India Newsletter

PEOPLE OF J-K AND LADAKH WILL BENEFIT FROM ABROGATION OF ARTICLE 370: PREZ
15th Aug 2019

President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday expressed confidence that scrapping provisions of Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories will be of "immense benefit" to people of those regions. Delivering his Independence Day address to the nation, Kovind also said the changes made in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh recently will enable the people to access and enjoy the same rights, same privileges and same facilities as their fellow citizens in the rest of the country. 'INDIA PLANNING MILITARY ACTION IN POK': PAK PM IMRAN KHAN Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday vowed to become the voice of Kashmir and raise the issue at every global forum, including the United Nations, as he questioned the silence of the international community on the situation in the region. Addressing a special session of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir's (PoK) Legislative Assembly in Muzaffarabad, Khan said that if a war breaks out between Pakistan and India, the world community will be responsible. Khan, who was in Muzaffarabad to observe Pakistan's Independence Day in solidarity with the Kashmiris after India revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, termed the Indian move as a "strategic blunder." "Whatever was done during the curfew by India, we will tell the international community that you are responsible. Whichever forum we get, I will be the ambassador and bring up Kashmir at every forum," Khan said. Pakistan President Arif Alvi on Wednesday said "Kashmiris and Pakistanis are one" people and the country will continue to stand with the people of Kashmir. Addressing the main function to mark the 73rd Independence Day, he reiterated Pakistan government's stand against India's move to revoke the special status to Jammu and Kashmir and said Islamabad will move the UN Security Council against New Delhi's decision. He said by changing the special status of Kashmir, India not only violated the UN resolution, but also the Simla agreement. ARTICLE 370, 35A WERE LIKE CHAINS THAT KEPT PEOPLE TIED: PM NARENDRA MODI Asserting that his government's decisions on Jammu and Kashmir were driven by national interest and not politics, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that abrogation of special status to J&K under Article 370 of the Constitution will "empower democracy" there "even more", as the provision had all along helped the local political class avoid transparency and accountability. Modi slammed critics of the government's decision, and said, "Those who ruled Kashmir, thinking it is their divine right to do so, will dislike democratisation and peddle incorrect narratives. They do not want a self-made, younger leadership to emerge." Articles 370 and 35(A), he said, were like "chains that kept people tied". "Those who are opposing the decisions on Jammu and Kashmir should answer one basic question - what is their defence for Articles 370 and 35(A) remaining? They would have no answer to this question," Modi said in an interview to news agency IANS. These critics, he said, are the same people who protest when it comes to anything that helps the common people. "There is a project to provide water to people, they will oppose it. There is a railway track being built, they will oppose that. Their heart only beats for Maoists and terrorists. Today, every Indian is fully standing with the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. I am confident they will stand with us in the aim to boost development and bring peace." Modi said opposing the decision are the "usual vested interest groups, political dynasties, those who sympathise with terror, and some friends in the Opposition". The Prime Minister said: "The status quo of seven long decades clearly could not fulfil people's aspirations. Citizens were kept away from the fruits of development. The greatest casualty was the lack of any proper economic avenues to increase earnings." INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS ====================== INDIA, CHINA NO LONGER 'DEVELOPING NATIONS', WON'T LET THEM TAKE 'ADVANTAGE': TRUMP US President Donald Trump has said that India and China are no longer "developing nations" and were "taking advantage" of the tag from the WTO and asserted that he will not let it happen anymore. Trump, championing his 'America First' policy, has been a vocal critic of India for levying "tremendously high" duties on US products and has described the country as a "tariff king". The US and China are currently engaged in a bruising trade war after Trump imposed punitive tariffs on Chinese goods and Beijing retaliated. Earlier in July, Trump asked the World Trade Organisation to define how it designates developing-country status, a move apparently aimed at singling out countries like China, Turkey and India which are getting lenient treatment under the global trade rules. Addressing a gathering at Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Trump said India and China - the two economic giants from Asia - are no longer developing nations and as such they cannot take the benefit from the WTO. WHO ARE PROTESTING IN HONG KONG? THE YOUNG, HIGHLY EDUCATED MIDDLE CLASS Since June, Hong Kong has witnessed an unprecedented series of protests in opposition to a Bill that allows extradition to mainland China. What is the profile of these protesters? They are young, generally in their twenties, concludes a study that has sought to profile the participants of 12 protests between June 9 and August 12. Most of them have had a higher education, and those who identify themselves as "middle class" outnumber those who call themselves "lower class". The study was led by researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Lingnan University, the Hang Seng University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Baptist University. The 12 surveys covered 6,688 respondents; the percentage of male respondents (50.5 to 64.2 per cent) was