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Newsletter 27 Aug, 2018




Invoking the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his contribution towards the betterment of the country’s political culture, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday described the debate on holding simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections as a healthy sign for democracy.

Speaking on his radio show ‘Mann ki Baat’, Modi said the government and the Opposition both were putting forth their views. “Developing healthy traditions, making constant efforts to strengthen democracy and encouraging open-minded debates will also be an appropriate tribute to Atalji,” Modi said on simultaneous polls, an issue that has divided political parties.

Hailing Vajpayee, Modi said the 91st constitutional amendment law he had brought in 2003 restricted the size of cabinets in states to 15 per cent of the total seats in the legislative assembly. “The culture of forming a jumbo cabinet was being misused. Atalji changed it,” he said.

It was during his tenure that the timing of presenting the budget was changed from 5 pm to 11 am. Earlier, as was the British tradition, the Budget used to be presented at 5 pm because in London, Parliament used to start working at that time. The framing of the Flag Code in 2002 was another “freedom” for India as it brought the national flag closer to the masses, he said.

Expressing solidarity with the people of flood-ravaged Kerala and lauding the contributions of armed, paramilitary and NDRF personnel in rescue and relief operations, the PM said people from across the country were with them in their hour of crisis.

He also thanked all parties for the recent most productive Parliament session that saw important legislative business being passed.



Congress president Rahul Gandhi on  Sunday alleged that the judiciary, the Election Commission and the RBI were being “torn apart” under the BJP government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had insulted every Indian by saying no development had happened before 2014.

“Institutions such as the Supreme Court, the Election Commission and the RBI, which are the walls of our country, are being torn apart now,” Rahul alleged.

The Congress chief alleged Dalits, farmers, tribals, minorities, the poor “are told that they will not get anything and if they raise their voice, they are beaten up”. On the Rafale deal, he said HAL had been manufacturing aircraft for 50 years, but the contract was given to “someone who floated his company just 19 days before the deal”.

While answering questions during a working lunch hosted by the Indian Journalists’ Association (IJA), Rahul taunted the Prime Minister, whom he described at one point as “clueless”, by suggesting Modi would be unable to come and answer questions from the IJA as he was doing. Rahul said he knew he was “taking a risk” by answering questions during a live stream but he was prepared to do so.

Rahul asked Ashis Ray, the IJA president who was moderating the session, if Modi had ever accepted an invitation from Indian journalists. Careful not to be drawn into party politics, Ray replied that among BJP ministers, Nitin Gadkari and Arun Jaitley had taken up IJA invitations but so far Modi had not.



In a strongly worded letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has raised concerns over what he described as an “agenda” to “change the nature and character” of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) and the Teen Murti complex.

Stating that Jawaharlal Nehru belongs “not just to the Congress” but to the “entire nation,” Singh has asked that the Teen Murti complex be left “undisturbed”.

In the letter sent last week, Singh invoked former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and said that under Vajpayee’s six-year tenure as PM, “there was absolutely no attempt made to change the nature and character of the NMML and the Teen Murti complex in any way. But sadly, that seems to be part of the agenda of the Government of India now.”

Singh’s letter comes amidst the controversy surrounding the Government’s plans to set up a museum for all Prime Ministers within the Teen Murti complex with the Congress alleging that it is an attempt to “obliterate” Nehru’s legacy.

Singh quoted Vajpayee’s speech in Parliament when Nehru passed away, and said: “As Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji himself said in his moving speech to Parliament when Panditji passed away: ‘Such a resident may never grace Teen Murti again. That vibrant personality, that attitude of taking even the opposition along, that refined gentlemanliness, that greatness we may not again see in the near future. In spite of a difference of opinion we have nothing but respect for his great ideals, his integrity, his love for the country and his indomitable courage’.”

Singh wrote: “Let us respect this sentiment and keep Teen Murti as a memorial to our first Prime Minister Pandit Nehru and leave the Teen Murti complex undisturbed as it is. This way we will be respecting both history and heritage.”


With election expenditure, fidelity of voter list and gender equity in the political processes high on agenda, the Election Commission has called an all-party meeting today.

Noting that the political parties are important stakeholders in the electoral system, the official spokesperson for the EC confirmed that all seven national and 51 state parties have been invited to participate in day-long deliberations on Monday.

“The EC will elicit views on issues like poll expenditure, fidelity of electoral rolls and gender equity in the political process,” the official said.

The EC has invited views on measures to encourage enhanced representation of women within the organisational structure of parties, as well as in candidate selection.

Issues related to expenditure ceiling for legislative council elections would also be taken up, it is learnt. A discussion is also planned on “enforcement measures to ensure timely submission of annual audited reports, election expenditure reports”.




Pope Francis on Sunday begged forgiveness for the multitude of abuses suffered by victims in Ireland at the hand of the church over decades as he concluded a tour of the once deeply Catholic country watched by parishioners and protesters.

