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Newsletter 18 Aug, 2018



 “There is hardly any dry eye here,” the Doordarshan anchor said during the live coverage of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s funeral ceremony at Rashtriya Smriti Sthal in New Delhi on Friday. Thousands mourned over the loss as one of BJP’s tallest leaders was laid to rest with full state honours. The mortal remains of the departed leader were consigned to flames amid bugle sounds and Vedic mantras as Namita Kaul Bhattacharya, Vajpayee’s adopted daughter, lit the funeral pyre. She was accompanied by her granddaughter and other members of the family as cries of “Atal Bihari Amar Rahe” reverberated in the air.

The poet-politician, who breathed his last on Thursday, left his admirers and critics in tears as he had earned respect as a ‘gentle giant’ who was always soft-spoken. Vajpayee’s last journey witnessed a sea of people, including top politicians and common folk who followed the cortege. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah walked with the funeral procession as many struggled to catch the last glimpse of the leader.

The mortal remains were taken from BJP headquarters to Smriti Sthal in the afternoon. The distance between BJP headquarters and Smriti Sthal is about 4 kilometers. Mourners jostled and some even climbed trees on the way to capture the moment on their phones. People from across the country, who gathered outside the BJP headquarters, bore testimony to the fact that Vajpayee was loved by all for his empathetic nature and ability to combine

At Smriti Sthal, where last rites were conducted with full state honours, several foreign dignitaries were also present to pay their last respects to the departed soul. Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali and Pakistan’s Acting Law Minister Ali Zafar were present as the ceremony was conducted amid a teary-eyed atmosphere.

Leaders across party lines were seen wiping their tears as a pall of gloom descended over the spot. At the British High Commission in New Delhi, Union Jack was flown at half-mast as a mark of respect to the former leader.



 Pakistan’s acting Minister of Law and Justice Syed Ali Zafar, who is in India to attend the last rites of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, hailed him as a man of peace and a called him a visionary leader. Zafar said he came to India to share the grief with the people of India. “I have come here as a representative of people of Pakistan to share your grief. Vajpayee Sahab was a man of peace and gave visionary leadership to India,” he was quoted as saying.

He further added, “People who value peace in Pakistan admire him. We hope that as in grief we will share your happy moments too in the future. The issues which we have between our countries which includes the issue of Jammu and Kashmir will be resolved through dialogue and peacefully.”

The Pakistan lawmaker had a meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj which was also attended by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale.



The flood situation in Kerala continues to remain precarious as the death toll from the fresh onslaught of rains since August 8 has climbed to 173. The deadliest deluge in close to a century has dealt a severe blow to the scenic state, wrecking its tourism industry, destroying standing crops in thousands of hectares and inflicting huge damage to infrastructure.

PM Narendra Modi will undertake an aerial survey of the flood-ravaged areas today. The red alert now remains in 12 out of 14 districts. Rise in flood waters in Periyar River due to the rains and opening of all shutters of all major dams have severely affected lives of people in downstream areas.

The sun on Friday occasionally peeped through the dark menacing clouds over Kerala, lending a ray of hope.

There were signs of a let-up in the monsoon fury in several parts with the water level in most of Kerala’s 41 rivers receding below the danger mark. However, hill tracts along the Western Ghats in upstate Malabar continued to report random landslips.

With rescue operations strengthened owing to better deployment of Central forces and 2.23 lakh people shifted to 1,568 relief camps, charity organisations and private enterprises have begun collecting funds and clothes for the affected — many of them stranded atop homes, hostels and even hospitals.

Forty-two teams of the Indian Navy and 16 of the Army have been pressed into service. The IAF has chipped in too with 23 helicopters. As many as 250 motorised boats are providing help to those  marooned in the worst-affected districts of Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur.

Twelve of the state’s 14 districts continue to be under red alert. However, the fear of heavy weekend rain has waned with the weather office announcing that a low-pressure trough on the Odisha coast has changed course.

  • INDIA CLOCKED 10.08 PC GROWTH IN 2006-07

Indian economy clocked a 10.08 per cent growth rate in 2006-07, the highest since liberalisation of the economy in 1991, according to an official data. The highest ever growth rate since Independence was recorded at 10.2 per cent in 1988-89.

The back series data on GDP has been prepared by the Committee on Real Sector Statistics, constituted by the National Statistical Commission. The report has been released on the website of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

The report compares growth rates between old series (2004-05) and new series based on 2011-12 prices. As per the old series (2004-05), the expansion in the GDP at constant prices was 9.57 per cent during 2006-07. As per the new series (2011-12), the growth number stands revised at 10.08 per cent.

