Newsletter Aug 29, 2018




The Maharashtra Police on Tuesday conducted nationwide raids on the homes and offices of prominent Left-wing activists and arrested at least five persons for their suspected links with Maoists, prompting human rights defenders and Opposition to call it “virtual declaration of emergency”.

The raids were carried out as part of a probe into the violence between Dalits and upper caste Peshwas at Koregaon-Bhima village, near Pune, after the “Elgar Parishad” (conclave) on December 31 last year.

Officials said two letters recovered over the past few months, indicating Maoist plans to assassinate PM Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and Home Minister Rajnath Singh, were also a reason for the raids.

Taking a dig, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said there was place for only one NGO in “the new India” and it was the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh).

Those arrested include Left-wing Telugu poet Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, activist-lawyers Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai, trade union activist Sudha Bhardwaj in Faridabad and activist-journalist Gautam Navlakha from Delhi.

They were charged under various Sections of the IPC, including 153 (A) for promoting enmity on grounds of religion, race, place or birth, residence, language and committing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, besides Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for their “alleged Naxal activities”, said a police official.

The police said eight places in Hyderabad, Ranchi, Delhi, Faridabad and Mumbai were searched.

The police said those arrested were linked to five people — Dalit activist Sudhir Dhawale, lawyer Surendra Gadling, activist Mahesh Raut, academic Shoma Sen and activist Rona Wilson — arrested in June in connection with the “Elgar Parishad”, commemorating 200 years of the Koregaon Bhima battle in 1818.

Amnesty International and other groups, including People’s Union for Civil Liberties, called the action a concerted attempt to crush human rights interventions. Author Arundhati Roy said: “In the run-up to polls, it is an attempted coup against the Constitution and all freedoms that we cherish”.

Gautam Navlakha won a breather for at least a night after Delhi High Court grilled Pune police.

In Delhi High Court, Justices S. Muralidhar and Vinod Goel questioned the police on the specific allegations against Navlakha, which they failed to explain. Navlakha was then sent to house arrest instead of police custody that the prosecution had requested. The case will be heard again today.


As Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah brainstormed with party chief ministers and deputy chief ministers on the strategy for the upcoming assembly polls and 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the party indicated on Tuesday that its campaign would focus on developmental work as well as identity politics.

Briefing mediapersons after the day-long meeting at the BJP headquarters, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh said the party renewed its commitment to bring back Modi with a stronger majority. Singh said they held “extensive discussions” on the 2019 elections and the assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan due later this year.

Addressing the meeting, Shah listed the Centre’s initiatives, including the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that was tabled in the Lok Sabha in 2016 — both seen as controversial issues which could trigger an upsurge in identity politics.

The amendments to the Citizenship Act, 1955, seek to allow citizenship status to some “persecuted minorities” — Hindus, Christians, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains — from the neighboring countries of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residency.

“The BJP’s stance on NRC is clear — there is no place for foreign infiltrators in this country,” said Singh, while talking about Shah’s speech. He added that India should accept Hindus who flee countries like Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Both Modi and Shah urged the chief ministers to campaign on the NDA government’s legislative achievements — passage of the Bill seeking constitutional status for the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), amendments to the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. “The constitutional status for the backward classes commission was a long-pending demand. Despite its majority in the past Lok Sabhas, Congress could not get it done for generations,” said Singh.

The chief ministers and deputy chief ministers discussed the BJP-led government’s flagship programmes, with details on how they were implemented in the party-ruled states.


The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered re-verification of 10 per cent of the people in Assam who were excluded from draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) published recently.

A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R F Nariman said the re-verification of those excluded from NRC was a “sample survey” for the satisfaction of the court and its schedule would be decided later.

The apex court also deferred the scheduled date of August 30 for receipt of claims and objections to the draft NRC, as it pointed out certain contradictions in the Centre’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the filing them.

The top court raised doubts over the Centre’s proposal to allow a claimant to change his legacy document for inclusion in the draft.

The second draft NRC list was published on July 30 in which out of 3.29 crore people, the names of 2.89 crore were included. The names of 40,70,707 people do not figure in the list.

Assam, which had faced influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC which was first prepared in 1951.


Paying homage to Somnath Chatterjee, who died on August 13, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday said that the former Lok Sabha Speaker will be remembered for the stand that he took when the CPI(M) “joined hands with the BJP” to move a no-confidence motion against “our party” — “Somnath-ji,” Singh recalled, rose to the occasion” to protect the Constitution — and to protect the role of the Speaker.

Singh said Chatterjee showed that he loved his party, but the party was not above these constitutional values. “Such was the man who presided over Lok Sabha,” Singh said at a condolence meeting for Chatterjee, held at the India International Centre.

