2019, March, Newsletter

India Newsletter Mar 13, 2019





Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday posted a blog on the 89th
anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March, claiming his government was
working “on Bapu’s path” while slamming the Congress’s culture as being the
“anti-thesis of Gandhian thought”.

The blog appeared to be aimed at attacking the main Opposition party on a
day the Congress Working Committee met in Ahmedabad in the Prime Minister’s
home state Gujarat.

“Sadly, the anti-thesis of Gandhian thought is the Congress culture,” Modi
wrote. “In many of his works, Gandhi Ji said that he does not believe in
inequality and caste divisions. Sadly, the Congress has never hesitated from
dividing society. The worst caste riots and anti-Dalit massacres happened
under Congress rule.”

Modi, who has stopped his monthly radio address Mann Ki Baat because of the
upcoming April-May elections, appears to have taken to blogging to target
political rivals in the lead-up to the battle.

Modi, who has been steadfastly trying to appropriate Gandhi since taking
over as the Prime Minister in 2014, quoted the Mahatma extensively while
attacking the Congress. “Bapu spoke about detachment and staying away from
excess wealth. However, all that Congress has done is to fill their own bank
accounts and lead luxurious lifestyles at the cost of providing basic
necessities to the poor,” he wrote.

“Bapu despised dynastic politics but the ‘Dynasty First’ is the way for the
Congress today,” he said. “Gandhi Ji understood the Congress culture very
well, which is why he wanted the Congress disbanded especially after 1947.”


Meeting in Gujarat, home state of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel, the
Congress Working Committee (CWC) yesterday sent out a clear signal of battle
readiness to the ruling BJP, saying it would seek a mandate for change in
the coming Lok Sabha elections

With nationalism dominating the election narrative after the February 14
Pulwama terror attack, the Congress reaffirmed its commitment to the cause
of sovereignty and anti-terror, slamming PM Narendra Modi for “cynically
exploiting issues of national security for poll gains”.

The CWC’s political resolution made caustic references to the PM and said he
was exploiting national security issues to deflect people’s attention from
his government’s failures.

“The PM has betrayed the people. He doesn’t want people to discuss the
fundamental issues of job loss, agrarian distress, low growth, social
disharmony. But the Congress is determined to not let the PM fool the people
again,” Congress leader Anand Sharma said after the meeting that lasted over
two hours.

At the meeting that AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra attended
for the first time, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was the first to slam the
PM for “politicising national interest matters and playing victim when
indeed people were the victims of his unilateral policies”.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi hinted at a possible climbdown on alliances
when he tweeted from the meeting that “no sacrifice is too great to achieve
the goal of defeating BJP”.

The CWC resolution later signalled the strategy Congress will adopt in LS
poll campaign – attack the BJP for failures; project UPA achievements and
tell people that the Congress does what it says; project the poll battle as
one between Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of India and that of Nathuram Godse’s.

The CWC meeting was preceded with a prayer meeting at Sabarmati Ashram and
followed by a rally in Gandhinagar where Patidar leader Hardik Patel joined
the Congress.


In a setback to the prospects of an opposition grand alliance to take on the
ruling BJP in the Lok Sabha election, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) made it
clear on Tuesday that it would not have any electoral tie-up with the
Congress in any state for the polls beginning April 11.

In a statement, BSP supremo Mayawati said, “It is being made clear again
that the Bahujan Samaj Party will not have any electoral alliance with the
Congress in any state.”

Referring to her party’s pre-poll alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP) in
Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati said it was based on “mutual respect” and “honest
intentions”, adding that “the SP-BSP alliance is perfect enough to defeat
the BJP, especially in Uttar Pradesh”.

Addressing party leaders from various states, excluding Uttar Pradesh, in
New Delhi, Mayawati said while several parties were “eager” for an alliance
with the BSP, her party would not do anything for mere electoral gains as it
could “harm the BSP movement”.


The Hindus wouldn’t vote for the Congress and the party’s refusal to enter
into a seat-sharing pact with the AAP has alienated even Muslims, said Delhi
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Tuesday, asserting that his party will sweep
the Lok Sabha polls in the capital even without an alliance.

Referring to the findings of an “internal survey”, Kejriwal also said the
BJP’s attempt to “politicise” the tension between India and Pakistan was
damaging the ruling party, contrary to the perception that it would reap
dividends. “People are telling us that they have been suspecting over the
past two years that the BJP will do some lafda (mischief) on mandir or
India-Pakistan lafda before the polls,” he said.

Asked to elaborate, the CM said, “We don’t have details.”


India has asked its oil companies to cut back on their purchase from
Venezuela even as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked New Delhi to stop
being the “economic lifeline for the Maduro regime”.

The Indian decision could sound the death knell for the Nicolas Maduro
regime because New Delhi is Caracas’ second largest customer after the US.

The Venezuelan economic crisis will intensify once both countries stop
buying its crude.

