NEWS TO SHIPS BY NEWS ACCESS INDIA – MONDAY, MAY 21, 2018
- MODI HEADS TO SOCHI TODAY, FOR AN INFORMAL MEET WITH PUTIN
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin will primarily focus on pressing global and regional issues, including impact of the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, during their informal summit in the Russian city of Sochi today. Modi Sunday voiced the hope that his talks with Putin would further strengthen the “special and privileged” strategic partnership between India and Russia.
In a series of tweets — in Russian and then in English — on the eve of his visit to Russia, Modi said he looked forward to his meeting with Putin. “Greetings to the friendly people of Russia. I look forward to my visit to Sochi tomorrow and my meeting with President Putin. It is always a pleasure to meet him,” Modi tweeted.
During their informal summit in Sochi, the two leaders will primarily focus on global and regional issues, including the impact of the US decision to withdraw from a nuclear deal with Iran. “Am confident the talks with President Putin will further strengthen the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between India and Russia,” Modi said in another tweet.
- BJP LOK SABHA TALLY DOWN TO 272 FROM 282 IN 2014
For the first time since the BJP crossed the halfway mark of 272 on its own in the Lok Sabha by winning 282 seats in the May 2014 general elections, the party’s individual tally now stands reduced to the bare minimum majority mark of 272 (excluding Speaker).
Even this tally is delicate as one BJP MP, Kirti Azad, stands suspended from the party, and another MP Shatrughan Sinha is on a rebellious course.
This does not make the Modi government a minority regime as BJP plus NDA allies still have a comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha.
The BJP individual tally coming down to 272 on Saturday –– after the LS Speaker accepted the resignations of BS Yeddyurappa and B Sreeramaulu as MPs after the duo took oath as MLAs of the Karnataka Assembly. The two bypolls in Karnataka, whenever they are held, could see BJP fighting against the new JDS-Congress alliance.
The May 28 bypolls to four Lok Sabha seats – 2 in Maharashtra, one in UP and one in Nagaland – is turning interesting as BJP needs to put up a better show to climb above the 272-mark.
- NE STUDENT ORGANISATIONS RALLY AGAINST CITIZENSHIP BILL
Vowing to put up a resistance against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, students’ organisations of the North-East have been in touch with various political parties, urging them to oppose the Bill in Parliament.
The All-Assam Students’ Union (AASU), a key constituent of the North East Students’ organisation (NESO), claims to have garnered the support of 11 national parties, including the Janata Dal (United), on the issue.
An AASU delegation met Bihar CM and JD-U chairman Nitish Kumar and apprised him of the implications of the proposed legislation. “We had about a two-hour discussion with the CM. We submitted relevant documents, including a 16-point memorandum. He has understood the seriousness of the situation and has assured us he will write to the PM about it. He is against the idea of citizenship being given on the basis of religion,” AASU president Dipanka Nath said.
The AASU as well as NESO maintain that under no circumstances can Centre impose the burden of lakhs of Bangladeshi Hindus on Assam, and that the legislation is a threat to the existence, language and culture of Assam’s indigenous communities. The AASU and 28 indigenous organisations have resolved to take the anti-Citizenship Bill movement to a larger scale, both within the region and outside.
- PAKISTAN RANGERS HAVE PLEADED TO STOP FIRING, CLAIMS BSF
After suffering casualties in firing by Border Security Force (BSF) along the international border in Jammu and Kashmir in the past three days, Pakistani Rangers on Sunday “pleaded” with their Indian counterparts to stop firing, a BSF spokesperson said. “On Western borders, the befitting reply by BSF units to unprovoked shelling and firing from across the international boundary has forced Pakistani forces to plead for ceasefire,” an official spokesperson said.
“Today on 20th May, Rangers have called up Jammu BSF formation and beseeched to stop firing,’’ he said, adding that “for last three days, the precision fire of BSF troopers on Pak firing locations inflicted heavy loss on them”.
To support its point, BSF also released a 19-second footage of the thermal imagery showing large scale destruction of Pakistani pickets across the border.
- INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
- CHINA, US STRIKE DEAL, AVERT TRADE WAR
Averting a trade war, China and the US yesterday struck a deal under which Beijing will “significantly increase” its purchases of American goods and services to reduce the whopping $375 billion trade deficit with Washington, but made no mention of a $200 billion target the White House had touted earlier.
After lengthy second round of talks in Washington, the two sides issued a joint statement yesterday vowing not to launch a trade war against each other. “There was a consensus on taking effective measures to substantially reduce the US trade deficit in goods with China,” the joint statement said.
“To meet the growing consumption needs of the Chinese people and the need for high-quality economic development, China will significantly increase purchases of United States goods and services,” it added. This will help support growth and employment in the United States.
US President Donald Trump has threatened punitive measures against Chinese goods if Beijing does not cut down the trade deficit by $100 billion in a month and $200 billion by 2020. The US says it has $375 billion trade deficit in $636 billion total trade last year. China says the trade deficit is around $200 billion. China too threatened a tit-for-tat retaliation but blinked in the end with a categorical undertaking to import more goods from the US.
The two sides agreed on meaningful increases in United States agriculture and energy exports. The US will send a team to China to work out the details, said the joint statement at the conclusion of the trade delegation level talks between the two countries.
- IRAN SAYS EUROPE’S SUPPORT FOR NUCLEAR DEAL NOT ENOUGH
The European Union is not doing enough to preserve the benefits for Iran from the 2015 international nuclear pact following the withdrawal of the United States, Iran’s foreign minister told the EU’s energy chief on Sunday.
Miguel Arias Canete, European Commissioner for energy and climate, said Tehran wanted the 28-nation bloc to act fast to preserve its oil trade with Iran, and to consider making direct euro-denominated payments for Iranian oil to Iran’s central bank, bypassing the US financial system.
“With the withdrawal of America … the European political support for the accord is not sufficient,” Mohammad Javad Zarif told Arias Canete in Tehran, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported.
“The announcement of the possible withdrawal by major European companies from their cooperation with Iran is not consistent with the European Union’s commitment to implementing (the nuclear deal),” Zarif was quoted as saying.
- THE REST
- NAXALS BLOW UP POLICE VEHICLE IN CHHATTISGARH’S DANTEWADA; 7 COPS DEAD
Seven police personnel were killed after Naxals blew up their vehicle in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district on Sunday. Naxals carried out a land mine blast around 12 noon when a joint team of the Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) and the District Force (DF) was patrolling the Cholnar-Kirandul road to provide security to trucks carrying construction material for road works between Kirandul and Palnar villages, a senior police official said.
The intensity of the blast, which took place near a culvert, was strong enough to toss the police vehicle in a roadside ditch, he said.
Naxals looted six automatic weapons—two AK-47s and as many INSAS and self-loading rifles—of the deceased personnel, he said.
Condemning the attack, Chief Minister Raman Singh termed it “cowardly” and said it exposed the rebels’ anti-people and anti-development mindset. “Our police personnel have sacrificed their lives while guarding a road construction site. Their sacrifice will always be remembered,” he said.
- ARMY LOOKS TO HAVE MORE SHORT SERVICE COMMISSIONED OFFICERS
Faced with a growing salary budget, the Indian Army has moved a proposal to the Ministry of Defence to increase the intake of officers under Short Service Commission (SSC) and correspondingly reduce the number of permanent commissioned officers.
The MoD is okay with implementing the plan in phases to increase the SSC officer intake by “sweetening” the terms of employment for those who serve for either 10 years or 14 years in the Army.
At present, the ratio between permanent commission and SSC is 4:1. The Ajai Vikram Singh Committee (AVSC) envisaged a ratio of 1:1.1 between full-time regular officers and the support cadre, largely from the SSC. The move comes almost 10 years after the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in October 2008 approved a reduction in regular cadre.
The proposal is to allow two-month salary for each year of service for those completing 10 years and four-month salary for each year of service for completing 14 years.
Then there is professional training to equip these youth for jobs once they leave service. The Army has suggested a year’s study course for those completing 10 years and two-year study course for those working for 14 years. This will include professional courses.
The second phase of the plan includes giving ex-servicemen status and medical treatment facility as admissible to regular officers.
