse Google’s “inadvertent” act as an opportunity to spread rumours and go around fear-mongering against Aadhaar,” the authority said in a statement. The UIDAI also said that merely adding a phone number cannot steal data from the phone.

Last week, a French security expert who goes under the pseudonym Elliot Alderson and describes himself as the “worst nightmare” of the UIDAI, in a tweet had raised alarm on the presence of a UIDAI contact number in contact list of mobile phone users without their consent.

His tweet scared many mobile phone users on the appearance of the UIDAI’s old helpline number in their contacts even though they did not add it.

Google on last Friday admitted that the number 18003001947 was added by it ‘inadvertently’ along with police and fire number 112 in 2014 and has since been continuing through sync mechanism.



Former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar on Sunday said he will take the government’s advice before deciding to attend his great cricket rival Imran Khan’s swearing-in as the next Prime Minister of Pakistan. Gavaskar has been invited to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Imran, who led Pakistan to its maiden World Cup title in 1992.

Gavaskar is not certain as to whether he will be able to attend the ceremony as he has his other commitments. “I just got the invite yesterday, and the invite was from his (Imran’s) office, his party. An official invite in a way hasn’t been there. I would like to travel but whether I would be able to travel is a different matter.



BJP President Amit Shah on Sunday met with former Indian cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Delhi in Delhi and informed him about various initiatives of the Modi government. The meeting was part of the ‘Sampark for Samarthan’ campaign being run by the BJP ahead of the 2019 general elections.

“As part of ‘Sampark for Samarthan’ initiative, met MS Dhoni, one of the greatest finishers in world cricket. Shared with him several transformative initiatives and unprecedented work done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s govt in the last 4 years,” Shah tweeted after meeting the World Cup-winning captain.

The meeting with Dhoni was an extension of Shah’s continuous efforts of meeting influential people from various walks of life and inform them about the government’s achievements since it came to power in 2014. More than 4,000 functionaries of the party have been asked to get in touch with one lakh people, who are well-known in their fields, to spread the word about the government’s achievements as part of the campaign.

The initiative was launched earlier in May when the party chief met former Army chief Dalbir Singh Suhag. Shah in July had met with melody queen Lata Mangeshkar at her home and conveyed to her about the PM’s work and various developmental projects launched by the government.



Former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has announced a prize of Rs 11 lakh for any journalist who would tell him the names of the people who he says damaged his official bungalow after he vacated it on June 9.

Akhilesh has denied a state government report that accuses him of causing more than Rs 10 lakh worth of damage to the tiles, sanitary ware, wiring and false ceilings before leaving, alleging the destruction was carried out after he left.

“Police usually announce a reward of Rs 5,000 or Rs 10,000 for information about criminals…. I want to appeal to my journalist friends – reporters of some news channels who had gone there with hidden cameras that night,” the Samajwadi Party president told a crowd here on Sunday.

“We will collect Rs 11 lakh from Samajwadi Party members and give it to you as a prize if you tell us the names of those who had gone there with hammers and spades.”



Two British MPs have intervened in the visa battle of a nine-year-old Indian boy who has the potential to be the future world chess champion but must leave the country by next month when his father’s work visa expires. Shreyas Royal, who has won a series of chess championships, is ranked number four in the world in his age group.

Shreyas’ parents had appealed to the UK Home Office on the grounds that Shreyas is a national asset but were told in a letter earlier this week that while he showed “immense promise” it did not mean he could remain in the country.

In a joint letter to UK home secretary Sajid Javid on Saturday, opposition Labour MPs Rachel Reeves and Matthew Pennycook said the UK would lose an “exceptional talent. Their letter notes: “The UK should always encourage the world’s brightest, most talented people to work and make their lives here. Shreyas is recognised by the English Chess Federation as the country’s greatest chess prospect in a generation.”



PV Sindhu finished second best yet again in a major tournament final as she went down tamely to Carolina Marin in the World Championships’ title clash in Nanjing yesterday. The Olympics silver medallist settled for another silver in the showpiece event following a 19-21 10-21 loss to Marin. “It is very frustrating to lose again,” said Sindhu. “Last time also I had played the finals. It is quite sad and I have to come back stronger and get back to the sessions and prepare for the next tournament.”

It was her fourth loss in a final this season. “Sometimes it is not your day, ups and downs will always be there. A bit sad because I was expecting a good one… I am happy I came to the final, winning and losing is part of life and I have to take it as it is,” she said.

Meanwhile, Marin became the first woman to win the World Championships thrice, after her wins in 2014 and 2015.

The 23-year-old Sindhu, who had lost an epic final to Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in the last edition of the tournament at Glasgow, didn’t have answers to Marin’s blistering pace. “Carolina has that speed and she is very aggressive. She played very fast during the tournament. I was prepared for her pace game,” Sindhu said.



Virat Kohli achieved another personal milestone by becoming the seventh India batsman and first since Sachin Tendulkar in June 2011, to top the MRF Tyres ICC Player Rankings for Test Batsmen, which were released on Sunday morning following the conclusion of the Edgbaston Test.

Kohli scored 149 and 51 in India’s 31-run defeat and has gone up by 31 points, which have helped him to end Steve Smith’s 32-month reign as the top-ranked batsman and reach the top of the summit for the first time in his 67-Test career.

Kohli now leads Smith (who had held the top spot since December 2015) by five points, but will have to maintain the form in the remaining four Tests to finish the series as the world’s highest-ranked batsman.

Apart from Kohli and Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Gautam Gambhir, Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag and Dilip Vengsarkar are the other India batsmen to have achieved number-one rankings during their careers.

However, at 934 points, Kohli has become India’s highest-ranked batsman, 14th overall, on the all-time tally of points. Kohli had entered the Edgbaston Test on 903 points, 13 points behind Gavaskar, and is now ahead of the ICC Cricket Hall of Famer by 18 points.



People can be more forgiving than you can imagine. But you have to forgive yourself. Let go of what’s bitter and move on. – Bill Cosby



The man walked over to the perfume counter and told the girl he’d like a bottle of an expensive for his wife’s birthday.

“A little surprise, eh?” smiled the girl.

“You bet,” answered the customer. “She’s expecting a diamond.”

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