2019, June, Newsletter

India Newsletter June 15, 2019

NEWS TO SHIPS BY NEWS ACCESS INDIA – SATURDAY, JUNE 15, 2019

FRONT PAGE NEWS

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MAMATA BANERJEE CALLS FOR TALKS AFTER CALCUTTA HC PUSH, DOCTOR PROTESTS GO
NATIONAL

Hours after the Calcutta High Court refused to pass any interim order on the
strike by junior doctors at state-run hospitals and asked the West Bengal
government to persuade them to resume work and restore healthcare services,
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met a group of doctors at the state
secretariat Nabanna Friday. She also invited protesting students but they
didn’t turn up. Following talks, a meeting with them is now being called at
5 pm Saturday.

The June 10 attack on doctors at NRS Medical college has sparked the
protests. The crisis has now deepened and hundreds of senior doctors of
different medical colleges and hospitals submitted resignations en masse to
the health department.

The standoff snowballed with doctors in several states starting protests in
a show of solidarity and the Indian Medical Association calling a nationwide
strike on June 17. Earlier in the day, the Calcutta High Court directed the
government to apprise it of the steps taken following the attack on junior
doctors at the NRSMCH.

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan too wrote to Mamata Banerjee,
advising “better communication and a compassionate approach”. He later
tweeted, calling for stringent punishment to those who attack doctors:
“Heinous repeated attacks on doctors across India esp W Bengal have led to
this situation. Govt must pass a Law to make any attack on Docs a
non-bailable offence with min 12 yr jail. Draconian Clinical Establishment
Act that treats Docs as criminals must be withdrawn.”

In the evening, state Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi visited the injured
doctor. Tripathi later told reporters: “I have tried to contact the CM, I
have called her. Till this moment, there is no response from her. If she
calls, we will discuss the matter.”

Earlier, as filmmaker Aparna Sen and other leading figures joined the
protesting doctors to extend solidarity and urged the Chief Minister to
“come once, listen to their grievance with patience”,

Doctors in Bengal meanwhile are still seething, not only over the incident
but also after what they perceive as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s
“callous” response to their demands. They also have put six conditions under
which they claim they will withdraw their protest. These are:

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s unconditional apology

Banerjee must visit wounded doctors

Inquiry into why police did not intervene in the NRS incident

Withdrawal of cases against protesting doctors

Police protection at healthcare facilities

Better infrastructure at healthcare facilities

PM MODI, IMRAN KHAN EXCHANGE PLEASANTRIES IN BISHKEK

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan
exchanged pleasantries on Friday during the SCO summit in Bishkek, official
sources said.

It is also learnt that Khan congratulated Modi on his election victory
during their first face-to-face interaction. However, there was no meeting
between the two leaders.

The exchange of pleasantries came over two weeks after Khan and Foreign
Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi wrote separate letters to their Indian
counterparts, pushing for restarting the bilateral talks.

India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack on the Air Force
base at Pathankot in January of 2016 by a Pakistan-based terror group,
maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together.

Khan had also made a telephone call to Modi on May 26 and expressed his
desire to work together for the betterment of people of the two countries.
On his part, Modi said creating trust and an environment free of violence
and terrorism was essential for fostering peace and prosperity in the
region.

Following the phone call and letter by Khan to Prime Minister Modi after his
re-election for a second term, there were speculation that both may have a
meeting on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Bishkek.

Modi arrived here in the Kyrgyz capital on Thursday on a two-day visit to
attend the annual summit of the SCO. He also held talks with Kyrgyz
President Sooronbay Jeenbekov on Friday during a bilateral visit during
which the two countries upgraded their relations to strategic partnership
level. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced a USD 200 million
line of credit for Kyrgyzstan after wide-ranging talks with Kyrgyz President
Sooronbay Jeenbekov as the two sides upgraded their ties to the strategic
partnership level and signed 15 agreements, including one to eliminate
double taxation.

GOVT CALLS FOR ALL-PARTY MEETING; TRIPLE TALAQ BILL ON AGENDA

The government has called for an all-party meeting on June 16 to discuss the
agenda for the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha that commences this
Monday.

At the meeting, the government will seek opposition support for a bill
banning the practice of instant triple talaq. The bill would make triple
talaq illegal and could invite a jail term of three years for husband who
practises it.

