2019, February, January`, Newsletter

Newsletter Issue Jan 31, 2019

NEWS TO SHIPS BY NEWS ACCESS INDIA – THURSDAY, JANUARY 31, 2019

FRONT PAGE NEWS

=================

ALL SET FOR INTERIM BUDGET TOMORROW

The government will present the Interim Budget on February 1. This will be
the last Budget of the BJP-led NDA government ahead of the General Election.
The session will start tomorrow with an address by President Ram Nath Kovind
to both Houses of Parliament and conclude on February 13. There will be no
Economic Survey.

The Finance Ministry today clarified that the forthcoming Budget would be
called Interim Budget 2019-2020 and not General Budget.

The nature of the forthcoming Budget came up for discussion at the meeting
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan called yesterday with political party
leaders to discuss the agenda on the eve of the Budget Session.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said he flagged the issue with his party
earlier warning the government against presenting a General Budget. Other
Opposition parties also joined the Congress in this demand with the sense
being that the BJP could use its last Budget to pledge what it cannot
constitutionally pledge. The Congress had threatened to oppose a full Budget
in the Lok Sabha saying the government had no electoral or constitutional
mandate to present six full Budgets.

The NDA government assumed office in May 2014 and presented a Budget for
financial year 2014-15 followed by Budgets for financial years 2015-16,
2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.

INDIA WARNS PAKISTAN ENVOY ON PHONE CALL TO HURRIYAT CHAIRMAN MIRWAIZ

A day after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi called up All
Parties Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to brief him on his
government’s “efforts. to highlight” the Kashmir issue, Foreign Secretary
Vijay Gokhale told Pakistan High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood that such
actions are a “direct interference” in India’s internal affairs.

After summoning the Pakistan’s envoy at 10.30 pm Wednesday to his South
Block office, Gokhale told Mahmood that New Delhi expects Pakistan to
“desist” from such actions and “cautioned that (the) persistence of such
behaviour. will have implications”.

During the 10-minute meeting, an official statement by the MEA said, the
Foreign Secretary conveyed the government’s “condemnation in the strongest
terms of this latest brazen attempt by Pakistan to subvert India’s unity and
to violate our sovereignty and territorial integrity, by none other than the
Pakistan Foreign Minister”.

Gokhale told Mahmood that this “deplorable act has violated all norms for
the conduct of international relations even by Pakistan’s own standards”.

According to Mirwaiz, Qureshi spoke of involving world capitals in
highlighting the Kashmir issue, and told him that “Prime Minister Imran Khan
tried his best to reach out to the Government of India but unfortunately
there was no response”.

COALITION BRINGS INSTABILITY, AN ILLNESS PEOPLE GOT RID OF: PM NARENDRA MODI

With opposition parties joining hands against the ruling BJP ahead of the
Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday slammed
coalition governments, calling it the harbinger of instability and called it
an “illness”.

Addressing a public event after laying the foundation stone for the
extension of Surat airport building, the Prime Minister attacked the idea of
mahagathbandhan (grand coalition) and said, “For 30 years there was
instability in our country as there were coalition governments. Nobody got
full majority. With the support of different parties, the government was
functioning. The country stagnated, and in few areas it got left behind. In
the past four and half years, we have been able to move ahead, and the only
reason behind it is that the people eradicated the 30-year-old illness of
coalition governments. People showed sagacity and voted in a way that led to
the formation of a full majority government).”

Listing the “strengths” of a majority government vis-a-vis a coalition, Modi
said his government was accountable and answerable to the people since it is
a government of full majority and therefore cannot make excuses. “Today,
anyone can come to me and ask, Modiji what have you done in the past
four-and-half years. If there was no full majority government, then Modiji
would have said it is a coalition government, some decisions have to be
taken. This new generation can see how a full majority government takes
decisions,” he said.

Claiming that his decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes
in 2016 led to fall in the prices of houses, the Prime Minister said that
the measure helped in curbing money in the real-estate sector.

FEEL LET DOWN THAT YOU POLITICISED VISIT: PARRIKAR; AND RAHUL RESPONDS

Ailing Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday accused Congress
president Rahul Gandhi of using his courtesy visit to him for “petty
political gains”, asserting that there was no mention of the Rafale issue in
their five-minute meeting.

In a letter to Gandhi, Parrikar asked the Congress chief to put out the
truth and not to use his visit to an ailing person to “feed political
opportunism”.

