Newsletter Sept 02, 2018




Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday launched a blistering attack on the Congress for leaving the economy on a “landmine” by its indiscriminate lending, saying loans were handed out to select businessmen after phone calls were made by “namdaars”

“The cumulative outstanding bad debt was  Rs 9 lakh crore, but the figure announced by UPA was only  Rs 2-2.5 lakh crore. Banks were under pressure by ‘namdaars’  to give loans to cronies,” said Modi.

He blamed the “phone-a-loan” scam of the previous UPA regime, “where money was lent by banks to select rich businessmen close to a particular family for mounting non-performing assets (NPAs) or bad loans”, but vowed to recover every penny from defaulters.

None of the 12 biggest defaulters, who between them account for over Rs 1.75 lakh crore of NPAs, were given loan by the present government, Modi said at the launch of the payments bank of the Indian postal department.

He said while the UPA hid the bad loans, his government has properly recognised them and brought tough laws to deal with defaults and recovery money.

The PM said the country was cheated when the last government put such loan amount at Rs 2-2.5 lakh crore when it actually was Rs 9 lakh crore. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had recently  attacked the government for NPAs jumping to Rs 12.5 lakh crore under the BJP rule from Rs 2.5 lakh crore under the UPA.


Seeking to dispel fears of curbs on democratic rights, in the wake of the recent arrest of human rights activists, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh assured Saturday “there will not be any effort to compress the pressure cooker”.

“I want to clarify there will never be any effort to compress the pressure cooker. All have the right to speak, do whatever they want in democracy but no one will be allowed to destabilise the country or create violence,” he said at an event here.

Singh was answering a query on the Supreme Court’s comment, while hearing a petition on the arrest of the activists, that “Dissent is the safety valve of democracy. If you don’t allow the safety valve, pressure cooker will burst.”

Asserting that “our government is committed to upholding democratic values”, the Home Minister, speaking at the ‘Hindustan Shikhar Samagam’ event of the Hindustan newspaper, said, “The people who have been arrested… I would ask you to check their earlier records. In 2012 too, many of them were arrested, and at that time also, similar allegations were raised.”

He added, “Any effort to destabilise any government, taking refuge in one’s ideology for promoting violence, conspiring to destabilise and break the country, I feel there cannot be a bigger crime than this. That is why the Maharastra Police has taken action, on the basis of facts.”

Singh also claimed success against Naxalism, saying the number of Left Wing Extremism-affected districts had come down from 126 to “around 10”. “But now they are finding another way. They’re coming to cities and are trying to influence people. They want to take violence to the urban areas. I have got inputs from my agencies.”


Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra is understood to have endorsed the name of Justice Ranjan Gogoi – the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court – as his successor even as government sources said they are yet to receive a formal communication in this regard.

Justice Gogoi will replace CJI Misra who is due to retire on October 2. He will have 13-month tenure and will retire on November 17, 2019.

Ever since Justice Gogoi took part in a press conference along with three other judges on January 12 and criticised CJI Misra, there had been speculation about the next move of the CJI who maintained a studied silence on the issue.

There has been a convention of CJI recommending the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court as his successor. Only twice, it was not followed – first when Justice AN Ray was appointed as the CJI on April 25, 1973, superseding three senior-most judges and second time when Justice MH Beg was appointed the CJI on January 29, 1977, superseding Justice HR Khanna.

In a joint meeting of the Bar Council of India with the representatives of State Bar Councils, Co-ordination Committee of all District Bar Associations of Delhi, Delhi High Court Bar Association and District Bar Associations of Delhi and NCR held here on Saturday, the members of the Joint Committee unanimously welcomed the recommendations made by CJI Dipak Misra for appointing Justice Ranjan Gogoi as the next CJI.

The BCI had earlier a requested CJI Dipak Misra to recommend the name of Justice Gogoi because the Bar would not have tolerated any deviation from the well established tradition.


The Congress on Saturday countered finance minister Arun Jaitley’s latest claim that better tax compliance was one of the major gains of the demonetisation, releasing figures to show that tax collection had grown much faster under the Manmohan Singh government without large-scale pain being inflicted on citizens.

A Congress statement accused Jaitley of misleading the nation through statistical jugglery and selective interpretation of data. It said direct taxes had grown by 151 per cent under UPA I and by 68 per cent under UPA II, whereas it had only grown 43 per cent during the Narendra Modi government’s four years.

“As per our finance minister’s blog, the last two years saw a growth of around 16-17 per cent in direct tax… and reached a net value of around Rs 9 lakh crore,” party spokesperson Gourav Vallabh said.

He added: “During the Congress’s tenure, the growth rates of direct taxes collected for 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 were 17.97 per cent, 10.76 per cent, 13.16 per cent and 14.24 per cent, respectively (cumulatively coming to a 68.9 per cent rise). In 2006-07, the highest growth rate in the last two decades – of 39.92 per cent – in collection of direct taxes was recorded….Had the BJP matched the UPA II growth rates in direct tax collections over its last four years, direct tax collection would have crossed Rs 10.5 lakh crore. But they failed and still take pride in achieving a net collection of around Rs 9.95 lakh crore.”





