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Newsletter 22 Aug, 2018




Even as the UAE has offered Rs 700 crore as flood relief for Kerala, the Indian government is going by the disaster aid policy set in December 2004 by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Government sources said that when the tsunami hit India in December 2004, that was the “watershed moment” for India’s disaster aid policy. “We are following the policy since 2004, and have been turning down assistance from foreign governments since then. In Kerala also, we are sticking to that policy,” a government source said.

So, that has led to India to not accept Rs 700 crore from the UAE or Rs 35 lakh from Maldives.

Until then, India had accepted aid from foreign governments. The government had accepted aid for the Uttarkashi earthquake (1991), Latur earthquake (1993), Gujarat earthquake (2001), Bengal cyclone (2002) and Bihar floods (July 2004).

However, in December 2004, PM Singh famously said, “We feel that we can cope with the situation on our own and we will take their help if needed.” That set the Indian policy, and Delhi has since then decided to follow it, of not accepting aid from foreign governments. The 2004 tsunami, which affected the coast of Tamil Nadu as well as Andaman and Nicobar Islands, killed more than 12,000 people and displaced 6 lakh.

However, this policy is limited to foreign governments, and does not extend to individuals and charity organisations.

In the past 14 years, India has refused aid from Russia, US and Japan for Uttarakhand floods in 2013, and for the Kashmir earthquake in 2005 and floods in Kashmir in 2014.

Sources said that when PM Narendra Modi expressed gratitude to UAE’s Vice President and Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum on Saturday, “for his gracious offer to support people of Kerala during this difficult time”, he was – according to sources – speaking from the diplomatic playbook that Indian diplomats and officials are expected to follow.



Bihar Governor Satya Pal Malik was on Tuesday shifted to Jammu and Kashmir, replacing NN Vohra who held the post for 10 years. Significantly, the 72-year-old will be the first career politician to be appointed as Governor of the restive state after Karan Singh (1965-1967).

Senior BJP leader Lalji Tandon replaces Malik as Bihar Governor.

In Haryana, former BJP MLA Satyadev Narayan Arya replaces Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki.

Dalit leader Baby Rani Maurya has been appointed Uttarakhand Governor. She replaces former IPS officer KK Paul, whose term ended in July.

Governor of Meghalaya Ganga Prasad goes to Sikkim. He will be replaced by Tathagata Roy, now Tripura Governor, while Kaptan Singh takes his place in Tripura.

A Rashtrapati Bhavan communiqué said, “The appointments will take effect from the dates the incumbents assume charge of their respective offices”.



The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) option given to voters in Rajya Sabha elections, saying it would encourage corruption and defections.

Quashing the Election Commission’s notification prescribing NOTA option in Rajya Sabha polls, a three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said, “NOTA will destroy the concept of value of a vote and representation and encourage defection that shall open the doors for corruption which is a malignant disorder…”

The Bench, which also included Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud, said, “The introduction of NOTA in indirect elections may on a first glance tempt the intellect but on a keen scrutiny, it falls to the ground, for it completely ignores the role of an elector in such an election and fully destroys the democratic value.”



 Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday expressed willingness to re-start the stalled India-Pakistan peace process and said the two countries must engage in dialogue to resolve their differences, including on the Kashmir issue, and start trade.

In his first direct comments on Indo-Pak ties since taking oath as Prime Minister last Saturday, Khan said the best way to alleviate poverty and uplift the people of the subcontinent was to resolve the differences through dialogue and start trading.

“To move forward Pakistan and India must dialogue and resolve their conflicts including Kashmir,” Khan tweeted separately in both English and Urdu.

This is his first response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for “meaningful and constructive engagement” through a letter to Khan.

In a separately released message on the eve of first ever “International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism,” Khan said, “The international community must jointly take actions to support the victims of terrorism… We stand with the International Community to eliminate this menace and reiterate to take joint actions to extend all support to those who have been the victims of terrorism.”

Stressing that Pakistan has been “one of the worst victims of terrorism”, he said that despite these losses, “our resolve to fight terrorism remains unwavering”.

Khan on Tuesday also backed cricketer-turned-politician, now a Punjab minister, Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is facing flak from his colleague and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for his “embrace” of Pakistan’s Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa.

“I want to thank Sidhu for coming to Pakistan for my oath taking. He was an ambassador of peace and was given amazing love and affection by people of Pakistan. Those in India who targeted him are doing a great disservice to peace in the subcontinent — without peace, our people cannot progress,” he tweeted.




Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday defended her government’s actions in Rakhine State, where about 7,00,000 Rohingya Muslims fled from a brutal counterinsurgency campaign to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Ms. Suu Kyi said terrorism, not social discrimination or inequality, triggered the crisis. She made the comments in a lecture in Singapore in which she reviewed her two years in power.

