2019, March, Newsletter

India Newsletter Mar 29, 2019

NEWS TO SHIPS BY NEWS ACCESS INDIA – FRIDAY, MARCH 29, 2019

FRONT PAGE NEWS

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PM’S CAMPAIGN TRAIL: ALL OUT ATTACK AGAINST RIVALS

Opening his party’s poll campaign for the Lok Sabha elections with three
rallies Thursday – in Meerut, Rudrapur and Jammu – Prime Minister Narendra
Modi trashed the alliance of Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal and Bahujan
Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh, saying it stood for “sarab” (liquor) which was
“harmful for the health” of the people: “SP-RLD-BSP. yeh sarab aapko barbaad
kar degi.”

In Akhnoor in Jammu, the Prime Minister, referring to the Balakot air
strikes, said: “Today, those running terror mills across the border are
scared. They are living in the shadow of fear.”

Slamming the Congress for its remarks post the Balakot air strike, he said:
“I am surprised. what has happened to it? Is it the same Congress whose
leader Vallabhbhai Patel left no stone unturned for the unity and integrity
of India and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose gave the slogan of Azad Hindustan?”
He said Congress leaders, in their hatred for Modi, had stopped looking at
national interest.

In Meerut earlier, Modi said: “The mahamilawati people are competing among
themselves to become popular in Pakistan, become heroes in Pakistan. They
are getting great media coverage and applause in Pakistan. Tell me, does
this country need an Indian hero or a Pakistani?.”

Calling himself a “damdar chowkidar” (powerful) who was up against “daagdar
chowkidar” (tainted), he mocked the Opposition for questioning him on the
air strike: “Why did Modi hit terrorists in their homes in Pakistan? Why did
Modi destroy their camps?”

He also accused the Opposition of belittling and ignoring the successful
anti-satellite missile test (ASAT) Wednesday. Without naming Congress
president Rahul Gandhi who had congratulated the DRDO for the test and
wished the PM a happy World Theatre Day, Modi said: “There are people who do
not know the difference between the set of a theatre and the ASAT. These
people thought that I was referring to the set of a theatre.”

Opposition parties reacted angrily to ther ‘sarab’ (liquor) jibe at the
SP-RLD-BSP alliance in UP. The Congress sought an apology from the Prime
Minister, saying he had mocked the democratic system by insulting three
political parties and asked whether a Prime Minister should use such
language, and whether his remarks amounted to violation of the model code of
conduct.

BSP chief Mayawati said: “Undermining the dignity of the post of Prime
Minister, Narendra Modi has described the SP-RLD-BSP alliance as ‘Sharab’ at
a Meerut rally. This highlights his fear of the alliance, his nervousness,
and reflects his casteist and distorted mindset.”

SP leader Akhilesh Yadav too slammed Modi: “Today, the tele-prompter exposed
that those who promote intoxication of hatred do not know the difference
between ‘sharab’ and ‘sarab’. ‘Sarab’ means mirage, which is a blurred dream
which the BJP has been showing for the past five years but has never
fulfilled. It is once again showing ‘sarab’ to people during elections.”

AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh said only a small-time leader, not a Prime
Minister, can use words like “liquor, opium, heroin, cocaine” for political
parties.

WE WILL REMONETISE WHAT MODI DEMONETISED: RAHUL

Congress president Rahul Gandhi yesterday said the ‘Nyay’ scheme will
remonetise what PM Narendra Modi demonetised and asserted that his party’s
anti-poverty programme has thrown the BJP into total disarray.

“What the PM has done over the past five years is to remove all money from
the economy with failed policies like demonetisation and a poorly executed
Gabbar Singh Tax (GST). Informal sectors have been badly hit. The aim of the
‘Nyay’ scheme is two-fold. First is to guarantee a minimum income to the
bottom 20 per cent families. The second is to remonetise the economy that
has been demonetised by Modiji,” Gandhi said in an interview to PTI

About apprehensions of some economists that ‘Nyay’, which entails an
expenditure of Rs 3.6 lakh crore annually, could aggravate India’s fiscal
deficit position, Gandhi said: “No, that’s not right.” He said the party
consulted a large number of economists and experts, studied numerous papers
and other research material on this subject and run an extensive financial
modelling exercise before deciding to include the plan in its Lok Sabha
manifesto.