The Trump Administration has announced an end to all funding to the United Nations Palestine Refugee Agency (UNRWA), alleging it to be “irredeemably flawed”.

“The administration has carefully reviewed the issue and determined that the United States will not make additional contributions to UNRWA,” State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said on Friday.

“The fundamental business model and fiscal practices that have marked UNRWA for years – tied to UNRWA’s endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries – is simply unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years,” she said.   “The US will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation,” Nauert said.



A majority of justices on Brazil’s electoral court voted late on Friday to bar ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from running in October’s presidential election, virtually ending any chance that the front-runner will get on the ballot.

The decision, while long expected, leaves tens of millions of voters without a candidate and adds uncertainty to the race to lead Latin America’s largest nation.

After several hours of debate, five justices had voted against da Silva’s candidacy and just one in favour. One more was still to vote, though the majority was enough to seal da Silva’s fate.





 As many as 107 Army personnel from a unit being commanded by a Colonel booked by CBI at the end of July for a fake encounter in Manipur are among the signatories of a petition in the Supreme Court, which is challenging the alleged dilution of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA).

These Army personnel, including four officers, 24 Junior Commissioned Officers and 79 Other Ranks, are part of the 26 Mechanised Infantry Battalion of which Colonel Vijay Singh Balhara is the Commanding Officer. Balhara and seven other personnel have been named in the FIR for the killing of 12-year-old Mohammad Azam Khan in Imphal on March 4, 2009 in an alleged fake encounter. Balhara was a Major at the time.

The FIR against Col Balhara was registered following directions given by the Supreme Court on July 14 this year, based on the findings of the Justice Santosh Hegde Commission, which had inquired into the matter and submitted its report to the court.

On August 13, 356 Army personnel moved the Supreme Court, stating that the “garb of protection of human rights should not be taken as a shield to protect the persons involved in the terrorist act”. On Friday, another 383 Army personnel asked to be impleaded in the petition, taking the number of personnel who have moved the court to 739.

The petition states, “The officers and men are aggrieved by the manner updates are being taken by this court as the same is resulting in indirect influence to the investigating agencies. This is imperative to mention that the cases are very old and intention of the family member of the declared militant as a partisan witness may result in wrong conclusion of the investigating agencies. Thus, the direction and pressure resulted in the CBI filing an FIR in the name of an officer (Colonel Vijay Balhara) after the directions of the court on July 30, 2018.”


The Haryana Police on Saturday booked UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra, former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, and real-estate companies DLF and Onkareshwar Properties on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, fraud, forgery and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

An FIR was registered at the Khedki Daula police station of Gurgaon on a complaint lodged by Surender Sharma, a resident of village Rathivas in Nuh district of Haryana. In his complaint that formed part of the FIR, Sharma has alleged that “the accused conspired with influential builders, ministers and top government officers, misused their positions and committed a scam worth Rs 5,000 crore”.

Confirming the FIR, Gurgaon Commissioner of Police K K Rao said, “Further investigations are on.”

The present FIR concerns the same 3.5 acres in village Shikohpur in Gurgaon about which Haryana’s IAS officer Ashok Khemka had raised a red flag in 2012, when he was the director general, Consolidation of Land Holdings, Haryana.

Vadra’s legal representatives did not reply to queries regarding the FIR. Hooda called it a “political vendetta” against him. “No wrongdoing took place during my tenure. This is is a failed government, they are getting these things done to hide their failures. It is a complaint orchestrated by the BJP. When they could not find anything against me in four years, they did this as a result of their frustration,” Hooda said.


The Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao (KCR)-led Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) will contest the Assembly elections in the state on its own, but is open to a non-BJP, non-Congress alliance.

The party is ready for elections and will deliver a knock-out result in the poll, says K Kavitha, Nizamabad MP and daughter of the Chief Minister.

Part of the party’s think tank, she says the party’s leadership doesn’t want to close its options with a pre-poll alliance. However, the party is open to talks with non-BJP and non-Congress fringe groups that want to come under the banner of the TRS.


Lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, one of the five rights activists arrested on Tuesday in the Bhima-Koregaon case, has said a letter released by Maharashtra police on Friday was “fabricated” and meant to “incite hatred” against the accused.

In a statement issued through her lawyer Vrinda Grover, Bharadwaj, who is under house arrest in Haryana, highlighted that while seeking remand in court the police had been silent on the grave charges now being insinuated through the “concocted” letter.

Maharashtra police had at a news conference in Mumbai on Friday displayed several purported letters and emails as “evidence” to allege the 10 rights activists arrested in the case had plotted with Maoists to “overthrow the government”. The five arrested on Tuesday are under house arrest on Supreme Court orders while the other five, held in June, are in jail.

“It is a totally concocted letter fabricated to criminalise me and other human rights lawyers, activists and organisations. It is (a) mixture of innocuous and publicly available facts and baseless fabrication,” Bharadwaj said about a particular letter attributed to her.



