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Newsletter 16 Aug, 2018




 In his last Independence Day speech before Lok Sabha elections, from the ramparts of Red Fort, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday presented a picture of rising India under his government, contrasting it with what he termed as “policy paralysis” under the UPA.

In the 82 minute speech, Modi devoted much of the time in presenting the report card of his government and also touched on a host of burning issues, including the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, crime against women, legislation on instant triple talaq and state of the farm sector.

Accused by the opposition of running a pro-business and pro-rich dispensation, Modi dwelt at length about his government’s initiatives to improve the lives of the poor and the backward sections of society and claimed that five crore people had been lifted out of poverty in the last two years.

Showcasing achievements of his government, Modi said negative reports about India, delayed reforms, fragile economy and red tape were the terms often used for the country under the earlier UPA govt while it is being looked at as multi-trillion dollar economy offering red-carpet welcome to investors.

“India was earlier a sleeping elephant which has woken up now and started running,” said Modi, who was wearing a saffron-and-red Rajasthani-style turban.

Hitting out at the Congress regimes, Modi said if the country had moved forward at the same pace as in 2013, the last year of the UPA government, it would have taken decades to accomplish what had been achieved in the last four years.

One of the big announcements Modi made was the rollout of the Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Scheme, described as the world’s largest health care measure, on September 25, the birth anniversary of BJP ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay. He said the scheme would initially cover nearly 50 crore people from 10 crore families.

He also announced permanent commissioning of women in the armed forces. “Women officers inducted into the short service commission (SSC) will get opportunity for permanent commission like their male counterparts,” the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister said that by 2022 India would send a “son or daughter” to the space with the national flag in hand.

Modi also vowed not to spare corrupt and black money hoarders, saying efforts of his government had freed corridors of power from brokers, enhanced the number of taxpayers and saved Rs 90,000 crore by eliminating bogus beneficiaries of many schemes.

Modi also thanked honest taxpayers for their contribution in the development of the country, which is now the world’s sixth largest economy.

Listing measures that had brought the untaxed in the tax net, he said the number of income taxpayers had increased to 6.75 crore from 3.5 crore before 2014.

Modi said the government is committed to a law banning the practice of instant triple talaq and blamed “some people”, an apparent reference to opposition parties, for stalling its passage in parliament.



The Congress on Thursday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should have spoken “the truth” in the last Independence Day address of his term instead of making a “hollow” speech and urged him to accept party chief Rahul Gandhi’s challenge of a debate on issues such as corruption, mob lynching and Chinese incursions.

In 2013, Modi had created a Red Fort-like replica in Chhattisgarh and from there he had challenged then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to an open debate on the issues of corruption, China and Pakistan threatening the territorial integrity of India, falling rupee and failing economy, rampant unemployment as also discrimination vis-a-vis farmers and India’s women, Surjewala said.

“We ask you Prime Minister Narendra Modi today, five years after you have taken over as Prime Minister, are you ready for a debate on these very issues with Congress president Rahul Gandhi. “Will you debate on the issue of corruption and Rafale and Vyapam and other corruption scams of your government for you did not utter a single word from the precincts of the Red Fort on corruption,” Surjewala told reporters at the AICC headquarters.

He also urged the prime minister to debate on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and “rampant unemployment” in the country.

Asked about the remarks of Modi that India’s stature rose on the world stage in the last four years, he said the prime minister should not undermine India’s contribution in the last 70 years. India was always a power and it did not happen in the last four years, he said, adding that the prime minister’s statement of this nature was “myopic, parochial and uncalled for” on a day like the Independence Day.



A special border personnel meeting between the Indian Army and China’s People Liberation Army was held on the Indian side at the Nathu La Pass in Sikkim on Wednesday to jointly celebrate India’s 72nd Independence Day.

Besides interactions between the two armies, cultural programme portraying the rich cultural diversity of the two countries were presented by both sides to celebrate the occasion, a Defence press release said. The celebration took place in an atmosphere of warmth and friendship, with an aim to enhance mutual trust and promoting border peace and tranquility, it said.

The joint participation of PLA is seen as a reciprocal gesture as the Indian Army had earlier participated in PLA Foundation Day on August 1, 2018.

Such interactions between the two armies have resulted in enhancement of goodwill and mutual understanding between the two nations, it said.



A day after the rupee plunged below the historic 70-level, Union Minister Arun Jaitley said India has comfortable foreign exchange reserves to deal with any undue volatility in the currency market and developments are being closely monitored.

The Indian currency on Wednesday slipped on concerns over Turkey’s economic woes that have impacted various emerging markets, even as the US dollar gained strength against other currencies.

Recent developments relating to Turkey have generated global risk aversion towards emerging market currencies and the strengthening of the dollar, the minister said in a series of tweet.

However, the country’s macro fundamentals remain resilient and strong, said Jaitley, who was holding the charge of finance and corporate affairs ministries before he underwent the kidney transplant on May 14. Piyush Goyal was given Jaitley’s ministerial portfolios on an interim basis.