His letter came a day after Gandhi targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi
over the Rafale deal, claiming that Parrikar, who is a former defence
minister, had clearly stated that he has nothing to do with the ‘new deal’.

“Friends, the ex-defence minister Mr Parrikar clearly stated that he has
nothing to do with the new deal that was orchestrated by Mr Narendra Modi to
benefit Anil Ambani,” the Congress leader told a booth-level party workers
meeting in Kochi without making it clear whether he was referring to
Tuesday’s meeting or earlier remarks by Parrikar.

His comments in Kochi had come hours after he met Parrikar at the Goa
assembly complex in Panaji.

After Parrikar’s letter, Rahul Gandhi claimed that he had not shared any
details of his conversation with Parrikar when the two met in Goa on
Tuesday. “In my two speeches since we met, I have referred to what is
already in the public domain.”

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

=====================

VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT NICOLAS MADURO OFFERS TALKS WITH OPPOSITION

More than a week into a standoff with the Opposition, Venezuelan President
Nicolas Maduro said on Wednesday that he is willing to negotiate.

Violent street demonstrations erupted last week after Opposition leader Juan
Guaido during a major opposition rally in Caracas declared that he had
assumed presidential powers under the constitution and planned to hold fresh
elections to end Maduro’s “dictatorship.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Guaido urged Venezuelans to step outside their homes and
workplaces for two hours on Wednesday in the first mass mobilisation since
last week’s big protests.

Mr. Maduro, who previously rejected calls for negotiations, said in an in an
interview with Russian state-owned RIA Novosti news agency that he was open
to talks with the opposition.

“I’m willing to sit down for talks with the opposition so that we could talk
for the sake of Venezuela’s peace and its future,” he said.

Mr. Maduro said the talks could be held with mediation of other countries.
He mentioned Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia, the Vatican and Russia.

US, CHINA RESUME TRADE TALKS WITH A CHILL IN THE AIR

Top US and Chinese trade officials returned to the bargaining table on
Wednesday, working to avoid a sharp escalation in the trade war between the
world’s two largest economies.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is leading Beijing’s delegation to the talks,
with just a month remaining in a 90-day truce declared in December.

The talks also occur against the backdrop of Washington’s sweeping
prosecution of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, which has outraged Beijing and
infused the negotiations with uncertainty.

Should the talks fail, US import duties on $200 billion in Chinese imports
are due to more than double on March 2, something economists say could help
knock the wind out of global economy’s sails.

TRUMP PUSHES BACK AGAINST US SPY CHIEFS ON NORTH KOREA

US President Donald Trump dismissed assessments by top US spy chiefs of the
threat posed by North Korea on Wednesday, offering a more optimistic view
that there was a “decent chance of denuclearization” on the Korean
Peninsula.

Leaders of the US intelligence community told a Senate panel on Tuesday that
the threat from North Korea remained unchanged from a year ago and said
Pyongyang viewed its nuclear programme as vital to the country’s survival
and was unlikely to give it up.

Trump has invested heavily in improving relations with Pyongyang in hopes of
getting the reclusive communist nation to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

“North Korea relationship is best it has ever been with US. No testing,
getting remains, hostages returned. Decent chance of Denuclearization,”

Trump said in a Twitter post, drawing a comparison to the “horrendous”
relationship with his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama. “Now a whole
different story. I look forward to seeing Kim Jong Un shortly. Progress
being made-big difference!”

THE REST

========

SC: NO STAY ON AMENDMENTS TO SC/ST ACT

The Supreme Court yesterday again refused to stay amendments to the SC/ST
Act that restored the “no anticipatory bail” provision and said all matters,
including the Centre’s review petition, would be heard on February 19.

On August 9 last year, Parliament passed a Bill to overturn the apex court
order relating to certain safeguards against arrest under the SC/ST law.

On March 20, 2018, the apex court had taken note of the rampant misuse of
the stringent SC/ST Act against government servants and private individuals
and said there would be no immediate arrest on any complaint filed under the
law.

The top court had earlier said the new amendments to the SC/ST law passed by
Parliament could not be stayed and had sought the Centre’s response on pleas
challenging the provisions.

SEER: TEMPLE CONSTRUCTION FROM FEB 21

Virtually challenging the Modi government, a Param Dharam Sansad on
Wednesday gave a call to march to Ayodhya on February 21 to lay the
foundation (shilanayas) for the Ram Mandir.

