Newsletter Sept 25, 2018




 The Congress yesterday intensified its offensive against the Narendra Modi government on the Rafale issue by petitioning the Central Vigilance Commission to register a case of alleged corruption and seize all documents relating to the deal.

In a fresh twist to the Rafale purchase agreement, the party stopped short of demanding cancellation of the deal, saying it should not be irreversible. The ruling BJP returned fire, terming the issue as an “international conspiracy against PM Modi” and citing tweets by former Pakistan minister Rehman Malik, who called Congress president Rahul Gandhi India’s “next Prime Minister”.

The Congress advocated reversibility of the Rafale deal when asked if it wanted the deal cancelled. “We have no issue with the Rafale jets. But the deal has to be examined. All documents have to be frozen. The government must send a warning to Dassault Aviation that jets could be returned if something is found wrong with the deal. We are not for irreversibility of the deal,” said Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi.

Petitioning the CVC, a delegation of Congress leaders demanded a probe into the “Rs 41,000-crore scam” involving alleged undue benefits to a private industrialist at the cost of defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

The BJP in turn said there was “an international conspiracy” behind the attack on the government and any such probe could “expose the country’s defence preparedness to our enemies and opponents”. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while acknowledging “there is a perception war”, said the BJP will launch a nationwide campaign to counter the “smear” campaign by the Congress.

Echoing Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s remarks attacking Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Sitharaman said former French President Francois Hollande’s remarks which came after Rahul Gandhi’s tweet that there would be “some big bunker buster bombs” could not have been coincidental. “There is a certain desperation to make the government blemished on the issue of corruption,” she said.

Speaking for the BJP, Minister of State Gajendra Singh Shekhawat alleged an “international conspiracy” that involved Rahul Gandhi, and said it was all to “demoralise” the Indian Air Force and “weaken the country’s defence”.

Adding a fresh twist, the BJP alleged that the Congress wanted the deal to be cancelled as Gandhi’s brother-in-law Robert Vadra wanted the defence contract for his businessman friend Sanjay Bhandari.



 As opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih claimed victory in the Maldives, India heaved a sigh of relief and congratulated him — even before the official results of the presidential elections were announced Monday.

Solih defeated incumbent Abdulla Yameen in a dramatic election, following reports over the previous week of attempts at voter intimidation and the absence of credible international observers to monitor the poll process amid fears of rigging.

According to the Maldives Foreign Ministry, Maldivian Democratic Party candidate Solih won with 1,34,616 votes, against Yameen’s 96,132 votes. Of the 2,62,135 eligible voters, it said, 2,33,877 cast their votes in 472 ballot boxes, marking a turnout of 89.22 per cent.

Signalling the impact of the result on India, which had been at loggerheads with the Yameen government over a number of issues, the Ministry of External Affairs “heartily” congratulated Solih and hoped that the “Election Commission will officially confirm the result at the earliest”.

In the evening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called up Solih to congratulate him and convey “his good wishes for the strengthening of democracy, peace and prosperity in Maldives” under the President-elect.

Solih was backed by former presidents Mohamed Nasheed and Abdul Maumoon.

South Block, which saw Yameen moving closer to China in recent years, will hope that Male will now take care of India’s political and security interests. Yameen had asked India to take back two of its Army choppers, placed curbs on hundreds of work visas for Indians, and signed a new Free Trade Agreement with Beijing. It had also signed up for China’s ambitious One Belt One Road infrastructure projects.



Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said that the government is ready to talk with everyone in Kashmir and that the impasse will be resolved since the “problem is not increasing”.

Speaking to mediapersons on the sidelines of a central zonal council meeting in Lucknow, Singh said, “I think the (Kashmir) matter would be resolved, as the problem is not increasing. We are ready to talk to everyone. As far as terrorism is concerned, all security agencies are working in coordination.”

The minister said, “Whatever terrorism there is in Kashmir, it is all Pakistan-sponsored.”



 The Central Information Commission (CIC) on Monday asked the Central Public Information Officers of the PMO, Ministries of External Affairs and Home to place all “so-called classified” papers before the PM and Home Minister to declassify documents relating to the death of former PM Lal Bahadur Shastri.

Disposing of a RTI application, the CIC said except a medical report nothing has been disclosed and the mystery was being allowed to persist and raised questions that need to be answered by the ministries concerned, in response to the RTI, family members of Lal Bahadur Shastri and people. Shastri died in Tashkent, then Soviet Russia on January 11, 1966.

Since the records were not classified under Official Secrets Act but by individual ministry, the CIC sought to know, which ministry did so; whether papers related to Shastri’s death were classified as top secret/secret/confidential; justification to invoke part of the RTI Act to deny; period for classification; status of any move by any ministry to consider declassification, and finally, using the doctrine of severability, portion of document classified could be blocked or deleted.





The U.S. and China imposed fresh tariffs on each other’s goods on Monday as the world’s biggest economies showed no signs of backing down from an increasingly bitter trade dispute.

Soon after the new duties went into effect, China accused the U.S. of engaging in “trade bullyism” and said it was intimidating other countries to submit to its will, the official Xinhua news agency said.

