Newsletter July 14 2018




With less than a year left for general elections, the BJP Friday said the Opposition Congress is “playing a dangerous game… of communal politics” and will be “solely responsible if any disharmony plays out between now and the 2019 elections”.

Attacking Congress president Rahul Gandhi over an alleged remark attributed to him during an interaction Wednesday with Muslim intellectuals, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman — she told reporters she was speaking in her capacity as a party leader — said Gandhi should “clear what transpired” at the meeting.

Quoting a report from the Inquilab, Sitharaman alleged Gandhi told Muslim intellectuals that “Congress is a Muslim party”.

She also took a swipe at him while responding to a query on an earlier remark by the Congress that Gandhi was a janeu-dhari (one who wears the sacred thread): “You can’t be janeu-dhari at one point and Muslim-dhari at another… This is playing with the people’s trust.”

“Congress party is playing a dangerous game, playing communal division, playing up the card of religion. It is frightening that it may lead to the kind of division and kind of communal disharmony that prevailed during the 1947 partition. Congress party shall be solely responsible if any disharmony plays out between now and the 2019 elections,” she said.

“We think Congress is getting back at this Divide India mindset. It is clear that 2019 election, they want to contest it at dharm ki aadhaar par (on the basis of religion). Its foundation has been laid,” she said.

Meanwhile, historian Syed Irfan Habib, who was among the Muslim intellectuals who met Gandhi Wednesday, denied that the Congress leader made any such remark.





The Supreme Court Friday issued notice to the Centre on a plea challenging its proposed move to set up a Social Media Communications Hub, observing that “we will be moving to a surveillance state” if every tweet and WhatsApp message is monitored.

The remark came from Justice D Y Chandrachud, who was on a bench with Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar, when the petition filed by Trinamool Congress legislator Mahua Moitra came up before it.

Appearing for Moitra, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the government had already issued the Request For Proposal (RFP) and that the object of the project was to “monitor social media content”. Moitra said that she was active on several social media platforms and had a “large social media following” and contended that the hub was “being set up with the clear objective of surveillance of activities of individuals like herself on social media platforms”.

“The social media analytical tool is expected to ‘listen’ to conversations on all major digital channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, as well as blogs and news channels” and “.also to be able to monitor email,” the petition said.





Breaking her silence after a “revolt” within the PDP, party president Mehbooba Mufti on Friday cautioned New Delhi against splitting her party, saying it will give birth to another breed of “Salahuddins and Yasin Maliks”.

At her first public appearance after the revolt, Mehbooba warned her former ally in New Delhi not to try and split her party as it would create new militants.

“In 1987, Delhi snatched the rights of people and looted their vote. If they (Delhi) do it again, I am afraid like in 1987, a (Syed) Salahuddin (Hizbul Mujahideen chief) and a Yasin Malik (JKLF chief) were born in Kashmir…,” Mehbooba told reporters.

She said the PDP was united and there were issues within every home which could be resolved.

There have been speculations that the BJP was trying to engineer a split within the PDP to return to power.

Mehbooba’s assertion got sharp reactions from her arch rival and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who said “it would not matter to Kashmiris if the PDP broke up”.

“Not one new militant will be created with the break-up of PDP. People will not mourn the demise of a party created in Delhi only to divide the votes of Kashmiris,” Omar tweeted.




Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said the S-400 Triumf air defence missile deal with Russia will go ahead notwithstanding the US sanctions on military transactions with Moscow.

Referring to CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act), under which the Trump administration has imposed sanctions on military deals with Russia, she said it is an American law and not a UN law and India has conveyed its position on the issue to the US.

“Our defence relation with Russia has endured several decades and we have conveyed about it to a US Congressional delegation which visited India recently,” Sitharaman told a group of reporters at her office in South Block.

The US had announced sanctions against Russia under the stringent law for its alleged meddling in the American presidential election in 2016. CAATSA mandates the Donald Trump administration to punish entities engaging in significant transaction with the defence or intelligence establishment of Russia.









Just days before general elections in Pakistan, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam were arrested late Friday after returning to the country following their conviction in one of three corruption cases.

Sharif flew back to Pakistan in an attempt to galvanise his Pakistan Muslim League party before elections on July 25 on the day at least 133 people, including a top nationalist leader, were killed in a powerful suicide blast and a targeted attack on separate election rallies in Pakistan.

Earlier in the day, police clamped down across Lahore, arresting scores of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League party workers to prevent them from greeting him at the airport. The Punjab government had also suspended mobile and internet services in Lahore.

In a video message, tweeted by 44-year-old Maryam, Nawaz Sharif urged his followers to stand with him and “change the fate of the country”. “The country is at a critical juncture right now. I have done what I could. I am aware that I have been sentenced to 10 years (in prison) and I will be taken to a jail cell straight away. But I want Pakistani nationals to know that I am doing this for you,” he said in the video.

