Newsletter Sept 18, 2018




Congress veteran Pranab Mukherjee created a flutter in political and social media circles yesterday with his near endorsement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership on the latter’s 68th birthday. “I extend my warm wishes to Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi on his Birthday. May you be blessed with a long, healthy & happy life and continue to serve the nation for many more years to come. #CitizenMukherjee,” former President wrote on his Twitter timeline, triggering a trail of both bouquets and brickbats.

Mukherjee’s politically nuanced message on the PM’s birthday took the Congress by surprise, with the party refraining from any official comment on what the former President had to say.

The former President’s message followed a previous birthday greeting for the PM by Congress president Rahul Gandhi who wrote, “Happy birthday to our PM Narendra Modi ji! Wishing him good health and happiness always.”



Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Monday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi couldn’t act against his finance minister for letting Vijay Mallya escape because he had himself violated norms to help his industrialist friend Anil Ambani in the Rafale deal.

The suggestion was the Prime Minister was incapable of fighting corruption because of his own failings.

“Vijay Mallya held a meeting with finance minister Arun Jaitley just before his escape. He said I am going to London. Jaitley himself accepted this. So, the thief runs away after telling the finance minister. The finance minister doesn’t tell the CBI – catch him, he is going to London. Mallya runs away with Rs 9,000 crore,” Rahul said.

“The finance minister let him go and the Prime Minister doesn’t act against him. PM is silent. Jaitleyji, you let him go because you wanted to help Mallya and your boss, who snatched the (Rafale offset) contract from HAL to give it to his friend Ambani, supported it.”

Rahul recalled how the Prime Minister couldn’t reply to his questions in Parliament on the Rafale deal as he ripped into the government.


With Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar hospitalised, Goa’s main opposition party, Congress, submitted a memorandum to Governor Mridula Sinha on Monday, staking claim to form an alternate government.

Parrikar, 62, who is suffering from a pancreatic ailment, is currently admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi.

The Congress, which has 16 members in the 40-member state Assembly, submitted a memorandum to the Governor, urging her not to dissolve the Assembly and instead invite the party to form the government, Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar said. He said the BJP has a habit of forcing Governor Rule in a state where they fail to rule and the Congress will not allow it to happen.

Earlier, BJP leader Ram Lal said the Goa Government was stable and no demand had been made for a change in the leadership.


The Centre on Monday asked the Supreme Court to stop hearing the public interest plea against the arrests of five Left-leaning activists last month, cautioning it would have “serious consequences” in view of a countrywide Maoist threat.

Intervening on its own without any formal notice, the Centre further argued that the apex court’s decision to hear the plea would set “a dangerous precedent”, encouraging people to “directly come to this court in every other case”.

The apex court has granted Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonzalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha and Sudha Bharadwaj the relief of house arrest till it decides the petition moved by historian Romila Thapar and others challenging the legality of the arrests.

On Monday, the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud said it would first examine the material furnished by the Maharashtra government to establish the activists’ Maoist links and “sinister designs”. “If we find the material is cooked up, we will order an SIT (special investigation team) or quash the case,” Justice Misra said.

Appearing for the Centre, additional solicitor-general Maninder Singh said the government wanted to intervene as it was opposed to the apex court taking up the matter. “Naxalism… transcends the state (Maharashtra) and beyond… it’s a very serious problem. Your Lordships must look at the overall situation relating to Naxalism,” Singh said.

He argued the apex court should not have intervened in the matter in the absence of complaints against the trial court or the investigation process, and asked that the trial court be left to deal with the case.

The next hearing is on Wednesday.


Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Monday met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and urged her to help initiate a dialogue with Pakistan for opening up of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor.

Union Minister and Akali leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal said: “External Affairs Minister (Swaraj) reprimanded Sidhu for messing up Kartarpur Sahib corridor dialogue and misusing political clearance granted for private visit by hugging military chief responsible for killing our soldiers.”

Sidhu had courted controversy by hugging Pakistan army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa. He had claimed that he did so as Bajwa told him that the Pakistan government was working out opening of the Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims from Indian state of Punjab.

Also, Swaraj is said to have told Sidhu not to “politicise” the issue of Kartarpur corridor which is quite “sensitive”.





UK Prime Minister Theresa May cautioned rebels in her party that unless they support her potential Brexit deal with the EU then they will face a potentially disorderly “no-deal” exit that the IMF said would make the UK significantly poorer.

The UK is due to leave the EU on March 29 and yet little is clear: There is, so far, no full exit agreement and some rebels in May’s Conservative Party have threatened to vote down a deal if she clinches one. “I think that the alternative to that will be having no deal,” May told BBC TV.

The fate of May’s government and her Brexit plan is in doubt because it is unclear whether she could command the 320 votes she needs in the House of Commons, the lower House of British Parliament, to approve a deal.

Recent signals from Brussels have buoyed hopes that the UK and the EU can agree and approve a proper divorce agreement before the UK leaves, though the sides are still divided on about one-fifth of the detail of a deal.

