Newsletter Sept 30, 2018




 For the third year in a row, India used the UNGA platform to hit out powerfully at Pakistan over its sponsorship of cross-border terrorism.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj accused Pakistan of being an “expert in trying to mask malevolence with verbal duplicity”, and justified India’s decision to call off the meeting with her Pakistani counterpart.

“We are accused of sabotaging the process of talks. This is a complete lie. We believe that talks are the only rational means to resolve the most complex of disputes. Talks with Pakistan have begun many times. If they stopped, it was only because of their (Pakistan’s) behaviour,” Swaraj said in her address to the 73rd session of the UNGA in New York Saturday.

Swaraj devoted seven minutes — a third of her 22-minute speech — to the issue of terrorism.

She said: “We imagined that the arrival of the 21st century would bring with it an age of common good, defined by cooperation in the quest for peace and prosperity. But here in New York, the horrific tragedy of 9/11, and in Mumbai the catastrophe of 26/11 became the nightmares that shattered our dreams. The demon of terrorism now stalks the world, at a faster pace somewhere, a slower pace elsewhere, but life-threatening everywhere.

“In our case, terrorism is bred not in some faraway land, but across our border to the west. Our neighbour’s expertise is not restricted to spawning grounds for terrorism; it is also an expert in trying to mask malevolence with verbal duplicity.”

“The most startling evidence of this duplicity was the fact that Osama bin Laden, the architect and ideologue of 9/11, was given safe haven in Pakistan,” she said.

Swaraj reminded the UN about Pakistan’s UN envoy Maleeha Lodhi showing pictures of Gaza war victims and claiming they were Kashmiris last year. “It has become something of a habit with Pakistan to throw the dust of deceit and deception against India in order to provide some thin cover for its own guilt. “Pakistan glorifies killers; it refuses to see the blood of innocents.”

Swaraj appealed to the UN to come to an agreement soon on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT).

In her speech, Swaraj also advocated reforms in the UN. “It is time to wonder if we are wandering towards the fate of the League of Nations. If 2030 is the agreed deadline for delivery on Sustainable Development Goals, then it also marks hundred years of the lapse of the League into irrelevance. Surely there is something to learn from this coincidence? The League went into meltdown because it was unwilling to accept the need for reform. We must not make that mistake.”



 Pakistan raised the Kashmir issue in the UN General Assembly on Saturday, saying the “unresolved dispute” is impacting achieving durable peace between India and Pakistan and remains a “blot on the conscience of humanity”.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, addressing the General Debate of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, said Islamabad wanted a relationship with New Delhi based on “sovereign equality and mutual respect”.

“We seek resolution of disputes through a serious and comprehensive dialogue that covers all issues of concern,” he said in his address.

On the cancellation of the Foreign Minister-level talks on the margins of the General Assembly, Qureshi said Pakistan was to talk about all issues with India but New Delhi called off the dialogue, preferring “politics over peace”.

“They used the pretext of stamps issued months ago…and depicting grave human rights violations, including pellet gun victims, as an excuse to back out from the talks,” he said.



 Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday suggested that former French President Francois Hollande may have made the recent remarks on the Rafale deal to evade questions on allegations raised about his associates receiving funds from a company.

The Indian Express had earlier reported that Reliance Entertainment had signed a pact to finance a film by French actor-producer Julie Gayet, partner of Hollande, while India was negotiating the Rafale deal with France, which led to Reliance getting the offset contract from Dassault.

Asked about the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) losing the deal, Sitharaman said that the Congress-led UPA failed HAL compared to what the NDA government has done since 2014. She said, “We have ensured them (HAL) Rs 20,000 crore worth orders every year from our side. We are giving them orders. The same HAL was given an order for 40 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) model by UPA. Only eight have been supplied so far.



Saying that the government supports the “free flow of ideas” in educational institutions, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday pointed to the move to grant greater autonomy to IIMs as a step in that direction.

Addressing the inaugural session of a conference on ‘Academic Leadership on Education for Resurgence’, the Prime Minister, referring to autonomy to IIMs, said, “Sarkar kahin nahi aayegi, koi babu aakar nahi baithega (Government will not interfere, no officer will have any role).”

The IIM Act, which came into effect on January 31, grants statutory powers to all 20 IIMs, including for appointment of directors and chairpersons and Board members. With this law, the institutes can also award degrees, instead of diplomas, to their postgraduate programmes.

Hailing this as a “landmark experiment” related to higher education, the Prime Minister said the government would take this forward to more institutions. “But I am surprised that this is not being discussed in the country. Intellectuals are silent… those who were advocating autonomy and had been writing about it for 20-25 years would not have imagined it,” the PM said, adding that these “intellectuals” were silent because they didn’t want the “credit to go to Modi”.





At least 384 persons were killed, many swept away as giant waves crashed onto beaches, when a major earthquake and tsunami hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, authorities said on Saturday.