 The southwest monsoon season officially extends from June 1 to September 30, but many cities in the country get almost their entire rainfall of the season in a small window that adds up to just a few days to a few weeks within this four-month period, official data going back more than three decades show.

In 22 cities of sizeable population, 95 per cent of monsoon precipitation occurs over three days to 27 days on average, according to an analysis of rainfall data provided to The Sunday Express by the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Delhi, for example, receives 95 per cent of its southwest monsoon rainfall in just 99 hours — and 50 per cent in 33 hours — on average, show the data. And Mumbai gets 50% of its annual monsoon rainfall in 134 hours — or just five and a half days — on average.

Half of Ahmedabad’s average seasonal rain of 66.3 cm falls in 46 hours, and 95% in 143 hours — roughly six days — on average.

The western cities of Jaipur and Ajmer receive 95% of their share of monsoon rain in about 90 hours. Bengaluru and Lucknow get 95 per cent of their monsoon rain in just over five days.

Twelve of the 22 cities have seen a partial decline in southwest monsoon rain hours from 1969 to the early to mid-2000s, the data show.

“This is very important for city and town planning. If you are getting more rain within a short duration, it affects urban flooding,” said K Saikranthi, who has collected the data for her research. Her larger study includes data from 108 stations. “If extreme weather events are more, water will get accumulated which will lead to floods. It is very important to study extreme weather events to understand what they lead to, since it affects the public,” Saikranthi said.

In recent years, major urban flooding events have been seen in Mumbai (2005), Srinagar (2014), Chennai (2015), in large parts of Gujarat last year, and in Kerala last month.



Coach Santiago Nieva swirled the towel over his head like a mad man as the judges announced the name of the winner. He had reasons to go overboard. Young Amit Panghal had punched well above his weight to pull off an incredible win over Olympic champion Hasanboy Dusmatov of Uzbekistan to secure India’s first boxing gold in Jakarta on Saturday.

No one expected the boxer from Rohtak to do the unthinkable in the 49kg bout. He was up against a world silver medallist, who was adjudged the best AIBA elite boxer two years back and also the best pugilist at the Rio Olympics.

Amit, who could not make it to the side for Rio, came to the bout fully prepared with loads of confidence. He had studied the game of his famed rival well and was prepared to take him head on. His tactics worked as he came up with an attacking game and unleashed a flurry of punches in the first round to unsettle his rival.

He took the first round, but the fight was far from over. Dusmatov tried to bounce back in the second, and Amit ensured that the hard work put in till then did not go waste by playing aggressively in the third. It paid off as he forced the Uzbek boxer on the back foot and did enough to ensure his win in the battle of southpaws.



 Pranab Bardhan became the oldest man in Indian contingent to win a medal at the 18th Asian Games as he joined forces with Shibhnath Sarkar to clinch gold in the men’s pair event of the bridge competition. The 60-year-old Bardhan and his 56-year-old partner finished the men’s pair event with a score of 384 as they edged out China’s Lixin Yang and Gang Chen, who finished with 378 points after five rounds. Bridge made its debut at the Asian Games this year.



 It was only consolation for India. The team that lost in sudden death on the back of an ordinary performance against Malaysia in the semifinals gave its supporters a lot to cheer about. India beat Pakistan 2-1 to win the bronze medal and put behind the hurt of not qualifying for the final.

Japan staged a spectacular regulation time comeback to draw 6-6 before edging out Malaysia 3-1 in a penalty shoot-out and claim the men’s hockey gold at the Asian Games on Saturday.

Japan were trailing 1-4 in the second period and then 2-5 in the fourth before ending 6-6.



India finishes the pan-Asian multi-sport event with their best ever medal tally. The sportswomen and men of the country contributed towards Sixty-Nine medals (15 Gold, 24 Silver & 30 Bronze). In doing so, they broke their previous best tally of Sixty-five, which they achieved eight years earlier when the games were held in Guangzhou, China.

India ended 8th in the Medals Tally, behind China (132 Gold), Japan (74), S Korea (49), Indonesia (31), Uzbekistan (21), Iran (20, Taiwan (17).



An enthralling fourth Test between England and India remained intriguingly balanced at the end of the third day as the hosts edged to 260/8 and a lead of 233 on a wearing pitch that should continue to cause problems for the batsmen.

A battling 69 from Jos Buttler and an unbeaten 37 from Sam Curran ensured England reached the close just about on target for the win that would clinch the series.

Scores at end of day 3: England 246 & 260/8, India 273



To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. – Ralph Waldo Emerson


Recently an old uncle and aunt booked a suite in the Taj hotel to celebrate their 50th anniversary. On the appointed day they went to the hotel but when the bell captain escorted them upstairs, they were in for a big surprise. “There must be some mistake,” my uncle said. “This looks like the bridal suite.”

“It’s okay,” the bell captain reassured him. “If I put you in the ballroom, that doesn’t mean you have to dance.”

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