To a question on the scheme being prima facie populist, Gandhi said: “It is
not a populist measure as projected by some critics.” “If giving out Rs 3.5
lakh crore to 15 people by Modi is not considered populist, why should this
be as it is aimed at benefitting the poor. Is it only the crony capitalist
friends of Modi who are to benefit from government schemes? I’m only asking
for fairness, for justice, or ‘nyay’ for India’s poor. There’s nothing
populist about that,” he countered.

He said: “We’re not rash. We don’t take steps like demonetisation and GST
without consultations, without conferring with the experts. We have vetted
this, tested this, and fiscally ‘Nyay’ as a scheme is doable.”

US-CHINA ROW OVER FRESH LISTING OF MASOOD IN UN

India has sought to steer clear of a developing row between the US and China
over a fresh move at the UN Security Council (UNSC) to blacklist
Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar.

Caught in the tug-of-war between China and the US, Pakistan has sought to
convey reasonableness and equanimity by asking India to submit more
information about the Pulwama attacks.

China says the US is acting in haste by sponsoring a resolution at UNSC two
weeks after it shot down a similar move on grounds that it needed time to
study the blacklisting proposal.

As deliberations on UNSC listing proceedings are confidential, India has
taken the stand that it would be inappropriate to comment at this stage on a
process which is “entirely within the parameters of informal discussion of
the Council and its members”.

China has reasons to be upset since this time the resolution has been
introduced in the UNSC and not in the 1267 Committee on Al Qaida, Taliban
and other proscribed organisations. This means, Beijing will have to
publicly state its reasons for blocking Masood’s blacklisting.

NOTHING TO DO WITH BJP, MODI BIOPIC PRODUCERS REPLY TO EC

Responding to the Election Commission’s notice Thursday, the producers of PM
Narendra Modi, a biopic of the Prime Minister, have denied any link with the
BJP and said they had “put in their personal money for the making” of the
film.

“The allegations made linking our client’s movie with a political party
merely on a few public events, Facebook posts and tweets are not only false
but have no basis in either fact and/or law,” said Hitesh Jain, lawyer for
the producers – Anand K Pandit, Sandeep Singh, Manish Acharya and Suresh
Oberoi.

In his reply to the EC, on behalf of the film’s producers, Jain said the
biopic was “produced by our clients and not any political candidates”. “The
said film has been made as a commercial venture by our clients and other
producers who are from the film industry. If a producer who is producing a
movie relating to a political figure and/ or political party is presumed (to
be) having a political nexus, then every movie made in India involving
political leaders (past and present) will be identified as a propaganda
movie,” he said.

The fact that Vivek Oberoi, who plays the lead role, may have political
views that align with the BJP, and that the film was completed in record
time, is no reason “to jump to the conclusion” that it is political
propaganda, the producers said.

They said they asked Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and BJP
president Amit Shah to promote the film as they wanted it to be a
“resounding commercial success”, and also because Shah has a character based
on him in the film.

Terming the Congress’s complaint as “baseless, frivolous and mala fide in
nature”, the producers said they should be allowed to release the film on
April 5.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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TRUMP MEETS PICHAI, SAYS GOOGLE COMMITTED TO US MILITARY, NOT CHINA

President Donald Trump has said that Google is totally committed to the US
military as he met the Internet giant’s Indian-American CEO Sunder Pichai at
the White House, days after he accused the tech company of helping China and
its army.

Trump, who has been at loggerheads with several big companies, earlier this
month said, “Google is helping China and their military, but not the US”.

On Wednesday, after a meeting with Pichai at the White House, the US
President said: “Meeting ended very well”. “Just met with @SundarPichai,
President of @Google, who is obviously doing quite well,” he said. Pichai
“stated strongly that he is totally committed to the US military and not the
Chinese military”, Trump said.

“Also discussed political fairness and various things that @Google can do
for our country. Meeting ended very well!” said the President.

There was no immediate tweet from Pichai.

MALTA ARMED FORCES SEIZE TANKER HIJACKED BY RESCUED MIGRANTS

A Maltese special operations team seized a tanker on Thursday that had been
hijacked by migrants it rescued at sea, and returned control to the captain
who was sailing toward a Maltese port with the migrants and crew, armed
forces said.

The migrants would be turned over to police for investigation, armed forces
said.

Authorities in Malta and Italy said the migrants had hijacked the cargo ship
on Wednesday after it rescued them in the Mediterranean Sea and forced the
crew to put the Libya-bound vessel on a course north toward Europe.

Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini, said the Turkish oil tanker El
Hiblu 1 had rescued about 120 people and described what happened as “the
first act of piracy on the high seas with migrants” as the alleged
hijackers.