At its peak, India was purchasing 4 lakh barrels per day of Venezuelan oil,
of which Reliance accounted for 75 per cent of the heavy sulphur crude.
India’s total purchases have now whittled to 3 lakh barrels a day.

“The Indian government is warning companies to halt purchases of Venezuelan
oil or face undisclosed consequences,” agencies quoted MM Kutty, Petroleum
and Natural Gas Secretary, at an event in Houston, US.

The issue had also figured in talks between Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale
and US State Department officials.




British lawmakers crushingly rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal to
quit the European Union on Tuesday, thrusting Brexit into turmoil just 17
days before the planned departure date. Lawmakers voted against May’s
amended Brexit deal by 391 to 242 as her last-minute talks with EU chiefs on
Monday to assuage her critics’ concerns ultimately proved fruitless.

The vote puts the world’s fifth largest economy in uncharted territory with
no obvious way forward; exiting the EU without a deal, delaying the March 29
divorce date, or even another referendum are all now possible.

May might even try a third time to get parliamentary support in the hope
that hardline eurosceptic lawmakers in her Conservative Party, the most
vocal critics of her withdrawal treaty, might change their minds if it
becomes more likely that Britain might stay in the EU after all.

Lawmakers will now vote today on whether Britain should quit the world’s
biggest trading bloc without a deal, a scenario that business leaders warn
would bring chaos to markets and supply chains, and other critics say could
cause shortages of food and medicines.

May said the government would not instruct her own party’s lawmakers how to
vote. An opposition Labour Party spokesman said this meant she had “given up
any pretence of leading the country”.

The prime minister, hoarse after Monday’s late-night talks, told lawmakers:
“Let me be clear. Voting against leaving without a deal and for an extension
does not solve the problems we face.”She said parliament was now at an
impasse: “Does it wish to revoke Article 50 (announcing intention to leave
the EU)? Does it want to hold a second referendum? Or does it want to leave
with a deal, but not this deal?”

However, parliament is expected firmly to reject a “no-deal” Brexit as well,
so lawmakers would then vote again on Thursday – on whether government
should request a delay to the leaving date to allow further talks.

But Both May and the EU have already ruled out any other changes to the
deal, struck after two-and-a-half years of tortuous negotiations.


Pakistan has assured the US it will deal “firmly” with all terrorists
operating from the country and take steps to de-escalate tensions with
India, according to National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Such an assurance was given by Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood
Qureshi during a phone call on Monday, Bolton said in a tweet on a day when
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale called on US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

“The FM (Qureshi) assured me Pakistan would deal firmly with all terrorists
and will continue steps to de-escalate tensions with India,” he tweeted.

In Islamabad, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said the purpose of Qureshi’s call
was to provide Bolton Pakistan’s perspective on the “recent regional
developments.” Qureshi said that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan decided
to hand over the Indian pilot as a gesture of goodwill towards India.
Pakistan wished peace and stability in the region, he was quoted as telling
the US National Security Adviser.




In what is probably the first instance of action against a violation of the
Model Code of Conduct (MCC) on social media, the Election Commission Tuesday
asked Facebook to remove two political posters with Wing Commander
Abhinandan Varthaman’s photograph, shared by BJP leader and Delhi MLA Om
Prakash Sharma.

The EC is learnt to have flagged the content to Shivnath Thukral, Director,
Public Policy for India and South Asia, at Facebook, based on a complaint
received on its cVIGIL app. It is a new Android-based mobile application,
introduced during the Karnataka Assembly election last year, on which
citizens can with proof to the EC.

The move comes days after the poll panel asked all recognised political
parties to stop making references to the armed forces in their political
campaigns. The MCC has been in force since Sunday when the EC announced the
LS poll dates.


Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said awareness and making conscientious decisions were
the best expression of patriotism, taking head-on Narendra Modi’s jingoism
on his home turf in her first public speech since formally entering

“What is happening in the country today pains me. I want to tell you
something from my heart: Nothing can be more patriotic today than being
aware. Your awareness is a weapon. Your vote is a weapon. With this weapon,
you don’t hurt anybody but empower yourself,” the Congress leader told a
mammoth rally in Gandhinagar on Tuesday.

“You have to profoundly think what this election is about. What you are
about to choose. You are going to choose your future. You can’t get
distracted by irrelevant issues,” she continued.

With attempts to whip up war hysteria to divert attention from governance
issues posing the biggest hurdle to the Opposition, Priyanka focused on
explaining why voters should not allow jingoism to override their livelihood
and safety concerns.

Rahul, who spoke after Priyanka, triggered rapturous applause and
sloganeering as he mouthed: “Chowkidar”. He said: “Now I don’t have to say
Chor hai. people erupt automatically.” Even in Modi’s hometown, they did, in
Gujarati -“Chor chhe”.


India’s aviation safety regulator, the DGCA late Tuesday night decided to
ground Boeing 737 MAX aircraft with immediate effect until appropriate
modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure their safe

The DGCA’s decision came shortly after the European Aviation Safety Agency
(EASA) announced suspension of flight operations of Boeing’s flagship
narrowbody aircraft across Europe.

