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Newsletter 19 Aug, 2018




Kerala continues to remain on edge as the death toll from the fresh onslaught of rain and floods since August 8 has climbed to 194, according to the control room of the State Disaster Management. Over 3.14 lakh people have been moved to relief camps across the state as the state is facing its worst flood in 100 years with dams opened and all rivers in spate.

On Saturday, PM Narendra Modi announced an additional grant of Rs 500 crore to Kerala, after holding a high-level meeting with Kerala CM Vijayan and conducted an aerial survey of the flood-ravaged state. He also announced an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh per person to the next kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those seriously injured from the PM’s National Relief Fund.

The Pinarayi Vijayan government put the loss at Rs 19,512 crore and sought an aid of Rs 2,000 crore. “We expect more aid soon,” the CM said in Thiruvananthapuram, emphasising the need for more helicopters and motorised boats to rescue the marooned. Pointing out that rains had damaged stocks in godowns, he anticipated food shortage and sought additional grain from the Centre.

The weekend saw grocery shops and milk kiosks running out of stock, fuel stations running dry and  ATMs out of cash. Road and rail services have been restored partially.

With Kerala facing the threat of more rains from a fresh low-pressure trough moving southwest from the Odisha coast, the authorities have placed all but three of the state’s 14 districts under red alert and partly opened some dams. Even as all 39 reservoirs, including the massive Mullaperiyar and Idukki, recorded lower water levels, hill tracts along the Western Ghats continued to report landslips in Wayanad and Pathanamthitta districts. At least 3,000 people are stuck in Palakkad’s upper Nelliyampathi range.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Congress blamed the state government for not having sought Army help in time. Party’s state leader Ramesh Chennithala blamed the delay on the CM’s “false pride” while in Delhi, Congress national president Rahul Gandhi appealed to the Centre to declare Kerala floods as a “national disaster”.

Even as desperate calls for help continued amid disrupted communications, the social media struck notes of optimism. Hashtags suggesting ‘We will overcome’ found currency on Facebook and Twitter.

The BJP also expressed solidarity with the people of Kerala and said its workers will visit each house in the affected areas as a part of the rehabilitation measures.



The BJP has drawn an extensive programme for the “asthi visarjan” (immersion of ashes) of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

His ashes will be immersed in various rivers across the country, starting with the Ganga at Haridwar today.

An all-party prayer meeting for the BJP stalwart will be held in Delhi on August 20 followed by another in Lucknow on August 23., when the former PM’s ashes will also be immersed in the Gomati there.



Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Saturday met the party’s top brass to chalk out the strategy for the 2019 LS elections and finalise the campaign points.

The meeting decided to launch a national agitation on the BJP government’s alleged corruption in the Rafale deal and take the message “BJP is corrupt” from district and state to the national level.

“The Congress has decided to launch agitation programmes from the district to state to national level and talk about BJP’s corruption, particularly in the Rafale deal. All our leaders — national to districts — will fan out across India and make the point that Rafale deal is a shady one,” Congress media head Randeep Surjewala said after Rahul chaired a meeting of party general secretaries and incharges, state chiefs and legislature party chiefs. Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh attended the meeting.


Navjot Singh Sidhu’s “behaviour” at the oath-taking ceremony of Imran Khan in Islamabad has earned him a sharp rebuke from the BJP, with his former party berating him for “hugging” Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa — a “culprit of India” — and sitting next to “so-called” president of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) Masood Khan.

“Sidhu should not have hugged Bajwa and should have refused to sit with Khan. By doing so, he has committed a heinous crime for which he is answerable to 125 crore Indians,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said, attempting to corner him and the Congress on the issue.

“He (Sidhu) said General Bajwa sahib hugged me and said we want peace,” Patra said, adding it was clear that Congress leaders believed the Pakistan army chief more than they believed their own Army Chief from whom they had demanded proof of surgical strikes and “insulted” him.