A husband can get bail from a judicial magistrate before trial only if his
wife concurs.

Opposition parties led by the Congress have objected to the provision of the
jail term in the bill.

Earlier this year, the Triple Talaq bill was not passed in the Rajya Sabha
and the government had to bring in an ordinance to prevent it from lapsing.

In the upcoming session, the government will introduce an Act to replace the
triple talaq ordinance. However, apprehensions about a confrontation with
the opposition remain.

Not only the opposition, but key BJP ally JD(U) has also decided to oppose
the Triple Talaq Bill in its current form.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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GULF OF OMAN TANKER ATTACKS: TRUMP DISMISSES IRAN DENIALS

US President Donald Trump has dismissed Iran’s insistence it had no
involvement with the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

Trump cited footage that Washington says shows Iranian forces in a small
boat taking an unexploded mine off the hull of one of the ships.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the truth needed to be “clearly
established”.

Russia has warned against drawing “hasty conclusions”.

The blasts came a month after four oil tankers were damaged in an attack off
the coast of the United Arab Emirates. The US blamed Iran for that attack,
but did not produce evidence. Iran also denied those accusations.

Speaking to Fox News, he said Iran “did do it”. “I guess one of the mines
didn’t explode and it’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it.
And you saw the boat at night trying to take the mine off and successfully
took the mine off the boat, and that was exposed,” he said.

He also said it was unlikely that Iran could close the Strait of Hormuz – a
vital shipping lane through which a third of the world’s seaborne oil passes
every year – but if it did, the strait would not remain closed “for long”.

Trump’s intervention came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the
weapons used, the level of expertise needed to carry out the attacks and,
recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping showed Iran was behind it.

US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the US would be sharing
intelligence to try to “build international consensus to this international
problem”.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt backed the allegations made by the US.
“We are going to make our own independent assessment, we have our processes
to do that, (but) we have no reason not to believe the American assessment
and our instinct is to believe it because they are our closest ally,” he
told BBC.

“We hope that all the relevant sides can properly resolve their differences
and resolve the conflict through dialogue and consultations,” said Geng
Shuang, China’s foreign ministry spokesman.

THE REST

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THOSE LIVING IN BENGAL WILL HAVE TO LEARN TO SPEAK IN BENGALI: MAMATA

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday insisted that those
living in West Bengal will have to learn to speak in Bengali. The TMC
supremo also reiterated that outsiders instigated the doctors’ agitation in
the state and accused the BJP of targeting the Bengalis and the minorities.

“Outsiders are instigating the doctors. I had rightly said they were
involved in yesterday’s protest. I had seen some outsiders raising slogans
(at SSKM hospital),” she said, while addressing a rally in Kanchrapara.

Alleging that EVMs in the recently held Lok Sabha elections were
“programmed”, Banerjee also said ballot papers should be brought back for
conducting polls. “Just because they (BJP) won a few seats by programming
the EVMs, it doesn’t mean that they can beat up Bengalis and minorities. We
will not tolerate this,” the chief minister said.

“The police will take action against the hooligans. If someone is living in
Bengal, he or she has to learn Bengali,” she added.

‘METRO MAN’ SREEDHARAN AGAINST DELHI GOVT’S FREE TRAVEL SCHEME

Opposing the AAP government’s proposed free travel scheme for women in Delhi
Metro trains, its former chief E Sreedharan has urged Prime Minister
Narendra Modi not to agree to the proposal as it would set “an alarming
precedence”.

In a letter to the prime minister, Sreedharan, popularly called ‘Metro Man’,
said if the Delhi Government is “so keen” to help women commuters, it can
pay the cost of their travel directly to them rather than making travel free
on metro trains.

The former Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) chief has also sought Modi’s
intervention in the matter.

Sreedharan said when the first section of the Delhi Metro was to be opened
in 2002, he had taken a firm decision that no one would be given travel
concession. Even officers and staff, including the managing director of the
DMRC, purchase tickets when they travel on the metro on official duties, he
said.

“Now, if ladies are to be given free travel concession in Delhi Metro, it
would set an alarming precedence to all other metros in the country. The
argument of the Delhi Government that the revenue losses would be reimbursed
to the DMRC is a poor solace,” the former DMRC managing director said.

The DMRC is a joint venture of the Centre and the Delhi Government, and one
shareholder cannot take an unilateral decision to give concession to one
section of the community and push the Delhi Metro in to “inefficiency and
bankruptcy”, Sreedharan said.