generally higher than that of female ones, except on June 26 (42.6 per cent male respondents). In general, the majority of respondents belonged to the age group 20-29. The proportion aged 20-24 ranged from 16.3 per cent to 54.2 per cent, and the proportion aged 25-29 ranged from 11.6 to 34.2 per cent across the surveys. There were also younger respondents aged 19 or below, ranging between 6.0 and 15.6 per cent. FACEBOOK LISTENED TO USERS' PRIVATE CONVERSATIONS: REPORT Facebook has paid hundreds of contractors to listen to and transcribe snippets of users' conversations, U.S. media reported on Tuesday. Facebook acknowledged the transcriptions, saying that these were made with users' permission, but that the practice has nonetheless been stopped. The contractors were testing the ability of the social network's artificial intelligence to interpret messages, and the only users affected were those on Facebook Messenger app who had opted to have their voice chats transcribed. The contractors also weren't told the reason why they were doing the transcribing, claims Facebook. Apple and Google have in recent weeks said they've halted the practice, while Amazon gives users the option of blocking the collection of their voice by Alexa, the artificial intelligence driving their Echo voice assistant. THE REST ======== WING COMMANDER ABHINANDAN VARTHAMAN TO BE CONFERRED VIR CHAKRA Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who chased Pakistani air force jets into Pakistan and shot down one of them on February 27 this year will be awarded the Vir Chakra, the country's third highest battle honour. The award is expected to be formally announced on Wednesday evening. Indian Air Force and Pakistani Air Force were locked in an air duel over Noushera in Jammu and Kashmir when Wing Commander Varthaman chased the PAF jets and was shot down himself. He was captured by Pakistan and returned some 36 hours later. Besides, seven IAF pilots will get the Vayu Sena Medal for gallantry and this includes the 'Balakot bombers'. On February 26, at around 3.30 am, a team of Mirage fighter jets had dropped spice 200 guided bombs over Balakot in Pakistan. This team is based in Gwalior. Five yudh sewa medals will also be awarded. RESTRICTIONS IN JAMMU LIFTED; ALERT IN VALLEY FOR I-DAY "Restrictions imposed in Jammu have been completely removed. They will continue in some places of Kashmir for some time," Additional Director General of Police Munir Khan said at a press conference in Srinagar. Security forces stepped up vigil across the Valley ahead of Independence Day as authorities prepared for the main event in Srinagar where Governor Satya Pal Malik will hoist the Tricolour Thursday. On Wednesday, the tenth day of the lockdown, restrictions were eased in Srinagar to allow public and vehicle movement even as officials said the curbs will return Thursday. Barricades and concertina wire spools have come up on roads leading to the Sher-i-Kashmir stadium, the venue for the Independence Day event. Following the relaxation of curbs, private vehicles were seen plying on the roads of Srinagar but shops, business establishments, schools and offices remained closed. Public transport too was off the roads. The communication blackout also continued. SHAH FAESAL STOPPED FROM GOING TO TURKEY; DETAINED IN SRINAGAR UNDER PSA Former IAS officer Shah Faesal was detained by authorities at the Delhi airport on Wednesday and sent back to Kashmir, officials said. Faesal was again detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA) on his arrival in Srinagar, they said. Faesal, who was bound for Istanbul, was detained at the Delhi airport during the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday, they said. His purpose of visiting turkey was not immediacy known, they said. The former bureaucrat from Jammu and Kashmir had floated a political outfit after resigning from the IAS. Post the removal of special status to Jammu and Kashmir, provided under Article 370, Faesal had said Kashmir is experiencing an "unprecedented" lockdown and its eight million population "incarcerated" like never before. He is among the last political leaders who have been placed under house arrest. ALWAR COURT ACQUITS ALL SIX ACCUSED IN PEHLU KHAN LYNCHING CASE A court in Rajasthan's Alwar acquitted six people in the 2017 lynching of Pehlu Khan on Wednesday. Additional District and Session Judge Sarita Tyagi acquitted Vipin, Ravindar, Dayanand, Kaluram, Bhim Singh Rathi, and Yogesh Dholiya giving them the benefit of the doubt. Hours after the verdict, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the state government will appeal against the verdict delivered by the court of an additional district judge. Some self-styled cow vigilantes had allegedly brutally beaten up Khan, a 55-year-old native of Nuh in Haryana, near Behror in Rajasthan on the Delhi-Alwar highway on April 1, 2017, on the suspicion that he was smuggling cattle. Then BJP government in Rajasthan under Vasundhara Raje had come under flak over the killing, with the incident escalating the debate over Muslims facing attacks from cow vigilantes. WHOLESALE INFLATION IN JULY FALLS TO MULTI-YEAR LOW OF 1.08 PER CENT Wholesale price-based inflation in July fell to a multi-year low of 1.08 per cent mainly on account of cheaper fuel and food items, government data showed on Wednesday. Inflation based on Wholesale Price Index (WPI) was at 2.02 per cent in June this year and 5.27 per cent in July 2018. The government data said inflation in food articles was 6.15 per cent in July as against 6.98 per cent in the previous month. Similarly, wholesale inflation in fuel and power segment contracted further to (-) 3.64 per cent as against (-) 2.2 per cent in June. The retail inflation in July too had eased to 3.15 per cent over the previous month when it was 3.18 per cent. ELECTION COMMISSION SEEKS LEGAL POWERS TO LINK VOTER CARDS WITH AADHAAR The Election Commission approached the Law Ministry this week, seeking legal powers to resume linking of voter cards with the 12-digit Aadhaar number. In a letter addressed to the Law Secretary, the