Newsletter Sept 03, 2018




In a significant move, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has expressed his “disagreement” over a spate in court cases filed by serving officers, even as he warned that moral turpitude will not go unpunished. He has also halted activities of the Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA) in field areas.

Faced with a “running commentary” on the social media over his decisions, General Rawat addressed Colonel-level officers posted in New Delhi at Manekshaw Centre here on Saturday.

He questioned the need for serving officers to file individual cases challenging ongoing criminal cases faced by fellow officers serving in insurgency-hit areas.

In an unprecedented move, nearly 700 Army officers and soldiers have approached the Supreme Court against dilution of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that shielded them from prosecution without the Centre’s nod.

Addressing moral turpitude, General Rawat said the person would no longer just be “boarded out”. He would get exemplary punishment like jail and dismissal, irrespective of rank, he asserted.



To ensure that people do not lose faith in political processes and institutions, there is a need for political parties to “evolve a consensus on the code of conduct for their members, both inside the legislature and out of it”, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu said on Sunday.

Naidu was speaking at the release of his book, Moving On, Moving Forward: A Year In Office, to mark the completion of one year as Vice-President and Rajya Sabha Chairperson. The event at Vigyan Bhawan saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and H D Deve Gowda, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Congress leader Anand Sharma sharing the dais with Naidu.

Expressing his displeasure over the functioning of Parliament, Naidu listed reforms that he felt are necessary for its effective functioning, as well as that of the state legislatures. Besides calling for a code of conduct for MPs and MLAs, he said that “if a member desires to change party, he must do so by resigning from the membership of the House. The anti-defection laws should be implemented in letter and spirit expeditiously, within three months.”

Naidu added that election petitions and criminal cases against political leaders should be disposed of within a certain time frame and, if necessary, special benches of the Supreme Court and high courts should be formed for the matter. He also emphasised the need for a national policy on having an Upper House in the states.

He said it is equally important for the media, an “invaluable partner in strengthening democratic culture”, to focus more on the constructive contribution made by members of the House rather than giving importance to their disruptive activities.

In a veiled jibe at the Opposition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while speaking at Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu’s book launch yesterday, observed that by calling for discipline, one may be branded an “autocrat” these days.

“Venkaiahji is a disciplinarian, and the country’s situation is such that it has become easy to call discipline undemocratic. If one calls for discipline, then that person is branded an autocrat… But the discipline Venkaiahji calls for, he follows it himself,” the PM observed. Referring to Naidu’s punctuality, he said, “One has to be very alert while touring with Venkaiahji.

He never wears a watch, does not keep a pen, does not keep money… he does not wear a watch, but he reaches for programmes on time. And if the programme is not over in time, he becomes uneasy. Discipline is his nature.”





 Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May said she would not allow compromises to her Brexit strategy that went against the national interest, seeking to allay fears among some in her Conservative Party that she will cave in to Brussels’ demands in negotiations.

But her words drew scepticism, including from the former Brexit negotiator, David Davis, who said the pledge was little reassurance and that he would vote against parliament giving May’s exit plan its required approval.

With under two months before Britain and the European Union want to agree a deal to end over 40 years of union, May is struggling to sell what she calls her business-friendly Brexit to her own party and across a divided country.

After an initially sceptical reaction, the EU is formulating its response to what has become known as the Chequers plan, which is designed to protect cross-border trade.

Boxed in between those at home who would balk at further concession and an EU negotiator demanding more concession, difficult talks lie ahead. “I will not be pushed into accepting compromises on the Chequers proposals that are not in our national interest,” May wrote in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper. Parliament returns from its summer break on Tuesday.

Both Britain and EU have stepped up contingency planning in case the two sides are unable reach a deal. May also said she would not hold a second referendum on Britain’s EU membership. “To ask the question all over again will be a gross betrayal of our democracy,” May said.



 The US will cancel $300 million in military aid to Pakistan over its failure to take “decisive actions” to support President Donald Trump’s new South Asia policy and act against terror groups like the Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Pentagon has said.

The announcement comes just days ahead of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Pakistan to meet the country’s new PM, Imran Khan. The US and others have long complained that Pakistan provides safe haven to militant networks, allowing them to carry out cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon’s move needs to be approved by the US Congress.

Trump has been tough on Pakistan over its inaction against terror groups, saying Washington has got “nothing but lies and deceit” in return for millions of dollars in aid over the years. Trump in August last year had unveiled his new South Asia policy and asked Pakistan to do more against such groups.

The US in January suspended $1.15 billion security assistance to Pakistan, accusing it of harbouring terror groups and showing unwillingness to take “decisive actions”. Pentagon said the US military would aim to spend the money on other “urgent priorities” before the funds expired on September 30.





Patidar quota leader Hardik Patel, who has been sitting on an indefinite hunger strike for the last nine days, on Sunday made his legal will public. In the will, according to his aide, Hardik has set aside a part of his money for the families of 14 Patidar youths who had died during the 2015 quota agitation. He has also announced to donate his eyes after his death.