GUJARAT CM GIVES AN ALL-CLEAR OVER VAYU

A top Union Ministry of Earth Sciences official on Friday said cyclone Vayu
is likely to recurve and hit Kutch on June 17-18, hours after Gujarat Chief
Minister Vijay Rupani announced that the storm posed no threat to the state
as it had moved westward.

Cyclone Vayu was to hit the Gujarat coast on Thursday, but it changed course
on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday. It skirted the Gujarat
coast, affecting Gir, Somnath, Diu, Junagarh and Porbandar.

“Vayu is likely to recurve on June 16 and hit Kutch on June 17-18,” M
Rajeevan, Secretary of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said. The intensity
of the very severe cyclonic storm is also likely to reduce, Rajeevan said,
adding that it may hit the coast as a cyclonic storm or a deep depression.

“Around 2.75 lakh people, who were evacuated from the coastal areas, are
free to return to their homes,” the chief minister told reporters, adding
that the state government would pay a total allowance of around Rs 5.5 crore
to the evacuees for daily expenses over the next three days. “Schools and
colleges will start tomorrow. We are also calling back senior officials and
ministers, who were deployed in 10 coastal districts to supervise relief and
rescue operations. Road transport buses have started plying in these areas
today,” Rupani had said.

INDIA TO IMPOSE RETALIATORY TARIFF ON 29 US ITEMS

After extending the deadline for several times, India has decided to impose
additional customs duties on 29 US products, including almond, walnut and
pulses, with effect from June 16, sources said.

A notification with this regard will be issued by the finance ministry soon,
they added.

The move will hurt American exporters of these 29 items as they have to pay
duties on these products. India would get about USD 217 million additional
revenue from such imports.

The government had on June 21, 2018 decided to impose these duties in
retaliation to the US decision of significantly hiking customs duties on
certain steel and aluminium products.

America had in March last year imposed 25 per cent tariff on steel and a 10
per cent import duty on aluminium products. As India is one of the major
exporters of these items to the US, the move has revenue implication of
about USD 240 million on Indian steel and aluminium products.

NDTV CASE: SEBI BARS ROYS FROM SECURITIES MARKET, TOP POSITIONS

Securities and Exchange Board of India on Friday barred NDTV Ltd’s three key
promoters-Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy and their holding firm-from the capital
markets for two years and also restrained the two individuals from holding
any board or top management role at the company in this period.

The Roy couple has also been barred from holding a board or key managerial
position at any other listed company for one year, SEBI said while coming
down heavily on them and RRPR Holdings Pvt Ltd for what it termed as
violation of various regulations by keeping minority shareholders in the
dark about three loan agreements.

One such loan agreement was with ICICI Bank while two loans were from a
little-known entity Vishvapradhan Commercial Private Ltd (VCPL).

The ownership of Delhi-based ‘wholesale trading’ firm VCPL, incorporated in
2008, is said to have later changed hands from RIL to the Nahata group, from
which the Mukesh Ambani-led firm had bought Infotel Broadband in 2010 to
re-enter the telecom business.

Earlier last year, SEBI had ordered VCPL to make an open offer for NDTV Ltd
for indirectly acquiring control of up to 52 per cent stake through a
convertible loan of Rs 350 crore in 2009 ‘sourced’ from a subsidiary of
Reliance Industries Ltd.

RBI ASKS BANKS TO GROUT ATMS TO WALL, FLOOR FOR SECURITY BY SEP-END

The Reserve Bank on Friday asked banks to ensure their ATMs are grouted to a
wall, pillar, or floor by September-end, except those installed in high
secured premises such as airports, to enhance security of the cash vending
machines.

In 2016, the RBI had set up a Committee on Currency Movement (CCM) to review
the entire gamut of security of treasure in transit. Based on the
recommendations of the panel, the central bank has now issued instructions
aimed at mitigating risks in ATM operations and enhancing security.

As part of the security measures, all “ATMs shall be operated for cash
replenishment only with digital One Time Combination (OTC) locks”.

Further, banks may also consider rolling out a comprehensive e-surveillance
mechanism.

