Newsletter Sept 19, 2018




Two days after the Left Unity panel swept the JNU students’ union elections, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Tuesday alleged that there were forces within campus “waging a war against India”, and they were “also seen with elected representatives of the institution’s students’ union”.

Sitharaman, an alumnus of the university, said during an interaction with journalists at the Indian Women’s Press Corps that she felt “sad at many things happening” in the university in the last few years. “The kind of things happening in last few years have not been encouraging at all. It is very different to have a party, whose ideology I may not agree (with), but the way in which they have probably got led by forces which are anti-India — when I say anti-India, definitely it is a stated position they are waging a war against India in their pamphlets and their brochures…,” she said.

“Such people leading the JNUSU or JNUSU members openly participating with such programmes… you don’t need to hesitate to say anti-India led them,” she said. “There are forces which are waging a war against India and it is they who are also seen with elected representatives of the students’ union. That makes me feel uneasy,” she said.

The JNUSU, in a statement, said it was “deeply dismayed” by Sitharaman’s statements. “As a former student of this university and as a senior minister, such statements calling JNUSU members anti-India and ‘waging a war against India’ are utterly baseless and condemnable,” it said. “We see this as a continuation of the systematic slander against JNU students and faculty that has resulted in numerous attacks on students and teachers, such as the one on Sanjay Kumar in Motihari, Bihar, or elsewhere,” it said.

“Time and again the imagined category of ‘anti-national’ has been invoked by the ruling dispensation to malign and clamp down on voices of resistance, may it be Bhima Koregaon or the Pathalgadi movement,” it added. “We demand that she retract such an irresponsible and baseless statement immediately, and issue an apology to JNUSU and the JNU student community for partaking in such vile slander and hate mongering.”



Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday jointly inaugurated the construction of a friendship pipeline and two railway projects through video conferencing.

The 130-km India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline Project will connect Siliguri in West Bengal and Parbatipur in Dinajpur district of Bangladesh. The Rs 364-crore project will be completed in 30 months and the capacity of the pipeline will be 1 million metric tons per annum.

This will be the first such pipeline through which diesel will be supplied to Bangladesh. Initially, Bangladesh will receive 2.5 lakh tonnes of diesel per annum and gradually, the supply will be increased to 4 lakh tonnes.

Besides the pipeline, the two leaders also inaugurated the construction of the third and fourth dual-gauge rail lines in the Dhaka-Tongi section and the dual-gauge rail line in the Tongi-Joydebpur section of Bangladesh Railway.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said she would expect continued support from India for developing Bangladesh. “I look forward to continued support from the government of India in our development pursuit. I’m quite sure we’ll get such many happy events in the days ahead for the welfare of our people,” she said.



Terming senior Congress leader Kamal Nath’s petition alleging duplication of voters in the voters’ list in Madhya Pradesh as “completely frivolous”, the Election Commission on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that a political party cannot seek direction to it to conduct elections in a particular manner.

In his petition, Nath has also sought random verification of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines in the upcoming Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh where the Congress is out of power for the last 15 years.

He wanted random verification of VVPAT slips with EVM votes at 10 per cent of polling booths in every constituency “to ensure free and fair elections”. A similar petition has been filed by Rajasthan Congress president Sachin Pilot.

The Supreme Court had on August 23 issued notice to the Election Commission on petitions filed by Nath and Pilot alleging duplication of voters in the voters’ list in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

The EC affidavit read, “The petitioner and the political party to which he stands affiliated cannot approach this court time and again so as to re-agitate the same issue and interfere in the functioning of a constitutional authority.” However, the EC said it was open to suggestions by all political parties. The suggestions made by the petitioner and the Congress had already been duly considered by it, the EC said, seeking dismissal of Nath’s petition.



 Recalling the words of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College which became the Aligarh Muslim University, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat Tuesday nuanced the Sangh line of every Indian being a Hindu.

Speaking on the second day of a three-day RSS lecture series event in New Delhi, Bhagwat said he will “respect” the sentiments of those who wish to be called “Bharatiya” and not Hindu.

He recalled Syed Ahmad Khan’s speech at a function organised by the Arya Samaj community to felicitate him for becoming “the first Muslim barrister”. He said Khan told the gathering “Mujhe bada dukh hua ki aapne humko apne me nahin shumaar kiya… kya hum Bharat Mata ke putra nahin hain?… arre itihaas mein badal gayi hamari puja ki padyati, aur kya badla hai? (I am very upset that you did not consider me one of your own. Am I not a son of Mother India? Nothing has changed except our ways of worship).”

Bhagwat said that this was the sentiment among people of undivided India until 1881 before it disappeared over time. “We need to return that. If you do not want to call that Hindu, as we do, call it Bharatiya. We will respect what you say,” he said.





 US President Donald Trump on Tuesday slapped 10 per cent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports and the duties will rise to whopping 25% at the end of the year, triggering a strong response from Beijing which vowed to take “countermeasures”.

Escalating the trade war with the world’s second largest economy, Trump alleged that China had been unwilling to change its unfair trade practices.