But many business chiefs and investors fear politics could scupper an agreement, thrusting the world’s fifth largest economy into a “no-deal” Brexit that they say would weaken the West, spook financial markets and block the arteries of trade.

As Britain now faces a choice between a bad Brexit deal or a damaging “no-deal” Brexit, voters should be given another referendum, London mayor Sadiq Khan said.



China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that it would strike back at the U.S. if Washington moved forward with new tariffs on $200 billion of its exports.

“If the U.S. launches any new tariff measures, China will have to take countermeasures to firmly ensure our legitimate rights and interests,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters during a regular press briefing.

Last week, Beijing welcomed Washington’s offer to hold fresh trade talks and said the two sides were discussing details.

But over the weekend the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. President Trump planned to announce tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods early this week and that the move could cause Chinese officials to cancel the talks. The U.S. imports around $500 billion in goods from China.

“An escalating trade conflict serves no one’s interests,” said Mr. Geng. In response to Mr. Trump’s threatened tariffs, Beijing has teed up tariffs of 5%-25% on $60 billion of U.S. goods.



 Russia’s Defence Ministry on Monday said that it was releasing fresh information to back its claim that the missile that downed a Malaysia Airlines flight over war-torn Ukraine in 2014 was fired by Kiev’s forces.

At a briefing, the Ministry said it was releasing the BUK missile’s serial number for the first time and said that it was produced and sent to Ukraine in the Soviet era and had not been returned to Russian territory.

The Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed outside the rebel stronghold of Donetsk on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 on board, most of them Dutch nationals.

A top Dutch investigator said his team had concluded that the plane was shot down by a Russian-made BUK missile from a Russian military brigade in the southwestern city of Kursk.

“The missile with the serial number 886847379 intended for the BUK missile system on December 29, 1986 was sent by rail transport to military unit number 20152,” said a senior military official, Nikolai Parshin, quoted by RIA Novosti. He said the military unit referred to was based in Ukraine, then a Soviet republic.





A former Ikhwan commander who later joined the Territorial Army (TA) was shot dead Monday in south Kashmir’s Kulgam by suspected militants posing as reporters. Mukhtar Ahmad Malik had come back home to mourn the death of his son, when militants fired at him from point-blank range at his home.

Malik’s son was critically injured in a road accident in Kulgam several days ago. He was in a coma at a hospital before he succumbed three days ago.

Malik is the fourth army man killed while on leave in south Kashmir by militants.

Malik’s relatives said that the suspected militants posed as reporters, and said they wanted to meet Malik. “They (militants) went inside the room where mourners were sitting,” said the relative. “Once they spotted him, they fired at him and rushed out.”



 Hours after BSP chief Mayawati said her party will enter into an alliance only if it is given a “respectable share” of seats, Samajwadi Party (SP) national president Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday said he is ready to take two steps back in order to defeat communal forces.

“I can assure you that even if I have to take two steps back in the coalition, I will, to not let communal forces come forward. What I am saying now, will be my words till the end. I am telling you about Samajwadis, netaji and us, that at least when we do a coalition, a friendship, we are not the ones to break it,” said the former UP CM.

“I can only say that the Congress should have a bigger heart and talk to all political parties and find a way for the country. We are not a national party. They are. Congress has a big responsibility. If BJP can say that they have a big chest, the Congress should at least have a bigger heart,” he said.

He reiterated his confidence in forming a successful alliance. “Everyone is fed up of the BJP and they want to remove them from power. I want to assure you that the alliance will happen in UP… We are confident of forming an alliance for 2019 elections. In the coming time, you will see that we have formed a nice coalition,” Akhilesh said.



While ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ has been the refrain of BJP’s electoral politics, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat struck a different note Monday, underlining that his organisation does not endorse the ‘mukt’ phraseology and instead favours the approach of taking along everyone.

“Hum log to sarvlok-yukt Bharat waale log hain, mukt waale nahin hain,” Bhagwat told a gathering invited by the RSS to a three-day conclave on ‘Future of Bharat: An RSS Perspective’ at the Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi.

Bhagwat said the RSS believes in the approach to unite and invite everyone. “If there has to be opposition, it should be based on factual positions,” he said.

He credited the Congress for its role in the freedom movement. He said after the 1857 War of Independence, leading figures had a brainstorming session on what led to the failure to gain freedom and they realised that one of the factors was that people lacked political understanding, and that there was need to create political awareness. “A huge movement began in the form of the Congress. There were many great souls who sacrificed a lot and continue to inspire us today. That ideology placed the nation on the road to freedom,” he said.



The government Monday proposed amalgamation of three public sector banks — Bank of Baroda, Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank — to create what will be India’s third largest bank in terms of total business at Rs 14.82 lakh crore. This step will particularly help Dena Bank, the weakest of the three, which is currently under the RBI’s Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework and has been barred from extending fresh loans.

The first major banking sector consolidation during the tenure of the NDA government was the merger of five associate banks of State Bank of India with itself. The government has also moved on Life Insurance Corporation of India’s proposal to acquire majority stake in IDBI Bank.