Hundreds had gathered for a festival on the beach in the city of Palu on Friday when waves as high as six m smashed onshore at dusk, sweeping many to their death and destroying anything in their path, following a 7.5-magnitude earthquake.

“When the (tsunami) threat arose on Friday, people were still doing their activities on the beach and did not immediately run and they became victims,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the spokesman for Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency BNPB said in Jakarta. “The tsunami didn’t come by itself, it dragged cars, logs, houses, it hit everything on land,” Nugroho said, adding that the tsunami had travelled across the open sea at speeds of 800 kmph before striking the shoreline.



It is outrageous that countries such as Pakistan, Turkey and Gulf states, who have led global efforts in support of the Rohingya refugees, have turned their back on the repression of Uyghur Muslims in China, American lawmakers have said.

“We ought to especially call out the Muslim countries that are saying nothing,” Congressman Brad Sherman said during a Congressional hearing Wednesday.

“Whether that be Turkey, Pakistan, the Gulf states, it is simply outrageous that they do so little to help the Rohingya and turn their back completely on Uyghurs,” Sherman said.



Agreeing to the demands by Democrats, US President Donald Trump has ordered a limited FBI investigation into the allegations of sexual assault against his embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, throwing his Senate confirmation in doubt.

The FBI has been asked to complete its investigation in a week, meaning the confirmation of Kavanaugh, 53, as Supreme Court judge would be delayed by at least a week.

At least three women have now accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct while drunk.  The two were in high schools when the alleged incident happened in the early 1980s.






With the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) treasurer and former Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister Altaf Bukhari proposing an alliance with archrival National Conference (NC), a new political force seems to be taking shape in strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir. The NC too has hinted its “doors are open” to anyone who seeks to strengthen Article 370 and Article 35A.

“We joined hands with the BJP in the interests of Kashmir. Now the PDP and NC should join hands to defend Article 35A and Article 370,” Bukhari remarked, responding to a query.

The NC chief spokesperson, Aga Ruhullah, pointed out that the party had offered support to the PDP after the 2014 elections but the offer was declined. However, former NC minister Kangan Mian Altaf said his party was open to a “joint struggle”.



 The Election Commission’s circular that the model code of conduct is already in place in Telangana has upset all calculations of the caretaker TRS government.

The TRS is hoping to cash in on the Rs50,000-crore social welfare schemes announced by the CM since it came to power in 2014. The party was hoping to launch more schemes — KCR had proposed to address 100 rallies and meetings in 50 days — till the election schedule was announced with a view to beat the anti-incumbency against some legislators.

The timing of the EC clarification is, however, being questioned as it came 21 days after the Assembly was dissolved on September 6. The TRS has alleged that the EC issued the circular at the instance of the BJP “that is feeling nervous to face the elections”.



 Election Commissioner Sunil Arora Saturday said VVPATs will be used at all polling stations in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

“The use of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machines has been a success during elections held in the past, and keeping in view its effectiveness, the Election Commission of India is committed to provide 100 per cent VVPAT machines at all the polling stations in 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” he said.

VVPAT is a machine which dispenses a slip with the symbol of the party for which a person has voted for. The slip drops in a box but the voter cannot take it home.



A 38-year-old Apple executive, Vivek Tiwari, was shot dead early Saturday morning by a police constable in Lucknow after he allegedly tried to evade a routine check. Calling it “excessive use of force”, the Uttar Pradesh Police have arrested two constables based on a complaint by Tiwari’s colleague who was in the car.

Tiwari, an Apple sales manager, and the colleague, Sana Khan, were on their way back home when two constables on a motorcycle approached them. According to Khan’s FIR at the Gomti Nagar police station, the car was parked near the City Montessori School in Gomti Nagar Extension.

“…Two policemen came on a motorcycle. We tried to escape them and they stopped us. Suddenly, I heard a gunshot, the car kept moving and it hit the underpass pillar. Blood was pouring from Vivek’s head. I cried for help and soon, a police team came and took Vivek to hospital. Later, I was told that he is dead,” she said in the FIR registered around 5 am.

According to the police, the bullet hit Tiwari’s neck. Lucknow Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Kalanidhi Naithani said that the post mortem report confirmed that he died of the bullet injury. The car Tiwari was driving has a broken windshield with a bullet hole in it while the driver’s seat is drenched in blood.

Hours after the incident, his family refused to cremate his body in protest until the district administration agreed to their demands of quick justice, compensation and a government job.

Promising swift action, PTI quoted Yogi Adityanath as saying: “This was not an encounter. The guilty will not be spared and, if needed, a CBI inquiry will be held.”

Adityanath’s remarks come at a time when his government has drawn sharp criticism over continuing police encounters in the state. While at least 67 people have been killed in encounters since 2017, not a single chargesheet has been filed nor action initiated against police officers involved. In May, the NHRC directed the state government to constitute a five-member team to investigate 17 of these cases.