- PICTURES FROM PAST, POLITICALLY TIMED
A “closed chapter” from the private life of Janata Dal Secular leader H.D. Kumaraswamy has been attracting attention since the Congress set the stage for a coalition government under his leadership.
Old pictures of Kumaraswamy, 58, with a young woman and a girl have been circulating across social media platforms over the past few days along with the claim that the soon-to-be chief minister is a bigamist.
The woman in the picture is Radhika, a leading Kannada film actress who is said to have been “married” to Kumaraswamy for about a decade until they “parted ways” about two years ago.
Th relationship had caused unrest in Kumaraswamy’s family since he was already married and had a grown-up son who never accepted Radhika. But Kumaraswamy is apparently no longer “married” to Radhika.
- COW-LYNCHING AGAIN, THIS TIME IN MP
A 45-year-old tailor was beaten to death in a Madhya Pradesh village on Friday on the suspicion of slaughtering a cow. Police said they found a slaughtered bull at the spot and sacks stashed with bulls’ meat.
Attempts are being made to split hairs on livestock laws to pin part of the blame on Riaz Khan, the victim.
Sources highlighted that the slaughter of bulls – unlike that of cows – is not banned in the state. But police sources said that according to the rules, even animals allowed to be slaughtered could not be killed outside abattoirs.
The debate is irrelevant because no rule or law condones the lynching of alleged offenders.
Rajesh Hingankar, superintendent of police of Satna district where the incident took place, said four suspects had been arrested for Riaz’s murder.
- A FORMER ISI CHIEF AND A FORMER R&AW CHIEF PEN A BOOK TOGETHER
Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s experience in Pakistan affected him in a manner that he believes that the country must be dealt with an iron fist, according to former chief of Pakistan’s Inter Service Intelligence (ISI), Lt General Asad Durrani (retd). This is part of a new book, The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace, which has been co-authored by Durrani and former R&AW chief A S Dulat, along with journalist Aditya Sinha. The book is set to be launched in Delhi this week, but Durrani will not be able to attend the event as he has not been given a visa by New Delhi so far.
About Doval, Dulat says: “As far as his capabilities go, he’s one of our outstanding operational guys. He’s a field man.” Dulat goes on to say that Doval is “not necessarily a hardliner” on Pakistan, arguing that “He toes Modi’s line. He also toed Mani Dixit’s line. He at one point toed [M K] Narayanan’s line… I’ll tell you something. He is convinced that Modi is the greatest thing that has happened to India.”
- LAWYERS’ GROUP MOVES SUPREME COURT SEEKING REVIEW OF LOYA ORDER
The Bombay Lawyers Association has approached the Supreme Court seeking review of its judgment dismissing its plea for an independent probe into the death of CBI special judge B H Loya. The petition settled by senior advocate Dushyant Dave also sought deletion of the court’s findings in the judgment that the petitions were a “veiled attempt to launch a frontal attack on the independence of the judiciary and to dilute the credibility of judicial institutions”. It contended that the “judgment has resulted in miscarriage of justice if not complete negation of justice on the facts of the case”.
A three-judge bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud had on April 19 dismissed the petition along with certain others with similar prayers. The court ruled that “documentary material on the record indicates that the death of Judge Loya was due to natural causes”. The Association had originally filed its petition seeking a probe before the Bombay High Court. The Supreme Court subsequently transferred the plea to itself.
The lawyers’ body said its attempt was not to “sensationalise the subject matter nor make a veiled attempt to launch a frontal attack on the independence of the judiciary or to dilute the credibility of judicial institutions”. “On the contrary, the whole attempt of the Petitioner Association was to reassure the entire judiciary that the Association would stand behind every Judge in times of challenge in his or her life.”
- INDIA MULLS TARIFF HIKE ON 20 US PRODUCTS, MOVES WTO
India has told the WTO that it proposes to raise duties by up to 100 per cent on 20 products such as almonds, apple and specific motorcycles imported from the US from next month, if Washington does not roll back high tariffs on certain steel and aluminium items.
The additional duty proposed to be hiked on these items ranges from 5 per cent to 100 per cent. “India hereby notifies the Council for Trade in Goods of its decision to suspend concessions or other obligations … that are substantially equivalent to the amount of trade affected by the measures imposed by the United States,” according to a communication by India to WTO.