“We who are living through the transition in Myanmar view it differently than those who observe it from the outside and who will remain untouched by its outcome,” she said.

Ms. Suu Kyi said it was difficult to say when the Rohingya who fled will be able to return to Rakhine State because her nation needs the cooperation of Bangladesh.

She said Myanmar has mapped out general sites for the resettlement of returning Rohingya, but the timing of the repatriation also depends on Bangladesh.



Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, pleaded guilty Tuesday to campaign-finance violations and other charges, saying Trump directed him to arrange the payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model to influence the election.

Cohen’s account appears to implicate Trump himself in a crime, though whether — or when — a president can be prosecuted remains a matter of legal dispute.

The guilty plea was part of a double dose of bad news for Trump: It came at almost the same moment his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted in Alexandria, Virginia, of eight financial crimes in the first trial to come out of special counsel Robert Mueller’s sprawling Russia investigation.





Kerala has sought a special package of Rs 2,600 crore from the Centre for relief and rehabilitation, following heavy rainfall and floods that have claimed 231 lives since August 8, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Tuesday following a state cabinet meeting.

The state government has also decided to launch a new lottery to help fund its rehabilitation effort, he said. “The government is planning to build a new Kerala, not just rebuild what existed before the floods,” Vijayan said.

Chief Minister Vijayan said the state has sought a “special package” from the Centre under various centrally sponsored schemes, including the rural employment programme MNREGS. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Cabinet have collectively announced interim assistance of Rs 680 crore for the state so far.

According to the Chief Minister, the cabinet decided to seek sanction from the GST Council to levy 10 per cent cess. The state would also ask the central government to increase the cap on the state’s market borrowing. At present, the debt cap of the state is three per cent of its GDP. If this is increased to 4.5 per cent, the state can borrow an additional Rs 10,500 crore from the market, Vijayan said.

Over 10.78 lakh people, including 2.12 lakh women and 1 lakh children below 12 years of age, are taking shelter in 3,200 relief camps, he said.

Later in the day, a meeting chaired by Vijayan reviewed the relief and clean-up process. As many as 3,119 squads of health and local self-government departments were engaged in cleaning houses in the affected areas. On Tuesday, 12,372 houses were cleaned and ten tonnes of plastic waste collected. As many as 52,000 volunteers have been registered for relief activities.


A day after Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted that he was in Geneva to meet UN and international humanitarian agencies and is in close consultation with Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, the CM said that the Congress leader was in Geneva in his personal capacity.

Tharoor, although said that seeking help was the prerogative of the Government of India, said that he was in close consultation with CM Vijayan to explore what help could be possible if sought.

However, the Kerala Chief Minister on Tuesday when was asked about Tharoor’s visit to the UN said that the Congress leader was not an emissary of the Kerala government.



Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was under attack by the Opposition for hugging Pakistan Army Chief at the swearing-in ceremony of Imran Khan, on Sunday defended himself, saying that his act should not be seen in the wrong light.

On being asked why he sat beside President of PoK Masood Khan during the oath-taking ceremony, Sidhu said that he did so because he was asked to. “If you’re invited as a guest of honour somewhere, you sit wherever you are asked to. I was sitting somewhere else but they asked me to sit there,” he said.

On hugging Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Sidhu said: “If someone (Bajwa) comes to me and says that we belong to the same culture and we’ll open Kartarpur border on Guru Nanak Dev’s 550th Prakash Parv, what else I could do?”.

Before crossing over to India from the Wagah Border, Sidhu said he received a lot of love from the people of Pakistan. “I am overwhelmed by the love I received here,” he said and expressed his wish that there should be peace between the two countries.

The BJP hit out at Sidhu for his “deplorable act” of hugging Pakistan Army chief and asked Rahul Gandhi if he would suspend the Sidhu for doing so.

Some veteran Army officers have come out in support of Navjot Singh Sidhu and have termed the barbs being directed at the minister for his “hug” as “petty”.

“We should not be petty. The man goes there and someone comes up to him and they hug each other, so what…We are big country and we should behave like a big country….It is the Punjabi way to greet somebody — Lt General Depinder Singh (retd)

“So what if he hugged the Pak Army Chief?…I have attended seminars where retired Pakistani Army officers also come and we hug each other. It is a non-issue— Lt General H S Panag (retd)


THE HRD Ministry on Tuesday withdrew its decision to conduct the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) online and twice a year from 2019.

The entrance examination, which is the gateway for admissions to medical institutions across the country, will be held as a pen-and-paper test and only once next year, on May 5, the ministry announced in a statement.

In a letter, the Health Ministry listed eight problems that it anticipated because of Javadekar’s announcement. Apart from concerns that a test in online mode would put poor and rural students at a disadvantage, the Health Ministry had a problem with the examination calendar announced for the NEET.