After meeting privately with abuse victims on Saturday on the first papal visit to Ireland in almost four decades, Francis apologised to mothers estranged from their children in church-run homes, children abused by priests and those exploited in religious schools, calling it a “state of shame”.

“To survivors of abuse of power, conscience and sexual abuse, recognising what they have told me, I would like to put these crimes before the mercy of the Lord and ask forgiveness for them,” Francis told a mass attended by more than 100,000 people at Dublin’s Phoenix Park. “We apologise for some members of the hierarchy who did not take care of these painful situations and kept silent.”

Years of sexual abuse scandals have shattered the credibility of the Church which four decades ago dominated Irish society. In the past three years, Irish voters have approved abortion and gay marriage in referendums, defying the Vatican.

Pressure on the pope over church abuse increased elsewhere on Sunday when a former top Vatican official accused Francis of having known of allegations of sex abuse by a prominent US cardinal for five years before accepting his resignation last month.



North Korea’s state-controlled newspaper on Sunday accused the United States of “double-dealing” and “hatching a criminal plot” against Pyongyang, after Washington abruptly cancelled a visit by secretary of state Mike Pompeo.

Negotiations have been all but deadlocked since US President Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore in June. Pompeo has pressed for tangible steps toward North Korea’s abandonment of its nuclear arsenal while Pyongyang is demanding that Washington first make concessions of its own.

North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper said US special units based in Japan were staging an air drill aimed at “the infiltration into Pyongyang”, citing a South Korean media outlet. “Such acts prove that the US is hatching a criminal plot to unleash a war against the DPRK and commit a crime which deserves merciless divine punishment in case the US fails in the scenario of the DPRK’s unjust and brigandish denuclearisation first.”

“We cannot but take a serious note of the double-dealing attitudes of the US as it is busy staging secret drills involving man-killing special units while having a dialogue with a smile on its face,” it noted.




The Congress has demanded the withdrawal of the DNA regulation bill from the Lok Sabha claiming it violates the right to privacy, and accused the government of attempting a “360-degree profiling” of citizens.

Spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi claimed the bill, which he alleged was introduced surreptitiously, reflected the government’s “Big Brother Syndrome” and its efforts to “snoop into the living rooms of ordinary people”.

The bill allows the collection and storage of genetic information of people “in conflict with the law” to help solve crimes, convict criminals, identify missing people and unclaimed bodies, and determine biological ties.

The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill 2018 mandates accreditation and regulation of DNA labs to ensure their test results are reliable and the data are not misused.

Singhvi said the bill proposed to not only collect “intrusive” DNA data but also record gender and caste, which he said were sensitive from a sociological aspect. He claimed the bill violated the apex court’s right to privacy judgment and “needs to be redrafted and tested against the judgment”. Singhvi accused the government of failing to hold even a single consultation with the stakeholders and civil society at large. He demanded ample safeguards against any data breach.


Since Saturday morning, Patidar quota leader Hardik Patel is on an indefinite fast to press for farm loan waiver and reservation for the Patidar community. Yesterday, he received support from Trinamool Congress and RJD.

Among those who visited Hardik included Trinamool leader Dinesh Trivedi who tied a rakhi sent by party chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

RJD representative Bharat Bhushan Mandal also met the PAAS chief and expressed his solidarity with his protest. “Hardik is emerging as a national leader as the BJP government in the state is trying to suppress his demand,” Mandal said. RJD leader and former Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav and others are likely to visit Hardik in the coming days, Mandal said.


Can people be allowed to lodge FIRs online from the confines of their homes, the Home Ministry has asked the Law Commission.

Registration of an FIR is mandatory under Section 154 of the CrPC if the information discloses commission of a cognisable offence.

The law panel, while examining the issue, has come across suggestions that if the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) is amended to allow people to lodge FIRs online, one of the fallouts could be that some may use the facility to tarnish image of others.

“Yes, people do find it difficult to go to the police station to lodge an FIR. It will be much easier to lodge one from the comforts of your home. But most find it difficult to lie before the police. Policemen understand the demeanour of the complainant. But anyone can use the online facility to tarnish the image of someone. This is what we have understood so far. But we have just begun to understand the concept. So, there is no finality,” explained a senior law panel functionary.


After beleaguered liquor baron Vijay Mallya cited poor jail conditions in India while contesting his extradition plea before a London court, fugitive jeweller Mehul Choksi, wanted in the Rs 13,578-crore PBN fraud case, has also recently opposed the CBI’s plea to the Interpol seeking a red corner notice against him on the ground that “the conditions in Indian jails are not good”.

In his plea before the Interpol, while Choksi claimed that the jails “violate human rights conditions”, he has also alleged that a media trail was in progress against him and the judicial system may be influenced. Choksi is allegedly hiding in the twin Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda.

In his plea, Choksi claims that there is a media hype around the case and that nobody is going into the genuineness of the allegations. The judicial system may get influenced by the biased reportage… He has mentioned that he was being ‘clubbed along with his nephew Nirav Modi’ in the case and that accused in India don’t have the required legal protection. He also mentions threat to his life, especially by his employees and franchisees.