The constables who stopped Tiwari — Prashant Chaudhary and Sandeep Kumar — posted at the Gomti Nagar police station, have been arrested and were later dismissed from their police posts. The constables have alleged that Tiwari tried to run them down and that they fired the shot in “self-defence”.



 The Congress on Saturday accused PM Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of hitting the banking sector hard and questioned the latest bailout the government has proposed for the indebted Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited (IL&FS).

Congress leader Gourav Vallabh on Saturday claimed that the government had systematically demolished the foundations of the banking and financial services sector by way of “400% jump in non-performing assets, a dozen bank loot scams worth Rs1 lakh crore and depleting the small savings of people”.

“The latest episode in this financial scam management series is the bailing out of IL&FS which is 60% privately owned, of which 36% is owned by foreign entities and 39.43% by PSBs and LIC. To cover its sins, the government’s modus operandi is to bail out corporate entities by using profit-making PSUs, jeopardising the savings of Indians,” Vallabh alleged. He said ONGC was used to cover up Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation scam, LIC bailed out loss-making IDBI Bank and now LIC and SBI were being used to bail out IL&FS.



 After a gap of more than 30 years, the sea route between Mumbai and Goa will be reopened when a luxury cruise connecting the two destinations commences operations.

The cruise ship, Angriya, will set sail from Mumbai’s Indira Docks at 5 pm on October 11 and will reach Goa’s Mormugao port the following day at 9 am.

Named after Admiral Kanhoji Angre, who founded the Maratha navy, the cruise ship is owned by Angriya Sea Eagle Private Limited, a subsidiary for Sea Eagle Cruises.

The 16-hour journey will give a panoramic view of the Konkan coastline with the cruise ship making brief halts at Malvan and Ratnagiri, according to Sanjay Bhatia, Managing Director, Mumbai Port Trust.

The Angriya, which was built in Japan, has 104 cabins and can carry 400 passengers.

Onboard facilities include multiple restaurants, coffee shops, a discotheque, infinity pool, spa and 6 bars.

Bhatia told reporters that the Mumbai Port Trust was upgrading infrastructure as Mumbai was attracting international cruise ships and efforts were on to link the city to other tourist destinations in India and Southeast Asia.



 In tatters after a #MeToo scandal, the Swedish Academy has postponed this year’s Nobel Literature Prize, leaving an empty page for 2018 as it attempts to reform the venerable institution.

Created in 1786 by King Gustav III and modelled on its French elder, the Swedish Academy has selected the winner of the prestigious literary distinction since it was first awarded in 1901.

But Paralysed and ridiculed around the world, the #MeToo scandal forced the Academy’s hand: it announced in May that it would postpone by one year the 2018 Nobel Literature Prize, a first in 70 years. In 2017, Frenchman Jean-Claude Arnault, married to an Academy member, and the head of an influential cultural club in Stockholm, was accused of rape and sexual assault.

The 2018 laureate will be announced at the same time as the 2019 prize.

The Swedish Academy, a hermetic circle whose deliberations in Stockholm’s cobblestoned Old Town are kept secret for 50 years, is seen as out-of-touch with reality and modern times.

“Lifetime membership and an ageing population also create a difficult situation, with some members still active at an age where they no longer have the capacity to work professionally, or understand how the Academy is perceived by the public,” said Madelaine Levy, literary critic at daily Svenska Dagbladet. The public has lost confidence in the body, perceiving it as “ridiculous” and “chauvinist”, she said.



 India’s star compound archer Abhishek Verma put up a dazzling display to beat Kim Jongho of South Korea and bag a bronze medal in the season-ending World Cup Final in Samsun (Turkey)

Verma palso artnered Jyothi Surekha Vennam to clinch a silver in the exhibition compound mixed team event. Drawn against hosts Turkey in the final, the Indian pair of Verma and Jyothi lost 152-159.

The final day of the season-ending meet will see recurve archer Deepika Kumari, a four-time World Cup Final silver medallist, making a seventh appearance.



Shikhar Dhawan was yesterday dropped for the two-match Test series against West Indies after his poor run in England, while Mayank Agarwal and Mohammed Siraj’s achievements in domestic circuit were rewarded with maiden India call-up.

The selectors decided to rest the pace duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, taking into account their “recent workload”. The pace bowling department wears a new look with Mohammed Shami being the most experienced player in the Virat Kohli-led 15-member squad.

Mumbai’s Prithvi Shaw has retained his place in the side after failing to make the playing XI in the last two Tests in England. Considering that Dhawan has been shown the door, young Shaw could finally get his chance to open the batting with KL Rahul, who had saved his place with a fine knock in the final Test against England.

The first Test will be played in Rajkot from October 4 to 8, followed by the second match in Hyderabad from October 12 to 16.

India squad: Virat Kohli (captain), KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur



 Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. – Buddha



A: Just look at that young person with the short hair and blue jeans. Is it a boy or a girl?

B: It’s a girl. She’s my daughter.

A: Oh, I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t know that you were her father.

B: I’m not. I’m her mother.

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