2019, April, Newsletter

India Newsletter Apr 30, 2019

NEWS TO SHIPS BY NEWS ACCESS INDIA – TUESDAY, APRIL 30, 2019

FRONT PAGE NEWS

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64 PER CENT VOTER TURNOUT IN 4TH PHASE; VIOLENCE REPORTED IN WB

Incidents of violence in West Bengal and EVM glitches in some areas were
reported as 64 per cent turnout was recorded on Monday in 72 constituencies
across nine states in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections.

In the Hindi heartland, 62 per cent turnout was recorded in Rajasthan (13
seats), 53.12 per cent in Uttar Pradesh (13 seats) and 65.86 per cent Madhya
Pradesh (6 seats).

West Bengal recorded a high turnout at 76.47 in the eight seats though
clashes broke out between supporters of rival parties in Nanoor, Rampurhat,
Nalhati and Suri areas of Birbhum seat, leaving several people injured.

In Barabani, BJP candidate from Asansol and Union minister minister Babul
Supriyo’s vehicle was vandalised allegedly by TMC workers outside a polling
station while in Dubrajpur area central security forces personnel reportedly
opened fire in the air to disperse irate people who attacked them when they
were barred from entering the booths with mobile phones.

An FIR was registered against Supriyo for allegedly getting into an argument
with polling officials, an election official said.

Billionaires and Bollywood stars lined up outside polling stations along
with the common folks in Mumbai, where polling was held in six
constituencies. 55% polling was reported in the city.

40 TRINAMOOL MLAS IN TOUCH WITH ME, SAYS MODI; PARTY ALLEGES HORSE TRADING

Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed on Monday that 40 TMC MLAs were in
touch with him and will desert their party once the BJP wins the General
Election.

The PM’s claim invited a sharp reaction from the Trinamool Congress with
party leader Derek O’ Brien alleging it amounted to horse trading. “We will
complain to the EC today,” he said.

“Forty TMC MLAs are in touch with me and all your MLAs will desert you once
the BJP wins the elections. Political ground has slipped from under your
feet,” Modi told an election rally in Sreerampur, targeting the West Bengal
chief minister.

Mocking Banerjee for often losing her cool as she was “sensing defeat”, Modi
said she cannot even dream of becoming the prime minister. “With just a
handful of seats, ‘Didi’ you can’t reach Delhi. Delhi is far away. Going to
Delhi is just an excuse. Her real intention is to politically establish her
nephew,” he said.

Lashing out at opposition parties for questioning the credibility of EVMs,
Modi said his rivals have moved on from abusing him to criticising EVMs, as
they face “imminent defeat”.

CONGRESS MOVES SC OVER EC ‘INACTION’ AGAINST MODI, AMIT SHAH

The Congress on Monday moved the Supreme Court against the Election
Commission for alleged inaction on complaints against Prime Minister
Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. The Congress claimed that the two
leaders had used military operations as propaganda during the election
campaign but the poll panel did not act against them despite various
complaints.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it would hear the petition
of Congress MP Sushmita Dev on Tuesday (today).

Senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for Dev, said four weeks have passed
since the Model Code of Conduct was enforced in the country and both the
prime minister and Shah have been allegedly violating the code.

PAK AGAIN CLAIMS ‘NO DAMAGE’, SAYS INDIAN MEDIA CAN VISIT BALAKOT

Pakistan’s military on Monday once again claimed that there was “no damage”
in the Balakot air strike carried out by India and asserted that it will
facilitate the Indian journalists if they wish to visit the area to “see the
truth”.

“The truth is that there was an incident in Pulwama. Attacks on the police
in Pulwama have happened before. There was no damage at our end in Balakot.
We took local and foreign media there to show them [the truth]. We will
facilitate Indian media if they choose to come to Balakot to see the truth,”
Ghafoor was quoted as saying by Geo News.

After a suicide bomber killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir’s Pulwama
district on Feb 14., the Indian Air Force carried out a counter-terror
operation, hitting the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside
Pakistan on Feb 26.

The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial
combat and captured an IAF pilot, who was handed over to India on March 1.

Ghafoor said Pakistan was waiting for the appropriate time to “honour our
pilots who downed the Indian planes”.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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CHINA SPENDS MORE ON DEFENCE THAN INDIA, JAPAN, KOREA, AUSTRALIA PUT
TOGETHER

India was the world’s fourth biggest military spender last year behind the
United States, China, and Saudi Arabia, according to new data think tank
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released on Monday.
India was the fifth largest military spender in 2017.