He said the new additional tariff structure would give fair and reciprocal treatment to American companies. The tariffs on $200 billion worth of products comes on top of the $50 billion worth already taxed earlier this year.

The next wave of tariffs, which are scheduled to go into effect on September 24, will start at 10 per cent before climbing to 25% on January 1.  The staggered increase will partially reduce the toll of price increases for holiday shoppers buying Chinese imports in the coming months.

“Further, if China takes retaliatory action against our farmers or other industries, we will immediately pursue phase three, which is tariffs on approximately $267 billion of additional imports,” Trump warned.

China in turn announced a tariff hike on $60 billion of U.S. products.

The announcement followed a warning by an American business group that a “downward spiral” in their conflict appeared certain following Mr. Trump’s penalties on $200 billion of Chinese goods.

American companies and trading partners including the European Union and Japan have long standing complaints about Chinese market barriers and industrial policy. But they object to Trump’s tactics and warn the dispute could chill global economic growth and undermine international trade regulation.

The American Chamber of Commerce in China warned Washington is underestimating Beijing’s determination to fight back.



Russia on Tuesday accused Israel of indirectly causing a Russian military plane to be shot down near Syria’s Mediterranean coast, and threatened to retaliate against Israel for what it described as a hostile act.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said the Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft, with 15 Russian service personnel on board, was brought down by anti-aircraft batteries of Moscow’s ally, Syria, in a friendly fire incident.

But the ministry said it held Israel responsible because, at the time of the incident, Israeli fighter jets were mounting air attacks on Syria targets and had only given Moscow one minute’s warning, putting the Russian aircraft in danger of being caught in the cross-fire.

“We view the actions of the Israeli military as hostile,” Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Russian state television. “As a result of the irresponsible actions of the Israeli military, 15 Russian service personnel perished.”





Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday called the people of Varanasi his ” maalik” (master) and “high-command”, virtually kicking off his campaign for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from his parliamentary constituency.

“Besides making me Prime Minister, you have also assigned me the job of an MP. This is why I am giving you a small glimpse of the work that I have done in the last four years,” Modi said, listing the development projects taken up in the constituency. “You are my master; you are my high command. So I am giving you the report of every penny that I have spent on Varanasi,” he added.

He focused exclusively on Varanasi in his 40-minute speech as he addressed students and local BJP supporters at the amphitheatre of Banaras Hindu University, a day after celebrating his 68th birthday with pupils of two city schools.

The Prime Minister asked his audience four times whether they had seen any change in the city in the last four years. The crowd remained silent before eventually nodding in affirmation and moving their hands when Modi repeated his query for the second and third time.



While the BJP said that Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu was reprimanded by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for his conduct in Pakistan during a meeting on Monday, the cricketer turned minsiter on Tuesday said that the meeting was “fruitful” and the External Affairs Minister told him that she was preparing a formal request to take up the issue of the Kartarpur shrine corridor with the neighbouring country.

Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said that Swaraj has officially announced that there is no proposal from Pakistan to open the Kartarpur corridor. “Now it is clear that Sidhu deliberately lied to the people,” she said, challenging Sidhu to “show proof of clearance given by the Pakistan government to open the Kartarpur corridor”.

Harsimrat also said that Sidhu had “even resorted to mischievous conduct by using senior Congress leader M S Gill to take time from the External Affairs minister and then tagging along with Gill to meet Sushma Swaraj”. “This is the reason Sushma ji snubbed Sidhu and asked him why he had misused the political clearance given to him to visit Pakistan to act in this irresponsible unpatriotic manner,” Harsimrat said.

Denying reports that Swaraj had not given an appointment to Sidhu, Sidhu showed a text message from Swaraj’s personal staff for a meeting with her at 10.30 am on Monday, “I took Gill sahib along as he has a huge contribution for Punjab, he knows these issues. He has made every effort for this cause.”



ICICI Bank is in talks with the SEBI to settle alleged regulatory lapses involving its managing director and chief executive officer Chanda Kochhar, Videocon group and NuPower Renewables, a company run by Chanda Kochhar’s husband Deepak Kochhar, through the consent mechanism, chairman of the capital market regulator Ajay Tyagi said on Tuesday.

Under the consent settlement process, an entity facing a probe by Sebi is subjected to certain fees and restrictions without admission or denial of alleged irregularities and the regulator thereafter drops its charges and investigations with a caveat that all disclosures made to it are correct.

Tyagi said the regulator has received the reply of the bank to its show-cause notice with respect to a probe into alleged lapses in disclosure norms by Kochhar under the securities law.



In what is a major milestone in reduction of child deaths in India, the country’s under five mortality rate, for the first time, has been estimated at 39 deaths per 1,000 live births, the same as the global average. But the gender gap in child survival remains far below the global average — it means that girl children, after they are born, face discrimination in India, according to new mortality estimates released as part of a report by UNICEF, WHO, UN Population Division and the World Bank Group.

The under-five mortality of the girl child is 2.5 per cent higher (40 deaths per 1,000 live births) than the under-five mortality of the boy child (39 deaths per 1,000 live births). This gender gap has reduced significantly given that the difference was nearly 10 per cent in 2012. Globally, girl child survival rates are 11 per cent higher than boys.