The announcement comes a day after the Centre filed a petition in the
Supreme Court seeking permission to transfer “surplus” land adjacent to the
disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site to its original owners.

Shankaracharya of Jyotishpeeth Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati, speaking on the
concluding day of the three-day Sansad at the Kumbh, said: “The time has
come to sacrifice. A peaceful and non-violent march from Prayagraj to
Ayodhya will be launched for Ram Mandir after Basant Panchami (on Feb 10).
We are ready to face bullets, if stopped.”

The Shankaracharya criticised the BJP-led government for failing to bring
legislation to enable the construction of the temple, despite enjoying
absolute majority in the Lok Sabha.

“DATA NO MORE SAFE FROM GOVT INFLUENCE”

On the back foot following the resignation of two independent members of the
National Statistical Commission (NSC) – PC Mohanan, acting chairman, and JV
Meenakshi – the Union Government yesterday asserted that the members had
never expressed their concerns during any of the meetings.

The Congress accused the Modi government of destroying yet another
institution, claiming one more venerable institution had “died” owing to
government’s “malicious negligence”.

Former chairman Dr Pronab Sen said the developments defeated the very
purpose of the panel that had been set up “to insulate data from government
influence”. He went on to add that of late, NITI Aayog had “bypassed the
commission and on its own created back series for computing GDP figures”.
This, he claimed, had caused resentment among the panel members.

“We mourn the death of the National Statistical Commission and remember with
gratitude its valiant fight to release untainted GDP data and employment
data.” – P Chidambaram, Cong leader

AGUSTAWESTLAND DEAL: AFTER MICHEL, NRI BUSINESSMAN FLOWN TO DELHI FROM DUBAI

Dubai-based businessman Rajiv Saxena, a key accused in the Rs 3,600-crore
Agusta-Westland VVIP chopper case, was deported to India from the UAE
Wednesday.

Last month, Christian Michel James, the alleged middleman in the helicopter
deal, was extradited to New Delhi from Dubai. He is currently in judicial
custody.

Saxena’s lawyer Geeta Luthra said: “Rajiv Saxena was picked up by UAE
authorities from his residence this morning at 9.30 am UAE time and
illegally deported to India around 5.30 pm UAE time.” She said there were
“no extradition proceedings started in the UAE and he was not allowed access
to his family or lawyers or his heart and cancer medicines”.

In July 2017, the Enforcement Directorate arrested Saxena’s wife Shivani in
connection with its probe into alleged money laundering in the deal. The ED
prosecution complaint (equivalent to a chargesheet) against Shivani stated
that she and Rajiv were partners and directors in UHY Saxena and Matrix
Holdings Ltd through which “proceeds of crime were routed” and used to buy
immovable properties and shares.

The two companies, the ED claimed, received the “proceeds of crime” in their
respective Dubai bank accounts from a Mauritius-based company, one of many
companies floated to launder kickbacks in the deal.

ICICI BANK FIRES CHANDA KOCHHAR, CLAIMS BACK BONUSES GIVEN TO HER

The board of ICICI Bank which had given then MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar a
clean chit on allegations of nepotism and conflict of interest 10 months ago
reversed its stand Wednesday after considering an investigation conducted by
retired Supreme Court judge Justice B N Srikrishna. Not only did it sack
her, it also decided to claw back all bonuses given to her since 2009 when
she took charge of the top post.

The bank and Chanda Kochhar were under regulatory scrutiny after new broke
out on March 29, 2018 that Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot provided
crores of rupees to a firm he had set up with her husband Deepak Kochhar and
two relatives, six months after the Videocon Group got Rs 3,250 crore as
loan from ICICI Bank in 2012.

The bank had then said: “The board has come to the conclusion that there is
no question of any quid pro quo/nepotism/ conflict of interest as is being
alleged in various rumours. The board has full confidence and reposes full
faith in the Bank’s MD & CEO, Ms. Chanda Kochhar.”

GOVT RUBS IT IN, TELLS ALOK VERMA TO JOIN WORK FOR A DAY TODAY

Two weeks after deposed CBI Director Alok Verma told the Department of
Personnel and Training to consider him retired, on the day before the date
of superannuation as Director, Home Ministry wants him to join the new
office he has been moved to.

In a letter sent to Verma Wednesday, MHA said: “You are directed to join the
post of DG, Fire Services, Civil Defence & Home Guards immediately”.