Describing Chatterjee as a “father-figure, a scholar, a great son of India, a great Parliamentarian, and a great jurist”, Singh said Chatterjee’s memory “needs to be preserved and protected” And the best way to do that is to “stand firm in the defence of the constitutional, democratic values enshrined in our Constitution”, Singh said.





The United States told UN judges on Tuesday they had no jurisdiction to rule on Tehran’s demand for them to order the suspension of debilitating nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.

Iran has argued that US President Donald Trump breached a 1955 treaty with his decision to reimpose the sanctions after withdrawing from a multilateral nuclear accord.

But US State Department lawyer Jennifer Newstead told the court in The Hague that it “lacks prima facie jurisdiction to hear Iran’s claims”.

Newstead argued that the United States had the right to protect its national security and other interests. The treaty “cannot therefore provide a basis for this court’s jurisdiction” in the case, she said.



US President Donald Trump on Tuesday accused Google of rigging news to show him in bad light and threatened to take action against the company as he ramped up his attacks on the mainstream media.

In a two-part 5.30am tweet, Trump alleged that “Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake New Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal? 96% of…results on ‘Trump News’ are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous.”

He then added, “Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good. They are controlling what we can & cannot see,” before warning, “This is a very serious situation — will be addressed!”

The president’s tweet sparked a torrent of ridicule among free speech advocates. Many of them pointed out that Google search results are influenced by previous browsing and search history (among other factors) and mocked Trump’s obsession with coverage about himself, which he sees as biased.



The Vatican on Monday rolled back on Pope Francis’ recommendation that parents seek psychiatric help for children who show homosexual tendencies.

The pope made the comments to journalists as he was flying back to Rome from Ireland, but the Vatican later removed his phrase from its official account, saying he had not meant to suggest that homosexuality was a mental illness.

Francis was asked what he would say to parents who observe homosexual traits in their children. “When it shows itself from childhood, there is a lot that can be done through psychiatry, to see how things are. It is something else if it shows itself after 20 years,” he said.

The pope added that ignoring a child who showed homosexual tendencies was an “error of fatherhood or motherhood”. But later the reference was removed. When asked why, a Vatican spokeswoman said it had been done in order to not “change the thoughts of the Holy Father”. “When the pope referred to ‘psychiatry’, it is clear that he was doing it to highlight an example of ‘things that can be done’. But with that word he didn’t mean to say that it (homosexuality) was a ‘mental illness’,” she said.





The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the voters have a right to know the antecedents of candidates and the Election Commission could be asked to direct political parties to ensure that persons, facing criminal charges, do not contest on their ticket using their poll symbols.

After making these observations, a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra reserved the judgment on a clutch of petitions after the parties, including the poll panel and the Centre, concluded their arguments.

The top court is dealing with the question whether a legislator facing criminal trial can be disqualified at the stage of framing of charges in a case. At present, lawmakers are barred at the time of conviction.

The Bench’s observation on the voters’ right to know the candidates came in the backdrop of strong opposition from the Centre that the judiciary should not venture into the legislative arena by creating a pre-condition that would adversely affect the right of the candidates to participate in elections.

“The intention of the Lordships is laudable. But the question is whether the court can do it. The answer is ‘no’,” Attorney General KK Venugopal told the Bench..


The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will be ready to send the country’s first astronauts to space in forty months time; the launch will take 16 minutes and three astronauts will spend 5-7 days in space before re-entry.

Detailing the space agency’s plans after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Gaganyaan Mission on August 15, ISRO Chairman K Sivan Tuesday said that he was confident of meeting the Prime Minister’s target of sending humans to space.

Sivan said that two unmanned Gaganyaan missions will be undertaken prior to sending humans (in 30 months time, and then 36 months), and the entire cost of the mission will be less than Rs 10,000 crore. “The estimated cost is less than Rs10,000 crore, and totally indigenous, very cost-effective even by Indian standards. From international standards, it is unbelievable,” said Minister of State in-charge of Department of Science, Jitendra Singh.


Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday inked Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Chief Ministers of Uttarakhand, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi for the construction of Lakhwar multi-purpose project in the Upper Yamuna Basin.

Upper Yamuna refers to the stretch from the point of Yamuna’s origin in Yamunotri Glacier at Banderpooch peaks in the lower Himalayan region in Uttarakhand to the Okhla Barrage in Delhi. Yamuna is the longest and second largest tributary of the Ganges in north India.