Hardik has been fasting at his Ahmedabad residence since August 25 demanding reservation for Patidar youths in government jobs and education as well as farm loan waiver.

A doctor from a government hospital who visited Hardik on Sunday said that he has advised the 25-year-old leader to get admitted to a hospital.

As per his will, Hardik has Rs 50,000 in his bank account. He has declared to give Rs 20,000 from it to his parents and the rest as a donation to a cattle shelter in his native Viramgam. He has also declared to own a car and a life insurance policy. Hardik has declared to distribute the money to be collected from the life insurance policy, his car and the royalty of the book on him — ‘Who Took My Job’, which is currently under publication — in three parts — 15 per cent to his parents, 15 per cent to his sister and the remaining 70 per cent to be the family members of 14 Patidar youths who died during the quota agitation in 2015. “I wish to donate my eyes after my death and it has to be implemented,” Hardik has stated in his will.


Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao yetserday pitched for a federal front at the Centre with regional parties forming state governments so that people’s representatives did not have to run “puppet regimes” in states, rushing to Delhi before taking any decision.

Citing Tamil Nadu’s example, he said people there always voted for a regional party, thus ensuring “power remained within the state”.

Rao, however, disappointed his party workers, who had gathered in large numbers and were hopeful the CM would announce early elections. In fact, he made no new significant announcement except recapping all that his government has done over the past four-and-a-half years.

Addressing a huge gathering, he said he would not go to the polls till all promises made in 2014 were fulfilled.


Kanhaiya Kumar — the former student leader from Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University — is set to take the long-awaited political plunge from Begusarai, the Left citadel of Bihar. The 31-year-old is expected to be a candidate of the joint opposition in next year’s general elections. The RJD, which is likely to decide on the opposition deployment in the state, is not averse to the idea.

The student leader, who made headlines after anti-India slogans were allegedly raised at an event in JNU linked to Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s hanging, is likely to be fielded by the CPI.  Though the formal process is yet to be launched, the CPI has made a pitch to veteran leader Lalu Yadav, who has indicated his acceptance.

Besides RJD, Kanhaiya Kumar — who is already a part of CPI’s 125-member national council — is also likely to have the support of grand alliance partners Congress, NCP and Jitan Ram Manjhi’s HAM(S).

Mr Kumar, whose family is also from Begusarai district, told NDTV that he is willing to take the plunge, “but my party and then leaders of alliance has to approve my name”.


The Supreme Court has slammed the Income Tax department for making “misleading statement” about pendency of an appeal while making it clear that the apex court is not a “picnic place” and cannot be treated like this.

A Bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur slapped a cost of Rs 10 lakh on the department and said it was “shocked” that the Centre, through the Commissioner of Income Tax, has taken the matter “so casually”.

The Bench, also comprising Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta, also noted in its order that the plea was filed by the IT department after a delay of 596 days and “inadequate and unconvincing explanation” was given for the delay.

“Please do not do this. The Supreme Court is not a picnic place. Is this the way you treat the Supreme Court of India?” the Bench told the counsel appearing for the department.


ASSAM’S KAZIRANGA National Park (KNP), famous for its one-horned rhinos, is all set to boost maintenance and vigilance with a new set of hi-tech drones for capturing video footage of parts of the jungle not accessible on foot. The government is also setting up a new division to ensure an increase in officials and forces patrolling the area to check poaching.

“The products are expected to be received in around two months. These drones are expected to be able to fly for 4-5 hours and take high quality footage. The new drones will overcome the time and maximum height limitation that the earlier ones had,” Parimal Suklabaidya, Assam Environment and Forest Minister, said.

The park has three drones currently. Officials said they are “helpful”, including during last year’s massive floods, but face limitations — they flew at a stretch for only 25-30 minutes and were not customised for wildlife usage.



Stree is a horror comedy starring Rajkummar Rao and Shraddha Kapoor. Even with Rajkummar Rao at the helm, Stree is expected to play second fiddle to the trio of Dharmendra, Sunny Deol and Bobby Deol’s Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se this weekend. The latter film simply has a wider appeal and Stree would probably be more successful with the urban audiences.

Trade analyst Girish Johar says: “Stree offers a different combination of horror and humour. It also brings together Rajkummar Rao and Shraddha Kapoor together for the first time and is based on a folklore. There has been a decent amount of excitement for this small budget film and if the word of mouth is good then the film’s box office collection can change gear by evening.”

The Indian Express film critic Shubhra Gupta gave a positive review to the film. “Stree is enjoyable for the most part. I particularly liked its cheerfully hare-brained spirit, which the director manages to sustain. Kapoor’s part is a bit risible, but she has some breathy moments with Rao. The three fellows feel like real friends, not just brought together by a casting director, and both Khurrana, who is sprouting from everywhere these days, and Banerjee do a good job of looking scared and foolish at the same time. Rao, whose Bicky seems like an extension of his Bareilly Ki Barfi avatar, carries the film: as a ‘ladies tailor’ whose eye is enough to take the measure of the woman in front of him, gently, he is terrific,” she said.