The Ministry of Corporate Affairs is seeking clarifications from the auditors of Jet Airways on the airline deferring announcement of its June quarter results.

The Board of crisis-hit Jet Airways — which is working on ways to reduce costs amid financial woes — on August 9 deferred the matter of consideration of the unaudited financial results for the June quarter.

The auditors are believed to have issues regarding the airline being a going concern.

In accounting parlance, the going concern assumption means that the company would remain in business for the foreseeable future without being forced to halt operations and liquidate its assets.

The airline’s Board is scheduled to meet on August 27 to consider and approve the unaudited financial results.


With the government threatening action against WhatsApp over spread of fake news, the CEO of the American messaging platform, Chris Daniels, flew down to New Delhi to fix things.

Daniels, who took over as the boss of WhatsApp in May, on Tuesday told the government it would work out a technological solution to trace the origin of fake messages. The Facebook-owned firm, with more than 200 million active subscribers in India, also committed to complying with the RBI rules relating to local storage of financial data by having servers in India.


After a couple of near misses from India’s star-studded shooting team, it fell on the shoulders of a 16-year-old son of a farmer from Meerut to finally land a gold on the third day of the competition at the Asian Games on Tuesday.

Saurabh Chaudhary, competing in his first seniors’ event, showed amazing composure, beyond his age, to win the men’s 10m air pistol event with a new Games record score in Palembang and become the youngest Indian to bag an Asiad gold. This was only the fifth shooting gold for India in the history of the games.

Another Indian, 29-yearold Abhishek Verma, also a first-timer at a major event, finished third to claim bronze. Chaudhary aggregated 240.7 while Verma had a total of 219.3 in the fnal.

There was more good news in store for the Indian shooting team, hit by allegations of star tantrums and bickering among coaching staff. Sanjeev Rajput, a veteran of many battles at 37, won silver in 50m rifle three positions.

It was a remarkable achievement for Chaudhary. The junior World Cup champion was in Palembang having been picked ahead of the established Jitu Rai. His performance proved that the 16-yearold deserved the trust of the selectors.


On Tuesday, Divya Kakran became India’s third medallist in wrestling in Jakarta, winning a bronze in the 68kg category after taming Chinese Taipei’s Chen Wenling by technical superiority.

Divya was beaten 11-1 in the quarterfinals by Mongolia’s  Tumentsetseg Sharkhuu. Since Sharkhuu reached the final, Divya got a chance to fight for a medal through repechage.

Divya won the bronze-medal playoff 10-0.

Divya’s father Suraj Kakran still sells langots during dangals organised in and around Delhi. Divya says he will continue in that line of work. “My father will keep on selling langots even if we manage to get comfortable,” Divya, winner of a bronze in the Commonwealth Games in April, said. “He says he will do that as a reminder to me about our hard times.”


Virdhawal Khade (in pic) bettered his national record but missed the bronze medal in the men’s 50m freestyle by a whisker, finishing fourth in the final. After finishing third fastest in overall heats, Khade was a medal contender but missed it by a hundredth of a second. In the morning session, the 26-year-old had bettered his long-standing record by clocking 22.43s. PTI

India was assured of four medals in wushu. Santosh Kumar (56kg), Surya Bhanu Partap Singh (60kg) and Narender Grewal (65kg) entered the men’s sanda semifinals, while Naorem Roshibini Devi (60kg) advanced to the women’s sanda semi-finals.


India need one more wicket to thrash England in the third Test at Trent Bridge after the hosts ended the fourth day on 311/9, 210 runs short of their target.

Jos Buttler’s maiden Test century in a 169-run partnership with Ben Stokes (62) provided some resistance after England’s top four had been removed for 62 before lunch. The second new ball proved decisive, though, as India picked up five wickets in the last session of the day. The impressive Jasprit Bumrah took five wickets but the entire Indian seam attack produced excellent sustained accuracy throughout Tuesday’s play, helped by some outstanding catching and some awful shot selection from England’s top order.

Buttler (106) and Ben Stokes (62) batted throughout the second session, showing the kind of focus and grit that was needed if England were to get anywhere close to saving the Test. But the second new ball put paid to any illusions of a miracle from the hosts.

Scores at end of day 4: Indian 329 & 352/7 decl.; England 161 & 311/9-/


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When it’s all over, it’s not who you were. It’s whether you made a difference. Bob Dole


A mother was anxiously awaiting her daughter’s plane who was coming back from a far away land.

As the daughter was exiting the plane, the mother noticed a man directly behind her daughter dressed in feathers with exotic markings all over his body and carrying a shrunken head. The daughter introduced this man as her new husband.

The mother gasped in disbelief and disappointment and screamed, “Did you here a ‘Witch Doctor’???” “I had told you to marry a RICH Doctor!”

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