But Beijing also said it was willing to restart trade negotiations with the U.S. if the talks are “based on mutual respect and equality”.

U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and retaliatory tariffs by Beijing on $60 billion worth of U.S. products took effect at midday Asian time, though the initial level of the duties was not as high as earlier feared.

The U.S. will levy tariffs of 10% initially, rising to 25% at the end of 2018. Beijing has imposed rates of 5-10% and warned it would respond to any rise in U.S. tariffs on Chinese products accordingly.

The two sides had already slapped tariffs on $50 billion worth of each other’s goods earlier this year.

For U.S. consumers, the new duties could translate into higher prices for Chinese products ranging from vacuum cleaners to technology gear such as home modems and routers, while U.S. goods targeted by Beijing include liquefied natural gas and certain types of aircraft.

Economists warn that a protracted dispute will eventually stunt growth across the globe.



The Italian government on yesterday adopted a heavily-criticised security decree which will make it easier to expel migrants and strip them of Italian citizenship.

The new bill is “a step forward to make Italy safer,” far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said on Facebook.

President Sergio Mattarella has 60 days to sign the legislation and then it goes to Parliament for approval.



 A second woman has reportedly accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, a charge that can further complicate the confirmation process of US President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.

Justice Kavanaugh already faces a separate allegation of sexual assault made by Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University, who claims Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her at a high school party in early 1980s.

Ford and Kavanaugh are set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday to address the allegations after a week of fraught public negotiations between Ford’s attorneys and Senate Republicans.

The latest sexual assault allegation dated back to the 1983-84 academic school year, when Justice Kavanaugh was a freshman at Yale University, the New Yorker magazine said, adding that at least two Senate Democrats were investigating the allegation. The magazine identified the woman as Deborah Ramirez (53). She attended Yale with Justice Kavanaugh, where she studied sociology and psychology, the magazine said.

“This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. The people who knew me then know that this did not happen and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple,” Kavanaugh said.





Flash floods and landslides triggered by heavy rain in parts of north India led to the death of at least 22 people in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have issued a red alert.

Water levels in rivers rose across the region, with the level in Pong Dam nearing danger mark. Bhakra Beas Management Board announced the release of 49,000 cusecs of water from Pong dam at 3 pm on Tuesday into Beas river. Around 1 lakh cusecs were released late night from Ropar barrage into Sutlej. Administration of these districts were directed to maintain vigilance. On Punjab government’s request, Army columns were kept on standby.

Haryana put its officers on high alert following increase in water level in Yamuna. At 8 pm on Monday, 2.16 lakh cusecs of water was released from Hathnikund Barrage in Yamunanagar district. Water was likely to reach Delhi in 72 hours. However, officers said that Yamuna and Ghaggar rivers in Haryana were below the danger mark.



A special CBI court on Monday sent Chhattisgarh Congress president Bhupesh Baghel in judicial remand for 14 days for involvement in allegedly circulating a fake pornographic CD of state PWD minister Rajesh Munat.

While the charges against him were bailable, Baghel told the court that he is innocent, and since this is a political attack, he would not apply for bail or employ a lawyer, and will begin a satyagraha in jail. The court then sent him to judicial custody.

With Assembly polls now weeks away, this comes six days after a police crackdown on Congress workers in Bilaspur. After Baghel was sent to jail, the opposition party, dubbing the Raman Singh government in the state dictatorial, called for a mass “jail bharo andolan” on Tuesday.



Amid criticism over the state government’s functioning and demands by Congress for dissolution of the House, Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday dropped two ailing senior ministers, Francis D’Souza and Pandurang Madkaikar, and inducted two MLAs into his ministry.

Parrikar, who is undergoing treatment for a pancreatic ailment in AIIMS, carried out a minor reshuffle a day after BJP president Amit Shah said he would continue as the chief minister, putting to rest speculations over a leadership change in the state.

Shah had also said that there would be a cabinet reshuffle and reallocation of portfolios very soon.


After the rescue of Commander Abhilash Tomy from the Indian Ocean’s remote southern part, on Monday, the Navy now faces a challenge to quickly transport the injured officer to get him treated for his back injury.

Commander Tomy was participating in the Golden Globe Race 2018 on board the indigenously built sailing vessel ‘Thuriya’. A huge storm with 50 feet high waves hit the sailing vessel on September 21. The vessels sailing mast broke and the Naval officer was thrown around resulting in a back injury.

A French fishing vessel, ‘FV Osiris’, that has rescued the Naval officer is taking him to tiny French held islands of Amsterdam, some 180 km north of the rescue site. The 10 sq km island is a French outpost. It has no landing strip to land a plane but has berthing jetty for a ship. It has a French doctor available, who can examine Commander Tomy and discuss the matter with Indian doctors and decide the further course of action.

From the Amsterdam islands the nearest place where a plane can land is Mauritius, some 3,111 km west. A warship INS Satpura is expected to reach islands of Amsterdam by Friday. From there, at its top speed, INS Satpura can reach Mauritius in 3 days.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Pakyong airport in Sikkim on Monday, putting the Himalayan state on the aviation map. Located 30km from Gangtok, Pakyong will become the country’s 100th operational airport when the first scheduled flight lands there on October 4.