“And what was he (Sidhu) thanking Pakistan for? For sending terrorists to India?” said Patra, asking Congress president Rahul Gandhi to suspend him from the party.

BJP asked the cricketer turned politician whether it was necessary to visit Pakistan at a time when India was mourning the demise of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.




Indonesian President Joko Widodo lightened up the opening ceremony of the 2018 Asian Games by zipping into the stadium, donning a suit, on a two-wheeler. His helmet-hidden face suggested that a body double could have performed the leaps off highrises and wheelies before the grand entry at the Gelora Bung Karno stadium.

President Jokowi, a known headbanger and Metallica fan, besides grooving to the Games song ‘Meraih Bintang’ (Grab the Star) by Via Vallen, a popular Dangdut voice, also spoke of the need for Asian unity as his country invited sportspersons from a continent that set 14 world records at the last Asiad.

In the stands and on the field, nations with enviable diversity marched to a thundering applause.

Perhaps one of Asia’s largest rainbow nations, facing unprecedented times when the very idea of Indonesia is confronting ethnic strife among its Islamic, Malay, Chinese, Hindu, Buddhist and other islanders, the country exhaled its wish for people to stay united.

The loudest cheers were, like always, reserved for Palestinians, Syria and even Timor Leste (East Timor), formerly part of the new nation-state of Indonesia since the country last hosted the Games in 1962.

The warm-fuzzy story of the Games is Korea. As the flag-bearers, woman basketballer Yung Hui and soccer star Ju Kyongchol of DPR, carried the flag, and Lee Nak-yeon (South Korean prime minister) and Ri Ryong-nam (North Korean deputy prime minister) held up hands, the Jakarta stadium burst into the loudest of liberating cries of cheer and the softest muffles of sniffly tears.

India got its share of cheers too, as Neeraj Chopra walked in bearing the flag.


Imran Khan, 65, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was administered the oath of office as Pakistan’s 22nd Prime Minister by President Mamnoon Hussain at a simple ceremony held at the Aiwan-e-Sadr (President House) here. The ceremony, which was scheduled to begin at 9:30 am, was delayed by around 40 minutes.

Clad in a traditional greyish black sherwani, the former cricket hero was a little nervous as he stumbled over some of the Urdu words of the oath administered to him. Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, former Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu and members of the 1992 cricket World Cup winning team that Khan captained to victory watched the ceremony alongside senior PTI leaders.

Imran Khan has assumed the reins at a time when the country is facing serious financial woes, uneasy ties with its neighbours and possible international sanctions for failing to combat terrorism.


Kofi Annan, a soft-spoken and patrician diplomat from Ghana who became the seventh secretary-general of the United Nations, projecting himself and his organisation as the world’s conscience and moral arbiter despite bloody debacles that left indelible stains on his record as a peacekeeper, died on Saturday. He was 80.

Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001, he was the first black African to head the UN, and led the organisation for two successive five-year terms beginning in 1997 – a decade of turmoil that challenged the sprawling body and redefined its place in a changing world.

On his watch, al Qaida struck New York and Washington, the US invaded Iraq, and western policymakers turned their sights from the Cold War to globalisation and the struggle with militancy.

An emblem as much of the body’s most ingrained flaws as of its grandest aspirations, Annan was the first secretary-general to be chosen from the international civil servants who make up the UN’s bureaucracy.





Home Minister Rajnath Singh had announced Rs 100 crore as immediate relief in assurance to the state due to floods and rains. The Rs 500 crore grant announced by PM Modi yesterday is in addition to the Rs 100 crore.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced Rs 10 crore aid to the flood-hit state and also said that one-month salaries of all AAP MLAs and MPs will be given to the state. Congress MPs and MLAs have also followed suit and have pledged to donate one month’s salary. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has also announced an aid of Rs 10 crore and similarly, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik announced an aid of Rs 5 crore along with 245 fire personnel with boats.