Announcing Monday’s decision, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government did not want a merger of weak banks and has, therefore, suggested the idea of amalgamating one weak bank and two strong banks, in order to create an entity which is able to increase banking operations. This also indicates the approach that the government may deploy in future consolidation.

“Nobody should have a worry because this amalgamated entity will increase the banking operations. Its ability to increase and expand will be inevitable,” he said.



Germany on Monday rolled out the world’s first hydrogen-powered train, signalling the start of a push to challenge the might of polluting diesel trains with costlier but eco-friendly technology.

Two bright blue Coradia iLint trains, built by French TGV-maker Alstom, began running a 100 km (62-mile) route between the towns and cities of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoerde and Buxtehude in northern Germany — a stretch normally plied by diesel trains.

“The world’s first hydrogen train is entering into commercial service and is ready for serial production,” Alstom CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge said at an unveiling ceremony in Bremervoerde, the station where the trains will be refuelled with hydrogen.

Alstom has said it plans to deliver another 14 of the zero-emissions trains to Lower Saxony by 2021, with other German States also expressing an interest.

Hydrogen trains are equipped with fuel cells that produce electricity through a combination of hydrogen and oxygen, a process that leaves steam and water as the only emissions.

Excess energy is stored in ion lithium batteries on board the train.

The Coradia iLint trains can run for around 1,000 km on a single tank of hydrogen, similar to the range of diesel trains. Alstom is betting on the technology as a greener, quieter alternative to diesel on non-electrified railway lines — an attractive prospect to many German cities scrambling to combat air pollution.



The BSE benchmark Sensex on Monday crashed over 500 points (1.33%) to slip below 38000, snapping its two sessions of gains as the measures to stem the rupee’s decline failed to boost investor sentiment.

Subdued Asian and European markets because of an escalating trade war between the US and China also didn’t go down well with the local markets.

Most of the sectoral indices (barring power, realty and utilities) on the BSE ended in the red, indicating that the negative sentiment was broad-based.

“The week has started on a negative note as shares across the globe traded under pressure amid reports that the US could soon announce a new round of tariffs on Chinese imports, setting the stage for possible reprisals by Beijing. Fresh weakness in the rupee also spoiled investor sentiment,” said Abhijeet Dey, senior fund manager-equities, BNP Paribas Mutual Fund.

In the Asian region, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 1.28 per cent, while the Shanghai Composite Index edged lower by 1.11 per cent.

The rupee floundered yet again on Monday after a two-day break, plunging 66 paise to 72.51 against the dollar



Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, the reigning world champion in the 48kg category, and Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli have been recommended for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. Mirabai was the number one pick for the award while Kohli was the second choice of the awards committee members.

The 12-member awards committee, which was headed by Justice (Retd) Indermeet Kaur Kocchar, met on Monday and finalised the list, which will be sent to the Sports Ministry for a final approval. After approval, President Ram Nath Kovind will present the awards in a ceremony on September 25.

Champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, tennis veteran Rohan Bopanna and table tennis star Manika Batra are among the 21 athletes whose names have been recommended for the Arjuna Awards this year.



 Sensex 37,586 (-505), Nifty 11,378 (-137), Trading Value NSE (Rs.crores) 29,218

Nasdaq 7,896 (-114) Dow 26,062 (-93), S&P 2,889 (-16)

US$-Rs. 72.38 GBP-Rs. 94.95, Euro-Rs. 84.40, UAE Dhm-Rs.19.70, Can$-Rs. 55.54, Aus$- Rs. 51.89

GBP 0.76 /US$, Euro 0.85 /US$, Jap.Yen 111.94 /US$, Aus$ 1.39 /US$, Sing 1.37 /US$, Bang Taka 83.11 /US$, Can$ 1.30 /US$, Mal Ring 4.13 /US$,

Pak Re 123.46 /US$, Phil Peso 54.15 /US$, Russian Rouble 68.06 /US$, NZ$ 1.52 /US$, Thai Baht 32.57 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 28.04 /US$

Bitcoin – USD 6,393

Dollar Index 94.48 Brent Crude 77.63 BDI 1357

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,199 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 3023 / 2935, Silver (Rs. Per KG) 39,700



 Never attribute to malice what can easily be attributed to stupidity. – unknown



A judge asks a defendant to please stand. “You are charged with murdering a school teacher with a chain saw.” From out in the audience a man shouts, “You lying bastard!”

“Silence in the court!” the judge shouted back. He turns to the defendant again and says, “You are also charged with killing a paperboy with a shovel.”

“You goddamned tightwad!” blurted the spectator.

“Quiet!” yelled the judge. “You are also charged with killing a mailman with an electric drill.”

“You cheap son of a…” the man starts to shout.

The Judge thunders back, “If you don”t tell me the reason for your outbursts right now, I will hold in contempt!”

“I”ve lived next to that lying bastard for ten years now, but do you think he ever had a goddamned tool when I needed to borrow one!”

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