Newsletter Sept 22, 2018



 A day after India accepted Pakistan’s proposal for a meeting between their Foreign Ministers in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly gathering next week, the government Friday cancelled the meeting and said “the evil agenda of Pakistan stands exposed” and the “true face” of Imran Khan, the new Prime Minister of Pakistan, has been “revealed to the world”.

Announcing New Delhi’s decision, Raveesh Kumar, official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, cited “two deeply disturbing developments” — the “brutal killings” of security personnel by Pakistan-based entities and the release of postage stamps glorifying Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani who was killed by Indian securitymen in July 2016. “Any conversation with Pakistan in such an environment would be meaningless. In view of the changed situation, there will be no meeting between the Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan in New York,” Kumar said.

Responding to the Indian announcement, Pakistan Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhary Fawad Hussain claimed that “internal politics” was behind the cancellation.

The MEA spokesperson said: “Now, it is obvious that behind Pakistan’s proposal for talks to make a fresh beginning, the evil agenda of Pakistan stands exposed and the true face of the new Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has been revealed to the world in his first few months in office.”

Chaudhary Fawad, on his part, said: “The advantage now is that the Pakistan civilian government — usually it is said that the civilian government and military are not on the same page — at this time, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initiatives have the full backing of the military. We and the military are together, we are very close to each other…So whatever the government says has the endorsement of the Army of Pakistan and vice versa. So I think this is a good chance for India and Pakistan to explore normalisation.”



 Francois Hollande, who was President of France when the deal for 36 Rafale fighter aircraft was announced and signed with India, has said Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence was chosen as the offset partner by Dassault because the Indian government had “proposed” its name.

“We didn’t have a say in that. It was the Indian government that proposed this service group (Reliance), and Dassault who negotiated with Ambani. We didn’t have a choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us,” Hollande said about the offset contract to the private Indian defence manufacturing firm.

Hours after Hollande’s comments, the French government said that it was not involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners “who have been, are being, or will be selected by French companies.”

“As it happens, agreements have already been signed by French companies with many Indian firms, both public and private, under the framework of Indian laws,” said the spokesperson of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs in a statement released by the French Embassy in New Delhi.

Opposition parties promptly targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with the Congress saying the he had lost all moral right to remain in office after the “bombshell” revelation.

“The PM personally negotiated & changed the #Rafale deal behind closed doors. Thanks to François Hollande, we now know he personally delivered a deal worth billions of dollars to a bankrupt Anil Ambani. The PM has betrayed India. He has dishonoured the blood of our soldiers,” Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

The Defence Ministry said, “The report referring to fmr French president Mr. Hollande’s statement that GOI insisted upon a particular firm as offset partner for the Dassault Aviation in Rafale is being verified. It is reiterated that neither GoI nor French Govt had any say in the commercial decision.”

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury accused the government of lying and misleading people. “This Rafale deal is a scam if there was one…” he tweeted.



As the Narendra Modi government called off a meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in New York a day after acceding to Pakistan’s request for such a meeting, the Congress on Friday said the government’s policy towards Islamabad is “a text book example” of how not to conduct foreign policy.

The Congress, which had Thursday slammed the government for accepting Pakistan’s request, said the government should show the courage and humility to accept their fault. “It is better late than never…. but it also shows that it is laughable to talk about this government’s policy on Pakistan. It’s an oxymoron, simply because there is no policy to talk about. It is knee-jerk and episodic,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said.

Senior Congress leader Manish Tewari said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi must tell the nation under whose pressure did they accede to talking to Pakistan in the first place, especially on a day a BSF jawan was murdered in the most brutal manner by the border action teams of the Pakistani Army.”

“This only further validates our oft-repeated contention that the NDA-BJP government’s policy towards Pakistan is a text book example of how not to conduct your foreign policy,” he said.

Singhvi also hit out at the government over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. He said the government is playing with the “crown of India” and treating the people of the state like “guinea pigs”. He was referring to the killing of a BSF personnel by Pakistani Rangers and the abduction and killings of three policemen by militants.“Today our self-respect is threatened. If this does not shake the government then what will? Three policemen have been abducted and killed and 10 policemen resigned. And you have the hollow explanation from the Home Ministry that yes we accept the resignations but they were not out of fear,” Singhvi said.



The Election Commission (EC) has asked the government to consider including filing of false affidavit as a “corrupt practice” under the electoral law, which would then make the candidate liable for disqualification of up to six years.

A candidate contesting an election is required to file an affidavit called Form 26 that furnishes information on her assets, liabilities, educational qualification and criminal antecedents, if any. The current penalty for lying in an affidavit filed before the EC is imprisonment of up to six months, or fine, or both. In 2011, the EC had asked the government to increase the term of incarceration to two years, to no avail.

