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India Newsletter Mar 11, 2019 - Sea Connect
2019, March, Newsletter

India Newsletter Mar 11, 2019

NEWS TO SHIPS BY NEWS ACCESS INDIA – MONDAY, MARCH 11, 2019

FRONT PAGE NEWS

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DATES ANNOUNCED: POLLING FROM APRIL 11 TO MAY 19, RESULTS ON MAY 23

Setting the stage for a two-month-long political battle, Chief Election
Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora announced yesterday that the 17th Lok Sabha
elections will be held in seven phases, between April 11 and May 19,
involving close to 90 crore voters.

The results will be declared on May 23, ten days before the term of the
current House expires.

The Model Code of Conduct (MCC), which bars the government in power from
announcing any new decisions, came into effect immediately after the
announcement.

Assembly elections for Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim
will also be held simultaneously. However, the Election Commission (EC)
decided against holding the J&K state polls at the same time for security
reasons.

Political parties, including BJP and PDP, had earlier this month urged the
poll watchdog to hold central and state elections simultaneously in J&K. A
decision on the timing of the J&K Assembly polls will be taken soon, and a
team of three former civil servants is being dispatched to help EC monitor
the situation in the state, Arora said.

Retired IAS officers Noor Mohammad and Vinod Zutshi, and former IPS officer
A S Gill have been tasked with “taking inputs from all necessary quarters”
before submitting a report to the EC. “We need a sizeable number of security
personnel for the protection of every candidate contesting Assembly
elections in the state (J&K). This was also a demand put forth by
representatives of political parties we met during our visit there.
Availability of security forces is a constraint,” Arora said.

For the Lok Sabha polls, Bihar, UP and West Bengal will have the longest
voting schedule across seven phases. This is followed by J&K in five phases;
Jharkhand, MP, Maharashtra and Odisha in four; Assam and Chhattisgarh in
three; and, Karnataka, Manipur, Rajasthan and Tripura in two. The remaining
states will go to poll on a single day.

This is the first general election where there will be 100 per deployment of
voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) units.

Although political parties had sought an increase in the number of polling
stations – currently one per seat – where VVPAT slips are compulsorily
tallied with the EVM count, the EC will only reconsider once the Indian
Statistical Institute submits its report, Arora said.

In a bid to dissuade leaders with proven criminal records, chief election
commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora said that contestants with criminal
antecedents would be required to “publish information in this regard in
newspapers and through television channels on three occasions during the
campaign period”.The political party to which the candidate with criminal
antecedents belongs is also required to publish such information about the
candidate, both on its website and also in newspapers and television channel
on three occasions, Arora added.

Arora explained at length how the poll panel has integrated use of smart
technology in different election processes such as the cVIGIL app, which
helps people record any violations of poll norms on their Android
smartphones and report them to the EC. “All that one has to do is to simply
click a picture or to take a video and briefly describe the activity before
uploading it on the cVIGIL mobile application. If the complainant desires to
remain anonymous he has the option to do so,” said Arora.

J&K POLL DELAY: OMAR CALLS IT ABJECT SURRENDER, MEHBOOBA SAYS SINISTER
DESIGN

The mainstream political parties in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday questioned
the Election Commission’s decision to not hold simultaneous Assembly
elections in the state.

“.PM Modi has surrendered to Pakistan, to the militants & to the Hurriyat.
Well done Modi Sahib. 56 inch chest failed,” tweeted former Chief Minister
and NC vice-president Omar Abdullah. “First time since 1996, Assembly
elections in J&K are not being held on time. Remember this the next time you
are praising PM Modi for his strong leadership,” he tweeted.

In a series of tweets, he blamed the central government for “mishandling”
the situation in the state. “In 2014, we had Lok Sabha elections on time &
assembly elections on schedule even after the most devastating floods. Shows
how badly the BJP & earlier the BJP-PDP mishandled J&K,” he said. “Balakote
& Uri are not symbols of PM Modi’s handling of national security; J&K is and
look at the mess he has made there. The abject surrender to anti-India
forces is a crying shame. With the amount of international attention
elections in J&K attract, I never thought PM Modi would be willing to
confess his failure on a global stage.”