This is in line with government data which show that in sick newborn care units across the country, there is a 60:40 ratio of boys and girls admitted. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has also flagged this issue to states but it has not borne results. This year’s Economic Survey estimated that 21 million Indian girls are unwanted — parents wanted a boy but had a girl instead.



 Reliance communications is planning to develop 133-acre infotech park Dhirubhai Ambani Knowledge City (DAKC) in Navi Mumbai into 30 million sqft of commercial space as part of its asset monetisation plan. The development will result in creating an area that is equivalent to 75 Nariman Points (Mumbai’s central business district) or 10 new Bandra-Kurla Complexes (Mumbai’s swanky business hub), Anil Ambani said at the 14th annual general meeting.

“As we have moved out of the mobile sector, we will monetise at an appropriate stage our enterprise business. Reliance Realty will be the engine of growth for us,” he said. The valuation of this project, according to an HDFC Realty study, is estimated to be over Rs 250 billion, he said. RCom plans to develop the DAKC in 10 years. Around 3 mn square feet is already ready for commercial use and will be rented starting this year, Ambani said, adding that he expected revenue accruals through it this year itself.



 Don’t let the recent rally in the Indian stock market sweep you off your feet, for the party may be ending soon.

At least, that’s what Goldman Sachs seems to think.

For the first time since March 2014, the investment firm has for multiple reasons downgraded Indian equities from “overweight” to “market-weight.”

“The risk-reward for Indian equities is less favourable at current levels. The key reasons for our less optimistic view include, among others, stretched valuations, multiple macro headwinds in the near term and election event risk,” a Goldman Sachs analyst said. “We expect markets to consolidate heading into the elections, as political uncertainty wanes and earnings accrue.”

The Goldman Sachs downgrade comes at a time when India’s benchmark stock indices Nifty and Sensex have had a stellar year. In 2018 alone, the BSE Sensex registered 22 record highs. In January it hit a record 34,382 points; by August it had breached 38,000 points, driven by the inflow of foreign funds and domestic institutional investors. This has made the Sensex among the most expensive equity markets in Asia.

However, Goldman Sachs has plenty of reasons to believe the exuberant phase may be ending. These include higher crude prices, a weakening rupee, and sluggish domestic institutional investment flows.



A complacent India survived a mighty scare before recording an unimpressive 26-run win over minnows Hong Kong in their opening group league match of the Asia Cup.

In pursuit of a stiff 286-run target, Hong Kong’s opening pair of Nizakat Khan (92) and skipper Anshuman Rath (73) added a record 174-run partnership to raise the visions of a major upset before inexperience cost them dear as they managed 259/8. Nizakat and Rath’s 174-run stand is the associate nation’s highest partnership in ODI cricket.

This was after Shikhar Dhawan found his mojo on familiar flat tracks with lack of movement helping himself to his 14th ODI century. Dhawan, who had a horrendous tour of England, cashed in on the chance against a weaker opposition on a low and slow pitch, smashing 127 off 120 balls as India scored 285/7 after being asked to bat.

Later, the Indian bowlers and fielders looked rusty till Nizakat and Rath were at the crease as the duo played with consummate ease to frustrate Rohit Sharma’s men for close to 35 overs. But it was a known fact that India just needed one wicket to tilt the match in their favour as Hong Kong doesn’t have the big stage experience and the breakthrough eventually came in the 35th over. Hong Kong lost the plot thereafter.

India take on Pakistan today – the two teams are facing off for the first time since the ICC Champions Trophy Final in June last year.



 Sensex 37,291 (-295), Nifty 11,279 (-99), Trading Value NSE (Rs.crores) 32,077

Nasdaq 7,956 (+60) Dow 26,247 (+184), S&P 2,904 (+16)

US$-Rs. 72.54 GBP-Rs. 95.37, Euro-Rs. 84.75, UAE Dhm-Rs.19.74, Can$-Rs. 55.74, Aus$- Rs. 52.25

GBP 0.76 /US$, Euro 0.85 /US$, Jap.Yen 112.14 /US$, Aus$ 1.38 /US$, Sing 1.37 /US$, Bang Taka 83.00 /US$, Can$ 1.30 /US$, Mal Ring 4.13 /US$,

Pak Re 123.18 /US$, Phil Peso 54.07 /US$, Russian Rouble 67.66 /US$, NZ$ 1.51 /US$, Thai Baht 32.53 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 27.99 /US$

Bitcoin – USD 6,274

Dollar Index 94.22 Brent Crude 79.03 BDI 1356

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,199 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 3023 / 2936, Silver (Rs. Per KG) 39,700



 The principal use of the body is to carry the brain around; and the brain is what we are. – Thomas Edison



The husband got on one of those weighing machines at the Railway Station. The one that gives you your fortune and your weight on a little card.

“Listen to this,” he turned to his wife, “The card says I’m energetic, bright, resourceful AND a GREAT lover!”

She looked at the card and said, “And it has your weight wrong, too.”

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