Newsletter Sept 09, 2018




The BJP will contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections under national president Amit Shah, putting off its internal elections until then. Shah asked senior party cadres from across the country to highlight the BJP government’s achievements of the last four years to counter Opposition parties for the 2019 elections.

Briefing about the ongoing two-day national executive meeting where a host of issues are being discussed in the backdrop of growing unhappiness in the upper castes over the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman quoted Shah as saying that the BJP would return to power in 2019 with a “bigger and better margin”.

“The BJP president said that the mahagathbandhan is a dhakosla (eye-wash), bhranti (mirage) and based on falsehood. He reminded cadres that the party had, in 2014, won against each of the parties that were now attempting to form the mahagathbandhan and therefore, they should expose the falsehood of this coalition,” Sitharaman said.

Sitharaman said Shah invoked the BJP’s victory against the Opposition’s no-confidence motion during the Monsoon Session of Parliament as an example of the Opposition’s “disruptionist” nature. “The no-confidence motion is used either when the government has lost the majority or there is worry about the government in public at large. Neither of the conditions was there. Still, we accepted the motion without any hesitation and defeated it. This made the Opposition’s disruptionist stance very clear,” Sitharaman quoted Shah as telling party leaders.

“While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making India, the Congress is breaking India. Congress identifies itself with those who are keen to break up India,” Shah was quoted as having said. “P Chidambaram and company should be challenged with facts in your hands about our achievements on the economy, GDP, GST etc”. “The performance of our government since 2014”, he told them, should be “the base of our pitch for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections”.



The Congress on Saturday said the government’s claim that the Rafale deal was an “emergency purchase” had been exposed with reports suggesting that only one of the 36 fighter jets would be delivered in September next year and the rest in 2022.

“How is the purchase of 36 Rafales an ’emergency purchase’ as stated by the Prime Mine Minister, when the first aircraft gets delivered in September 2019 and the rest would be delivered only by September 2022 (without India-specific enhancements), i.e. eight years after the placement of order by the Prime Minister on April 10, 2015?” Congress communications chief Randeep Surjewala said in a statement.

The Indian Express reported on Saturday that only one of the 36 combat aircraft would be supplied from France by September 2019 while the entire lot was supposed to reach by April 2022 with India-specific enhancements.

The remaining 35 will now reach by September 2022, without India-specific enhancements that would be incorporated in the country itself.

The Narendra Modi government had claimed the jets would arrive in flyaway condition, complete with associated weapons and equipment, by April 2022.

Surjewala said the government had been caught in a web of lies and the false narrative was getting unravelled. “It is now absolutely crystal clear that the Modi government caused a massive loss of Rs 41,000 crore to the public exchequer by paying Rs 1,670 crore instead of Rs 526 crore per aircraft (the price the UPA government had negotiated), delayed the purchase of fighter jets by signing a fresh deal and even compromised national security by unilaterally reducing the required 126 jets to 36.”

He said the government had compromised national interest by forgoing the “transfer of technology” clause and removing the public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) from the deal. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and finance minister Arun Jaitley brazenly lied to the people of India,” he added.



National Conference president Farooq Abdullah yesterday justified his party’s decision to boycott polls as he charged the Centre with helping the secessionists and conspiring to “kill the mainstream parties in Kashmir by playing mischief on Article 35A”.

In an interview, he said he was “justified in calling for NC’s non-participation in the Assembly and parliamentary polls, as also the panchayat and urban local bodies elections, in the given situation where the Centre and state have thrown a cover of deception on this constitutional provision”.

“It is a special status state, having its separate Constitution and flag and is the most empowered legislature in the country that frames its own laws. By saying that the separate Constitution was an aberration, the NSA has given a boost to the Hurriyat Conference.  I say if the J&K Constitution is an aberration, then the accession (of J&K to India) is an aberration.”

The polls, he said are “meaningless”, while accusing the Centre of resurrecting the Hurriyat Conference by making this Article an issue. He implied that the Hurriyat has linked it to the disputed nature of Kashmir and is now seeking a solution through UN resolutions. The NC chief said the mainstream parties that stood by the Constitution of India were being consigned to obscurity. “The Centre announced the polls without consulting any one. The PM announced it from the Red Fort on I-Day, did he consult any one? Did he call an all-party meeting?”

He said, “I am sure the PDP and Congress will also say all this. If Congress contests, they know their cadre would be in danger. The BJP has no presence here.”



 Two days after he authored a concurring judgement in the landmark Supreme Court verdict that decriminalised homosexuality, Justice D Y Chandrachud Saturday expressed disappointment at the Centre’s decision to leave “sensitive issues” to the “wisdom of the court” and asked why “politicians sometimes hand over power to judges”.

Referring to the Centre’s affidavit, which left the decision on petitions challenging the validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code to the “wisdom” of the Supreme Court, Justice Chandrachud said: “… But the legislature and government leave it to the court to decide sensitive issues such as the power to administer and govern the National Capital, issue of passive euthanasia and also challenge to Section 377 besides other sensitive issues.”