“Directed Secy (Civil Aviation Secretary) to hold an emergency meeting with
all airlines to prepare a contingency plan to avoid inconvenience to
passengers. While passenger safety is a zero tolerance issue, efforts are
already on to minimise the impact on passenger movement as their convenience
is important,” Minister of Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu said in a tweet.

In India, SpiceJet and Jet Airways operate the aircraft. While Jet’s all
five 737 MAXs are grounded due to the airline’s financial woes, SpiceJet
continued to operate the 12 planes in its fleet.

On Tuesday, regulatory authorities of a score of countries including the UK,
France, Australia, Singapore, Germany, Malaysia, Oman among others announced
grounding of the 737 MAX in light of the second fatal accident involving the
aircraft in less than five months.

An Ethiopian Airlines-operated 737 MAX crashed on Sunday shortly after
take-off from Addis Ababa killing all 157 on board. In October last year,
another 737 MAX operated by Lion Air went down into the Java Sea minutes
after taking off.

In a statement, Boeing said that the US Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) was “not mandating any further action at this time” and based on the
information available, the aircraft maker did not have any basis to issue
new guidance to operators.

The last time India announced a blanket grounding of aircraft was in 2013
when regulators followed FAA directive to bring Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner
aircraft out of service due to heating problems with the plane’s lithium ion
batteries that had the potential to catch fire.


Days after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) attached a Gurgaon property
worth over Rs 1 crore belonging to Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah
Watali in connection with its money laundering probe into allegations of
terror funding through Hurriyat leaders, the agency is likely to attach more
properties worth Rs 6 crore in the days to come.

The agency, in its probe, has found that Kashmiri separatists have allegedly
received at least Rs 7 crore from across the border to fund unrest in India.
The agency has claimed this was substantiated through a document seized
during searches at the residence of Ghulam Mohammad Bhatt, who worked as the
cashier-cum-accountant with Watali.

NIA had on Tuesday called Mirwaiz Umar Farooq for questioning in Delhi, but
he did not appear citing a “security risk”.

Meanwhile, terming the NIA summons to Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq
to appear in Delhi in a terror funding case as a “direct interference in the
religious affairs of Muslims”, all religious leaders across the divide
rallied behind him on Tuesday.

Signalling a new faultline, this is the first time religious leaders in
Jammu and Kashmir across the Shia-Sunni, Salafi-Sufi divide have come
together against what they call the government’s

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq took over as Mirwaiz of Kashmir – a 300-year-old
religious institution – after the killing of his father Maulvi Mohammad
Farooq in 1990 by suspected militants.


The three-member mediation panel appointed by the Supreme Court arrived in
Ayodhya on Tuesday to begin the process to resolve the Babri
Masjid-Ramjanmbhoomi title suit case from Wednesday.

Barricades have been erected to restrict movement on the road leading to the
guest house where the panel members are staying. Identity of all residents
has been verified and heavy police force has been deployed in the area.

The area within half a kilometre radius from the guest house is cordoned off
for outsiders, including media persons. “We have been asked to stop all
outsiders,” a policeman standing at the university gate, around 300 metres
from the guest house, said on condition of anonymity.

The panel members are former Supreme Court judge Justice F M Kalifullah, Art
of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu.
Justice FM Kalifullah and Sriram Panchu arrived at the guest house by road
around noon, while Ravi Shankar arrived by a helicopter at 2.30pm, sources

According to the court order, the mediation process should be concluded in
eight weeks and process should be done with “utmost confidentiality”.


Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were among 50 persons
charged by US federal prosecutors today in a $25 million scheme to help
wealthy Americans cheat their children’s way into elite universities, such
as Yale and Stanford.

Federal prosecutors in Boston charged William “Rick” Singer, 58, with
running the racketeering scheme through his Edge College & Career Network.

Prosecutors said Singer’s operation arranged for fake testers to take
college admissions exams in place of his clients’ children, and also bribed
coaches to give admissions slots meant to be reserved for recruited athletes
even if the applicants had no athletic ability.

Parents paid tens of thousands of dollars for his services, which were
masked as charitable contributions, prosecutors said. The scheme began in
2011, prosecutors said, and also helped children get into the University of
Texas, Georgetown University, the University of Southern California and the
University of California, Los Angeles.


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Dollar Index 96.96 Brent Crude 66.88 BDI 645

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,305 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 3270 / 3092,
Silver (Rs. Per KG) 41,500


Stubbornness does have its helpful features. You always know what you’re
going to be thinking tomorrow. – Glen Beaman


A man visits a mental hospital. He sees a patient with torn clothes &
unkempt hair shouting “Divya…..Divya….”

He asks a nurse about the reason for his behavior.

The nurse says the patient used to love a girl called Divya but couldn’t
marry her. So he became mad.

The man visits next ward. There also he sees another patient with torn
clothes & unkempt hair shouting “Divya…..Divya…”

The man looks at the nurse.

The nurse says: “This one….. MARRIED Divya”

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