The 201-acre picturesque airport is located at an altitude of 4,500ft above sea level and has a 1,700-metre tabletop runway certified for operations of small fixed wing aircraft like ATR, CRJ and Bombardiers. It was constructed at a cost of Rs 605 crore after shaving off a mountain top to build the runway.

“With Pakyong, we have hit a century. In 67 years since Independence, we had just 65 airports, less than one airport per year. In the past four years, we have added 35 new airports at the rate of nine airports a year,” the PM said.


For the third time in a month, crippled infrastructure conglomerate IL&FS Financial Services yesterday defaulted on interest payments on commercial papers. The interest payment on the papers were due on Monday, the company informed the stock exchanges.

The company said it will not be able to access commercial papers market for up to six months from the date of repayment of this obligation. However, the company did not quantify the default amount.

Last Friday, its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Ramesh C Bawa and some key Board members had resigned amid crisis in the IL&FS group for alleged defaults in loan payments and corporate governance issues.

The infrastructure conglomerate has come under the scanner of multiple regulators, including SEBI, for alleged defaults related to financial disclosures and corporate governance. Earlier this month, it came to light that IL&FS group defaulted on a short-term loan of Rs 1,000 crore from SIDBI, while a subsidiary has also defaulted Rs 500 crore dues to the development finance institution.

Government-owned entities — banks, insurance companies and their provident and pension funds — with high exposure to various debt papers of IL&FS could emerge as the biggest losers.



BSE Sensex today suffered its worst single-day loss in seven months, extending its fall for the fifth day due to a meltdown in banking and auto stocks on liquidity concerns and a rout in global markets.

The 30-share index tanked 536.58 points or 1.46% to settle at a two-month low of 36,305.02, logging its biggest single-day loss since February 6 when it declined by 561.22 points.

This is the weakest closing since July 11 when it settled at 36,265.93. The index dropped a total 1,785.62 points or more than 5% in five sessions.

Liquidity concerns and reports that China has called off planned trade talks with the US weighed on the market sentiment, brokers said.

The rupee ended sharply lower by 43 paise to 72.63 against the US dollar after crude prices soared ahead of impending US sanctions on Iran.



Having already sealed their place in the final of the Asia Cup with successive wins over Bangladesh and Pakistan, defending champions India will now face a resurgent Afghanistan in the final match of the Super-4 stage at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium today.

India will be aiming to continue their dominance over the Asian newbies, who have managed to give a tough fight in their narrow defeats to the likes of Pakistan and Bangladesh in their Super-4 clashes. While Pakistan managed to win a last-over thriller over the Afghans by three wickets, Bangladesh on Sunday pipped Afghanistan by three runs to set up a virtual semifinal with Pakistan on Wednesday.

Rohit Sharma and the team management could opt to rest some of the main players ahead of the final and test the bench strength.



 The spectre of spotfixing in cricket has reared its head again, with ICC revealing on Monday that as many as five international captains have been approached by bookies over the past 12 months.

The ICC added that Afghanistan’s wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad had been approached during the ongoing Asia Cup with an offer to underperform in the Afghanistan Premier League T20 tournament, which is to be played in Sharjah in October.

These incidents have raised fresh concern over whether the game’s anti-corruption measures are strong enough to thwart persistent efforts by bookies to approach cricketers.

ICC Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) general manager Alex Marshall revealed that of the five international captains, four are from the ICC’s Full Member nations. Marshall claimed that most, if not all, bookies were Indians.



 Sensex 36,305 (-536), Nifty 10,975 (-168), Trading Value NSE (Rs.crores) 42,195

Nasdaq 7.993 (+6) Dow 26,562 (-181), S&P 2,919 (-10)

US$-Rs. 72.54 GBP-Rs. 95.11, Euro-Rs. 85.28, UAE Dhm-Rs.19.74, Can$-Rs. 56.07, Aus$- Rs. 52.69

GBP 0.76 /US$, Euro 0.85 /US$, Jap.Yen 112.64 /US$, Aus$ 1.37 /US$, Sing 1.36 /US$, Bang Taka 82.99 /US$, Can$ 1.29 /US$, Mal Ring 4.13 /US$,

Pak Re 123.17 /US$, Phil Peso 54.20 /US$, Russian Rouble 66.06 /US$, NZ$ 1.50 /US$, Thai Baht 32.38 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 27.95 /US$

Bitcoin – USD 5,723

Dollar Index 93.77 Brent Crude 81.35 BDI 1413

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,198 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 3024 / 2936, Silver (Rs. Per KG) 40,000



 We should not permit tolerance to degenerate into indifference. – Margaret Chase Smith



Old man Murray goes to the doctor with a very worried look on his face. “Doctor,” he says, “You’ve got to help me. Do you remember those voices in my head I always complain about?”

“Yes,” the doctor replies.

“Well they’ve suddenly gone away,” Murray says.

“So what’s the problem?”

“I think I’m going deaf.”

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