Newsletter Oct 08, 2018




Army chief General Bipin Rawat said on Sunday that India follows an independent policy, and has thus signed the deal for S-400 weapon system with Russia despite the threat of US sanctions under its Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). He also said there was “no end in sight to the manner in which” India and Russia can cooperate.

General Rawat made these remarks during his keynote address at the General K V Krishna Rao inaugural memorial lecture, in new Delhi.

“When Russians asked about the American sanctions, my reply was, ‘yes, we do appreciate that there could be sanctions on us, but we follow an independent policy. You can rest assured. While we may be associating with America in getting some technology, but we follow an independent policy’,” he said.

General Rawat returned on Saturday after a six-day visit to Russia, where he met the top brass of the Russian Armed Forces. He said that “Russians are very keen on associating with the Indian Army because we are very capable. We are capable of standing for what is right for us based on our strategic thought process”.



 The Congress is likely to unseat the BJP from power in Rajasthan, two opinion polls have predicted in what could be a continuation of the state’s tradition of over two decades of voting out the ruling party.

Surveys carried out by ABP News-CVoter and C fore have given the Congress 142 and 124-138 seats, respectively, in the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly, with its state president Sachin Pilot leading Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje as the most preferred candidate for the top post.

The ABP News-CVoter opinion poll has also predicted the outcome of the Assembly elections in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, giving an edge to the Congress in both states.

The BJP is in power in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh for 15 years.

The pre-poll survey has, however, added that a minor swing in both states can turn the tide in the favour of either of the two main parties due to a very small difference between their projected vote shares. It has predicted 122 seats for the Congress in the 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly and 47 seats for the Opposition party in the 90-member Chhattisgarh Assembly. The BJP has been projected to bag 108 and 40 seats in these two states, respectively.



 The Election Commission has revised the format of poll affidavits to be filed by candidates along with their nomination papers to include a table recording full details of his/her criminal antecedents. The same table can be reproduced as an insertion in advertisements to be put out by candidates in print and electronic media at least thrice after filing of nominations, as ordered by the Supreme Court on September 25.

Chief election commissioner O P Rawat said the EC approved the new affidavit format on Friday and forwarded it to the law ministry for vetting. “The law ministry has promised to revert by Monday or Tuesday, after which the new format will be available to prospective candidates for the upcoming assembly polls in five states,” he said.

As directed by the SC, three insertions of the table recording pending criminal cases will be required to be made in print/audio-visual advertisements by candidates and political parties fielding such candidates. The purpose is to help voters make an informed decision.

Each candidate’s party will also be obligated to put up on its website the information pertaining to candidates having criminal antecedents.



 Home minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said the menace of Left Wing Extremism (LWE) will be wiped out from the country in about three years. He was ddressing troops of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) on the occasion of their 26th anniversary celebrations at the CRPF camp in Lucknow. Singh said districts affected by Naxal violence have come down to about 10-12 as compared to 126 some time back.

“The day is not far, may be in 2 or 3 years, that the LWE will be eliminated from India and this would happen due to your (CRPF) determination, courage and hard work and that of the state police forces,” he said.

Singh said the force has killed 131 Maoists and militants this year while it has apprehended 1,278 of them and has effected 58 surrenders. He also asserted that J&K, where the CRPF is deployed as the lead counter-militancy force, has been and will be an “inseparable” part of India.





 Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a US Supreme Court justice on Saturday night after being confirmed hours earlier by the United States Senate with one of the narrowest margins in the country’s history on the heels of a bitter, rancorous, partisan political battle.

President Trump and the ruling Republican Party, which currently controls both the Senate and Congress, have thus effected a generation change in the Supreme Court, tilting it 5-4 to a Conservative bent just ahead of the November mid-term election when they could lose one or both chambers. Allegations of sexual misconduct and drunken excesses by Kavanaugh during his youth subsumed a larger, epic struggle for ideological and political control of the Supreme Court that will affect the lives of Americans in myriad ways perhaps for generations.

President Trump belittled the protests as he tried to galvanise his base for the upcoming election, tweeting: “The crowd in front of the US Supreme Court is tiny, looks like about 200 people (& most are onlookers) — that wouldn’t even fill the first couple of rows of our Kansas Rally, or any of our Rallies for that matter! The Fake News Media tries to make it look sooo big, & it’s not!”

A little later, amid fervid discussion that a Democratic win in November could result in impeachment proceedings not only against him but also against Judge Kavanaugh, he added, “You don’t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob. Democrats have become too EXTREME and TOO DANGEROUS to govern. Republicans believe in the rule of law — not the rule of the mob. VOTE REPUBLICAN!”

Earlier, two key moderate Republicans, Susan Collins and Jeff Flake, chose to go with the party caucus in voting for Kavanaugh to ensure a 50-48 win in the Senate confirmation proceedings, despite immense pressure on them from liberals and many constituents.