“India’s foreign exchange reserves are comfortable by global standards and sufficient to mitigate any undue volatility in the foreign exchange market,” Jaitley said.




The death toll from a suicide blast at an educational centre in a mainly Shi’ite area of the Afghan capital on Wednesday reached 48, with another 67 wounded, the health ministry said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which came after several weeks of relative calm in Kabul but previous attacks on Shi’ite targets in the area have been claimed by Islamic State

The attack occurred as the government was facing heavy pressure over a Taliban attack on the central city of Ghazni that led to five days of intense fighting during which hundreds of civilians and members of the security forces were killed.

Afghan officials say they’ve sent special forces backed by U.S. advisers and air strikes to the city of Ghazni, where clashes with Taliban fighters have left hundreds of people dead over days of fighting.

The attack on Ghazni, one of the biggest seen for years in Afghanistan, fuelled criticism that President Ashraf Ghani’s Western-backed government was incapable of protecting the country. Parliamentary elections are due on Oct. 20.



 Internal documents from six Catholic dioceses in the US state of Pennsylvania showed that over 300 “predator priests” have been credibly accused of sexually abusing thousands of children, according to a grand jury report.

“We believe that the real number of children whose records were lost or who were afraid ever to come forward is in the thousands,” says the report. “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades. Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected; many, including some named in this report, have been promoted.”

“There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church. But never on this scale,” the grand jurors wrote in Tuesday’s report.

At a news conference announcing the report’s release, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro called it the “largest, most comprehensive report into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church ever produced in the US”.





The flood situation in Kerala further worsened with many areas inundated and flight operations suspended till Saturday at Kochi airport, as the toll rose to 67 with rain fury claiming 25 lives on Wednesday.

Officials said a red alert has been sounded in all the 14 districts of the state.

From Kasaragod in the north to Thiruvananthapuram in the south, all rivers are in spate and shutters of 35 dams, including Mullaperiyar, have been opened.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the heavy rains are expected to continue for some more days, which will further worsen the situation.

More than 1.5 lakh people have been lodged in relief camps across the state, he said.

A government release said Vijayan spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the grave situation the state was facing following the rains. The prime minister has taken a “positive stand” towards the state on relief measures, Vijayan told reporters.

Train services have been disrupted and road transport services are in disarray with stretches of roads coming under water.

Power supply, communication systems and distribution of drinking water have been disrupted in various parts of the state in the rain mayhem.

Major tourist centres, including Athirappally, Ponmudi and Munnar, which were expecting huge influx of visitors in the wake of Onam festival season, stand closed.



 In hospital for the last nine weeks, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s health has worsened since Tuesday and is critical, an official statement by AIIMS said late on Wednesday evening. The statement said the former prime minister is on life support system.

93-year-old Mr Vajpayee, who was India’s 10th Prime Minister, was admitted to the hospital on June 11 with a kidney tract infection, chest congestion and urine output on the lower side.



In his Independence Day address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO), which he said had stated that India’s cleanliness campaign had saved the lives of three lakh children.

This is what the WHO said in a statement issued earlier this month: “WHO lauds India’s commitment to accelerated coverage of safe sanitation services which, assuming 100% coverage is achieved by October 2019, could avert up to 300,000 deaths due to diarrhoeal disease and protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) since the country launched the Swachh Bharat Mission in 2014.”

At the Red Fort Wednesday, the Prime Minister said: “In a recent report the WHO has said that because of the cleanliness campaign three lakh children were saved…..Saving the lives of three lakh children of the poor is surely a great humanitarian act and the world bodies are recognizing it.”



AAP leader Ashutosh on Wednesday resigned from the party citing a “very very” personal reason.

“Every journey has an end. My association with AAP which was beautiful/revolutionary has also an end. I have resigned from the party/requested PAC to accept the same. “It is purely from a very very personal reason. Thanks to party/all of them who supported me throughout,” he tweeted.

His resignation, however, was not accepted by his party convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who said it will not happen “in this lifetime”. Other AAP leaders also expressed disappointment over Ashutosh’s resignation.

Some AAP insiders claiming that he was unhappy over the party’s decision to send a businessman to Rajya Sabha from Delhi.



Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Wednesday said it was easy to criticise, attack and destroy a system but instead an endeavour should be made to transform and reform it.

“There may be some elements who try to weaken the institution,” but the judiciary will refuse to succumb, Chief Justice Misra said in an apparent reference to discordant voices coming from within the top judiciary and outside.

Mishra made the statement while speaking at the Independence Day function organised in the Supreme Court by the Supreme Court Bar Association.



 With Paytm’s mutual fund (MF) foray around the corner, 11 fund houses, accounting for 62 per cent of industry assets, have completed the paperwork and have been empanelled with Paytm Money. The asset management firms to have signed up with the MF distribution platform include large-sized fund houses like ICICI Prudential MF, HDFC MF, Reliance MF, UTI MF, as well as relatively smaller fund houses such as Invesco MF, Mirae AMC and Mahindra MF.

