India Newsletter

20th Aug 2019

In the first phone conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump since the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was revoked two weeks ago, Modi told Trump that "extreme rhetoric and incitement to anti-India violence" by certain leaders in the region was "not conducive to peace". This was clearly aimed at Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan who has ratcheted up the rhetoric against India in the last two weeks. Over the last fortnight, Khan threatened to "teach Delhi a lesson", told Pakistan's parliament that "incidents like Pulwama are bound to happen again". In a series of tweets on Sunday, he called the Indian government "fascist", "racist", following "Nazi ideology" and accused it of "ethnic cleansing & genocide ideology". After the conversation with Trump, the PMO statement said: "In the context of the regional situation, the Prime Minister stated that extreme rhetoric and incitement to anti-India violence by certain leaders in the region was not conducive to peace. He highlighted the importance of creating an environment free from terror and violence and eschewing cross-border terrorism without exception." The statement said the Prime Minister reiterated "India's commitment to cooperate with anyone who followed this path, in fighting poverty, illiteracy and disease." A White House statement on Monday night said: "Today, President Donald J. Trump spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India to discuss regional developments and the United States-India strategic partnership." It added: "The President conveyed the importance of reducing tensions between India and Pakistan and maintaining peace in the region. The two leaders further discussed how they will continue to strengthen United States-India economic ties through increased trade, and they look forward to meeting again soon." The PMO statement said that the 30 minute call covered bilateral and regional matters and was marked by "warmth and cordiality" which characterises relations between the two leaders. Hours later, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters in Islamabad that Khan, too, had spoken to Trump. CONGRESS SAYS RSS ANTI-DALIT AFTER BHAGWAT CALLS FOR CONVERSATION ON RESERVATION On Sunday, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had called for a conversation between those in favour of reservation and those against it. The Congress on Monday called the RSS "anti-Dalit" and alleged that it wants to scrap the reservation system. In response, RSS called the controversy needless and asserted that it fully supports reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs. RSS prachar pramukh (publicity head) Arun Kumar said the organisation has made it clear time and again that it fully supports reservation. "A needless controversy is being created over a portion of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's address at a programme in Delhi. While stressing on the importance of finding solutions to all issues in the society through mutual discussion in a harmonious way, he had said sensitive issues like reservation should be considered in a similar manner," Kumar said. Addressing a press meet, Congress leaders P L Punia, Pawan Khera and Udit Raj hit out at the RSS. Khera said the BJP and RSS have a habit of "raking up issues and creating conflict in the society about issues on which opinions are sharply divided, issues that can divert the attention of the voter from the day-to-day problems that they are facing under this government." "The anti Dalit-backward face of the RSS-BJP has been exposed. The conspiracy to end reservation for the poor and the policy of changing the Constitution have been uncovered," Congress communication department in-charge Randeep Surjewala said. MOOD OF DOOM AND GLOOM IS NOT GOING TO HELP ANYONE: RBI GUV SHAKTIKANTA DAS RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das on Monday said "growth is a matter of highest priority" even as he admitted the economy is slowing down and advised the stakeholders that the "mood of doom and gloom is not going to help anyone". "When I read newspapers or watch business channels the mood is not sufficiently positive and optimistic. One does realise that there are challenges in the economy, there are sectoral issues, and there are severe external global headwinds and that we cannot live in isolation," he said in the wake of reports of a deepening slowdown in many sectors of the economy. Urging everyone to look at the opportunities ahead, Das said, "the mood today ranges from existential angst to a positive attitude. I think the sentiment is very important. please look at the opportunities ahead of us. We do realise that there are challenges and difficulties coming from external and domestic sources but one has to look at the opportunities