ARTHUR ROAD CELL FOR NIRAV, MALLYA TO HAVE FRENCH WINDOWS, RUNNING WATER

Large French windows that reach the ceiling, a toilet and shower with
round-the-clock water supply, stunning white walls with a fresh coat of
paint, fans, lights and cushioned cots – this is no ad for a high-end studio
apartment but the facilities inside the 300sqft jail cell at Mumbai’s Arthur
Road prison, where Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya are likely to spend their
time if extradited to India.

On Wednesday, just as the UK High Court rejected diamond merchant Nirav
Modi’s bail plea for the fourth time, top jail officials in Mumbai were
conducting a final inspection of a “fully-equipped” cell at Arthur Road jail
which would house him.

HOCKEY: INDIA MAUL JAPAN 7-2, SECURE PLACE IN OLYMPIC QUALIFIERS

India outplayed reigning Asian Games champion Japan 7-2 to storm into the
summit clash of the FIH Series Finals hockey tournament here on Friday,
assuring themselves a place in the year end’s Olympic qualifying event. The
FIH Series Finals provide two spots in the Olympic Qualifiers to be held in
October-November this year.

Returning to the side after a long injury lay-off, Ramadeep Singh (23rd,
37th minutes) finally got his mojo back with a double strike, while
Harmanpreet Singh (7th), Varun Kumar (14th), Hardik Singh (25th),
Gursahibjit Singh (43rd) and Vivek Sagar Prasad (47) also registered their
name on the score-sheet.

Japan’s goals were scored by Kenji Kitazato (2nd) and Kota Watanabe (20th).

India will face South Africa in Saturday’s final while Japan will square off
against USA in the third-fourth place play-off match.

South Africa had earlier defeated USA 2-1 in the first semi-final.

For the first time in the tournament, the Indian defence was literally
tested as world no. 18 Japan gave a good account of themselves in patches.
To the dismay of the home crowd, Japan took the lead in the second minute
from a counter attack.

WORLD CUP: ENGLAND CRUSH WEST INDIES

Joe Root hit his second century of the tournament after England pace battery
tormented the West Indies batsmen to set up a thumping eight-wicket win in
their World Cup match here on Friday.

West Indies got a taste of their own medicine-they had troubled the
Pakistanis with bouncers in their only win thus far-as the England pace
battery unleashed fiery spells to bundle them out for 212 in 44.4 overs.

England overhauled the target with remarkable ease, completing the win in
33.1 overs as Root remained unbeaten on 100, which came off 94 balls.

England now have 3 wins, 1 loss 6 points from 4 matches. West Indies have 1
win, 1 No Result and 2 losses from their 4 matches.

INDICATORS

Sensex 39,452 (-289), Nifty 11,823 (-91), Trading Value NSE (Rs.crores)
28,745

Nasdaq 7,797 (-40) Dow 26,090 (-17), S&P 2,887 (-5)

US$-Rs. 69.62 GBP-Rs. 87.94, Euro-Rs. 78.29, UAE Dhm-Rs.18.95, Can$-Rs.
52.08, Aus$- Rs. 47.94

GBP 0.79 /US$, Euro 0.88 /US$, Jap.Yen 108.38 /US$, Aus$ 1.45 /US$, Sing
1.36 /US$, Bang Taka 82.98 /US$, Can$ 1.33 /US$, Mal Ring 4.16 /US$,

Pak Re 154.44 /US$, Phil Peso 51.95 /US$, Russian Rouble 64.39 /US$, NZ$
1.53 /US$, Thai Baht 31.15 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 26.21 /US$, Norway NOK 8.69
/US$

Bitcoin – USD 8,326

Dollar Index 97.54 Brent Crude 62.01 BDI 1085

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,342 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 3275 / 3097,
Silver (Rs. Per KG) 40,100

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what
they do. – Andrew Carnegie

OFF TRACK

The CIA had an opening for an assassin. After all of the background checks,
interviews, and testing were done, the CIA agents took the most promising
candidate to a large metal door and handed him a gun.

“We must know that you will follow your instructions, no matter what the
circumstances. Inside this room you will find your wife sitting in a chair.
You have to kill her.”

The man took the gun and went into the room. Shots were heard, one shot
after another. They heard screaming, crashing, banging on the walls. After a
few minutes, all was quiet. The door opened slowly and there stood the man.
He wiped the sweat from his brow and said, “You guys didn’t tell me the gun
was loaded with blanks. So I had to beat her to death with the chair.”

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