Currently, under Section 123 of the RP Act, 1951, eight types of acts are considered corrupt practice. Bribery, appeal on grounds of religion, race and caste, creating enmity between people on the basis of religion, race and caste are among them. The punishment for being found guilty of engaging in corrupt practice range from imprisonment to having the election declared void.





An “outraged” China on Friday lodged a diplomatic protest with the US for imposing punitive sanctions on its military unit for buying Russian weapons, warning of “consequences” if the sanctions are not revoked.

The US State Department said on Thursday that the purchases of Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 surface-to-air missiles by China’s Equipment Development Department (EDD) of China’s Ministry of Defence violated US sanctions on Russia. Both the EDD and its director, Li Shangfu, have been named in Thursday’s sanctions.

Reacting to the US move, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, “China is strongly outraged by this unreasonable action of the US and lodged stern representations.”

The China-Russia defence cooperation is meant to safeguard the two nations’ legitimate interests and regional peace and stability,” he said. It targets no third country and violates no international law, he added. “We will work with Russia to implement the consensus reached by two leaders and move forward our strategic coordination,” he said, referring to the close ties between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.



 British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Friday Brexit talks with the European Union had hit an impasse, defiantly challenging the bloc to come up with their own plans a day after the bloc’s leaders savaged her proposals.

At a summit in Austria on Thursday, EU leaders rejected May’s “Chequers” plan, saying she needed to give ground on trade and customs arrangements for the UK border with Ireland.

May angrily struck back in a televised address from her Downing Street office, saying neither side should expect the impossible from the other. “Throughout this process, I have treated the EU with nothing but respect,” May said. “The UK expects the same. A good relationship at the end of this process depends on it.” Sterling extended its losses as May spoke, falling to as low as $1.3080, about 1.4 percent on the day, putting it on course for its biggest one-day drop this year, over growing fears Britain could leave the EU without any deal.



 US President Donald Trump on Friday cast doubt on the woman who accused his Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault and blamed opponents for trying to “destroy” his nominee.

After days of restrained comments about the allegations from California professor Christine Blasey Ford, Trump turned to Twitter.

“… if the attack on Dr Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents… I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!” he said.





Three Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel — a constable, a ‘follower’ and a special police officer — were abducted from their homes and shot by militants in Shopian district of South Kashmir on Friday morning.

The three police personnel who were killed have been identified as Nisar Ahmad Dhobi (38), Firdous Ahmad Kuchey (28) and Kulwant Singh (35).

On Friday morning, the trio, along with the brother of a policeman who was later released, were picked up by a group of militants from their homes in Batgund and Kapren villages in Shopian. About half-an-hour later, their bodies, riddled with bullets, were found in an orchard in nearby Lamni Wangam village.

By afternoon, several videos emerged on social media, purportedly showing SPOs announcing their decision to resign. In a statement, the Union Home Ministry said the state police had confirmed that reports on the resignations of SPOs were “untrue and motivated”. “These reports are based on false propaganda by mischievous elements,” it said.

“There are over 30,000 SPOs and their services are reviewed from time to time. Some mischievous elements are trying to project that those SPOs whose services were not renewed due to administrative reasons, have resigned,” it said.



Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s assertion that those accused under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act would not be arrested before a police investigation has bagged the support of most of his MLAs, divided the BJP’s MPs and riled NDA allies. Chouhan’s statement on Thursday, which he reiterated on Friday, runs counter to the amendments brought in by the Centre to nullify the Supreme Court order banning immediate arrests under the SC/ST Act.

Vinod Kumar Sonkar, BJP MP and Dalit Morcha chief, wanted Chouhan government to “reconsider” its decision. “It is very unfortunate that the Madhya Pradesh chief minister has taken a decision like that… He has to review his decision, it seems he has done it under some pressure. But he cannot undo the measures taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in protecting the interests of Dalits,” Sonkar SAID.

BJP ally Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) opposed Chouhan’s move. LJP central parliamentary board chairperson Chirag Paswan said, “He is doing exactly what Mayawati (BSP president) had done in her government in Uttar Pradesh when she decided that no arrest will be made in SC/ST Act without investigation.” The LJP had led the protest of SC and ST MPs who were against the Supreme Court’s March ruling that had “diluted” various key provisions of the Act.

Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment and RPI (A) leader Ramdas Athawale said that while Chouhan’s statement might have been an attempt to placate the upper caste protesters, he should have taken care to not say anything that created insecurity among Dalits.



In the decade between 2005-06 and 2015-16, India has halved its Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) — an index that looks beyond income poverty to take into account deprivations in health, education, and living standards — 54.7 per cent to 27.5 per cent. According to MPI 2018 released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, there are 271 million fewer poor people in India in this period. The report adds, “despite the massive gains made in reducing multidimensional poverty, 364 million Indians continue to experience acute deprivations in health, nutrition, schooling and sanitation.