Various other states’ chief ministers have announced monetary relief from their respective chief minister relief fund. Neighbouring Tamil Nadu (Rs 10 crore) and Andhra Pradesh (Rs 10 crore), Puducherry (Rs 1 crore), Jharkhand (Rs 5 crore), Maharashtra (Rs 20 crore), Gujarat (Rs 10 crore), Punjab (Rs 10 crore), Telangana (Rs 25 crore), Bihar (Rs 10 crore), Himachal Pradesh (Rs 5 crore), Uttarakhand (Rs 5 crore), Chattisgarh (Rs 3 crore) Madhya Pradesh (Rs 10 crore), Karnataka (Rs 10 crore) announced as part of donation.

Various businessmen and individuals have also been donating monetary funds. South Indian film celebrities as well as those from Bollywood have donating varying amounts. A number of stars have also urged their fans to contribute towards flood relief.



 Swadeshi ideologue S. Gurumurthy has wondered if there is any connection between the Kerala floods and a case in the Supreme Court on the restriction on the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple located in the state.

“Supreme court judges may like to see if there is any connection between the case and what is happening in Sabarimala. Even if there is one in a million chance of a link people would not like the case decided against Ayyappan,” Gurumurthy, who was nominated to the RBI board this month by the Narendra Modi government, tweeted on Friday night.

Ayyappan is the deity of Sabarimala, which bars the entry of women in menstruating age. The Supreme Court has reserved the verdict which is expected to be pronounced any day.

Gurumurthy’s tweet in the middle of the worst flood crisis in Kerala in a century triggered outrage. Amid the uproar, Gurumurthy “clarified” on Saturday: “What I said is this: If there is even one in a million chance of a link between the case and the rains, people – repeat people – would not like the case decided against Ayyappan. It is about people’s belief. For the info of all, I am not an Ayyappa devotee, going to Sabarimala.”

The RBI nominee stuck to the theme, tweeting an hour later: “Amazed at the hypocrisy of Indian intellectuals who trash people’s faith. 99% Indians believe in God. 100%, including liberals, seculars, intellectuals, believe in astrology…. I am among those who look to God but not astrology!!”

One tweeter paid Gurumurthy back in the same rupee: “So the recent drop in rupee is God’s wrath on Gurumurthy’s elevation to RBI board?”



 Agriculture generates not even a quarter of rural household incomes in India, according to the National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development’s (NABARD) All India Rural Financial Inclusion Survey 2016-17.

While agriculture may, by definition, be largely rural, the converse, though, isn’t true. The NABARD survey estimates the total number of rural households in India for 2016-17 at 21.17 crore. The definition of “rural” is a broad one, covering revenue villages and semi-urban centres with a population of less than 50,000. Out of the 21.17 crore rural households, 10.07 crore, or under 48 per cent, are “agricultural” — those with at least one member self-employed in farming and reporting annual value of produce at more than Rs 5,000. The remaining 11.10 crore households or 52 per cent are “non-agricultural”.

According to the survey, whose reference period is 2015-16, the average net monthly income of Indian rural households — after deducting expenses incurred in the course of economic activity — was Rs 8,059. The highest share of this (Rs 3,504) was accounted for by wage labour (both farm and non-farm), which was followed by government or private service jobs (Rs 1,906). On the other hand, agriculture — i.e. income from crop cultivation and livestock rearing — contributed only Rs 1,832.

But what’s interesting is that even within “agricultural households”, the share of average income from cultivation and livestock rearing was just over 43 per cent. The balance 57 per cent income in their case, too, was from non-agricultural sources.



Five years after the murder of Dr Narendra Dabholkar, the CBI and Maharashtra ATS on Saturday claimed to have made a breakthrough with the arrest of one of the two alleged shooters involved in the killing of the Pune-based rationalist.