Their return to Pakistan to face a prison sentence is perceived as a high-stakes gamble to galvanise their beleaguered party ahead of the July 25 election. Sharif hopes to shake up an election race marred by accusations that Pakistan’s powerful military is working behind the scenes to skew the contest in favour of ex-cricket hero Imran Khan, who has described Sharif as a “criminal” who deserves no support.

Meanwhile, journalist, film producer and former wife of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, Reham Khan has released her book in the UK in paperback as well as in its digital form. While the autobiography has not been officially released anywhere else in the world bar the UK, leaked PDFs of Reham Khan have been doing the rounds.

True to pre-release hype, the book is full of all sorts of salacious details laid out in their goriest form. The most-discussed aspect of the book long before it saw the light of day was the reams and reams of print that would be devoted to her 10-month-long marriage to Imran.

One wonders if the book’s release and widespread leak is timed to hurt Imran Khan’s chances in the Pakistan general elections this month.


US President Donald Trump on Friday said he apologised to UK Prime Minister Theresa May over his bombshell interview with a British tabloid, in which he claimed she had ignored his advice on Brexit and praised former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s potential as a possible premier. He too said the US and Britain could secure a “great” post-Brexit trade deal, contradicting his own withering assessment of her strategy publicised hours earlier.

Fresh from sending NATO into crisis talks and ahead of a summit with Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin, Trump shocked Britain’s political establishment when he criticised May’s plans for ties with the European Union after Britain leaves in March.  In a newspaper interview published just hours before holding talks with May, Trump said her Brexit strategy would “kill” any chance of a trade deal and said she had not listened to his advice on how to negotiate with the EU.

But, as the two leaders stood together for a press conference in the garden of May’s grand 16th-Century official residence Chequers, Trump said the British leader was doing a “fantastic job”, added it was up to her how to conduct Brexit, and that a free trade deal was very much on the table. “I said, ‘I want to apologise because I said such good things about you’, And she said, ‘Don’t worry, it’s only the press’,” Trump said of their purported conversation.

Relations had never been more special, he said, and any criticism was “fake news”. “Once the Brexit process is concluded and perhaps the UK has left the EU, I don’t know what they’re going to do but whatever you do is OK with me, that’s your decision,” Trump said. “Whatever you do is OK with us, just make sure we can trade together, that’s all that matters. The US looks forward to finalising a great bilateral trade agreement with the UK. This is an incredible opportunity for our two countries and we will seize it fully.”







The CBI yesterday filed a chargesheet against BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar and nine others for allegedly hatching a conspiracy and implicating Unnao rape victim’s father in an Arms Act case.

Sengar’s brother and his aides allegedly beat the father up before the police arrested him on April 3 and sent him to jail. He had allegedly died in judicial custody six days later on April 9.

The MLA is currently at Sitapur district jail and others are in Lucknow district jail. The allegation of rape against the MLA came to light when the girl tried to commit suicide outside Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath’s residence, alleging police inaction on her complaint. The kin of the victim had also alleged that the family was thrashed after a complaint was filed with the police in this regard.





On the day industrialist and former Congress MP Naveen Jindal and the Zee Group announced a settlement over an alleged extortion case involving a coal block allocation, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed a prosecution complaint for money laundering against Jindal and others accused in a coal block allocation case, and a special court-ordered framing of additional charges of abetment to bribery in the same coal case investigated by the CBI.

In the extortion case filed in 2012, the Jindal-owned Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) Friday wrote to the Deputy Commissioner of the Delhi Police Crime Branch, asking the police to “close the investigation” and “file a closure report” against the editorial heads of Zee News and Zee Business TV channels. In its letter, JSPL stated that the matter has been settled and allegations in the FIR were levelled due to “some confusion”. But now, it stated, it is clear that “no offence” was committed.

The case dates back to 2012 when an FIR was registered on JSPL’s complaint that Sudheer Choudhary of Zee News and Sameer Aluhwalia of Zee Business had tried to extort Rs 100 crore in the form of advertisements in exchange for not filing news reports linking the firm to the coal block allocation in 2012.

Meanwhile, in the coal scam case pertaining to allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block in Jharkhand, the ED filed a prosecution complaint alleging that JSPL, along with former Jharkhand CM Madhu Koda, former Coal secretary H C Gupta and others, influenced the screening committee to allot the coal block by “investing more than Rs 2 crore in illegal gratification”.




The Maharashtra government on Friday announced that there would be no difference in the MRP of food products sold outside and inside multiplexes in the state and viewers will be free to carry their own eatables inside the multiplex.