This is the highest growth rate recorded by the country after launch of the economic liberalisation programme launched by then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao. “The GDP backseries data is finally out. It proves that like-for-like, the economy under both UPA terms (10 year avg: 8.1%) outperformed the Modi Govt (Avg 7.3%), the Congress party said in a tweet.





Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan Friday defeated Shahbaz Sharif to become Pakistan’s next prime minister after the grand opposition alliance fell apart over the PML-N chief’s nomination for the top post.

The election in the 15th National Assembly became just a formality after the Pakistan Peoples Party-led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari with 54 seats abstained from voting. Khan, who is the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), received 176 votes while his only rival and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Sharif got 96 votes.

Imran Khan will take the oath today. A total of 172 votes in the 342-member lower house of Parliament are needed to form a government.

In his first speech to lawmakers as premier, Khan dismissed allegations of election fraud and vowed to enforce “ruthless accountability” to combat corruption.



 The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on four Myanmar military and police commanders and two army units for involvement in what it called “ethnic cleansing” and other human rights abuses against the country’s Rohingya Muslims, the Treasury Department said.

The sanctions marked the toughest US action so far in response to Myanmar’s crackdown on the Rohingya minority which started last year and has driven more than 700,000 people into neighboring Bangladesh and left thousands of dead behind.

In the space of 48 hours, about 2,000 Rohingya have arrived in Bangladesh by boat, fleeing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

But the Trump administration did not target the highest levels of the Myanmar military and also stopped short of calling the anti-Rohingya campaign crimes against humanity or genocide, which has been the subject of debate within the US government.

The sanctions targeted military commanders Aung Kyaw Zaw, Khin Maung Soe, Khin Hlaing, and border police commander Thura San Lwin, in addition to the 33rd and 99th Light Infantry Divisions.

A Reuters special report in June gave a comprehensive account of the roles played by the two infantry divisions in the offensive against the Rohingya. Myanmar’s military has denied accusations of ethnic cleansing and says its actions were part of a fight against terrorism.





On a day Kerala witnessed a massive evacuation of people from flood-hit areas, Chengannur MLA Saji Cherian broke down in a Malayalam TV studio late on Friday night while narrating the grim situation in his constituency.

“Please ask (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi to give us helicopters, give us helicopters… please, please; 50,000 people will die otherwise… We have been demanding for Navy assistance since the past four days and still haven’t received any help. Airlifting is the only solution. Please, please, please,” MLA Cherian said during the TV show that was already flooded with panic calls from hundreds of victims and relatives.

On Friday evening, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had admitted that Chengannur is one of the worst affected areas where the rescue operation was incomplete due to strong currents.


Even as parts of the state and neighbouring Kerala are reeling under floods, at least 16 districts in Karnataka have recorded deficient rainfall with the government mulling declaring them drought-hit. According to data provided by the Revenue department, four districts in south interior and 12 in north interior Karnataka had received less rainfall during the south-west monsoon since June this year.

Data released by State EmergencyOperation Centre said districts of Raichur, Vijayapura, Yadgir and Gadag were the worst affected following scanty rainfall. On the other hand, Shivamogga, Hassan, Chikkamagaluru, Kodagu, Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada and Udupi received above normal rainfall and have been hit by floods.


The Supreme Court on Friday asked the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) and a sub-committee set up by Kerala to deal with the flood situation in the state to coordinate and explore the possibility of reducing the water level at the Mullaperiyar Dam by three feet.

A Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice DY Chandrachud asked Kerala and Tamil Nadu to abide by the directions given by NCMC on the rehabilitation of displaced people and the reduction of water level from the existing 142 feet to 139 feet at the dam.

The Bench observed that it was not an expert to deal with such severe natural calamity and was leaving to the executive to contain the crisis.

The top court asked Kerala to submit the report on the steps taken on disaster management and rehabilitation measures.


Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday arrived in Islamabad to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Pakistan’s PM elect Imran Khan on Saturday amid criticism by BJP for skipping the cremation of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, whom he had once described as his “political godfather”.

While people from across the border hailed Sidhu’s Pakistan visit, many in India felt that the timing of his trip was wrong as it coincided with Vajpayee’s funeral. Now a Congress leader, Sidhu had joined BJP in 2004 on Vajpayee’s insistence and contested his first Lok Sabha election from Amritsar the same year. At most election rallies then, Sidhu used to introduce himself as “Vajpayee sahab da sipahi (Vajpayee’s soldier)”.

Before crossing over to Pakistan, Sidhu told newspersons in Attari that he was going to Islamabad as he was an “ardent fan” of Imran and they had known each other for nearly 35 years. “It is just because of this pious friendship and strong bond that I have been invited to this ceremony. It is a matter of pride, happiness and satisfaction for me,” he said.

