|NEWS TO SHIPS BY NEWS ACCESS INDIA – FRIDAY, MAY 11, 2018
FRONT PAGE NEWS
Extremely shrill and bitter, the campaign for the 224-seat Karnataka Assembly elections came to an end on Thursday. Congress president Rahul Gandhi campaigned in the state for about two months and appeared to have given a headstart to the party, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrived to bat in the slog overs, ensured the May 12 contest was more or less even.
Karnataka has never voted the ruling party back to power in three decades. Nevertheless, Congress Chief Minister Siddaramaiah hopes to create a record by retaining his position. On the other hand, BJP’s CM-candidate BS Yeddyurappa is making a concerted effort to wrest power after nearly a decade.
Most opinion polls have predicted a hung House with the JD(S), the third player, emerging as the kingmaker.
Wrapping up the election campaign, PM Modi chose to reach out to a whopping 25 lakh people in Karnataka through several video interactions on the ‘NaMo’ app, accusing the Congress of betraying the Dalits and OBCs.
Rahul Gandhi, who addressed a media conference, criticised the PM for raking up UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin, saying “my mother is Italian but she is more Indian than many Indians”. He ridiculed the PM for not holding a single press conference in four years.
Siddaramaiah, besides banking on several pro-poor measures initiated by his government, is hoping that the decision to accord “separate religion” status to the Lingayats will pay off. Significantly, Yeddyurappa belongs to the Lingayat community.
Wrapping up a marathon hearing that lasted 38 working days spread over four months, the Supreme Court Thursday reserved its verdict on a clutch of petitions challenging the Constitutional validity of the 2016 Aadhaar Act.
A five-judge bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan began hearing the matter on January 17.
In concluding remarks, Attorney General K K Venugopal said this was the second longest oral hearing in the history of the Supreme Court, the first being the landmark Kesavananda Bharati case in which the apex court in 1973 outlined the basic structure of the Constitution and ruled that it cannot be tampered with.
Appearing for the petitioners, senior advocate Gopal Subramanium told the bench that if the Act was struck down, the database should be destroyed and those who suffered due to failure of authentication should be paid damages.
Senior advocate P Chidambaram, appearing for the petitioners, questioned the passage of the Aadhaar Act as a money Bill and said it was cleared without effective participation of Rajya Sabha. He said the court must not save a legislation which is fundamentally unconstitutional. There are immense implications, he said, of a non-money Bill being passed as a money Bill.
Nine days after it deferred its decision at the meeting called to consider the reiteration of the choice of elevating Chief Justice of Uttarakhand Justice K M Thomas to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court collegium is set to meet this afternoon.
Apart from the Supreme Court Bar Association, several jurists and former Chief Justices and judges had said that the Supreme Court must go ahead and reiterate the name of Justice K M Joseph as it would then, as per the law in the country, be incumbent on the Centre to swear him in.
While many issues between the Supreme Court and the Executive remain unresolved, including the Memorandum of Procedure (or the terms of engagement between them), the matter of Justice K M Thomas is being watched closely as a gauge of how far the Supreme Court with Chief Justice Dipak Misra at its helm, is ready to go to assert its independence.
Opposing J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s call for a “unilateral ceasefire” in view of Ramzan and Amarnath Yatra, BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta on Thursday said “it (ceasefire) is never a one-sided affair”.
“If there is an appeal from their (militants’) side, only then we can think of it… Let them first make an appeal for it… It cannot be accepted that we announce a ceasefire, despite their (militants) continuous attacks on our security forces,” said Gupta.
Stating that “they (militants) will have to take the initiative”, he said, “we want the ceasefire to last forever, not just the month of Ramzan”. Gupta said that some participants had suggested a ceasefire during the all-party meeting on Wednesday, but there was no consensus.
Stating that a unilateral ceasefire was “not in national interest”, Sunil Sethi, chief spokesperson of the state BJP unit, said, “Our point of view is that a ceasefire at this stage will not solve the problem. Rather it will aggravate it, as the Army has the upper hand at the moment…We have cornered the militants and this breathing period will be used by them to regroup.”
United States President Donald Trump tweeted yesterday: “The highly anticipated meeting between (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th. We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!”
In the weeks since the unprecedented Summit was announced, speculation has swirled over its venue.
Singapore has no stake in the Korean peninsula. The suspension of trade relations last year notwithstanding, the countries have always been on relatively good terms, and North Koreans did not for a long time need a visa to go to Singapore. It is one of only 40-odd countries in the world in which Pyongyang has an embassy, and is probably one of the countries that Kim is likely to feel the least insecure about. Singapore is also located close enough for North Korea’s aging aircraft to safely reach — this can, in fact, be a bigger concern than it appears, given Kim’s reported fear of flying and security obsessions.