It said the proposed suspension of concessions would be in the form of “an increase in tariffs on selected products originating in the US”. It also said that India reserves its right to further suspend substantially equivalent concessions and other obligations based on the measures of the US.
India has earlier urged the US to exempt it from the decision to raise import duties on certain steel and aluminium products. The country has proposed this move under the WTO’s Agreement on Safeguards.
On March 9, US President Donald Trump imposed heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminium items, a move that has sparked fears of a global trade war.
- PETROL, DIESEL HIT ALL-TIME HIGH
Petrol price yesterday touched a record high of Rs 76.24 per litre and diesel climbed to its highest-ever level of Rs 67.57 (Delhi prices) as the oil PSUs passed on four weeks of relentless rise in international oil prices to consumers.
Petrol price today increased by 33 paisa a litre in Delhi—the highest since the daily price revision came into force in mid-June 2017, and diesel by 26 paisa, according to price notification issued by state-owned oil firms.
Rates vary from state to state depending on the incidence of local sales tax or VAT. Prices in Delhi are the cheapest in all metros and most state capitals.
In India, petrol is the costliest in Mumbai where high local taxes has led to a price of Rs 84.07 per litre.
On Friday, Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg refused to say if the government will cut excise duty on auto fuel to ease the burden on consumers.
The government is watching the situation developing from oil prices hitting USD 80 a barrel—the highest since November 2014, and adequate steps will be taken, is all he said without elaborating.
This is the seventh straight day of price increase since oil PSUs on May 14 resumed daily price revision after a 19-day pre-Karnataka poll hiatus. In all, petrol price has been raised by Rs 1.61 a litre and diesel by 1.64 in past one week.
- IPL: DELHI KNOCK OUT MUMBAI; RAJASTHAN MAKE IT AS PUNJAB LOSE TO CHENNAI
Kings XI Punjab, having played inconsistently through the tournament, finished second-last in IPL-11, getting beaten by five wickets by Chennai Super Kings in Pune last night.
KXIP’s slim hopes of qualifying for the playoff stage rested on two events today: One, they needed Delhi Daredevils to beat Mumbai Indians in the day’s first match, and Delhi achieved that, knocking out Mumbai Indians from the tournament; two, KXIP needed to beat CSK by a big margin of more than 53 runs to qualify for the playoffs ahead of Rajasthan Royals, and this KXIP failed to achieve.
Batting first, KXIP could manage only 153. Openers Chris Gayle (0) and KL Rahul (7) failed when it mattered most,
In an earlier match yesterday, which was a must win for Mumbai, Delhi Daredevils beat the visitors by 11 runs. Batting first, Delhi score 174and bowled Mumbai out for 163 in the last over.
Team / Matches Won / Matches Played / NRR (After end of league stage)
Sunrisers Hyderabad 9/14 (0.284); Chennai Super Kings 9/14 (0.253); Kolkata Knight Riders 8/14 (-0.070); Rajasthan Royals 7/14 (-0.250);
Mumbai Indians 6/14 (0.317); Royal Challengers Bangalore 6/14 (0.129); Kings XI Punjab 6/14 (-0.502); Delhi Daredevils 5/14 (-0.222)
In the first qualifier, to be played at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on May 22, Hyderabad Sunrisers will take on Chennai Super Kings.
In the Eliminator, on May 23, at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, Rajasthan Royals will take on Kolkata Knight Riders.
The second Qualifier will also be played in Kolkata, on May 25. The final is on May 27, in Mumbai.
- ASIAN CHAMPIONS TROPHY: INDIAN WOMEN LOSE IN FINAL
South Korea pipped India 1-0 to win the fifth Women’s Asian Champions Trophy in Donghae yesterday.
The match saw South Korea keep a resolute defence and score the only goal of the match in the 24th minute when Youngsil Lee found the back of the net.
Women’s Asian Champions Trophy
India finished runners-up for the second time after having lost in the final to Japan in 2013.
- THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- OFF TRACK
Now that you’ve added salt and lemon…
Please add tequila also…so we can brush 6 times a day.