and capitalise on that." Growth is a matter of highest priority and every policymaker is concerned with it, Das said. "I am not saying we maintain a Panglossian (excessive optimism) countenance and smile away every difficulty. But, in any real economy the mood is very important. There are several opportunities amid the challenges we face today and together with the financial sector, the business community, the policymakers and the regulators we should address the challenges and look ahead with greater confidence," Das said while addressing the Ficci-Indian Banks Association banking summit. INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS ====================== PAK ARMY CHIEF GEN BAJWA GETS THREE-YEAR EXTENSION Within 48 hours of Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa having assured Army's 'full support' to the 'Kashmir cause', he has been given a three-year extension in service by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. Army Chief's in Pakistan often 'get' such extensions. It is rather a desire of the Chief to continue and the elected government 'allows' the extension. Arguing out the logic for such a move, the orders to extend the tenure said the decision has been taken in view of "the regional security environment." Gen Bajwa was appointed as the Army chief in November 2016, by the Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif. The move comes just two days after the Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) of Pakistan Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, tweeted that General Bajwa assured Pakistan Army's full support and 'commitment to the Kashmir cause and its people'. BREXIT: EU MIGRATION RULES 'TO END STRAIGHT AFTER NO-DEAL' The UK government has said EU free movement rules will end immediately if there is a no-deal Brexit on 31 October. Theresa May had considered phasing out the rules if the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, but those plans have now been dropped. The change would affect the rights of EU citizens who arrive in the UK from November onwards. A Lib Dem MP has criticised the move as "irresponsible and reckless". Under Mrs May, two options had been considered to prolong the rules, which allow EU nationals to live and work freely in other countries in the bloc, under no deal. One option was for the rules to be extended until January 2021, and another was to allow EU citizens to stay for three months before applying for a longer stay. Those plans have been dropped by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in favour of a new approach to be set out at a later stage. Speaking on Monday, Mr Johnson said the UK would not "become hostile to immigration," but it would be "democratically controlled" after Brexit. THE REST ======== SCHOOLS RE-OPEN IN VALLEY BUT STUDENTS STAY AWAY As primary schools re-opened in the Valley for the first time in over a fortnight since Jammu and Kashmir was placed under an unprecedented security blanket, teachers reported to work across Kashmir as restrictions were eased Monday, but classrooms were empty with most students staying away. And with the security lockdown continuing in most parts of the Valley, parents expressed concerns about the safety of their children. Despite the poor attendance, the administration has also decided to re-open the Valley's middle schools starting Wednesday. Communications and movement restrictions were announced across the state on August 4, a day before the Centre revoked the state's special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated J&K into two Union Territories. Director School Education Mohammad Younis Malik said during a J&K administration briefing that out of the 196 primary schools that the government had decided to re-open Monday, "30 per cent to 50 per cent attendance of staff was recorded while attendance of students remained thin." According to DIG Central Kashmir Range V K Virdi, "no major" incidents were reported from the Valley barring "some minor incidents at Nigeen and Safakadal areas of Srinagar city". EX-PM MANMOHAN ELECTED TO RAJYA SABHA UNOPPOSED FROM RAJASTHAN Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was on Monday elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha as an MP from Rajasthan as the withdrawal deadline was over at 3 pm. As no other nomination was filed, the election of the sole candidate was declared right away after the withdrawal deadline was over, Returning Officer and Assembly Speaker Pramil Kumar Mathur said. The Rajya Sabha seat fell vacant after the death of Madan Lal Saini, the state BJP president, on June 24. AFTER BHUPINDER HOODA ASSERTION, HARYANA CONGRESS CHIEF SAYS NONE ABOVE PARTY A day after former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda showed signs of rebellion, intensifying speculation that he could leave the Congress ahead of