The epic battle over the Kavanaugh nomination brought to the fore not just the deep fissures in the country, but also the fundamental political dysfunction in a country that boasts of being the greatest democracy in the world. A President who failed to win the popular vote, but who managed to nominate two Supreme Court justices in two years in actions that will profoundly affect the lives of every US citizen.



 A far-right former army captain who expresses nostalgia for Brazil’s military dictatorship took a strong lead in its presidential election Sunday, rallying voters to his promises to rid Latin America’s largest nation of rampant corruption, crime and moral rot.

With 92.5 percent of returns in, congressman Jair Bolsonaro was leading polls with 47 percent of the votes. If he manages more than 50 percent, he will win the presidency outright. If he doesn’t, he heads to a runoff with the second-place candidate.

He is trailed by Fernando Haddad, the leftist stand-in for jailed ex-President Luiz Inacio da Silva, who was barred from running.

Polls predicted Bolsonaro would win the first round of voting but face a runoff. But he has far outperformed expectations, blazing past competitors with more financing, institutional backing of parties and free air time on television.



 Iran’s Parliament on Sunday approved a Bill to counter terrorist financing that was strongly opposed by conservatives but seen as vital to salvaging the nuclear deal with European and Asian partners.

The Bil aims to bring Iran’s laws in line with international standards and allow it to join the UN Terrorism Financing Convention. A previous Bill on the mechanics of monitoring and preventing terrorist financing was signed into law in August. But joining the UN convention has been controversial because hardliners say it will limit Iran’s ability to support armed groups in the region such as its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah.

The FATF suspended counter-measures against Iran in June 2017 and has set a final deadline of mid-October for it to amend its laws.





 After more than a decade, voters in J&K will elect their representatives to the state’s 79 municipal bodies in polls starting Monday. But with barely a day to go, a resounding silence envelops most of the constituencies in the Valley. Security personnel guard the roads and buildings, and there are no banners in the markets or posters on the walls. Not many voters know who their candidates are or where the nearest polling booth is.

In the first of the four-phase elections, eight districts of the Kashmir division, including Leh and Kargil, will vote Monday to elect representatives to 15 municipal councils and committees, including three wards of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation.

After the National Conference and the PDP announced their decision not to participate in the municipal polls, the contest is largely between the Congress, the BJP and a large number of independent candidates.

Of the 598 seats in the Valley, at least 236 will be uncontested. Another 184 have received no nominations.



 In a setback to the Kerala government’s efforts to work out a consensus on implementing the Supreme Court’s order to allow women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple, the thantri (priest) and erstwhile royal family of Pandalam on Sunday pulled out of the proposed discussions with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

“We have moved a review petition in the Supreme Court against the earlier verdict. We will decide on the future course of action only after knowing the outcome of the review petition. Otherwise, the discussion with the government does not make any sense,’’ said Sabarimala thantri Kandararu Mohanaru.

He said the decision was taken after consulting the leadership of the Nair Service Society, a prominent outfit of the upper caste Nair community.

He also took strong exception to the Travancore Devaswom Board’s decision to deploy women employees and policewomen to manage the women devotees at the monthly puja which is set to be held later this month.

R R Varma, representative of the erstwhile royal family of Pandalam, said the family wanted to protect the age-old traditions at the temple and was not interested in a discussion aimed at reaching a consensus on implementing the SC’s order.

Following the rising protests against the court’s verdict, the CPI(M) had directed its government to seek consensus on the issue before implementing the order. The party had urged the government to hold discussions with the erstwhile royal family of Pandalam, which has a strong say in the temple’s rituals and traditions, and the priest of the temple. Accordingly, the chief minister was slated to meet both the stakeholders.

Meanwhile, the protests continued on Sunday as devotees, including many women, organised marches in parts of the state. The BJP observed a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Pathanamthitta district to protest against the police action on youth activists who earlier marched to the house of Devaswom Board president A Padmakumar.



 A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court alleging that the Uttar Pradesh government has failed to implement the 2015 order of the Allahabad High Court asking it to ensure that public servants, including top bureaucrats, send wards to state-run primary schools.

The appeal has challenged the Allahabad High Court’s recent order refusing to initiate contempt proceedings against the state government for not complying with the earlier judgment that had directed that kids of government servants, local bodies’ representatives, judicial officers, who receive perks and salary from the state exchequer, should study in schools run by the Uttar Pradesh Board.



A Day after announcing the dissolution of Phantom Films, following sexual harassment allegations against one of the partners and Queen director Vikas Bahl, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap on Sunday said “in hindsight”, he could see that he was “ill-advised” by his legal aides. Filmmaker Vikramaditya Motwane, also a partner at Phantom Films, apologised for the incident and called Bahl a “sexual offender”.

Kashyap and Motwane, who formed the production house along with Bahl and Madhu Mantena seven years ago, posted their separate statements on social media. In a HuffPost India report that came out Saturday, a former woman employee of Phantom Films accused Bahl of sexually assaulting her in May 2015 at a hotel in Goa. She said she had confided in Kashyap, and he hadn’t taken any action. She quit the company in 2017.