It notes that traditionally disadvantaged groups, in terms of castes, religions etc, continue to be the poorest though they have experienced the biggest decadal reduction in MPI.



After three days of interrogation, Bishop Franco Mulakkal (54), who has been accused of repeatedly raping a nun, was arrested on Friday evening. Mulakkal, who holds a doctorate in moral theology, is the first Indian Catholic bishop to be arrested in a rape case. He will be produced before a court in Kottayam district on Saturday.

“With reasonable suspicion, the investigating officer has been convinced about the charges framed against the bishop. The probe has revealed that the bishop has committed the crime and the allegations raised against him by the nun are reasonably true,’’ said Kottayam SP Hari Sankar.

Police sources said while Mulakkal stuck to his stand that he did not rape the nun, he was arrested following contradictions in his statements, circumstantial evidence, statements of witnesses, and the nun’s statement under Section 164 of the CrPC.



 A political row broke out on Friday over the UGC communication to varsities to observe Sep 29 as “Surgical strike day” with the ruling TMC in West Bengal saying it will not be followed in the state and joined the Congress to allege the move was part of BJP’s political agenda but the Centre asserted this reflected patriotism and not politics.

The Centre, however, said it is not compulsory for the universities and the higher educational institutions to celebrate the second anniversary of the surgical strikes on terror camps in PoK. An advisory, not a direction, has been issued to universities, said Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar.

Talk sessions by ex-servicemen about sacrifices by the armed forces, special parades by the NCC and visit to exhibitions are among the prescribed events by the UGC for the celebration.

Javadekar rejected the criticism by opposition parties as “absolutely ridiculous and false”. He told reporters in Delhi the ruling BJP differed with the Congress as it only gave advice to institutes to follow a programme while the Opposition party made its decisions compulsory when it was in power. He said students needed to be informed about the surgical strikes, and what military and civil works soldiers do.



 Faced with “incessant disputes” over inspection of private medical colleges by the Medical Council of India, the Supreme Court has asked former UIDAI Chairman and technocrat Nandan Nilekani to examine if a computer network-based technological solution was possible for such inspections.

“We…request Nandan Nilekani to go into this problem and give concrete suggestions to this court at the earliest,” said the Bench.

It posted the matter for hearing after six weeks.



India captain Rohit Sharma played a classy knock after comeback man Ravindra Jadeja picked up a four-wicket haul to set up a seven-wicket win over Bangladesh in their Super-4 match at the Asia Cup.

All-rounder Jadeja made a roaring return to limited-overs cricket, helping India dismiss Bangladesh for 173 after Rohit opted to chase at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

India then cruised to victory in 36.2 overs, with 7 wickets to spare, courtesy Rohit, who struck an unbeaten 83 off 104 balls, his second consecutive fifty-plus score of the tournament.

In the other match yesterday, Pakistan beat Afghanistan by three wickets in a thrilling encounter. Batting first, Afghanistan scored 257/6 in 50 overs. In reply, Pakistan reached home with just 3 balls and 3 wickets to spare.



Sensex 36,841 (-280), Nifty 11,143 (-91), Trading Value NSE (Rs.crores) 66,046

Nasdaq 7.987 (-41) Dow 26,744 (+87), S&P 2,930 (-1)

US$-Rs. 71.92 GBP-Rs. 94.66, Euro-Rs. 84.60, UAE Dhm-Rs.19.57, Can$-Rs. 55.69, Aus$- Rs. 52.39

GBP 0.75 /US$, Euro 0.84 /US$, Jap.Yen 112.63 /US$, Aus$ 1.37 /US$, Sing 1.36 /US$, Bang Taka 82.87 /US$, Can$ 1.29 /US$, Mal Ring 4.12 /US$,

Pak Re 123.34 /US$, Phil Peso 54.10 /US$, Russian Rouble 66.44 /US$, NZ$ 1.49 /US$, Thai Baht 32.36 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 27.88 /US$

Bitcoin – USD 6,071

Dollar Index 93.79 Brent Crude 78.80 BDI 1413

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,200 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 3024 / 2936, Silver (Rs. Per KG) 40,100



 This time, like all times, is a very good one if we but know what to do with it. – Ralph Waldo Emerson



 Mildred, the church gossip and self-appointed monitor of the church’s morals, kept sticking her nose into other people’s business.

One day she accused Frank, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his old pickup parked in front of the town’s only bar one afternoon. She emphatically told Frank, (and several others), that everyone seeing it there would know what he was doing!

Frank, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and just turned and walked away. He didn’t explain, defend, or deny. He simply said nothing.

Later that evening, Frank quietly parked his pickup in front of Mildred’s house, walked home… and left it there all night.

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