Assembly elections in the state, state Congress president Ashok Tanwar on Monday hit back and said Hooda's actions fall in the realm of "indiscipline" and that no one, howsoever tall a leader, is above the party. Tanwar and Hooda have been at loggerheads for long, and at the heart of the latter's unhappiness is the Congress high command's reluctance to replace Tanwar with a person of his choice as the state unit chief. Hooda is also seen as seeking complete autonomy in selection of candidates for the Assembly elections, which are just months away. At a rally in Rohtak this Sunday, Hooda virtually declared himself the CM candidate for Haryana, with or without the party's support. He also criticised the Congress leadership for not supporting the Central government's decision to revoke special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370. DELHI HC SEEKS CENTRE, J&K STAND ON SHAH FAESAL'S PLEA AGAINST HIS DETENTION The Delhi High Court on Monday sought to know the Centre's and the Jammu and Kashmir administration's stand on a plea by Shah Faesal, the IAS officer from J&K who resigned earlier this year to take up politics, alleging that he was detained illegally at the New Delhi airport and later sent to the Valley against his wishes. While seeking the court's directions to the authorities to "immediately set him at liberty", Faesal submitted that his life is at "risk", and the "illegal detention amounts abduction". Taking note of this, a bench of Justices Manmohan and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal directed the Central government's Bureau of Immigration, the State of Jammu and Kashmir and the J&K Police to file their replies to his habeas corpus plea, which also urges that his wife be allowed to meet him. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the government, opposed Faesal's contention and said that he will file a detailed response. The court has fixed the matter for further hearing on August 23. ASSAM CM KEEPS THE DOOR OPEN FOR LAW ON NRC COUNT Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal indicated Monday that while the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) would be published on August 31, as mandated by the Supreme Court, the government could later enact a legislation on the enumeration process - if questions are raised over it. Asked about the possibility of such a move, after the Supreme Court rejected a joint plea by the Centre and state for extending the NRC deadline to enable a sample reverification, Sonowal said: "After the NRC final list is published on August 31, you know that under our democracy we have that right. You can also raise a question. If it is necessary to take a step in that direction, we will discuss it." The comment is an indication of how the state aims to deal with the NRC aftermath. Sonowal was speaking to reporters in Delhi after a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah during which the two are learnt to have discussed measures to handle the law-and-order situation in Assam after the publication of the NRC. "You are aware that the Supreme Court has fixed a deadline for publication of the final NRC on August 31. When the draft NRC was published earlier, a lot of questions were raised. But people of Assam maintained peace. We are certain that when the final NRC is published, people will again maintain calm," Sonowal said. ECONOMIC SLOWDOWN 'VERY WORRISOME', NEW SET OF REFORMS NEEDED: RAJAN Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan has called slowdown in the economy "very worrisome" and said the government needs to fix the immediate problems in power and non-bank financial sectors and come out with a new set of reforms to energise private sector to invest. Rajan, who was Governor of the Reserve Bank of India from 2013 to 2016 also called for a fresh look at the way GDP in India is calculated as he referred to research by Narendra Modi government's former chief economist Arvind Subramanian about overestimation of growth rate. In ominous signs that the slowdown may be deep, the auto sector is facing its worst crisis in two decades with reports suggesting thousands of job losses in the automobile and ancillary industry, real estate sector has huge unsold inventory, while fast-moving consumer goods companies have reported a decline in volume growth. "You can hear businesses all around worrying and complaining out loud that they need some kind of stimulus," he said. Rajan said "a fresh set of reforms" are now needed to boost the economy and growth rate. ICONIC MUSIC COMPOSER KHAYYAM PASSES AWAY If poet and lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi managed to weave the pangs of separation and intensity into these words, the kaafiya (rhyme) needed a Khayyam and his magic melody to be immortalised. The raga was the heptatonic night beauty, Yaman, and the poet and the