The decision sent shares of multiplex operators tumbling, with PVR Ltd and INOX Leisure Ltd diving as much as 14.1 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively.

A senior executive of a multiplex said that the order will severely hit business. “About 30 per cent of the business for multiplex chains comes from sale of food and beverages,” he said.

In a statement, the Multiplex Association of India said that “none of the multiplex cinema theatres operated by any of our members have received any order, notification or communication to this effect from the Government of Maharashtra or any other regulatory authority. Hence we are not aware of any decision to this effect, if taken by the Government”.




A section of nuns, priests and laity of the Roman Catholic Church has written to the Vatican over the alleged rape of a nun in Kerala by a bishop, urging it “to do what is right” to provide justice to women in the Church.

The letters were written to Giambattista Diquttro, Apostolic Nuncio to India, and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) Cardinal Oswald Gracias.

The Church authorities were requested to “advise” Pope Francis to “relieve” bishop Franco Mulakkal “of his pastoral responsibilities so that the Church is seen to actually practice the zero tolerance it professes to observe in abuse cases”.

Stating that they were concerned about the integrity of the Indian Church, the letters stated that people’s faith in the credibility of the Church to implement its policy of zero tolerance on abuse would continue to erode if the accused bishop remained in his position.

They said the “mud slinging” between the bishop and his priests on one hand and the aggrieved sister and her family on the other had turned the Church into an object of ridicule, “thus causing a lot of harm to the Church and in particular to the faith of the people of God”.





Mukesh Ambani overtook Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma to become Asia’s richest person as he positions Reliance Industries Ltd. to disrupt the e-commerce space in India.

The chairman of India’s refining-to-telecoms conglomerate, Ambani was estimated to be worth $44.3 billion on Friday with Reliance Industries Ltd. scrip rising 1.6 per cent to a record 1,099.8 rupees, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Ma’s wealth stood at $44 billion at close of trade on Thursday in the US, where the company is listed.





On the day the 18-year-old, Hima Das, raced to grab the gold medal at the World U20 Championship in Tampere, Finland, much to the awe of her countrymen, especially people of Assam, the rustic playground at Kandhulimari village under Bilotiya Gaon panchayat in Assam’s Dhing constituency, where she used to practice was in knee-deep water.

“This should speak volume of how much grit and determination she has required to drive herself to the hallowed podium where she has reached today,” said one of Hima’s teachers in Dhing College, Biman Hazarika, exuding confidence that this gritty athlete in horizon is yet to give her best timing.

Born to paddy farmer Ranjit Das and Jonali Das of Kandhulimari village, Hima has been a livewire since her childhood.

“This happy-go-luck athlete does not know what tension is. On June 28 last, I had talked to her advising her not be tense before her performance. She laughed and asked ‘what is tension sir’. This is her spirit,” said Professor Hazarika who teaches History in Dhing College.




It was a case of better late than never as Kevin Anderson reached his first Wimbledon final with a heart-stopping 7-6(6) 6-7(5) 6-7(9) 6-4 26-24 win over the sport’s perennial marathon man John Isner.

After being kept on the run for six hours and 36 minutes, the longest ever singles semifinal at the All England Club, how he was still standing was anyone’s guess.

Playing Isner who is enshrined in Wimbledon folklore for winning the “endless match” — an 11 hour five minute humdinger against Nicolas Mahut in 2010 — Anderson needed five nerve-shredding sets to topple the American and become the first South African man to reach the Wimbledon final for 97 years.

A showdown between two tennis skyscrapers — with Isner topping the 6 foot 8 Anderson by two inches — predictably featured three tiebreaks and 102 thunderbolt aces but it was the 32-year-old South African who delivered the knockout blow.

In the other men’s singles semi-final, Novak Djokovic led world number one Rafael Nadal after three sets of their Wimbledon semi-final when play was suspended until Saturday.

The Serb, a three-time Wimbledon champion, is ahead 6-4 3-6 7-6 (11-9).

They did not start their match until after 20:00 BST as they had to wait for Kevin Anderson’s epic semi-final against John Isner to finish.

With Merton council imposing at 23:00 BST curfew on play, the players will resume their encounter before the women’s final today.

With 29 Grand Slam titles between them, Nadal and Djokovic’s meeting was a highly anticipated match.




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Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong. – Lao Tzu


“What all are you mixing in this?” the stranger asked the bartender in the upscale Tex-Mex bar.

“Sugar, milk and rum.” said the barkeep.

“Is it good ?” asked the man.

“Sure is senor.” said the bartender smiling. “The sugar gives you pep, and the milk gives you plenty of energy.”

“And the rum?” asked the stranger.

“Hell man. That gives ya plenty of ideas what to do with all that pep and energy!”v

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