Johar further added, “Horror comedy is a difficult genre as both, scaring people and making them laugh is a tough job. So, it all depends on how it is treated by the makers and how well the actors have done it. Now if Rajkummar and Pankaj Tripathi will be able to pull the audience to the theatres or not will be known shortly.”


Asia said goodbye to the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta last night with a farewell party that was rocked by Hindi film songs, reflecting this country’s love for Bollywood.

“Farewell,” said the Indonesians, as the flag and a symbolic flame was passed onto Xu Liyi, the mayor of Hangzhou, host for the 19th edition of Asia’s quadrennial sporting festival. The Games flame that had been lit for 16 days was also put out.

The closing ceremony began on a sombre note as the Indonesian president Joko Widodo highlighted the resolve of the people of the island of Lombok, where a series of earthquakes have killed over 500 people in recent weeks. Widodo did not attend the closing ceremony on Sunday to show solidarity with the people of Lombok, and addressed the gathering at the stadium through a video broadcast.

The party began only after the Olympic Council of Asia president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah declared the Games closed and the symbolic passing on of the flag and the flame to Hangzhou as Asiad 2022 hosts. K-pop stars Super Junior and iKON, the star attraction apart from Indonesian singers, had the crowd grooving but it was singers Siddharth Slathia and Denada who got the party to its crescendo with Bollywood songs. It got the flashlights out. The duo sang Koi Mil Gaya and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai from the hit movie Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and then finished it with the foot-tapping Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire. There much jiving and singing in the crowd, and some aced the dancing moves from the songs too. It truly lit up the stadium.



India’s athletics contingent is bringing back 19 medals, 7 of them gold, 10 silver and 2 bronze. India, thus, rank third behind China (12 gold) and Bahrain (12 gold) in the athletics medal rankings. This is quite good. And if Bahrain and Qatar did not have a policy of luring Africa’s top athletes with money, India could have got a total of 15 gold from Jakarta — that would have been just brilliant.

The bad news is that India did not maintain their gold count from Incheon 2014 in several sports — archery, squash, hockey, kabaddi got us no gold this time.

It must be noted that India had few truly world-class performers in Jakarta — Neeraj Chopra in javelin throw, Amit Panghal in boxing, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat in wrestling, and perhaps a few shooters.

India’s gold medal percentage was highest in 1951, when at home we won 15 of 57 gold up for grabs. This percentage has declined steadily, and hit a low of 0.32% in 1990. The Jakarta gold share of 3.25% (15 out of 461) is India’s best in this century.



Moeen Ali spun England to a 60-run victory over India in the fourth Test as the hosts sealed a series victory over the world’s top-ranked nation with a match to spare on Sunday.

Set 245 for a series-levelling victory, India were bowled out for 184 with the recalled Ali taking 4/71 to go with the five wickets he took in India’s first innings. None was more crucial than that of India skipper Virat Kohli who shared a gritty 101-run fourth-wicket partnership with Ajinkya Rahane after India had slumped to 22/3.

India’s last six wickets went down for 51 runs and although Ravichandran Ashwin blazed away for 25 to hold England up he was eventually trapped lbw by all-rounder Sam Curran.

India began the day by ending England’s second innings for the addition of only 11 runs. While 245 looked reachable, a worn pitch together with India having only three times successfully chased 200-plus for victory outside Asia meant the odds favoured England.

Scores: England 246 & 271; India 273 & 184



After toppling her older sister in what she called her best match since returning to tennis, Serena Williams ensured Kaia Kanepi, this year’s biggest spoiler of the 2018 US Open, would not end her own run toward a title.

Matched up on Sunday with the 44th-ranked Kanepi, who had a historic upset of top-ranked Simona Halep in the first round of the women’s tournament, Williams didn’t have it easy after a clean first set in which she cruised 6-0. Kanepi, whose earlier victory over Halep marked the first time a top-seeded woman had ever lost in the US Open’s first round during the pro era, fought back for a second-set decision to stay in contention and vie for a second straight quarterfinal at Flushing Meadows.

It was Williams, who had 18 aces on the day, who stayed in the spotlight, however, overcoming a seemingly fearless effort from Kanepi to serve her way to victory, a 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 final that sends her to the quarterfinals.

Also in action on Sunday: Defending US Open champs Sloane Stephens and Rafael Nadal, both of whom also advanced.

All quarter final line ups of men’s and women’s singles should be ready by end of day today.



Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. – Vaclav Havel


After playing 18 holes of golf, a foursome was sitting around the clubhouse settling their bets when another golfer stormed in. Fuming after a lousy round, he slammed down his scorecard and announced, “If I wasn’t married, I’d give this stupid game up!”

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