composer seemed to have poured their hearts into it. It wasn't just another piece of poetry, which is why it was difficult to set it along the seven notes. In crafting this piece for Yash Chopra's Kabhie Kabhie (1976), the two found each other to create what's nothing short of sublime. Mohammed Zahur Hashmi, or Khayyam, the composer who took us through that journey and many others, died Monday due to septicemia and lung infection in Mumbai. He was 92. Another film that showcased Khayyam's music was Muzaffar Ali's Umrao Jaan (1981),starring Rekha. Born in Nawanshahr, Khayyam ran away to Delhi to learn music but was brought back. A film fan, he later went to Lahore to learn music from Baba Chishti and reached Delhi to learn from Pandit Amar Nath. He moved to Mumbai (then Bombay) and made his debut with Heer Ranjha (1948). SUPREME COURT REJECTS TARUN TEJPAL'S PLEA, ORDERS HIM TO FACE RAPE TRIAL The Supreme Court Monday rejected former Tehelka magazine editor Tarun Tejpal's plea to quash the charges against him in a case of rape, assault and sexual harassment of an ex-colleague and asked him to face trial. A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, M R Shah and B R Gavai directed the trial court in Goa, where the case is pending, to complete proceedings in six months. The court said that "the charges are serious" and that "there is already delay in the trial." The bench said that the case related to an offence which was "morally abhorrent" in nature. Tejpal had initially moved the Bombay High Court which declined to interfere in the matter. A much junior collegue of his had accused Tejpal of sexually assaulting her inside a lift at a five-star hotel in Goa during an event in 2013. Tejpal is currently on bail in the case and has denied the allegations. He was arrested on November 30, 2013, by the crime branch after his anticipatory bail plea was rejected by the court. ICC RANKINGS: SMITH CLOSES IN AS KOHLI MAINTAINS TOP SPOT Australian batsman Steve Smith pipped New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson to second spot with only nine points separating him and the top-ranked Virat Kohli in the latest list for the ICC Test list released on Monday. The Indian captain, with 922 points, is on top of the list while Smith, after his twin Ashes hundreds in Birmingham and 92 at Lord's, is on 913 points. The other Indian in the top 10 is Cheteshwar Pujara, who stayed put at his fourth position. Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne made rapid strides, entering the top 10 at eighth with a jump of four ranking places. South Africa's Aiden Markram also improved upon his ranking to be positioned sixth while England captain Joe Root paid for his slight slump in form to be at ninth. In the bowlers' list, Pat Cummins remained firmly entrenched on top of the table while Ravindra Jadeja improved from sixth place to fifth. His spin bowling partner Ravichandran Ashwin remained 10th. Jadeja also remained third in the all-rounders' list, led by West Indies' Jason Holder, with Shakib Al Hasan placed second. In the ICC Test Team rankings, India are on top of the table with 113 points, followed by New Zealand (111 points) and South Africa (108 points). INDICATORS Sensex 37,402 (+52), Nifty 11,054 (+6), Trading Value NSE (Rs.crores) 25,360 Nasdaq 8,003 (+107) Dow 26,136 (+250), S&P 2,924 (+35) US$-Rs. 71.39 GBP-Rs. 86.63, Euro-Rs. 79.19, UAE Dhm-Rs.19.43, Can$-Rs. 53.72, Aus$- Rs. 48.36 GBP 0.82 /US$, Euro 0.90 /US$, Jap.Yen 106.50 /US$, Aus$ 1.47 /US$, Sing 1.38 /US$, Bang Taka 82.84 /US$, Can$ 1.32 /US$, Mal Ring 4.17 /US$, Pak Re 158.82 /US$, Phil Peso 52.31 /US$, Russian Rouble 66.69 /US$, NZ$ 1.55 /US$, Thai Baht 30.81 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 24.96 /US$, Norway NOK 8.98 /US$ Bitcoin - USD 10,616 Dollar Index 98.20 Brent Crude 59.76 BDI 2088 Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,496 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 3756 / 3578, Silver (Rs. Per KG) 47,800 THOUGHT FOR THE DAY Anger makes dull men witty, but it keeps them poor. - Attributed to Queen Elizabeth I of England OFF TRACK A farmer was in a bar drinking and looking all depressed. His friend asked him why he was looking depressed and he replied, "Some things you just can't explain. This morning I was outside milking. As soon as the bucket was full the cow kicked it down with its left foot so I tied up its left foot to a pole. I began to fill up the bucket again and it kicked it down with its right foot, so I tied its right foot to a pole too. As soon as I finished milkin'' it again it knocked down the bucket with its tail and I took off my belt and tied up its tail with my belt. As I was tying up the tail, my pants dropped down, then my wife came out and well, trust me, some things you just can't explain

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