“Why do politicians sometimes hand over power to judges, and we see that happening in the Supreme Court every day. We saw that in 377 where the government told us that we are leaving this to the wisdom of the court, and this ‘wisdom of the court’ was too enticing a principle for me not to respond so I responded in my judgment the other day,” he said.





Syria’s last major rebel bastion Idlib was on Saturday targeted by the “most violent” Russian airstrikes in a month, a monitor said, after the failure of a three-way summit on the Syrian conflict.

The renewed strikes came a day after the leaders of rebel backer Turkey and regime allies Russia and Iran failed at the summit in Tehran to agree on how to stave off a threatened offensive on the northwestern province of Idlib.

Aid organisations have warned that any military campaign to retake the region of nearly three million people on the Turkish border could spark one of the worst humanitarian disasters in Syria’s seven-year war.

On Saturday, dozens of Russian air raids hit southern and southeastern areas of Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

The raids prompted hundreds of families to take to the roads, as dozens of cars and trucks tried to ferry civilians away from the bombardment.

The United Nations has warned that any offensive could force up to 800,000 people to flee their homes and urged key powerbrokers to avoid a “bloodbath”.



 An Egyptian court on Saturday issued death sentences for 75 people, including prominent Islamist leaders, and jailed more than 600 others over a 2013 sit-in that ended with the killing of hundreds of protesters by security forces.

The sentencing concluded the mass trial of some 700 people accused of offences including murder and inciting violence during the pro-Muslim Brotherhood protest at Rabaa Adawiya square in Cairo.

The government says many protesters were armed and that eight members of the security forces were killed. It initially said more than 40 police had died.

Rights groups say more than 800 protesters died in the single most deadly incident during the unrest that followed Egypt’s 2011 popular uprising. Amnesty International condemned Saturday’s decision, calling the trial “disgraceful”.



 London-based economist Imran Rasul has become the second member of the new Pakistan government’s Economic Advisory Council (EAC) to resign in protest against the exclusion of noted US-based academic Atif R Mian who was told to step down from the body due to a backlash over his Ahmadi faith. Succumbing to pressure from the hardliners, the Pakistan government on Friday withdrew the nomination of noted economist Mian, a member of the minority Ahmadi community, from the newly-constituted economic panel, according to media reports.

“With a heavy heart, I have resigned from the EAC this morning,” Rasul, a professor of economics at University College, London, said in a tweet on Saturday. The economist said he “profoundly disagrees” with the circumstances in which Mian was asked to resign from the council. “Basing decisions on religious affiliation goes against my principles, or the values I am trying to teach my children,” he said.

Rasul quit after another EAC member, Asim Ijaz Khwaja, professor of International Finance and Development at the Harvard Kennedy School, announced his decision to resign from the advisory council following Mian’s exclusion.


A former adviser to US President Donald Trump whose contacts with Russians set off the investigation into possible collusion with Moscow was jailed on Friday for lying to the FBI.

US District Judge Randolph Moss sentenced foreign policy aide George Papadopoulos to 14 days in prison, acknowledging his guilty plea and his remorse, but noting that he “lied in an investigation that was important to national security.”

Papadopoulos was the second person ordered to prison in the sprawling, 16-month Russia collusion investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It came just over two weeks after two former top Trump aides were convicted of felony crimes in cases that grew out of the probe.

Trump suggested the conviction was trivial for a probe that has cost millions since it launched in May 2017. “14 days for $28 MILLION – $2 MILLION a day, No Collusion. A great day for America!” Trump tweeted.

Trump ignored the 35 indictments, five guilty pleas and one trial conviction Mueller has racked up so far.





Addressing a gathering of some 2,500 delegates attending the second World Hindu Congress in Chicago, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat yesterday urged Hindus to unite and organise.

“The Hindus don’t live to oppose anybody. We even allow the pests to live. There are people who may oppose us. You have to tackle them without harming them,” Bhagwat said.

“In the initial days of our work, when our karkyakartas (workers) used to talk to the Hindus about organising them, they used to say ‘sher kabhi jhund mein nahi chalta’ (a tiger doesn’t move in a pack). But even a lion or a Royal Bengal tiger… if he is alone, wild dogs can invade and destroy him,” Bhagwat said.

“We have to come together,” the RSS chief said. “It is an opportune moment. We have stopped our descent. We are contemplating how to ascend. We are not an enslaved, downtrodden nation. The people are in dire need of our ancient wisdom.”

The World Hindu Congress marks the 125th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s historic speech at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1893 in Chicago.



Fifteen persons, including seven Indians, have been indicted in a multimillion-dollar scam which defrauded over 2,000 US citizens, resulting in over $5.5 million in losses, the US Department of Justice said on Friday.

