Newsletter Oct 07, 2018




Setting the ball rolling for five Assembly elections, the Election Commission announced Saturday the dates for polls in the states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Telangana. While voting will be held in November and December, results for all five states, seen as a bellwether for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, will be announced on December 11.

Barring Maoist-affected Chhattisgarh, the other states will conduct elections in a single phase. South Chhattisgarh, with 18 seats, will vote on November 12 and the 72 seats in north Chhattisgarh will vote on November 20.

For 230 seats in Madhya Pradesh and 40 seats in Mizoram, the voting will take place on November 28. And Rajasthan and Telangana will poll for their 200 and 119 seats respectively, on December 7.

Of the five states, Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh are ruled by BJP Chief Ministers Vasundhara Raje, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh, while Telangana goes to polls after TRS chief and CM K Chandrashekar Rao dissolved the Assembly in September, nine months before its term expired. Mizoram has never seen a BJP government, and Congress Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla has headed the state government since 2008.

The five states together send 83 members to the Lok Sabha.

The EC announcement Saturday also drew sharp criticism from the Opposition Congress, which alleged that the press conference was rescheduled from 12.30 pm to 3 pm to accommodate a political rally Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed in Rajasthan at 1 pm.

Congress communication department head Randeep Surjewala said: “The EC’s explanation for the delay is preposterous. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is guilty of pressuring the EC to delay its press conference as he was scheduled to address a rally. The EC was made to wait for Modi’s rally,” he said.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Om Prakash Rawat, however, denied any kind of “pressure”. According to Rawat, the reasons for the delay included a discussion with the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary regarding bypolls in the state. Another reason for the delay was the assessment of publishing electoral rolls for Telangana.



Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday alleged that in the past 60 years of its rule, the Congress just indulged in vote bank politics and divided people to gain and maintain power.

“Congressmen have been worshipping only one ‘parivar’ and did not serve the countrymen,” Modi told a mammoth pre-poll rally on the concluding day of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s Gaurav Yatra at Kayad Vishramasthali, 5 km from Ajmer city near Kishangarh airport.

He appealed to public to bring BJP back to power in Rajasthan by rejecting the trend of voting the two parties to power alternatively every five years. “Whenever the Congress had an opportunity, it divided society, created differences in minds and system, and put people against each other just for the sake of votes. This vote bank politics was not only restricted to elections, but extended to bureaucracy, business and sanctioning grants to the states,” he said.



India on Saturday sought to assure investors that the government would not go back to regulating fuel prices, a day after oil company shares tumbled on concerns about a return to a regime that has hurt their profits in the past

The government said on Thursday it was cutting gasoline and diesel by 2.50 rupees per litre to help Indians struggling to pay fuel prices that had climbed on the back of a rise in global crude prices and a weakening rupee.

The move was seen as a reversal of a 2014 decision to scrap regulated fuel prices.

“Let me categorically assure all that there is no going back on deregulation of oil prices,” finance minister Arun Jaitley said in a Facebook post on Saturday.

The price cut reduced the government’s excise duty by 1.50 rupees per litre and cut one rupee per litre on the amount charged by state-run oil marketing firms Indian Oil Corp, Bharat Petroleum Corp and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Shares in the companies fell more than 20 per cent to multi-year lows on Friday before recovering marginally.



 Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Saturday said a Parliament approved legislation can restore mandatory linking of biometric ID Aadhaar with mobile phones and bank accounts.

The Supreme Court had last month upheld the Constitutional validity of Aadhaar, the 12-digit biometric based unique identity number, but restricted its use by private entities like telecom operators for verifying identity of mobile phone user.

Jaitley said the verdict was a “very sound judgment” as the court accepted that there is legitimate state aim in Aadhaar.

The Finance Minister said a legal provision through a legislation can restore linking of Aadhaar with mobile phones and bank accounts.

“By law it can still be done, provided you do it under the adequate provision of law and do it on the basis of that in this field it is necessary,” he said.

He, however, did not say if the government plans to bring a law in Parliament for the purpose.





 A deeply divided US Senate on Saturday confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, as Republicans dismissed sexual assault accusations against the conservative judge and delivered a major victory to President Donald Trump.

By a vote of 50-48, the Senate gave a lifetime job to Kavanaugh, 53, after weeks of fierce debate over sexual violence, alcohol abuse and privilege that convulsed the nation just weeks before congressional elections on Nov. 6.

The Senate vote takes the highest US court down a more conservative path for perhaps a generation and is a bitter blow to Democrats already chafing at Republican control of the White House and both chambers of the US Congress.

Kavanaugh’s nomination became an intense personal and political drama when university professor Christine Blasey Ford accused him of sexually assaulting her when they were high school students in a wealthy suburb of Washington in 1982.

Two other women accused him in the media of sexual misconduct in the 1980s.

Kavanaugh fought back hard, denying the accusations in angry and tearful testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that was viewed live on television by around 20 million people.