Manish Mehta, head of sales, distribution and marketing at Kotak MF, said: “Paytm has tied-up with around a dozen mutual fund companies, including us. The Mutual Funds Sahi Hai campaign has significantly contributed towards awareness. However, execution could still be a challenge. With the rise of digitalisation in India, accessing MFs as an ideal investment option would be easier for potential investors. The industry will be able to leverage the large customer base and geographic reach that Paytm will offer to deepen the penetration of mutual funds.”

Unlike most MF distributors in India, Paytm Money will be offering low-cost direct plans that don’t charge for distribution expenses. Paytm Money is a registered investment adviser (RIA) with Sebi and will charge a nominal fee for buying funds.



 Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved is all set to officially re-launch its messaging app ‘Kimbho’ on August 27. Kimbho was launched on May 30 as a swadeshi option against the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messaging app, but was removed from the Google Play Store, and Apple’s App Store within a day, with Patanjali announcing that an official launch would happen later.

After Kimbho’s removal on May 31, an official statement from Patanjali said that the app was launched only for a day for trial purposes, and that owing to “technical work (that is) in progress”, the app would be officially launched later. Also, experts then had then raised security concerns over the messaging app.

However, on Independence Day, while making the announcement for the official launch of Kimbho, which is the Sanskrit word for “what’s up”, Ramdev, who was at the Haridwar-based Patanjali Yogpeeth, said that the Independence Day must be celebrated as a day of “digital independence”, and that Kimbho was a step towards attaining digital independence.

On August 27, the app will be re-launched in New Delhi in the presence of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari. However, Kimbho looks like a replica of the WhatsApp, with messaging, voice calling, video calling, location sharing and almost all other features same as WhatsApp.



Ajit Wadekar, who skippered India to historic away triumphs against the West Indies and England in 1971, passed away at a Mumbai hospital on Wednesday. He was 77 and ailing for a while.

Apart from wrenching out two hard-fought 1-0 series wins against Gary Sobers-led Carribeans and Ray Illingworth’s England, Wadekar also led India to a 2-1 victory in a tightly contested series against Tony Lewis’ visiting side in 1972-73. No Indian skipper had achieved hat-trick of series triumphs before.

As a southpaw who batted at No 3, Wadekar was unfazed by the speed merchants.

Wadekar scored 2,113 runs at an average of 31.07, in 37 Tests.. He had just a solitary Test century to his name. The Bombay batsman was often a victim of the nervous Nineties; three times to be precise, including once at 99 against Australia in Melbourne in 1967. But he scored a composed unbeaten 91 to secure India a rare triumph at Feroze Shah Kotla in Delhi against Bill Lawry’s dominant side in 1969.

His departure from international cricket, sadly, was ignominious after India’s crushing 3-0 loss to England in the controversial tour of 1974.



(Indian markets were closed yesterday in account of Independence day)

Nasdaq 7,774 (-97) Dow 25,162 (-138), S&P 2,818 (-22)

US$-Rs. 70.34 GBP-Rs. 89.34, Euro-Rs. 79.72, UAE Dhm-Rs.19.14, Can$-Rs. 53.66, Aus$- Rs. 50.83

GBP 0.78 /US$, Euro 0.88 /US$, Jap.Yen 110.97 /US$, Aus$ 1.38 /US$, Sing 1.37 /US$, Bang Taka 83.55 /US$, Can$ 1.31 /US$, Mal Ring 4.09 /US$,

Pak Re 122.99 /US$, Phil Peso 53.51 /US$, Russian Rouble 66.98 /US$, NZ$ 1.52 /US$, Thai Baht 33.29 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 27.36 /US$

Bitcoin – USD 6,344

Dollar Index 96.57 Brent Crude 71.13 BDI 1725

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,172 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 2923 / 2835, Silver (Rs. Per KG) 40,900



Much ingenuity with a little money is vastly more profitable and amusing than much money without ingenuity. – Arnold Bennett


A husband went to the police station to file a “missing person” report for his missing wife:

Husband :I lost my wife, she went shopping & hasn’t come back yet.

Inspector :What is her height?

Husband :May be about 5-6.

Inspector :Slim or healthy?.

Husband :Not slim.

Inspector :Color of eyes?

Husband :Never noticed.

Inspector :Color of  hair?

Husband :Changes according to season.

Inspector :What was she wearing?

Husband :Not sure.

Inspector :Was she driving?

Husband : yes.

Inspector :color of the car? . . . . .

Husband :black Audi A8 with supercharged 3.0 litre V6 engine generating 333 horse power, teamed with an eight-speed tip-tronic automatic transmission with manual mode.  And it has full LED headlights, which use light emitting diodes for all light functions and has a very thin scratch on the front left door……..

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