The scam involved call centre operators who called potential victims while impersonating officials from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or individuals offering payday loans, US Attorney Byung J Pak said. Later, they threatened victims with arrest, imprisonment, or fines for failing to pay taxes or penalties to the government, the Justice Department said in a statement.

In connection with the scheme, seven individuals were arrested on Thursday in the US. Seven co-conspirators and five call-centres based in Ahmedabad were also charged for their alleged involvement. The indictment alleges that the defendants were involved in a sophisticated scheme organised by co-conspirators in India, including a network of call centres in Ahmedabad.


As many as 70 of the 76 students enrolled at a village primary school in Sitapur’s Pisawan block refused to partake of midday meal on Friday, complaining that it had been prepared by a Dalit woman.

The regular cook, a Yadav, had taken a day off and the school staff had asked Rama Devi, a local woman from the Arakh caste (listed as a Scheduled Caste), to fill in for him. As the word spread around the village, children’s parents gathered to protest a “lower caste” woman cooking food for their children.

Headmaster Manoj Kumar said he tried to reason with the parents when they asked their children not to have the food, but to no avail.

District Basic Education Officer Ajay Kumar said he would look into the incident when the school reopened on Monday.


Alibaba co-founder and chairman Jack Ma plans to retire from the Chinese e-commerce giant on Monday to devote his time to philanthropy focused on education, he told the New York Times in an interview.

Ma was an English teacher before starting Alibaba in 1999 and built it into a multibillion-dollar Internet colossus, becoming one of the world’s richest men and a revered figure in his homeland.

His own worth has soared along with that of the company, which was valued at USD 420.8 billion based on its share price at the close of trade on Friday.

Ma told The New York Times that he plans to step down from the company on Monday—his 54th birthday—referring to his departure as “the beginning of an era” rather than an end.


India’s susceptibility to quality swing bowling once again came to the fore as they struggled to reach 174 for six after England’s tail wagged considerably to give the hosts an upperhand on the second day of the fifth and final cricket Test here on Saturday.

India still trail England by another 158 runs with four wickets in hand and three full day’s play remaining in the match.

Courtesy birthday boy Jos Buttler’s 89 and his 98-run ninth-wicket stand with Stuart Broad (38), England managed a decent first innings score of 332 after they were struggling at 198 for seven at the end of first day’s play.

In reply, India’s top-order disappointed once again with Shikhar Dhawan (3) failing once again in what could be his last Test innings for a considerable period of time.

KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara made identical 37 to stitch together 64 runs for the second wicket to stabilise the Indian innings before the English bowlers got back into the groove.

At stumps, debutant Hanuma Vihari was unbeaten on 25 with Ravindra Jadeja (8 not out) for company as India lost their way after tea.


Naomi Osaka had not even celebrated her second birthday when Serena Williams had won her first title at US Open. Now with Osaka a 20-year-old, training in Florida having come to New York at 3-years-old, she beat her much senior opponent 6-2, 6-4 to win the US Open title on Saturday.

Osaka became the first Japanese player – man or woman – to win a grand slam title.

But Osaka’s victory may only be a footnote to what is sure to go down as one of the most infamous matches ever played at Flushing Meadows.

The chaotic finish filled with screaming, tears and jeers cast a cloud over what should have been Osaka’s shining moment.

With Osaka in control of the match after taking the first set, Portuguese chair umpire Carlos Ramos sent Williams into a rage when he handed the 23-time Grand Slam champion a code violation in the second game of the second set after he spotted the American’s coach Patrick Mouratoglou making some hand signals from the player’s box.

A string of bad behaviour followed from Williams and she went on to incur a point penalty for smashing her racket before being slapped with a game penalty at 4-3 down after she launched into a verbal attack against Ramos, accusing him of being “a liar” and “a thief for stealing a point from me”.

The game penalty put Osaka 5-3 up.

Patrick Mouratoglou later admitted he had been coaching but in another strange twist an unrepentant Williams continued to deny she had received any advice and was instead a victim of sexism.

“He (Ramos) alleged that I was cheating, and I wasn’t cheating,” said Williams. “I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things. I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff. “For me to say ‘thief’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark.”

Almost lost in the chaos was a fearless and cool display from Osaka. Before Williams’s meltdown Osaka had already put the 36-year-old under rarely seen pressure.


The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not and never persist in trying to set people right. – Hannah Whitall Smith


Eric is sitting at the bar staring morosely into his beer. Tom walks in and sits down. After trying to start a conversation several times and getting only distracted grunts he asks Eric what the problem is.”Well,” said Eric, “I ran afoul of one of those women’s questions women ask. Now I’m in deep shit at home.”

“What kind of question?, asked Tom.

“My wife asked me if I would still love her when she was old, fat and ugly.”

“That’s easy,” said Tom. “You just say ‘Of course I will’.”

“Yeah”, said Eric, “That’s what I did, except I said ‘Of course I DO.'”

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