It had been heading toward Italy’s southernmost island of Lampedusa and the
island of Malta when Maltese forces intercepted it.

ICELAND’S WOW AIR BUDGET CARRIER COLLAPSES; PASSENGERS STRANDED

Iceland’s budget carrier WOW Air said it had ceased operations and cancelled
all flights on Thursday, stranding thousands of passengers.

The collapse of the troubled airline, which transports more than a third of
those travelling to Iceland, comes after buyout talks with rival Icelandair
collapsed earlier this week.

“All WOW Air flights have been cancelled. Passengers are advised to check
available flights with other airlines,” the carrier said in a statement.

“Some airlines may offer flights at a reduced rate, so-called rescue fares,
in light of the circumstances. Information on those airlines will be
published, when it becomes available.”

Iceland’s government said it estimated that 4,000 travellers were stranded,
including around 1,300 currently in transit.

THE REST

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BENGAL RETURNS CENTRE’S PMJAY FUNDS

The West Bengal govt has returned the money received from the Centre for the
Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), touted as the biggest
government-funded health insurance programme in the world.

The state exited the scheme in January this year, apparently upset over
intimation letters to beneficiaries carrying a photo of Prime Minister
Narendra Modi even though the scheme was supposed to be implemented in
“alliance” with the state government’s health insurance scheme Swasthya
Saathi.

Launched on September 23, PMJAY is the tertiary care arm of the NDA
government’s flagship health programme Ayushman Bharat. Under PMJAY, 10.74
crore families across the country – chosen as per deprivations listed in the
socio-economic caste census data – will be entitled to an annual health
cover of Rs 5 lakh per family. Of the 50 crore intended beneficiaries of the
programme, 2.79 crore are currently enrolled with the NHA which is the
implementing authority for the health programme.

Spelling out the reasons for West Bengal’s exit, Additional Chief Secretary
Rajiva Sinha wrote to the Centre: “.the MoU of JAY signed between government
of West Bengal and government of India clearly stipulated that since West
Bengal already had a well-established scheme Swasthyasathi, the state
government would like to retain the name Swasthyasathi in the scheme.To our
surprise the entitlement letter/card issued by your ministry mentions the
name of the scheme as PMJAY which is not only a violation of the
stipulations of the said MoU but has created confusion at the grassroots
level.”

CONG TO ABOLISH ANGEL TAX: RAHUL GANDHI

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said new ventures will not
require any regulatory permissions for three years and will get easy access
to bank credit if his party is voted to power. In an exclusive interview to
PTI, he also promised to remove the existing ‘angel tax’ imposed on
start-ups. Angel tax is levied on investment in start-ups. Currently, angel
tax is charged at a maximum rate of 30 per cent.

Gandhi said promoting domestic industry will be a key priority for the
Congress and it will ensure that all new businesses are freed from the
clutches of red tape to give a boost to the economy. “For the first three
years of setting up a new business, we are going to free you up from red
tape. You will not need to ask for permission for anything,” Gandhi said.

“Don’t bother about anything, there is no permission you need. Start your
business, get to work,” he said in a bid to woo the youth who intend to
start their own businesses. “We’ve said that we will remove the draconian
and ill-conceived angel tax. I’ve made that commitment and it’s going to be
done,” Gandhi said.

PM’s “Real Surgical Strike”: HD Kumaraswamy Hits Out Amid Karnataka Raids

Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy yesterday hit out at the centre over
income tax raids across the southern state, calling the move “Prime Minister
Narendra Modi’s real surgical strike”.

The income tax department in a statement denied Mr Kumaraswamy’s claim that
ministers of the ruling Janata Dal Secular-Congress coalition were targeted
in the raids.

Income tax officers are searching the premises of businessmen, mining
barons, people connected with the film industry and some “politically
exposed persons” in Karnataka, the tax department said yesterday, adding “no
MP, MLA or minister have so far been covered in the searches” that the
ruling coalition alleged was done on the behest of the Modi government.

The tax raids came less than 24 hours after Mr Kumaraswamy warned he would
use “Mamata Banerjee’s tactics” against any move by the centre to use the
government’s organs for political vendetta in election season.

Last month, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee staged a sit-in after
a CBI team knocked on the doors of former Kolkata Police chief Rajeev Kumar
to question him in chit fund scam cases.