France also figures on the list of top five spenders that together accounted
for 60% of the global military spending in 2018, the think tank said.

According to the SIPRI data, China was the second-largest military spender
last year. Beijing increased its military expenditure by 5% to $250 billion
in 2018. It accounted for 14% of global military spending.

In contrast, India’s military spending went up by 3.1% to $66.5 billion.
India accounts for 3.7% of the global defence spending.

With military spending of $11.4 billion, Pakistan was at the 20th place.

China’s expenditure is much greater than the collective expenditure, $ 182.9
billion, of India ($ 66.5 billion), Japan ($46.6 billion), South Korea ($
43.1 billion) and Australia ($ 26.7 billion).

India, Japan, Korea and Australia, respectively, are the fourth, ninth,
tenth and thirteenth largest spenders on defence in the world.

IS CHIEF BAGHDADI APPEARS IN PROPAGANDA VIDEO FOR FIRST TIME IN FIVE YEARS

The elusive chief of the Islamic State group Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has
purportedly appeared for the first time in five years in a propaganda video
released on Monday by the jihadist organisation.

It is unclear when the footage was filmed, but the man said to be Baghdadi
referred in the past tense to the months-long fight for Baghouz, IS’s final
bastion in eastern Syria, which ended last month.

“The battle for Baghouz is over,” the man said, sitting cross-legged on a
cushion and addressing three men whose faces have been blurred.

But he insisted that IS’s operations against the West were part of a “long
battle,” and that IS would “take revenge” on members who had been killed.

“There will be more to come after this battle,” he said.

He was reported killed or injured multiple times since then.

His last voice recording to his supporters was released in August, eight
months after Iraq announced it had defeated IS and as US-backed forces
closed in next door in Syria.

PAK TO MAINSTREAM MADRASSAS, BRING THEM UNDER GOVT CONTROL

Pakistan will bring over 30,000 madrassas into the mainstream education
system as part of a determined campaign to combat extremism, the military
spokesperson said on Monday.

Addressing a press conference in Rawalpindi, Major General Asif Ghafoor said
Pakistan had witnessed a surge in religious seminaries from 247 madrassas in
1947 to 2,861 in 1980.

“And now there are over 30,000 madrassas. Out of these, only 100 are
involved in propagating terrorism,” he said, adding that several steps were
afoot to control and bring the seminaries into the mainstream.

“All madrassas will be brought under the Ministry of Education so that
contemporary subjects can be taught. We will formulate a syllabus which will
not have hate speech and students will be taught respect for different
sects,” he said.

THE REST

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SP FIELDS SACKED BSF JAWAN TEJ BAHADUR AGAINST MODI IN VARANASI

The Samajwadi Party on Monday declared dismissed BSF constable Tej Bahadur
Yadav as its candidate against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi.

Yadav was dismissed in 2017 after he posted a video online complaining about
the food served to the troops.

SUMITRA MAHAJAN: HEMANT KARKARE MARTYR BUT HIS ROLE AS ATS CHIEF NOT ABOVE
BOARD

Even before the controversy over BJP candidate Pragya Singh Thakur’s
comments on slain IPS officer Hemant Karkare dies down, outgoing Lok Sabha
Speaker and BJP’s eight-term MP from Indore Sumitra Mahajan on Monday said
that Karkare “became a martyr” because he died in line of duty but claimed
that his role as the chief of Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) was not
above board.

The BJP leader alleged that she did not have any evidence but she had heard
that Congress leader and party candidate from Bhopal, Digvijaya Singh, was a
friend of Karkare. She said when Singh was the Madhya Pradesh CM, he
frequently accused the RSS of making bombs and being a terror outfit. She
alleged that arrests made by Maharashtra ATS from Indore were at the behest
of the former CM.

Responding to the remarks, Digvijaya tweeted: “Sumitra tai, I am proud that
you associate me with Ashoka Chakra winner martyr Hemant Karkare. Your
associates may insult him but I have always backed those talking about
country’s interest, national unity and integrity.”

Mahajan also said that Pragya Thakur was not the only one to be tortured in
custody and cited the example of Dilip Patidar, who was picked up by
Maharashtra ATS for questioning from Indore in November 2008. She said
Patidar never returned, and the issue of his disappearance was raised in Lok
Sabha, as also in courts.