The decision to not hold the J&K Assembly elections with the Lok Sabha polls
is not extraordinary. In fact, since 1967, the state has never held
simultaneous polls. Only in 1977, 1996 and 2014, they were held the same
year, but even then not simultaneously.

PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti tweeted: “Decision to hold only parliamentary
elections in J&K confirms sinister designs of GoI. Not letting people elect
a government is antithetical to the very idea of democracy. Also a tactic of
buying time to dis-empower people by pushing an agenda that suits their
ulterior motives.”

POLL DANCE WILL SEE BJP HIT OPPN WITH AIR STRIKES, SAYS SUSHMA

The Indian Air Force’s strike on Pakistan’s Balakot will feature prominently
in the BJP’s campaign for the Lok Sabha elections, Minister for External
Affairs Sushma Swaraj indicated in Mumbai yesterday.

Addressing a gathering of women workers of the party, Swaraj said the BJP
would come out with campaign material attacking the opposition parties “who
questioned the valour of India’s armed forces”. “We will come out with
leaflets… asking whether our jawans should count dead bodies or return
safely after carrying out air strikes,” Swaraj told party workers.

She further exhorted BJP workers to take on those doubting the impact of the
air strikes and ask counter questions to those who raise doubts.

“We should ask questions like whether you will support parties that back
separatists. We should ask people whether they would vote for those who
question the bravery of our soldiers,” Swaraj said.

The veteran BJP leader said the party was publishing two leaflets to be
circulated by its women party workers. While one would focus completely on
the air strikes and help provide points to the party workers during debates,
the other would provide details on the Narendra Modi government’s welfare
schemes for women.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who attended the event, told party workers
to take on Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader Raj Thackeray.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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

FOUR INDIANS AMONG 157 DEAD AS PLANE CRASHES IN ETHIOPIA

Four Indians were among 149 passengers who were killed when a Nairobi-bound
Ethiopian Airlines aircraft crashed six minutes after take-off Sunday
morning from Addis Ababa, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said.
Eight crew members onboard the Boeing 737 were also confirmed dead.

People holding passports from 32 countries and the UN were onboard the
plane, which ploughed into a field 60 km southeast of Addis Ababa, the
carrier’s CEO Tewolde GebreMariam said.

State-owned Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest carrier, said the Boeing
737-800MAX took off at 8:38 am local time from Bole International Airport
and “lost contact” six minutes later. Scheduled to land in Nairobi at 10:25
am, it crashed near the village of Tulu Fara outside Bishoftu. Rescue crews
were retrieving human remains from the wreckage, officials said. Ethiopian
Airlines confirmed “there are no survivors”.

‘BREXIT IN PERIL’ AS PM MAY FACES HEAVY DEFEAT

Brexit could be reversed if lawmakers reject the government’s exit deal,
British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said on Sunday after two major
eurosceptic factions in parliament warned that Prime Minister Theresa May
was facing a heavy defeat.

Just 19 days before the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29,
May is scrambling – so far unsuccessfully – to secure last-minute changes to
an EU exit treaty before parliament votes on Tuesday on whether to approve
the deal.

If she fails, lawmakers are expected to force May to seek a delay to Brexit
which some fear could see the 2016 decision to leave the bloc reversed.
Others argue that without a delay Britain faces an economic shock if it
leaves without a deal.

“We have an opportunity now to leave on March 29 or shortly thereafter and
it’s important we grasp that opportunity because there is wind in the sails
of people trying to stop Brexit,” Hunt told the BBC. “We are in very
perilous waters.”

DEMOCRACY, DPRK STYLE: NORTH KOREA HOLDS POLL

North Koreans went to the polls on Sunday for an election in which there
could be only one winner.

Leader Kim Jong Un’s ruling Workers’ Party has an iron grip on the
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as the isolated, nuclear-armed
country is officially known.

Every five years it holds an election for the rubber stamp legislature,
known as the Supreme People’s Assembly. The exercise has all the trappings
of votes elsewhere, from electoral rolls to sealed ballot boxes to
scrutineers for the count.

But in keeping with one of Pyongyang’s most enduring slogans –
“Single-minded unity” – there is only one approved name on each of the red
voting slips.

THE REST

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BJD TAKES FIRST STEP, TO GIVE 33% LOK SABHA TICKETS TO WOMEN

Hours before the Lok Sabha poll schedule was announced, Odisha Chief
Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday indicated that the Biju Janata Dal (BJD)
would allocate 33 per cent of its Lok Sabha tickets to women.

Addressing a women’s rally in Kendrapara district, he said: “From this
historic soil in Kendrapara, I announce that from Odisha, 33 per cent women
will go to Parliament. Odisha will show India the way in empowering The BJD,
which won 20 of 21 Lok Sabha seats in Odisha in 2014, currently has three
women MPs.

Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said: “To distract from violence
against women in Odisha, Naveen Babu is indulging in such rhetoric and
hypocrisy.” He asked why the BJD had not reserved tickets for the Assembly
polls too, which will be held with the Lok Sabha polls.

SEVEN-PHASE POLLING IN WEST BENGAL WILL INCONVENIENCE PEOPLE: TMC

The Trinamool Congress Sunday said that the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections
in West Bengal will cause a lot of inconvenience to the people of the state,
even as the BJP welcomed the Election Commission’s decision saying that it
reflects the “deteriorating” law and order situation under TMC rule.

Senior TMC leader and state minister Firhad Hakim said that the BJP had
submitted a false data on the law and order situation in the state to the
Election Commission (EC) which forced the poll panel to declare a
seven-phase poll for the state. “This prolonged polling process will cause a
lot of inconvenience to the people, especially those from the minority
communities as the elections will be held in the month of Ramzan,” said
Hakim.

The state Congress too urged the EC to reconsider its decision to hold polls
in the month of Ramzan. “People belonging to the minority community will
suffer a lot during elections as three of the seven phases are falling in
the month of Ramzan. The EC should reconsider its decision,” State Congress
president Somen Mitra Somen Mitra said.

SOCIAL MEDIA SITES TO HAVE FACT CHECKERS

Social media platforms will deploy “appropriate fact checkers” to scan fake
news and use of abusive language ahead of Lok Sabha polls, the Election
Commission said.

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said each of the social media
platforms had created a mechanism to accept only pre-certified political
advertisements during the election process and would share the expenditure
incurred in this regard with the election authorities.

He said election management-related news on all major national and regional
news channels would be monitored vigorously during the election. “If any
untoward incident or violation of any law is noticed, action would be taken
immediately,” Arora said.

All platforms have agreed to establish priority channels for EC for a quick
response. They have also appointed grievance officers for the election.
“(The) platforms are already taking action against fake accounts, spam by
deploying fact checkers,” he said.

On action EC could take against the platforms, he said social media and
print media were not covered under the election law.

RBI HAD WARNED GOVT AGAINST DEMONETISATION HOURS BEFORE ANNOUNCEMENT

The RBI had warned that removing high-value cash was unlikely to stem black
money. The 561st meeting of the board of the RBI was held on November 8,
2016, at 5.30 pm in New Delhi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced at 8 pm on the same day the
government’s intention to ban Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

The minutes of the meeting were obtained under the Right to Information Act
by activist Venkatesh Nayak, and hosted on the website of the Commonwealth
Human Rights Initiative. The RBI has confirmed the minutes are genuine.

The RBI board was clearly not convinced by the government’s arguments, the
minutes showed. “Most of the black money is held not in the form of cash but
in the form of real-sector assets such as gold and real estate and that this
move would not have a material impact on those assets,” the board of
directors observed.

Among other observations by the directors was that though demonetisation was
a “commendable measure”, it would have a short-term negative effect on GDP
for “the current year” (2016-17).

The counterfeiting of currency notes was a concern, but since its purported
value was limited to Rs 400 crore, it was not very significant.

The board was told the issue was discussed with the government for six
months and most of the concerns raised by the board were considered. The
board was assured the government would take “mitigating measures to contain
the use of cash” as demonetisation presented a “big opportunity to take the
process of financial inclusion and incentivising use of electronic modes of
payment forward as people see the benefits of bank accounts and electronic
means of payments over use of cash”.

After deliberation, the board concluded that demonetisation was “in the
larger public interest”.

INDIA, SAUDI ARABIA TO REVIVE WORK ON $44-BILLION WEST COAST REFINERY

Hours before the Election Commission announced the dates of the Lok Sabha
polls, India and Saudi Arabia came to an understanding to revive and
‘expedite’ the implementation of $44 billion West Coast refinery project in
Maharashtra, in which Saudi Aramco will be holding a considerable stake.