Besides Sidhu, Imran’s PTI had invited former cricket legends Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev. Earlier this week, Kapil Dev, citing personal reasons, said he will not be attending the oath-taking ceremony. Gavaskar had also declined Khan’s invitation due to his commentary commitments.


A section of Air India pilots have threatened to stop operations if their flying allowance dues are not paid immediately. Alleging that while the salaries and perks of other employees are paid in full albeit with a delay, the same for the pilots and cabin crew are “ignored”, despite the fact that flying allowances of these two licenced categories of employees form a major chunk of their salaries.

“We would like to inform you if the flying allowance is not paid immediately, we may not be available for flying duties,” the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) said in a communication to Air India’s director of finance on Friday. ICPA represent over 700 pilots of the airline’s Airbus 320 family fleet. “Since the company has paid the salary, the pilots will report to the office for any office duty of their expertise other than flying duties,” it added.

The loss-making carrier has been facing cash paucity since the government stopped funding the airline following its decision to privatise it last year. However, it failed to get a suitor by the required deadline.


The Delhi High Court has dismissed a PIL against the cap on free-of-charge withdrawals by banking customers from own bank ATMs, saying it was a policy decision.

A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao on Thursday said the ATM facility provided by banks have lot of overhead costs, like salary of guards and power consumption charges, and therefore, there cannot be unlimited free ATM transactions.

“They have to maintain the ATMs and there would be establishment costs,” the court said, adding that it would be “disastrous” if banks close the ATMs due to its interference in the issue.


Vinyl hoardings and bright neon signs are visible everywhere as Jakarta prepares to kickstart the festivities at the impressive Gelora Bung Karno Stadium — the main venue of the 18th Asian Games as well as the opening ceremony scheduled for today.

For the Indian athletes, these Asian Games will be a reality check for after the Commonwealth Games high. The build-up has been rather chaotic with complaints and even court cases about selection matters, usual controversies over the size of the contingent which came to 804 — athletes and officials combined.

There was a gold rush at Gold Coast CWG where India notched up their second best medal tally of all times. But most athletes and their coaches have already acknowledged that the Asian Games will be a different ball game given the presence of powerhouses such as China, Japan and Korea.

The contenders range from a 16-year-old schoolgirl from Haryana in Manu Bhaker (shooting) to the proven-but-struggling Sushil Kumar (wrestling). There is the in-form and consistent Neeraj Chopra (javelin).

Then there are the likes of Hima Das, a sprint sensation who has raised hopes by becoming the first Indian woman to claim a world championships gold, albeit in the under-20 competition.

In badminton, PV Sindhu would be hoping to break her final jinx. Saina Nehwal’s grit and ability to bring her A game to the table on the big stage can never be discounted, but it remains to be seen how her body responds to what has been a gruelling season so far. Kidambi Srikkanth and HS Prannoy too are among medal hopefuls.

India can also hope for a good show on the wrestling mat where the in-form duo of Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat are being seen as sure-shot medal hopes.

Olympic medallists Sushil Kumar and Sakshi Malik are not in the best of form. Sushil recently lost his first bout in four years at the Tbilisi GP in Georgia and Sakshi failed to reach the medal round at Yasar Dogu in Istanbul.

The men’s hockey team will be aiming for a gold and a direct entry into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The women’s team missed out on a historic place in the World Cup semi-finals, but the Rani Rampal-led side is expected to fare better.


Captain Virat Kohli didn’t indicate as to how many changes India would be making for the third Test versus England at Trent Bridge, beginning Saturday.

But he did confirm that Jasprit Bumrah is fit, which means that the pacer is all set to be a part of the bowling attack. As for his back pain that troubled him during the second Test, Kohli said he’s “absolutely fine” now.

Speaking on the eve of the third Test, Kohli said: “The ones who have been doing well will play… No other issues…

Whether India play an extra batsman or a bowler depends on the pitch, Kohli made it clear. “It depends on how the surface is going to be like.

Kohli stressed on the need for team effort and a positive mindset in these conditions. “You have to accept that when you play here, you are not set even when you are batting on 100. “But you can’t be fearing that good delivery. It’s all about you feeling positive first… Can’t just go in and surrender.

The only conversation the team has been having post Lord’s defeat is about how to win the coming Test. Players haven’t been thinking of anything else, Kohli emphasised.


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Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress. – Alfred A. Montapert


The chairman of the board of our company called him into his office to give him the good news. He was being promoted to Vice President of ‘Corporate Research And Planning’.

Of course, he was excited, but that didn’t stop him from asking for his new title to be changed to Vice President of ‘Corporate Planning And Research’.

“Why?” asked the chairman.

“Because,” he said, “our organization uses abbreviated job titles.”

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