FRANCE TO NOW RECOGNISE FOUR INDIAN ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS

Four Indian academic qualifications-Senior School Certificate (SSC),
Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and PhDs-from government-approved
institutions will now be recognised by the French government with effect
from May 1.

Similarly, the French equivalents of these qualifications will be recognised
by the Indian government.

This has been made possible by an agreement between France and India for the
Mutual Recognition of Academic Qualifications signed during President
Emmanuel Macron’s maiden State visit to India last year.

Professional degrees such as law, medicine or those of other professions
regulated by a professional council are excluded.

SRI LANKA MASTERMIND’S CALL DATA TRAIL LEADS TO TAMIL NADU, KERALA

Intelligence agencies are tracking over a dozen men from Tamil Nadu and
Kerala whose phone numbers were found in the Call Detail Records (CDRs) of
Zaharan Hashim, the suspected mastermind behind the Easter Sunday blasts in
Sri Lanka.

Hashim is believed to have spent close to three months in India, possibly
from late last year, and the CDRs pertain to this period and the months
since his return to Lanka, the official said. Hashim was among the group of
suicide bombers that targeted churches and hotels across Sri Lanka, killing
over 250 people.

On Monday, as part of its probe into Hashim’s India links, the National
Investigation Agency arrested one of the three men from Kerala, who were
detained Sunday, on suspicion of being an Islamic State (IS) recruit and
“for conspiring to commit a terrorist act”.

Investigators, meanwhile, suspect that Hashim broke away from the
Lanka-based National Thowheeth Jamaath, which has been blamed for the
blasts, to form his own outfit recently.

MADRAS HIGH COURT SUGGESTIONS ON AGE OF CONSENT & AGE GAP

While acquitting a young accused of sexual assault charges under the
Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act Friday, Madras High
Court made two significant suggestions – that the age for the definition of
a “child” be taken as 16 rather than 18, and that the Act account for the
difference in age between the offender and the girl involved in consensual
sex.

“. The definition of ‘Child’ under Section 2(d) of the POCSO Act can be
redefined as 16 instead of 18. Any consensual sex after the age of 16 or
bodily contact or allied acts can be excluded from the rigorous provisions
of the POCSO Act and such sexual assault, if it is so defined can be tried
under more liberal provision, which can be introduced in the Act itself and
in order to distinguish the cases of teen age relationship after 16 years,
from the cases of sexual assault on children below 16 years,” Justice V
Parthiban ruled.

“The Act can be amended to the effect that the age of the offender ought not
to be more than five years or so than the consensual victim girl of 16 years
or more. So that the impressionable age of the victim girl cannot be taken
advantage of by a person who is much older and crossed the age of presumable
infatuation or innocence,” Justice V Parthiban observed, directing the
government authorities to place the decision “before the competent authority
and initiate appropriate steps to explore whether the suggestions made by
this Court are acceptable to all stakeholders.”

While legal experts and child rights activists welcomed the redefinition of
“child”, some of them called for further discussions on the suggestion for
an amendment that would factor in the age difference.

DEFAULT IN DEBT MUTUAL FUNDS PROMPTS SEBI TO LOOK AT TIGHTENING RULES

In light of recent defaults by various companies on their debt papers, to
which several mutual funds had sizeable exposure, the SEBI is likely to
revisit regulations relating to mutual funds to safeguard investor
interests. Finance Ministry sources said the move comes after recent
defaults in various fixed maturity plans (FMPs) by several mutual funds.

“Closed-ended fixed maturity plans pose serious risk to investors as there
is no real time monitoring and investors are dependent only on the fund
manager. We are discussing these issues and how regulatory loopholes can be
plugged,” a senior official said. The market regulator is expected to review
investment restrictions imposed on funds at the issuer level and sector
level.

The limits on the exposure that funds can take in debt securities issued by
a single company and a corporate group could be reduced to provide higher
diversification, sources said.

As per existing SEBI rules, asset management companies need to ensure that
the total exposure of debt schemes of mutual funds in a group does not
exceed 20 per cent of the net assets of the scheme. This can extended to 25
per cent of net assets of the scheme with the prior approval of the Board of
Trustees of the respective fund house.

JET AIRWAYS CRISIS: EMPLOYEES STEP IN TO BID FOR AIRLINE’S REVIVAL

A section of Jet Airways employees have come forward to bid for the carrier,
which had suspended operations on April 17. An ’employees’ consortium’
comprising pilots and engineers, among others, wrote to the State Bank of
India on Monday, offering to secure an investment of Rs 3,000 crore to
kick-start operations and settle dues.