“Sachin Prakasrao Andure of Aurangabad was arrested in the Dabholkar murder case. He was allegedly one of the shooters who fired at Dr Narendra Dabholkar. Investigation is continuing,” the CBI said in a press release. The information leading to the arrest came from the interrogation of Sharad Kalaskar, arrested by the ATS last week with two other members of radical Hindu outfits for allegedly planning to carry out attacks in five cities in Maharashtra.

The arrest comes days after the Bombay High Court pulled up the CBI and the SIT probing the murder of CPI leader Govind Pansare for the shoddy investigation into the murders of Dabholkar and Pansare. Dabholkar was shot outside his Pune residence on August 20, 2013, by two assailants on a motorcycle.



US technology giants plan to intensify lobbying against a stringent Indian requirement to store data locally, which they say will undermine their growth ambitions in the country, sources said.

US trade groups, representing companies such as Amazon, American Express and Microsoft, have opposed India’s push for data localisation. The Indian move comes amid rising global efforts to protect user data but could hit planned investments by the firms in the Indian market, where they currently have limited data storage.

The issue could further undermine the already strained economic relations between India and the US.

Technology executives and trade groups have discussed approaching Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office to express their concerns to him. Separately, the industry is considering pitching the issue as a trade concern and raise the matter at the India-US talks in September in New Delhi, two sources said.

Although a final decision hasn’t been made, the deliberations come while Washington and New Delhi are locked in a dispute over US tariff increases and on the Indian policy of capping prices of medical devices, which hurts American pharmaceutical companies.



Virat Kohli was frustrated to be dismissed three runs short of his century but another fine captain’s knock inspired India on their best batting day of the series in the third Test against England at Trent Bridge on Saturday. India ended the day at 307/6.

With England 2-0 ahead in the five-match series, Joe Root decided to launch another assault on India’s brittle top order after winning the toss and Chris Woakes obliged with three wickets in the morning session to reduce the tourists to 82/3.

Yet Kohli once again dug deep and, ably assisted by Ajinkya Rahane in a superb 159-run fourth-wicket partnership, led his side out of another perilous situation.

The pair batted throughout the afternoon session when the ball stopped jagging around, compiling by far India’s best partnership of the series until Rahane was snapped up after tea for 81 by Stuart Broad, courtesy of Alastair Cook’s dazzling left-handed slip catch.

Shikhar Dhawan, restored to the side in place of Murali Vijay, and Lokesh Rahul had started well enough with India’s highest partnership of the series — 60 — until the Kohli-Rahane link-up as England’s pacemen failed to make a breakthrough. Woakes looked the potential game-changer again, having Dhawan caught at slip for 35, trapping Rahul lbw for 23 and tempting Cheteshwar Pujara (14) into a hook on the stroke of lunch which went straight into the hands of Rashid on the boundary. Kohli was doubtless unimpressed as he faced the prospect of having to bail out a sinking ship again but he found an assured partner in 30-year-old Rahane.

After Kohli’s 152-ball stay, 20-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant made an assured unbeaten 22 on debut alongside Hardik Pandya, who became James Anderson’s 100th Indian Test victim to leave the match delicately poised.

The Indian cricketers wore black armbands on the first day of the third Test against England as a mark of respect to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former captain Ajit Wadekar, who passed away earlier this week.



A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams. – John Barrymore


Two Red Indian Tribes made their homes on the two sides of a lake in British Columbia. The two were, however, at War, with one another from years before.

There was an Indian Maiden in one Camp who was in love with a young Brave in the other Camp. They used to stand, on the shore, each on their respective side of the Lake, and chant Indian love calls to each other…even though they were warned by their Chiefs that nothing could ever come of it. One day they just could not stand being apart any longer.

That evening, on a cold Fall night, they each jumped into the Lake and swam towards each other in the Moonlight. When they reached each other in the center of the Lake, they embraced and, very quickly, froze to death. This act so impressed the two tribes that they named the Lake after the young lovers.

That’s the story behind “Lake Stupid”.

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