Chief Ministers — Trivendra Singh Rawat (Uttarakhand), ML Khattar (Haryana), Jai Ram Thakur (Himachal Pradesh), Yogi Adityanath (Uttar Pradesh), Vasundhara Raje (Rajasthan) and Arvind Kejriwal (Delhi) — too exuded optimism on project’s positive impact.

The Rs 3,967-crore project envisages construction of 204-m high concrete dam across Yamuna near Lohari village in Dehradun district of Uttarakhand with a live storage capacity of about 331 MCM. This storage will provide irrigation for 33,780 hectares and availability of about 79 MCM water for domestic, drinking and industrial use in the six basin states.

The project, to be executed by Uttarakhand Jal Nigam Limited (UJVL), will also generate 300 MW of power.


It’s official. Google will make its debut in India’s e-commerce and retail ecosystem this Diwali via its payments platform, Tez, rechristened Google Pay.

From tying up with more than 2,000 e-commerce companies, including big names such as cab aggregator Uber and movie ticketing platform BookMyShow, to adding about 1.2 million offline merchants, including the likes of Big Bazaar, Google is on a hyperdrive to create an ecosystem where everything will hinge on the payments app. The company is also going to offer consumers instant loans on its platforms and has partnered four banks — HDFC, ICICI, Kotak Mahindra and Federal Bank.

According to Google, a pre-approved loan limit for individuals, based on their bank account and Tez transaction history, will be set. The app’s users will get the money deposited directly into their bank accounts.


Unheralded Manjit Singh’s gold medal was the highlight of what turned out to be the most productive day for India at the 2018 Asian Games. Manjit, who was part of the chasing pack for much of the race, put in a burst in the final stretch to leave behind all of his favoured opponents, including compatriot Jinson Johnson, who collected silver. This is the first time since the inaugural Asian Games in 1951 that an Indian pair have finished with gold and silver in an event.

Earlier in the day, the Indian men’s table tennis won bronze after losing the semi-final to South Korea.

The big match, though came after that with PV Sindhu facing Chinese Taipei star Tai Tzu Ying in the women’s singles final. Sindhu lost the match 21-13, 21-16 and thus won a silver. It is the first ever silver that India has won in badminton at the Asian Games. It was an addition to the bronze that Saina Nehwal had won earlier.

The Indian men’s hockey team continued down their ruthless path, beating Sri Lanka 20-0. They have now scored an astonishing 76 goals in five matches.

Pincky Balhara won silver in women’s under 52 kg Kurash. In the athletics event, apart from Manjit and Johnson’s medals, the Indian mixed relay team won silver in 4x400m.

It was heartbreak for the Indian compound squad as both the men’s and women’s teams were narrowly beaten in the finals.

In the men’s final, defending champions India, comprising Abhishek Verma, Rajat Chauhan and Aman Saini, tiied with South Koreans on 229 points, after 4 rounds.

In the shootoff, both the teams scored 29 points each but the Koreans got the gold because of a measured win — on the basis of shots closest to the bull’s eye.

In the women’s final, V Jyothi Surekha, Madhumita Kumari and Muskan faltered in the fourth set to finish three points adrift of the South Korean team to take the silver medal. India lost 228-231.

India are currently placed 8th, with 9 Gold, 19 Silver and 22 bronze medals


Defending US Open champion Rafael Nadal sent close friend David Ferrer into Grand Slam retirement on Monday when his veteran compatriot was forced to quit their first round match with injury, but former winners Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka made successful returns to New York.

Ferrer called it quits on a hot and humid night at Arthur Ashe Stadium despite leading 4-3 with a break in the second set after twice receiving treatment on a left leg injury. Top seed Nadal had taken the opener 6-3. Nadal will face Canada’s Vasek Pospisil for a place in the last-32.

Argentine Juan Martin del Potro also reached the second round with a 6-0 6-3 6-4 win over American qualifier Donald Young. He next faces Denis Kudla of the United States who won his first match in five years at the tournament when he downed Matteo Berrettini of Italy 6-4, 7-5, 6-2.

Murray marked his first Grand Slam tournament in 14 months with a 6-7 (5/7) 6-3 7-5 6-3 win over Australia’s James Duckworth. Murray goes on to face Fernando Verdasco. Wawrinka defeated Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 6-3 6-2 7-5.

Serena Williams opened her bid for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam with a 6-4 6-0 first-round victory over Magda Linette. She next faces Germany’s Carina Witthoeft.


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Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal. – Henry Ford


The man and wife managed to catch a thief who had entered their home.

The very fat wife sat on thief’s back & told the husband to go and bring some neighbours.

The husband was taking time to find his chappals.

The thief cried : “Bhai sahab meri chappal pehen ke chale jao.”

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