This would mean that Verma joins for a day.

The Home Ministry’s reply was in response to a request by Verma to consider
him superannuated from January 11 after he was moved out of the post of CBI
Director by the high-power selection committee chaired by Prime Minister
Narendra Modi on January 10. As he had attained the age of superannuation
from government service on July 31, 2017 and crossed the superannuation age
for DG Fire Services, Civil Defence & Home Guards, he wanted to be
superannuated from the day he was moved out of CBI.

He said that he “was only serving the Government as CBI Director until
January 31, 2019 as it was a fixed tenure role”. The tenure of CBI Director
is fixed for two years.

HONOUR LONG-TERM PACKS, TRAI TELLS DTH OPERATORS

Ahead of the February 1 deadline for switchover to the new broadcast regime,
the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has asked DTH operators to
honour pre-paid commitment on ongoing long-duration packs, if customer
wishes to continue with them.

The advisory assumes significance as there have been reports that some DTH
players are nudging customers with long-duration packs to choose channels
under the new framework, without offering them the option to continue with
their plan.

TRAI Chairman RS Sharma said he was “confident” of a smooth switchover on
the stipulated day without any inconvenience to customers. “Where customers
have already exercised their choice and decided to move to the new
framework, if they have long or short duration packs, it (the payment made)
will get adjusted. In those cases where people have not yet migrated and
they have a long or short duration plan already on, the regulation clearly
states that customers have the choice to continue with it, till the plan
expires,” Sharma said.

SC ASKS SREESANTH WHY HE DIDN’T INFORM BCCI ABOUT BEING APPROACHED FOR
SPOT-FIXING

The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned banned cricketer S Sreesanth for
not immediately bringing it to the notice of BCCI that he was being
approached for alleged spot-fixing during the Indian Premier League (IPL)
match in 2013.

The apex court observed that conduct of Sreesanth, who is facing life ban
for his alleged involvement in the sensational spot-fixing scandal, in the
entire episode was “not good”.

Sreesanth, who was discharged by a trial court in 2015 in a criminal case
related to alleged spot-fixing, told a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and K
M Joseph that life ban imposed on him by the BCCI was harsh and there was no
evidence to substantiate the claim that he was indulged in any illegality.

The 35-year-old cricketer has challenged in the apex court the decision of a
division bench of the Kerala High Court which restored the ban imposed on
him.

INDICATORSxtw

Sensex 35,591 (-1), Nifty 10,652 (Nil), Trading Value NSE (Rs.crores) 34,974

Nasdaq 7,183 (+155) Dow 25,015 (+435), S&P 2,681 (+41)

US$-Rs. 71.05 GBP-Rs. 93.01, Euro-Rs. 81.29, UAE Dhm-Rs.19.34, Can$-Rs.
53.74, Aus$- Rs. 51.18

GBP 0.76 /US$, Euro 0.87 /US$, Jap.Yen 109.33 /US$, Aus$ 1.38 /US$, Sing
1.35 /US$, Bang Taka 82.97 /US$, Can$ 1.32 /US$, Mal Ring 4.10 /US$,

Pak Re 138.62 /US$, Phil Peso 52.27 /US$, Russian Rouble 65.86 /US$, NZ$
1.45 /US$, Thai Baht 31.33 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 27.61 /US$, Norway NOK 8.47
/US$

Bitcoin – USD 3,436

Dollar Index 95.03 Brent Crude 62.17 BDI 721

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,319 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 3306 / 3126,
Silver (Rs. Per KG) 43,900

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the
things we do. – Freya Stark

OFF TRACK

Billy-Bob walks into a bar and says, “Bartender, one round for everyone, on
me!”

The bartender says, “Well, seems you’re in a really good mood tonight, hm?”

Billy-Bob says, “Oh, you can bet on it! I just got hired by the city to go
around and remove all the money from parking meters. I start on Monday!” The
bartender congratulates him and proceeds to pour the round.

Monday evening arrives. Billy-Bob comes back into the bar and says,
“Bartender, two rounds for everyone, on me!”

The bartender says, “Well now! If you’re so happy just over having this new
job, I can just imagine how happy you’ll be when you get your paycheck!”

Billy-Bob looks at the bartender with a wondrous look on his face, pulls out
a handful of quarters from his pocket, and says, “You mean they’ll PAY me
too?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar