2019, March, Newsletter

India Newsletter Mar 12, 2019

NEWS TO SHIPS BY NEWS ACCESS INDIA – TUESDAY, MARCH 12, 2019

FRONT PAGE NEWS

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BJP, CONG. IN WAR OF WORDS OVER RAHUL GANDHI’S ‘MASOOD AZHAR JI’ REMARK

The BJP Monday latched on to Rahul Gandhi’s reference to terrorist
organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad’s head as “Masood Azhar ji” to throw “Rahul
loves terrorists” barb at the Congress chief, as the opposition party hit
back accusing its rival of deliberately twisting his comments made with
sarcasm.

Addressing a meeting of Congress workers in New Delhi, Gandhi attacked the
BJP, saying, “These people with 56 inch chest, you would recall, in their
previous government, the current National Security Advisor Ajit Doval went
in an aircraft with Masood Azhar ji and handed him over there in Kandhar.”
Gandhi noted it was Azhar who was responsible for the killing of 40 CRPF
soldiers in the Pulwama attack on February 14.

Targeting the Congress chief, BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar
Prasad said, “Come on Rahul Gandhi Ji! Earlier it was the likes of Digvijay
Ji who called Osama Ji and Hafiz Saeed Sahab. Now you are saying ‘Masood
Azhar Ji’. What is happening to Congress Party?”

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala accused the BJP and a
section of media for deliberately twisting Gandhi’s remarks. “Two questions
to BJP & select Bhakt Media, who deliberately seek to twist the ‘Masood’
sarcasm of Rahulji- 1) Did NSA Doval not escort & release terrorist Masood
Azhar in Kandahar? 2) Did Modiji not invite Pak’s rogue ISI to investigate
Pathankot terror attack?”.

Another Union minister Smriti Irani also took a swipe at Gandhi. “What is
common between Rahul Gandhi and Pakistan? Their love for terrorists. Please
note Rahul ji’s reverence for terrorist Masood Azhar – a testimony to
#RahulLovesTerrorists,” she tweeted.

In turn, Surjewala used the hashtag “BJP loves terrorists”. Azhar and two
other terrorists, Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar and Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, were
released from Indian prison in 1999 by the then BJP-led government headed by
Atal Bihari Vajpayee in exchange for the passengers held hostage on board
IC-814 flight hijacked to Kandahar in Afghanistan.

ROW OVER RAMZAN, POLL DATES; ASADUDDIN OWAISI STANDS BY EC

Union Minister and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday said
Opposition parties had shown their “utter frustration” by raising the issue
of Lok Sabha polls being held during Ramzan. “Over a dozen times, elections
have been held during the holy month of Ramzan,” Prasad said at a press
meet. He said Holi and Chaitra Navratra will also be held during the
elections, “…but questions are being raised only about Ramzan”. “Raising
such issues only reflects utter frustration on the part of Opposition
leaders,” he said.

Leaders of the TMC, AAP and Congress have said the poll schedule during
Ramzan will inconvenience Muslims.

But AIMIM leader and Hyderabad MP Asaddudin Owaisi has trashed claims that
polling during Ramzan will lead to low turnout. “I want to tell leaders of
TMC not to speak on behalf of Muslims. All this talk of Ramzan affecting
Muslim voting, thereby leading to less voting percentage is rubbish. Muslims
don’t stop working during Ramzan. They will fast and do other spiritual
things, but they will definitely vote,” he said. “The important part is the
EC has to complete the election process before June 3 and constitute
Parliament. If they have to do that, then they have to hold elections during
Ramzan. Ramzan starts on May 5 and ends on June 4, so to blame EC that
elections are being held during Ramzan is very crooked. Election day will be
a holiday and even though they may be fasting, Muslims will go out to vote.
Do these TMC leaders think that during Ramzan, Muslims stop working?” Owaisi
said.

IT’S EITHER MODI OR CHAOS: FM

A day after the Election Commission announced the schedule of the 2019 Lok
Sabha polls, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said the choice was between PM
Narendra Modi and a certain “chaos”.

“The “contest is between a leader in whose hand the country is developing
and secure. He is trusted. Against him it is no one projected leader. There
are multiple leaders, each trying to outwit the other. They can only promise
a temporary government if we go by the past precedents. One can be certain
of chaos. The choice is clear – it is either Modi or chaos,” Jaitley wrote.

Recounting the merits of Modi as a national and world leader, Jaitley said:
“Even his critics are bewildered by his evolution of his national security
doctrine. He has evolved India from a nation which only defended itself
domestically against terror through intelligence and security network and
isolated Pakistan at the global level to a nation which is capable of
destroying terror at the points of its’ origin. The success of the surgical
strikes of 2016 and the air strikes of 2019 points to this direction.”

While within the NDA there are no leadership issues, the ‘mahagathbandhan’
is rife from conflicting “gathbandhans”, he wrote.

PROTRACTED POLL TO FACILITATE ANOTHER STRIKE: MAMATA

Stoking a controversy, West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata
Banerjee yesterday appeared to suggest that the long-drawn Lok Sabha
election process was intended to facilitate yet another “strike” as part of
the BJP’s “game plan to disturb” her state.

“I have been informed by some senior journalists that there will be another
strike. What strike I will not say. In the name of so-called… so-called…
so-called… in the month of April. That is why the voting process will
continue till May 19. I have great respect for a Constitutional body like
the EC. But it is a part of the BJP’s game plan to disturb West Bengal,” she
told a press conference.

With the TMC boss’ comments seen as an oblique reference to a likely
military action by India, the BJP was quick to react. “She has the habit of
levelling baseless accusations. She is given to kite-flying. If she has
proof, she should make it public,” said BJP state chief Dilip Ghosh.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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U.K., EU ANNOUNCE CHANGE TO BREXIT DEAL AHEAD OF KEY VOTE

Britain and the European Union emerged from last-minute talks late on Monday
to announce they had finally removed the biggest roadblock to their Brexit
divorce deal, only hours before the U.K. Parliament was due to decide the
fate of Prime Minister Theresa May’s hard-won plan to leave the EU.

On the eve of Tuesday’s vote in London, May flew to Strasbourg, France, to
seek revisions, guarantees or other changes from European Commission
president Jean-Claude Juncker that would persuade reluctant British
legislators to back her withdrawal agreement with the EU.

At a joint news conference, May and Juncker claimed to have succeeded. May
said new documents to be added to the deal provided “legally binding
changes” to the part relating to the Irish border. The legal 585-page
withdrawal agreement itself though was left intact.

“In politics, sometimes you get a second chance. It is what you do with this
second chance that counts. Because there will be no third chance,” Juncker
warned the legislators who will vote today.

“Let’s be crystal clear about the choice – it is this deal or Brexit might
not happen at all,” he said.

May said the changes should overcome lawmakers’ qualms about a mechanism,
know as Irish backstop, in the deal that is designed to keep an open border
between Britain’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.

SEOUL CLOSELY MONITORING N. KOREA FOR ‘MISSILE LAUNCH’: MILITARY

South Korea’s military said Monday it was closely monitoring North Korean
facilities after a series of satellite images triggered international alarm
that Pyongyang might be preparing a long-range missile or space launch.

Analysis indicates increased activity at two key sites — the Samundong
missile research facility and the Sohae rocket-testing facility. Any launch
could send stuttering talks on denuclearisation into disarray. Satellite
images of Samundong taken on February 22 showed cars and trucks at the site,
as well as rail cars and cranes at a yard, US news outlet NPR reported.

THE REST

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ELECTION COMMISSION CRACKS DOWN ON ADVERTISEMENTS, GOVT WEBSITES

The Election Commission has directed the Cabinet Secretary, state Chief
Secretaries and all Chief Electoral Officers to remove references to any
minister, politician or political party from the official websites of
central and state governments.

The poll watchdog has also prohibited print and electronic advertisements
highlighting achievements of the government at the cost of public money.

“If any advertisement has already been released for telecast/ broadcast or
publication in the print media, it must be ensured that the telecast/
broadcast of such ads on electronic media is stopped forthwith and no such
ad is published in any newspapers, magazines, etc, ie. in print media, from
the date of announcement and it should be immediately withdrawn,” the
Commission’s order states.

The instructions are in keeping with the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), which
kicked in with the announcement of the poll dates.

In keeping with the spirit of the MCC, the EC on Sunday also forbade
ministers from combining official visits with electioneering work and using
official machinery like vehicles during electioneering work.

That apart, state and central government have been asked to remove all
unauthorised political advertisements in the form of writings on walls,
posters, hoardings, banners and flags from public property and public spaces
such as airports, railway stations, bus stands, municipal buildings,
government offices and buses within three days of announcement of poll
dates.

AAP TO FIGHT POLLS ON DELHI STATEHOOD ISSUE

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will burn copies of the BJP’s 2014 manifesto
on March 13 over Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari’s statement that full
statehood will not find a place in the party’s list of promises for the
upcoming general elections. Delhi goes to polls on May 12.

The decision was taken in a meeting at Kejriwal’s home Monday evening.
According to AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, the AAP will weave its Lok
Sabha campaign entirely on statehood.

Singh also said “there is no possibility of an alliance now,” when asked if
a tie-up with the Congress was discussed in the meeting.

“The CM said the AAP will fight the polls on the issue of statehood and that
the demand has started resonating with people. On this front, his campaign
speeches over the last fortnight have been solely focused on statehood.

AAP Delhi convenor Gopal Rai said: “Tiwari has questioned the AAP’s demand
for statehood and said the issue will not be in the BJP manifesto. This has
come as a shock to the people of Delhi as the same BJP had bagged seven
seats in 2014 after making promises on statehood. Tiwari’s statement also
implies that the promises made over the years, including by Modi and BJP
veteran LK Advani, are nothing but lies.”

PULWAMA TERROR ATTACK MASTERMIND KILLED IN TRAL ENCOUNTER

Senior security officials yesterday announced that 25-year-old Mudasir Khan
of Midoora Tral, the main conspirator in the February 14 CRPF convoy attack
in Pulwama, had been killed along with a Pakistani national in a fierce
gunfight in Pinglish Tral in Pulwama district on Sunday. The bodies of the
militants were charred.

The gunfight, which broke out in the afternoon, took place 22 km from
Lethpora where suicide bomber Adil Dar had rammed his car carrying
explosives into the CRPF convoy, killing 40 men.

The General Officer Commanding of the Army’s Srinagar-based 15 Corps, Lt Gen
Kanwal Jeet Singh Dhillon, said, “Mudasir was one of the main Jaish
conspirators who helped and coordinated the Pulwama attack.” The joint
briefing was also attended by IGP (Kashmir) Swayam Prakash Pani and CRPF IG
(Operations) in Kashmir Zulfiqar Hassan.

The Corps Commander said post-Pulwama, they had gone all out after Jaish and
eliminated 18 militants in 21 days. “The killings of Mudasir and Kamran, a
Pakistani national who was the JeM’s operational chief, are part of that
operation. We have achieved reasonable success in our mission. The aim is to
ensure Pulwama-type incidents don’t recur

SC TO TAKE UP PLEA ON 10% QUOTA FOR POOR ON MARCH 28

The Supreme Court will take up petitions challenging the Centre’s decision
to grant 10 per cent reservation to economically weaker section (EWS) of the
General Category in public employment and education, including in private
institutions, on March 28 when it will consider if the issue needed to be
referred to a Constitution Bench.

A three-judge Bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi today made it clear that it
was not in favour of passing any order on the issue at this stage.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, representing petitioners, said the law
breached the 50 per cent ceiling fixed by the Supreme Court in the Indira
Shawheny case (1992) and violated basic structure of the Constitution.

The SC had earlier refused to stay the Centre’s decision. However, the court
had agreed to examine the validity of the law and issued a notice to the
Centre on the plea filed by businessman and Congress supporter Tehseen
Poonawalla.

Defending its decision, the Centre Monday told the Supreme Court that the
amendments did not violate the basic structure of the Constitution or the
apex court’s 1992 ruling in the Indra Sawhney case, and that the fifty
percent ceiling on reservation “is only applicable to reservation made under
Article 15(4), 15(5) and 16(4) and does not apply to Article 15(6)”.

DAY AFTER CRASH, MORE CHECKS ON PLANES AND PILOTS

From additional engineering and maintenance checks to minimum flying
experience for pilots, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)
Monday issued a fresh set of directives to be followed by Jet Airways and
SpiceJet, which use the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The move comes a day after
this Boeing model flown by Ethiopian Airlines crashed near Addis Ababa,
killing all 157 people on board, including four Indians.

Jet Airways and SpiceJet operate a total of 17 jets of this model. “This is
the second fatal accident of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft within a span of five
months.The issue has been reviewed in DGCA today along with the Indian
operators covering all reported snags/defects of significant nature along
with rectification actions taken on these aircraft,” the regulator said
Monday.

While the DGCA has stopped short of grounding the aircraft, authorities in
China and Indonesia have forced the plane out of service as a precaution.

The DGCA said engineers and maintenance personnel have been instructed to
factor in additional checks, particularly those pertaining to the autopilot
and stall management systems. It said that airlines must also ensure that
crew members should have undergone training according to updated guidelines
issued by DGCA on December 3, following the Lion Air accident in Indonesia
involving the same model.

INCREASE IN RETIREMENT AGE: CRPF OBJECTS, OTHER FORCES SAY YES

Following the Delhi High Court’s order in January on a “uniform” retirement
age for the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), “irrespective of their
rank”, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had sought the opinion of the
forces.

Currently, only the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and Assam
Rifles (AR) have fixed the retirement age at 60 years. For the remaining
four forces – CRPF, Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police
(ITBP) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) – personnel in the ranks of constable
to commandant (senior superintendent of police) retire at the age of 57,
while those above them retire at 60 years.

Barring the CRPF, the other security forces have supported the move to
increase the retirement age.

In its reply to the MHA, the CRPF has said that 80 per cent of its personnel
are deployed in difficult areas, and therefore, they need a younger profile.
“We are a force which is constantly deployed, and 80 per cent are in hard
areas. We are also fighting in two of the most dangerous battle zones of
Left Wing Extremism and Kashmir. We want a younger profile of commanding
officers. We have not said no to increasing the retirement age, but have
expressed our reservation. The decision has to be taken by the MHA,” said a
senior CRPF officer. The officer said there is also concern that the move
would lead to stagnation. “It would mean there would be no promotions in the
force for the next three-four years. That could lead to frustration in the
ranks,” he said.

On the other hand, the BSF has told the MHA that its personnel are retiring
although they are fit. “Though the duties being performed by BSF personnel.
requires both physical and mental toughness to withstand the rigours of the
aforesaid duties, the better healthcare awareness, better nutritional
conditions today, enhanced use of technology etc have increased the
efficiency level of personnel even after 57 years,” it has said.

INDIA WAS GRANTED PERMISSION TO WEAR CAMOUFLAGE CAPS: ICC

The International Cricket Council on Monday said India was granted
permission to wear camouflage military caps in the third ODI against
Australia as a tribute to the country’s armed forces, a gesture which
Pakistan has objected to.

“The BCCI sought permission from the ICC to wear the caps as part of a
fundraising drive and in memory of fallen soldiers who have died, which was
granted,” ICC’s General Manager Strategic Communications Claire Furlong said
in a statement.

The Pakistan Cricket Board had sent a strongly-worded letter to the ICC,
calling for action against India for wearing the caps.

INDICATORS

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/US$

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Silver (Rs. Per KG) 41,500

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become
more, you are a leader. – John Quincy Adams

OFF TRACK

A smart young man has dinner at a fancy restaurant. After paying the tab, he
checks his pockets and leaves his tip–three quarters. As he strides toward
the door, his waiter muses, only half to himself: “You know, you can tell a
lot about a man by the tip he leaves.”

The man turns around, curiosity getting the better of him. “Oh, really? Tell
me, what does my tip say?”

“Well, this quarter tells me you’re a thrifty man.” Barely able to conceal
his pride, the man utters “Hmm, true enough.” “And this quarter, it tells me
you’re a bachelor.” Surprised at his perception, he says, “Well, that’s
true, too.”

“And the third quarter tells me that your father was one, too.”

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