SBI Capital Markets Ltd is engaged in finding an investor for Jet Airways,
which shut operations due to lack of funds.

“It is also realistic to understand that the employees would not have cash
or credit needed to buy the company outright and such a process would need
to be facilitated in order to generate adequate leverage. The contribution
from employees would be realised from their future earnings and increased
productivity, a value that can be quantified in advance with a fair degree
of certainty. As per our initial estimates, contribution of the employee
group to a hypothetical five-year stock ownership programme is likely to be
over Rs 4,000 crore. In addition, we are also confident of securing an
investment commitment of up to Rs 3,000 crore from outside investors,” the
employees said in a letter to SBI.

‘AVENGERS: ENDGAME’ ON WAY TO BE FIRST RS 300-CRORE HOLLYWOOD FILM IN INDIA

Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame is inching towards the Rs 300-crore mark
after it collected Rs 157.2 crore (net after tax) at the Indian box office
in the first weekend of its release. Given the demand, the good reviews and
word of mouth, distributors and exhibitors feel the movie is set to enter
the Rs 300-crore club within 10 days of its release.

Endgame has marginally surpassed Avengers: Inifnity War’s (2018) first-week
collection (Rs 156.64) in just three days. This also puts the movie in the
league of some of the most successful Indian movies.

Released in around 2,800 screens across multiple exhibition formats (2D, 3D,
IMAX 3D, and 3D 4DX) in three Indian languages – Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu –
besides English, the movie made Rs 53.1 crore on the first day, becoming the
highest opener of the year so far, and the highest Hollywood opener in
India. It is now second only to SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali 2: The Conclusion
in terms of the opening day collections in the country across languages. The
record for the highest Hollywood opening was previously held by Avengers:
Infinity War at Rs 31 crore.

Endgame witnessed the most robust distribution for any Hollywood film. Even
with a runtime of three hours (without an interval), there were 13,000 shows
per day. It was the first time that exhibitors ran 24×7 programming for a
Hollywood film.

IPL: DAVID WARNER SIGNS OFF IN STYLE AS HYDERABAD THUMP PUNJAB BY 45 RUNS

David Warner signed off his IPL 2019 campaign in style, notching up his
eighth fifty of the season to help Sunrisers Hyderabad take a step closer
towards qualifying for the play-offs with a comfortable 45-run win over
Kings XI Punjab here Monday.

Playing his last match of season before heading home for World Cup
preparations, Warner struck a belligerent 81 off 56 balls to complete his
IPL 2019 campaign with 692 runs, the highest so far in the tournament.

Chasing the imposing total, KL Rahul (79 off 56, 4x4s, 5x6s) made a valiant
effort with the bat but lacked support from the other end as Kings XI were
restricted to 167 for eight.

By virtue of this win, Sunrisers have consolidated their fourth position in
the table with 6 wins from 12 games, while Kings XI are placed 6th, with 5
wins from 12.

INDICATORS

(Indian Stock Markets were cloed yesterday on account of polling in Mumbai)

Nasdaq 8,162 (+15) Dow 26,554 (+11), S&P 2,943 (+3)

US$-Rs. 69.87 GBP-Rs. 90.33, Euro-Rs. 78.01, UAE Dhm-Rs.19.02, Can$-Rs.
51.91, Aus$- Rs. 49.27

GBP 0.77 /US$, Euro 0.89 /US$, Jap.Yen 111.70 /US$, Aus$ 1.41 /US$, Sing
1.36 /US$, Bang Taka 83.00 /US$, Can$ 1.34 /US$, Mal Ring 4.13 /US$,

Pak Re 141.13 /US$, Phil Peso 52.09 /US$, Russian Rouble 64.57 /US$, NZ$
1.49 /US$, Thai Baht 31.87 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 26.21 /US$, Norway NOK 8.67
/US$

Bitcoin – USD 5,213

Dollar Index 97.54 Brent Crude 71.92 BDI 913

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,282 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 3228 / 3050,
Silver (Rs. Per KG) 40,800

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own
lesson on how to improve your performance next time. – Malcolm X

OFF TRACK

A tiny but dignified old lady was among a group looking at an art exhibition
in a newly opened gallery. Suddenly one contemporary painting caught her
eye.

“What on earth,” she inquired of the artist standing nearby, “is that?”

He smiled condescendingly. “That, my dear lady, is supposed to be a mother
and her child.”

“Well, then,” snapped the little old lady, “why isn’t it?”

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