Mahathir Mohamad was sworn in as Malaysia’s seventh prime minister on Thursday following his stunning election victory over the coalition that has ruled the Southeast Asian nation for six decades since independence from Britain.
Malaysia’s constitutional monarch, Sultan Muhammad V, administered the oath of office in a ceremony carried live on state television from the palace.
Mahathir is the oldest elected leader in the world.
ISRAEL ATTACKS IRAN TARGETS IN SYRIA
Israel said it attacked nearly all Iran’s military infrastructure in Syria on Thursday after Iranian forces fired rockets at Israeli-held territory for the first time.
It was the heaviest Israeli barrage in Syria since the start in 2011 of its war, in which Iranians, allied Shia militias and Russian troops have deployed in support of President Bashar al-Assad.
The Syrian Army Command said Israel’s attack killed three persons and injured two others. A Britain-based war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the strikes killed at least 23 military personnel, including Syrians and non-Syrians.
Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman said the Iranian rockets either fell short of their targets – military bases in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights – or were intercepted.
The Golan attack was “just further demonstration that the Iranian regime cannot be trusted and another good reminder that the President made the right decision to get out of the Iran deal”, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News.
The Congress yesterday released two videos dating back to 2010 when BJP leaders B Sriramulu and G Janardhana Reddy were purportedly involved in negotiating a bribe to a relative of a former Chief Justice of India, allegedly to influence a verdict in a mining case.
BJP president Amit Shah dismissed the videos as “a possible fake sting operation”.
The videos show groups discussing the purported payment of a Rs 100 crore bribe by Janardhana Reddy and the apparent diversion of part of the money by middlemen.
On May 10, 2010, a day before he retired, a bench headed Justice Balakrishna had delivered a verdict. The Congress alleges that the verdict was dubiously obtained and that the videos were shot since a dispute arose over an alleged failure to pay the entire Rs 100 crore bribe.
PM SAYS NO CONGRESS LEADER MET BHAGAT SINGH IN PRISON; BUT NEHRU DID
On Wednesday evening, @narendramodi_in, the Twitter handle of narendramodi.in, posted: “When Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Batukeshwar Dutt, Veer Savarkar, greats like them were jailed fighting for the country’s independence, did any Congress leader go to meet them? But the Congress leaders go and meet the corrupt who have been jailed: PM @narendramodi”
What does the historical evidence say?
Jawaharlal Nehru visited Bhagat Singh and the others in prison. In Lahore on August 9, 1929, (reported by The Tribune, August 10, 1929), he said: “I visited the Central Jail and the Borstal Jail yesterday and saw Sardar Bhagat Singh, Mr Batukeshwar Dutt, Mr Jatindranath Das and all the other accused in the Lahore Conspiracy Case, who are on hunger strike… Those who cannot be forcibly fed… are dying slowly from day to day and the final act in the tragedy cannot be long delayed. The condition of Mr Jatindranath Das is specially critical… It was very painful for me to meet these extraordinarily brave young men and see their manifest suffering.”
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s nephew Vinay Bansal was arrested on Thursday by an anti-graft body in connection with alleged financial irregularities in a drainage project for the PWD, prompting AAP to allege a conspiracy to malign the party chief’s image.
While Bansal was sent to one-day judicial custody by a Delhi court, his arrest triggered a political slugfest, with the BJP’s Delhi unit demanding Kejriwal’s resignation and Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia alleging that the Centre was using Delhi Police and the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) only “to harass and trouble” AAP leaders and their relatives.
The ACB claimed Bansal was a 50 per cent stakeholder in Renu Constructions that was allegedly involved in financial irregularities in laying a drainage system.
A man in the Philippines who sought help from External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday changed his profile details after the Minister called him out for referring to Jammu and Kashmir as “Indian-occupied Kashmir”. The user, who is pursuing a medical course abroad, reached out to Swaraj to issue him a new passport to return to India for a medical checkup after his passport was damaged.
The user had tweeted, “I am from J&K doing medicine course here in Philippines my passport got damaged I applied for new one 1 month ago I request u pls help me to get it as i literally need to go home for medical checkup.”
Swaraj responded to the user, “If you are from J&K state, we will definitely help you. But your profile says you are from ‘Indian occupied Kashmir’. There is no place like that.”
Hours after this tweet, she addressed the user again, “I am happy you have corrected the profile.” She directed officials at the Indian Embassy in the Philippines to help him.