EC has proposed amendments to the Representation of the People Act, 1950, and the Aadhaar Act, 2016, to empower the Commission to collect and use Aadhaar data for "cleaning" voters' list as a "back-end exercise". The EC had first initiated the exercise of linking Aadhaar with the Electors Photo Identity Cards (or EPIC) in February 2015, when H S Brahma was the Chief Election Commissioner. It was suspended later that year in August, after the Supreme Court restricted the use of Aadhaar to only the Public Distribution System (PDS), LPG and kerosene distribution. The poll panel had already linked 38 crore voter cards to Aadhaar by then. In its final order, the apex court had held that although 'Right to Privacy' is a fundamental right, it can be curtailed if there is either a specific law authorising collection of Aadhaar or if the state interest is involved or the test of proportionality is satisfied. Hence, the Commission's demand for legal powers to resume seeding of voter cards with Aadhaar. It has further assured in its letter to the government that the Aadhaar data will not be available in public domain. CHANDRAYAAN-2 LEAVES EARTH'S ORBIT, MOVING TOWARDS MOON India's second moon mission 'Chandrayaan-2' left the earth's orbit early on Wednesday, 23 days after being launched, and is moving towards the moon following the successful completion of a crucial manoeuvre by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The Bengaluru-headquartered space agency said it had carried out a manoeuvre called 'Trans Lunar Insertion' (TLI) at 2.21 am on Wednesday, following which the spacecraft has successfully entered the Lunar Transfer Trajectory. The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft is expected to reach the moon's orbit on August 20 and land on lunar surface on September 7. CINE WORKERS' BODY BANS MIKA SINGH FROM INDUSTRY The All Indian Cine Workers Association (AICWA) has banned singer Mika Singh from the Indian film industry for performing at an event in Karachi, Pakistan. The event in Pakistan was organised by former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's close relative. A letter from AICWA President Suresh Shyamlal Gupta stated: "AICWA bans and boycott singer Mika Singh from the Indian film industry for performing at a high profile event at Karachi dated August 8, 2019." "AICWA takes a tough stand of immediately boycotting all his association with movie production houses, music companies and online music content providers." The statement further read that "AICWA workers will make sure that no one in India works with Mika Singh and if anyone does, they will face legal consequences in the court of law". "When the tension between the countries is at the peak, Mika Singh puts money above the nation's pride," the film association said. BOMBAY HC QUESTIONS CBFC'S ABILITY TO CERTIFY FILMS Questioning the Central Board of Film Certification's lack of uniform guidelines for film certification, the Bombay High Court said on Wednesday that it was apparent that none of the board members had the capability to "discern" what was fit for watching and by whom. The observation was made by a bench of Justices SC Dharmadhikari and GS Patel. The Bench was hearing a plea filed by the Children's Film Society India (CFSI) seeking directions to the CBFC tribunal to hear its plea to issue a 'U' certificate to its film 'Chidiakhana'. The CFSI claimed the film was merely about a boy who beat all odds to emerge a hero, and that it was scheduled to be screened in schools across the country. Therefore, the film must have a 'U' certificate (unrestricted public exhibition), it said. CBFC counsel Rajiv Chavan told the high court that the film had some scenes in which children were shown holding guns and firing bullets, among other things, and therefore, it was not fit to be awarded a 'U' certificate. At this the Bench asked: "How much do you know of the life of a child below 12 years of age? Are you aware of the level of violence one child is capable of ensuing upon another? You are stifling a child's mind (by imposing restrictions through certification)". If this is the level of understanding of the board members then you have our sympathies, it said. SHOOTING ROW: UK GOVT STEPS IN AS INDIA THREATEN C'WEALTH GAMES BOYCOTT The UK government has stepped in to back India in an ongoing row over shooting being dropped from the Commonwealth Games to be held in the British city of Birmingham in 2022. Britain's Sports Minister Nigel Adams said that India was an important Commonwealth country and he has written to the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) to try and find a solution to the impasse. "We want India to be here, no question," the Minister said. The Indian Olympic Association (IOC) is set to decide next month whether to boycott the Games after it was confirmed that shooting would not be included for the first time since 1970. India won a record 16 shooting medals at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast last year. Birmingham 2022's stand is that shooting is not a core Commonwealth Games Federation sport, but an optional one and that in December 2017, it was not included in Birmingham's bid to host the 2022 Games. INDIA VS WEST INDIES: INDIA WIN RAIN-CURTAILED CONTEST, SEAL SERIES 2-0 Virat Kohli upstaged rampant Chris Gayle as India defeated the West Indies by six wickets in the rain-affected third and final ODI of their series at the Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad on Wednesday. Set a revised target of 255 based on the DLS scoring method after Gayle blazed 72 in pacing the home side to 240 for seven off 35 overs, Kohli was at his most imperious in compiling an unbeaten 114 - his second consecutive ODI hundred - to pilot his team to 256 for four with 15 balls to spare. His 43rd ODI hundred off 99 balls with 14 fours and overall impact on the series ensured him the double accolade of 'Man of the Match' and 'Man of the Series'. The 2nd Test of the Ashes series, at Lord's, saw it's 1st day washed away yesterday. 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