“While at Phantom, I did everything I could, within what I was told by my partner and his lawyers. For legal and financial decisions, I was fully dependent on my partner and his team. They took care of those things so I could focus on what I did better, creatives. His word and his team’s word on any matter used to be the final word for us,” Kashyap said in his statement today, adding that the company decided to bar Bahl from the office premises and took away his signing authority.

He said the lawyers advised against firing Bahl because of his status as “an equal promoter/ director who actually ran the company”, and said there was no clause in the contract to fire him “on grounds of misconduct”. Kashyap, however, claimed that he had “named and shamed” Bahl in private “amongst whoever asked about it”.

Motwane, as well as fequent Phantom collaborators like Neeraj Ghaywan and Varun Grover also expressed concern over the company failing to create a safe ecosystem. “We all are complicit in this failure by rarely checking on our female colleagues or demanding POSH guidelines to be followed,” said Grover.

“I have felt absolutely disgusted by what Vikas Bahl did to a fellow team member,” said Ghaywan.

Screenwriter Apurva Asrani too condemned the incident. “Not only did they allow a predator to continue — they also earned money and fame by working on his films. Several among these were self-appointed crusaders of social media — who arrogantly called out people for their mistakes,” he said.



When it comes to crime and thrillers in Bollywood, there is no one better than Sriram Raghavan. From “Johnny Gaddar” to “Ek Hasina Thi” the filmmaker has managed to perfect the Indian thriller genre. In his latest, “Andhadhun”, Raghavan pulls off this tricky combination once again by giving us a slick mystery that lets the audience in on all the secrets and still keeps them at the edge of their seats.

In this official adaption of the French short film “The Piano Tuner”, Raghavan (who co-wrote the film with Pooja Ladha Surti, Arijit Biswas, Yogesh Chandekar and Hemanth Rao) gives us a protagonist who is blind.

Both Ayushman Khurrana and Tabu are top-notch. Tabu seems to play the femme fatale better than anyone else in this industry – she is at once coy, then vulnerable and then ruthless, making this one of her most memorable roles. Khurrana is pitch perfect as Akash, playing him with the deadpan expression required for the film’s most inscrutable character. Other actors, including Radhika Apte, Mana Vij, Ashwini Kalsekar, Zakir Hussain – all play their parts to perfection.

Bollywood doesn’t make too many thrillers and when it does, they don’t always measure up. “Andhadhun” ticks all the right boxes. This one should be savoured.



 Opener Mohammad Hafeez celebrated his recall with an impressive century as Pakistan dominated the opening day of the first Test against Australia in Dubai yesterday. Th etwo teams are playinga  2-test series.

Australian bowlers toiled away with little success on a flat pitch, except in the final session when they claimed 3 wickets.

Hafeez, a late inclusion in the squad after a double hundred in a domestic match, led the run-feast with a knock of 126 — his 10th Test hundred — during a 278-minute stay at the crease and put on 205 runs for the opening stand with Imam-ul-Haq, who made a career-best 76. Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and decided to bat, and Hafeez and Imam laid the platform for a big first innings score as Australia’s attack was held wicketless before tea.

Pakistan were 255/3 at the close of play.



Lewis Hamilton won the Japanese Grand Prix to stand on the brink of a fifth Formula One title on Sunday while Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel finished sixth after colliding with Max Verstappen. Hamilton led from pole to flag, crossing the line 12.9 seconds ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas in a second successive Mercedes one-two. Verstappen finished third.

The Briton now has a 67-point lead over Vettel with four races remaining and can sew up the championship next week with victory in Austin should the German finish lower than second.

Hamilton will fancy his chances of doing just that given his record at the US Grand Prix, where he has won every race but one since 2012.


Lewis Hamilton   MERCEDES 331

Sebastian Vettel   FERRARI 264

Valtteri Bottas   MERCEDES 207

Kimi Räikkönen   FERRARI 196

Max Verstappen   RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 173

Daniel Ricciardo  RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 146


Kevin Magnussen   HAAS FERRARI 53

Nico Hulkenberg   RENAULT 53

Fernando Alonso   MCLAREN RENAULT 50



 Unhappiness is best defined as the difference between our talents and our expectations. – Edward de Bono



A skinny man with an axe showed up for a job interview – the position is of a lumberjack.

The company’s head lumberjack told him: “Okay, see that giant redwood over there?” Take your axe and go cut it down.”

The skinny man headed for the tree, and in five minutes he was back knocking on the lumberjack’s door. “I cut the tree down,” said the man.

The lumberjack couldn’t believe his eyes and said, “Where did you get the skill to chop down trees like that?”

“In the Sahara Forest,” replied the skinny man.

“You mean the Sahara Desert,” said the lumberjack.

The skinny man laughed and answered back, “Oh sure, that’s what they call it now!”

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