Ahead of next years’s Lok Sabha elections, the Centre has set March 2019 as the new deadline to clean river Ganga, and ensure a “70 to 80 percent” improvement in its water quality. Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari Thursday said that the government’s spending this fiscal will witness a spike as more projects under the flagship Namami Gange scheme will be completed.
The cleaning of the Ganga was one of the major poll promises of the BJP ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Gadkari said that efforts will be made to clean the river completely by December 2019.
Since 2015, the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), which is implementing the project, has spent only 20 per cent of the Rs 20,000 crore sanctioned by the government. “20 per cent of the amount was spent till March (2018). This year, there will be lot of expenditure,” Gadkari told reporters.
Taking exception to the inordinate delay in throwing open the 135-km Eastern Peripheral Expressway for the public, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to open it by May 31.
A Bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta wondered why NHAI was waiting for inauguration of the expressway by the Prime Minister.
The direction came after the NHAI counsel said the construction work was complete and the expressway was scheduled to be inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi on April 29, but it could not be done because of his prior commitments.
Two expressways were planned in 2005 on the Supreme Court’s order for channeling non-Delhi bound traffic with a view to de-congest the national capital. The Eastern Peripheral Expressway envisages providing signal-free connectivity between Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gautam Budh Nagar and Palwal, while the Western Expressway connects Kundli to Palwal via Manesar in Haryana.
The US has dragged India to the World Trade Organisation, alleging that it has “substantially underreported” its market price support for wheat and rice.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in a joint statement said the US had submitted a counter-notification in the WTO Committee on Agriculture (COA) on India’s market price support (MPS) for wheat and rice. “When calculated according to WTO Agreement on Agriculture methodology, India’s market price support for wheat and rice far exceeded its allowable levels of trade distorting domestic support,” their statement said. The US expected a robust discussion on how India implemented and notified its policies at the next COA meeting, which is scheduled for June 2018, they said.
US retail major Walmart Inc. will comply with any potential tax demand arising from its $16-billion buy of a controlling stake in India’s online-retail market leader Flipkart.
“Our intent is, whether looking backwards related to our acquisition here or looking forward, we will be compliant with whatever the tax rules are. We will work with regulatory agencies on this,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon told reporters in New Delhi
The statement comes in the backdrop of continuing tax litigation faced by global investors such as UK’s Vodafone Plc and Cairn Energy Plc. Ahead of Wednesday’s announcement about the deal, the tax department is learnt to have sent a communication to both Flipkart and Bentonville-based Walmart, apprising them about sections of the Income-Tax Act that would apply to the transaction since Flipkart derives “substantial value” of its shares from assets held in India and would be liable for taxation here.
The transaction, apart from tax authorities, would be subject to clearance from Competition Commission of India and other regulators and will make India the biggest emerging market with US-based Amazon, China’s Alibaba and Walmart pitted against each other.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai stood on stage at the company’s yearly developer conference on Tuesday and rolled out some of its most advanced technology: an assistant that can schedule appointments for you over the phone, customized suggestions in Google Maps, and even a new feature that can help finish your sentences as you type an email.
It’s all underpinned by the same thing: the massive trove of data that Google is collecting on billions of people every day.
The more Google products you use, the more Google can gather about you. Whether it’s Gmail, the Android smartphone operating system, YouTube, Google Drive, Google Maps, and, of course, Google Search — the company is collecting gigabytes of data about you.
Google offers free access to these tools and in return shows you super-targeted advertising, which is how it made $31.2 billion in revenue in just the first three months of 2018.
The company’s data collection practices also include scanning your email to extract keyword data for use in other Google products and services and to improve its machine learning capabilities, Google spokesman Aaron Stein confirmed in an email to NBC News.
Shikhar Dhawan and Kane Williamson shared an unbeaten 176-run stand to overshadow a breathtaking hundred by Rishbah Pant as Sunrisers Hyderabad sailed into the IPL playoffs with a commanding nine-wicket victory over Delhi Daredevils.
Delhi’s total of 187/5 was a challenging target but Dhawan (92 not out) and captain Williamson (83 not out) ensured Sunrisers sauntered home in 18.5 overs. Sunrisers’ brilliant performance came after Pant’s maiden IPL hundred, an epic 128 not out off 63 balls which was not enough to arrest his team’s slide.
With just 3 wins from 11 games, Delhi are now certain to make another early exit from the tournament. Sunrisers, who lead the table with 9 wins from 11 games, showed that they could not just defend small totals but also chase down stiff targets.
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THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
It’s amazing how much panic one honest man can spread among a multitude of hypocrites. – Thomas Sowell
– “No problem is so formidable that you can’t walk away from it.”
– “What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left.”
– “To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost.”
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Newsletter May 11, 2018
May 11, 2018