Trump stood by Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge with a history of advancing Republican causes, and this week mocked Ford’s account of what she says was a drunken attack on her by Kavanaugh when they were teenagers.



Interpol President Meng Hongwei has been detained in China for questioning as part of an investigation against him, a media report said Saturday, a day after he was reported missing in his native country.

Meng, 64, the first Chinese head of the international law enforcement agency headquartered in France, was “taken away” for questioning by discipline authorities “as soon as he landed in China” last week, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted a source as saying.

It was not immediately clear why he is being investigated or exactly where he is being held.

Meng, who is also a vice-minister at China’s Ministry of Public Security, is under investigation in China, the Post reported amid mystery surrounding his disappearance after his wife reported to the French police that he had gone missing.

The French police said on Friday that they have launched a probe for Meng after being contacted by his wife.





The CPM on Saturday announced that it will not have any understanding or electoral alliance with the Congress in the five states going to Assembly polls in November and December. The party is yet to take a final call on its Lok Sabha strategy, as there is no unanimity on the issue.

The CPM central committee, which began its three-day meeting in New Delhi, endorsed the decision to be a part of seven-party alliances in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, and the Bahujan Left Front in Telangana. Left Front partner CPI is part of an alliance comprising the Congress, TDP and the Telangana Jana Samiti in the southern state.



From Ahmedabad and its neighbouring districts, Hindi-speaking migrants who have lived in Gujarat for years, are fleeing — driven by fear after mobs, seemingly angry over the alleged rape of a 14-month-old girl, started to attack “non-Gujaratis” earlier this week.

Both the BJP and Congress have appealed for peace and harmony in the wake of the violence and exodus of North Indian migrants from Gujarat. State BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya said Saturday that “what happened is a black spot on our society”, and asked people “not to give political or caste colour” to the incident. “I condemn both the rape of the minor as well as the subsequent attacks on migrants,” Pandya said.

State Congress president Amit Chavda said “anger was building among youths owing to rising unemployment” and “the rape of the minor girl provided the trigger for the attacks on migrant workers”. However, Chavda said, an entire community could not be held responsible for the actions of one individual. “What has happened, cannot be justified. But it is the responsibility of the state government to protect the life and property of citizens,” he said.



Commander Abhilash Tomy of the Indian Navy, who was rescued from high seas, was Saturday brought to Visakhapatnam safely onboard INS Satpura. Tomy had suffered back injuries after his yacht Thuriya was damaged in a storm while representing India in the international solo circumnavigation Golden Globe Race (GGR) 2018.

Cdr Tomy has been shifted to INHS Kalyani, the naval hospital of Eastern Naval Command (ENC) for further observation and medical assistance.

Following severe damages to his yacht, in a message via satellite phone, Tomy had asked for a stretcher as he was rendered immobile after a serious back injury and conveyed that he was safe on his vessel. Following the message to the GGR base in France, a massive multinational rescue operation was launched.

Tomy was first sighted by the Indian Aircraft operating from Mauritius. Tomy was rescued by French fishing vessel Osiris after which he was shifted to Amsterdam Islands.  INS Satpura aarrived off the Ile Amsterdam and safely evacuated Cdr Tomy using the ship’s helicopter on September 28.



The director of celebrated film Queen, Vikas Bahl, best-selling author Chetan Bhagat, and former executive editor of The Times of India and ex-DNA editor-in-chief Gautam Adhikari were among those accused of sexual harassment, as allegations against names from the film, media and entertainment industries swept social media on Saturday.

As women shared their stories, that ranged from verbal to physical assault, including snapshots of social media chats showing persistent propositioning, identifying with the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns, the allegations set off a debate on how many of those accounts fell within the definition of sexual harassment at work place. Organisations linked to many of those named said they were taking action.

Among them was Phantom Films, a production house founded by Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, Madhu Mantena and Bahl. In a HuffPost India report, a former woman employee of Phantom accused Bahl of sexually assaulting her in May 2015 at a hotel in Goa. She talked about her ordeal, said she had confided in Kashyap, and said he hadn’t taken action. She quit the company in 2017.

Confirming the incident, Kashyap said in the report, “Whatever happened was wrong. We didn’t handle it well, we failed. I cannot blame anyone but myself. But now we are determined to do better. We believe her completely. She has our undying support. What Bahl has done is horrifying. We are already on our path of course correction and will do everything in our capacity to fix it.”

Later in the day Kashyap announced on Twitter that Phantom Films had been dissolved.

Bahl, whose film Queen dealt with women empowerment, is currently directing his next film, Super 30, starring Hrithik Roshan.

Another woman shared screenshots of a conversation between her and Chetan Bhagat, in which the author says he wants to woo her and ignores her protests that he is married. Soon after, Bhagat released a statement on Facebook, saying he wanted to “apologise to the person concerned”, said he had felt “a strong connection” with her, and added he may have “misread the friendliness”.