ASAT TEST SPACE DEBRIS TO VANISH IN 45 DAYS: DRDO

India expects space debris from its anti-satellite weapons launch to burn
out in less than 45 days, its top defence scientist said yesterday, seeking
to allay global concern about fragments hitting objects.

Critics say such technology raises the prospect of an arms race in outer
space, besides posing a hazard by creating a cloud of fragments that could
persist for years.

DRDO chief G Satheesh Reddy said a low-altitude military satellite was
picked for the test, to reduce the risk of debris left in space. “That’s why
we did it at lower altitude, it will vanish in no time,” he told Reuters in
an interview.

In 2007, China destroyed a satellite in a polar orbit, creating the largest
orbital debris cloud in history, with more than 3,000 objects, according to
the Secure World Foundation. Because the impact altitude exceeded 800 km,
many of the resulting scraps stayed in orbit. “Some of it could still be
there,” Reddy said, adding India had been more careful in its test.

BIGBASKET TURNS UNICORN

Bigbasket, a leading online grocery delivery firm, has just sealed a Series
F round at an estimated valuation of around $2.3 billion – over twofold
jump, when compared with its last reported valuation of $950 million.

The Bengaluru-headquartered company has raised a total of $150 million in
this round, from new and existing investors, company filings sourced from
business intelligence platform Paper.vc, showed.

The round was led by existing investor Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce giant,
while Seoul-based financial services group Mirae Asset, and CDC Group, a
development finance group linked to the UK government, also participated.

“Following this Series F investment led by Alibaba, our estimate of the
post-money valuation of Bigbasket is $2.28 billion.

IPL: MUMBAI INDIANS PIP BANGALORE AFTER LAST BALL UMPIRING GAFFE

An umpiring howler off the last deliver cost Royal Challengers Bangalore
dearly as Mumbai Indians pipped the hosts by six runs largely due to Jasprit
Bumrah’s brilliant spell at the death in the IPL encounter on Thursday.

Bumrah’s mastery at the death was the highlight as he single-handedly won it
for MI with superb 14th (3 runs) 17th (1 run) and 19th (5 runs) overs.

Needing six to take the game into Super Over, Lasith Malinga’s final
delivery to Shivam Dube was a no-ball that was missed by the on-field
umpires as RCB managed 181 for 5 in reply to 187 for 8 by Mumbai Indians.

What hurt them more was AB de Villiers, who nearly took his team to victory
with an unbeaten 70 off 41 balls would have faced the free-hit. Both umpires
C Nandan and ICC Elite Panel’s S Ravi bungled completely leaving Virat Kohli
seething in anger.

Put into bat, Hardik Pandya (32 off 14) helped Mumbai Indians recover from a
middle-order collapse and post a decent 187 for 8.

INDICATORS

Sensex 38,546 (+413), Nifty 11,570 (+125), Trading Value NSE (Rs.crores)
48,178

Nasdaq 7,669 (+26) Dow 25,717 (+92), S&P 2,815 (+10)

US$-Rs. 69.13 GBP-Rs. 90.69, Euro-Rs. 77.69, UAE Dhm-Rs.18.81, Can$-Rs.
51.49, Aus$- Rs. 48.97

GBP 0.76 /US$, Euro 0.88 /US$, Jap.Yen 110.41 /US$, Aus$ 1.41 /US$, Sing
1.35 /US$, Bang Taka 83.32 /US$, Can$ 1.34 /US$, Mal Ring 4.07 /US$,

Pak Re 140.19 /US$, Phil Peso 52.72 /US$, Russian Rouble 64.88 /US$, NZ$
1.47 /US$, Thai Baht 31.81 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 27.03 /US$, Norway NOK 8.64
/US$

Bitcoin – USD 4,015

Dollar Index 96.76 Brent Crude 68.18 BDI 690

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,291 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 3236 / 3058,
Silver (Rs. Per KG) 40,800

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Anxiety is nothing but repeatedly re-experiencing failure in advance. – Seth
Godin

OFF TRACK

The judge was instructing the jury that a witness was not necessarily to be
regarded as untruthful because he changed his statement from one which he
had previously made to the police.

For example, he said, when I entered my chambers today, I was sure I had my
gold watch in my pocket. But then I remembered that I left in on my
nightstand in my bedroom.

When the judge returned home, his wife asked him, Why so much urgency for
your watch? Isnt sending three men to get it a bit extreme?

What? said the judge, I didn’t send anyone for my watch, let alone three
people; what did you do?

I gave it to the first one, said the wife. He knew exactly where it was.

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