The decision may have political repercussions in the state as setting aside
the project was one of the conditions put forward by the Shiv Sena for an
electoral tie up with the BJP.

This was one of the major talking points in a meeting between Petroleum
Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and his Saudi counterpart and the chairman of
Saudi Aramco, Khalid A Al-Falih, in New Delhi on Saturday.

J&J ASKED TO PAY RS 74.5 LAKH TO PATIENT WITH ‘FAULTY’ HIP IMPLANT

Nearly three months after the Health Ministry approved a formula to
compensate patients fitted with Johnson & Johnson’s controversial ASR hip
implants in India, the national drug regulator has directed the medical
device giant to pay a Maharashtra-based patient over Rs 74.5 lakh.

J&J is currently locked in a court battle against the government challenging
the compensation formula, which would make patients eligible for amounts
between Rs 30 lakh and Rs 1.23 crore, depending on their age and level of
disability.

On March 8, a central expert committee to recommend compensation for these
“faulty” hip implants examined an application of a patient from Maharashtra,
the CDSCO stated Sunday.

MOVIETIME: BADLA IMPRESSES CRITICS AS WELL AS AUDIENCE

Sujoy Ghosh’s latest thriller Badla has rocked the box office with its
superb growth. Trade analyst Taran Adarsh tweeted that the film, starring
Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu and Amrita Singh, has collected a little
over Rs. 16 crore in two days, of which Rs. 13.59 crore in only India
business.

Badla is the adaptation of Spanish film Contratiempo.

Film critic Saibal Chatterjee in his review of Badla wrote: “Badla is a
crime thriller that lifts itself out of the limitations of the form by
spotlighting questions of guilt and retribution without diluting its edgy
quality. The quality of the acting and the technical finesse on show… make
Badla an unmissable film.”

The film also stars Tony Luke, Manav Kaul, Tanveer Ghani and Denzil Smith.

MOHALI ODI: AUS STUN INDIA, CHASE 359 WITH 13 BALLS TO SPARE

Australia pulled off their highest-ever successful chase against India to
leave the hosts stunned and series levelled at 2-2 after the fourth ODI.
Ashton Turner’s unbeaten knock of 84 off just 43 balls left the Mohali crowd
numb as he walked off the field coolly after securing the win with 13 balls
to spare.

Usman Khawaja (91) and Peter Handscomb (117) had kept the Indian bowlers
bleeding before the 26-year-old Turner bludgeoned them with his sledgehammer
to record a four-wicket win.

Australia were 12/2 as early as the fourth over but Handscomb and Khawaja
put up a 192-run partnership, enabling the middle-order to launch the final
onslaught. The visitors were always in the chase – they were 271/4 at the
end of the 41st over; India in comparison were 272/3 at that stage. The
hosts had scored 91 runs in the last 10 overs but the Aaron Finch-led
Australia easily trumped that.

The Indian batsmen had done their job well after winning the toss – they
posted 358/9 and were hoping that their bowlers had enough to win the match.
But while the Australians played brilliantly, wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant
missed a straightforward stumping of Handscomb in the 39th over, followed by
one more missed stumping of Turner. Kedar Jadhav and Shikhar Dhawan too
could not hold on to catches and the near-impossible became possible.

However, it was the Indian bowlers who looked completely helpless in dewy
conditions, finding it difficult to grip the ball. Skipper Virat Kohli later
said they misread the conditions for the second time after Ranchi, where
they had expected dew but didnt see any while batting second.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

The most destructive element in the human mind is fear. Fear creates
aggressiveness. – Dorothy Simpson

OFF TRACK

To maintain a mistress in China, a Sindhi millionaire bought a house in
Shenzhen (in his name) for her to live in, plus gave her a monthly allowance
of 10,000 Yuan. The house cost him about 700,000 Yuan in 2005

He sold the house this year for 3.8 million Yuan, after they broke up. A
quick calculation shows that after 5 years of a fling with the woman, which
involved a lot of travel between Mumbai and Shenzhen, he still had a net
gain of some 2 million Yuan

When his wife found out about this, she was furious: “Muah Charya !!!! Why
the hell did you keep just ONE Mistress!!!!”

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