In its reply, the CBI has said that jails in India are maintained according to the jail manuals.

“The CBI has further said that media reportage is based on their sources and the probe agency has nothing to do with it… It has maintained that the judicial system is robust and cannot be influenced by external sources, including the media. On human rights violation, the CBI has said that every state has its own human rights commission panel and the Union government has the National Human Rights Commission. Any allegation can be looked by both these bodies and there is no reason to worry,” the official added.


Corporate India seems to have gone into a tizzy as it tries to grapple with the enormous implications of a change in disclosure requirements under a proviso of the Companies Act 2013 that aims to lift the veil on beneficial ownership of entities that was concealed until now behind a labyrinth of companies and elaborate shareholding structures.

The new disclosure requirement under the amended Section 90 of the Companies Act sets a September 11 deadline for all registered companies, public and private, to disclose the names of individual(s) who either directly or indirectly hold more than a 10 per cent stake in the entity, or exercise “significant influence or control” over its affairs.

The ticking time bomb has jolted industry since it will no longer be able to use the artifice that companies have used till now to mask the ultimate beneficial ownership of a company.


India’s equestrianism team turned out to be the surprise package of the day, at the Asian Games on Sunday, bagging a couple of silver medals in the eventing competition.

Fouaad Mirza became the first Indian to win an Asian Games individual equestrian medal since 1982, besides guiding the country to a second-place finish in the team competition.

Mirza won the silver medal in individual jumping with a score of 26.40, while Japan’s Oiwa Yoshiaki clinched the gold with a score of 22.70.

The Indian team, comprising Rakesh Kumar, Ashish Malik and Jitender Singh apart from Mirza, also claimed the silver with a score of 121.30, the feats coming days after their last-minute arrival owing to infighting in the Equestrian Federation of India.

In bridge, making its debut in the Asian Games, India won a couple of bronze medals – in the men’s team and the mixed team events.

India were also assured of at least two silver medals from archery after the men’s and women’s compound teams advanced to the final by prevailing over Chinese Tapiei in both the semi-finals.

Defending champion in men’s hockey, India continued their unbeaten run and beat South Korea 5-3 in a pool match to storm into the semi-finals. India scored through Rupinder Pal Singh (first minute), Chinglensana Singh (fourth), Lalit Upadhyay (15th), Manpreet Singh (49th) and Akashdeep Singh (55th), while Korea’s score in 33rd, 35th and 59th minute.

On the badminton court, Olympic medallists PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal headed for a gold medal showdown after their quarter-final victories ensured India’s first ever women’s singles medals at the continental event.

First it was Saina, who locked at least a bronze following a 21-18, 21-16 win over world No. 5 Ratchanok Intanon in a 42-minute quarter final. Sindhu then fought past world No. 12 Nitchaon Jindapol 21-11, 16-21, 21-14 in the other quarter final.


For an entire generation of young Indians, P T Usha has been a reverential chapter in a textbook, albeit asterisked with Olympic disappointment. But on Sunday, Jakarta beamed pure, surging speed into Indian TV screens — young Dutee Chand and the younger Hima Das made the promise of gold at the finish seem so seductive that the silver barely carried the sigh of a lost final.

A country that can fill up a book on its fourth-place disillusionment, a nation that waves away every conceivable lip-biting let-down with a “koi nahin”, a population that loves its medal-missers no matter what, took a bounding leap into fighting for gold some day. On Sunday though, it was silver for both – Hima in the 400m, and Dutee in 100m. The two women put India bang in the centre of a speed-junkie’s sights.

Hima Das, the still-fresh World Junior champ from Finland, came out bounding in her first major senior Games. The full-lap race quickly turned into a duel between World Championship silver medallist Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain and India’s Das running in Lanes 5 and 3.

It ended when Naser, leading from start to finish, wolfed down the last crumbs of what was left of the track and create a two-stride distance at the finish. But Hima’s timing — 50.79, going under 51 in the same half-year as she went under 52 — gave a sniff of just how much further she could go while still in her first big season.

Dutee Chand won the 100m silver medal in a photo finish behind Bahrain’s Edidiong Odiong. She clocked 11.32 seconds, while the Nigerian-born Bahraini clocked 11.30s. The bronze medal was won by Wei Yongli of China.

India are currently placed 9th, with 7 Gold, 10 Silver and 19 bronze medals



No time. Saddest words ever spoken or written. – Og Mandino


A 55 year old man who was born on May 5, has been married 5 years, has 5 children, makes $55,555 a year, who’s lucky number is 5 receives a phone call from a friend.

The friend informs the man that a horse named Lucky 5 will be running in the fifth race at the local track that evening.  Excitedly, the man withdraws 5,555 cash from his bank account, goes to the races and bets on Lucky 5.

Sure enough, the horse comes in fifth.

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