After a woman journalist said Gautam Adhikari, while he was editor-in-chief of DNA, Mumbai, had “kissed” her without consent, Adhikari said he had no recollection of the incident.

Multiple women came forward to accuse K R Sreenivas, who is currently the Resident Editor of Times of India, Hyderabad, of sexual harassment and misconduct. On Saturday evening, BCCL, publisher of Times of India, released a statement, saying, “BCCL has a strong POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) policy and does not tolerate any act of sexual harassment at work place. “I will submit myself to the investigation,” said Sreenivas.

A former employee of Hindustan Times shared screenshots on Twitter of a conversation with the National Political Editor/Chief of Bureau of the paper, Prashant Jha, saying he had made her feel “uncomfortable”. A Hindustan Times spokesperson said, “We are verifying facts as this was two years ago. We are seeing whether a complaint was filed or not and whether any action was taken or not. An internal investigation will begin Monday.”

Allegations also emerged against a reporter with Business Standard, Mayank Jain, with a woman journalist from another organisation calling his behaviour “predatory”.

These allegations come days after actor Tanushree Dutta accused actor Nana Patekar of sexually harassing her during the shoot of a film in 2008.



Bollywood actor Tanushree Dutta on Saturday filed a complaint against actor Nana Patekar and choreographer Ganesh Acharya with the Oshiwara police.

Dutta had earlier in a TV interview accused Patekar and Acharya of sexual harassment on the sets of the 2008 movie Horn Ok Pleassss. She had alleged that Patekar misbehaved with her when the two were shooting a special song and intimidated her when she called him out.

Additional Commissioner of Police (Western Region) Manoj Sharma said the Oshiwara police had received a complaint from Dutta and was probing the matter. No FIR has been filed yet.

The complaint comes on a day when Patekar told mediapersons that Dutta’s claims were a “lie”. Patekar, who was shooting for upcoming film Housefull 4 in Jodhpur, denied that he had misbehaved with Dutta on the sets of the 2008 film. “I said this 10 years ago… a lie is a lie,” Patekar said at the Jodhpur airport. His lawyer has already sent a legal notice to Dutta demanding her apology.



Idiocracy, nothingburger and fam are among the 1,400 new words to make an entry into the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) as part of its latest update. Idiocracy refers to a society consisting of or governed by people characterised as idiots.

In what may be seen as a reflection of modern-day politics, the word is also defined as a government formed of people considered stupid, ignorant, or idiotic, by the definitive lexicon of the English language.

Some of the other stand-out entries in the latest update include nothingburger, defined as a person or thing of no importance, value, or substance, especially something which, contrary to expectations, turns out to be insignificant or unremarkable.

Fam, short for family and with a wider connotation for family and close friends, has been added due to its prolific use as a slang in reference to relatives and mates.

Another new addition is alt-right – the OED classifies it as “an ideological grouping associated with extreme conservative or reactionary viewpoints, characterised by a rejection of mainstream politics”.



 British street artist Banksy has pulled off his latest prank, self-destructing one of his most iconic artworks moments after it fetched more than a million pounds at an auction in London.

“Girl with Balloon” had just sold at Sotheby’s for 1,042,000 pounds on Friday when it unexpectedly passed through a shredder hidden in the frame.

“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” said Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art for Europe. “The unexpected incident became instant art world folklore and certainly marks the first time in auction history that a work of art automatically shredded itself after coming under the hammer,” the auctioneers added in the statement.

Banksy, a mysterious artist from Bristol, southwest England, rose to fame painting clandestine street murals, typically simple graffiti stencils with a sharp political point, all over the world. He has also produced a treasure trove of other kinds of images, and his works have sold for hundreds of thousands of pounds in many cases.

Prior to its shredding, the framed “Girl with Balloon” — spray paint and acrylic on canvas mounted on board — depicted a girl reaching out toward a bright red, heart-shaped balloon.

The artist posted a photo of the stunt, midway through shredding, on his Instagram page early Saturday, above the caption: “going, going, gone”, imitating an auctioneer.



India first subjected West Indies to the ignominy of follow-on and then crushed them inside three days to record their biggest victory — by an innings and 272 runs — in the first match of the two-Test series.

Left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav registered his maiden five-wicket haul in Test cricket as West Indies succumbed to the guile of India’s spin trio who shared the 10 second innings wickets among themselves.

India’s comprehensive win put them 1-0 up ahead of the second Test in Hyderabad from Friday.

Teenaged India opener Prithvi Shaw was adjudged Man of the Match for his century on his Test debut that helped India post a mammoth 649/9 declared in their first innings.

Scores: India 649/9 (declared); West indies 181 & 196



 There are three ingredients of the good life – learning, earning and yearning. – Christopher Morley


A man walks into a coffee shop and places his order. “I’d like a cup of coffee, please, with no cream.”

The girl behind the counter says “I’m sorry, sir, but we’re out of cream. How about with no milk?”

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