Newsletter 11 Aug, 2018



 India’s High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria met Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairperson Imran Khan Friday, a week before he is sworn in as Prime Minister after winning the general elections held there last month.

The PTI said Khan is scheduled to take oath as Prime Minister on August 18. In a meeting at Khan’s Bani Gala residence, which was attended by senior PTI leadership.

The two sides discussed a range of issues, focusing on prospects of the India-Pakistan relationship. The meeting lasted for half an hour and was marked by a candid exchange between the two sides. The Indian High Commissioner briefed the PTI leadership on his govt’s concerns about terrorism and cross-border infiltration.

Bisaria, who had been in touch with the PTI leadership in the months preceding the elections, gifted Khan a cricket bat autographed by the entire Indian cricket team.

Khan stressed the need for resolution of the Kashmir issue, PTI leader Shireen Mazari said on Twitter, adding that the PM-elect also expressed the hope that the SAARC Summit would be held soon in Islamabad. He also expressed concern over the so-called human rights violations in Kashmir, Mazari said.

Bisaria said that after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s phone call to Khan, there was new optimism in India that relations would move forward in the right direction. On July 30, Modi told Khan that India was ready to enter a new era of relations with Pakistan.

On August 13, the day the new National Assembly is scheduled to convene to elect the Speaker, Pakistan is set to release 27 Indian fishermen and another Indian national from Malir jail in Karachi. The date of the release was decided more than two weeks ago.



In a rare occurrence, Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu Friday expunged remarks made by the Prime Minister during his address in the House Thursday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken after NDA candidate Harivansh Narayan Singh was elected Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman.

Naidu struck the PM’s remarks on Opposition candidate B K Hariprasad from the records after RJD MP Manoj Kumar Jha raised the issue under Rule 238. He said they were “derogatory in direction and intent” and urged the Chairman to examine it and expunge it.

Remarks made by the prime minister are rarely expunged. Modi had apparently used a word play involving BK Harirasad’s name. Hariprasad said it was unfortunate that the prime minister had lowered the dignity of the House.

Meanwhile, stepping up its attack on the govt over the Rafale issue, the Congress on Friday held a protest in the Parliament premises and disrupted Rajya Sabha proceedings demanding a probe by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC).

Most of the Opposition parties stayed away from the protest — led by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi — and were silent when the issue was raised in the Upper House. Barring the CPI and AAP, none of the opposition leaders was seen at the Congress protest in front of the Gandhi statue.



 Twenty-four hours after the Cabinet cleared amendments to The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 — popularly known as the triple talaq Bill — the govt attempted to push through the Bill in Rajya Sabha on Friday, the last day of the monsoon session. However, it could not be taken up for consideration and passage because of lack of consensus among parties.

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and other Opposition leaders told Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu that no Bill can be taken up in Parliament without discussion and allocation of time by the Business Advisory Committee beforehand.

The issue, however, triggered a war of words. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said Congress president Rahul Gandhi was responsible for the triple talaq Bill not getting parliamentary nod in the monsoon session. He said the Congress had supported the Bill in Lok Sabha but not in the Rajya Sabha due to its double standards. Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also blamed the Congress.

“The true double standard of the Congress has been exposed today in Rajya Sabha. After the proposed amendments, no concern whatsoever was left unattended. Yet the Congress held it back,” Prasad said. “What is indeed tragic is that the Congress is least concerned about the issue of insaaf for the triple talaq victims and focussed solely on its vote bank.”

“Congress voted for the triple talaq Bill in Lok Sabha as it is but now it is objecting in Rajya Sabha. This is a textbook case of hypocrisy and double standard,” Prasad said after the Rajya Sabha was adjourned sine die.

The Congress hit back, with Sharma saying the govt should have listed it on time. “They should have done their homework and built a consensus and brought it well ahead,” he said.



The Maldives wants India to withdraw military helicopters and personnel posted there following the expiry of an agreement in June, its envoy said, the latest snub to New Delhi by President Abdulla Yameen’s China-backed govt.

India and China are going head to head in the Maldives, the Indian Ocean island chain where Beijing is building roads, bridges and a bigger airport, upstaging India which has been the country’s prime provider of military and civilian aid for decades.

India has opposed Yameen’s crackdown on political rivals and the imposition of an emergency this year and some of the president’s rivals have called on New Delhi for military intervention, creating worries in the Maldivian govt.

The tensions are impacting aid programmes such as security assistance that New Delhi has given to smaller countries in the region to help them protect exclusive economic zones, carry out surveys and combat piracy.

The Maldives’ ambassador to India, Ahmed Mohamed, told Reuters that two military helicopters provided by India were mainly used for medical evacuations but were no longer required as the islands had built up enough resources of its own.




 Four people, including two police officers, were killed in a shooting in the eastern Canadian city of Fredericton and one person was taken into custody, police said on Friday.

Police in Fredericton, a city of about 56,000 that is the capital of the province of New Brunswick, said in a post on Twitter that the incident was under investigation and there were multiple fatalities.

Another police tweet said two of the four people killed were police officers but gave no details and did not release the names of the victims.

“Awful news coming out of Fredericton,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter. “My heart goes out to everyone affected by this morning’s shooting. We’re following the situation closely.”



Pakistan Prime Minister-in-waiting Imran Khan on Friday submitted a written apology and an affidavit to the election commission for violating the electoral code of conduct while casting his vote in the general election on July 25, media reports said.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has reserved its verdict in the case, Geo News reported.

The ECP had sought a signed apology from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairperson Khan for violating the electoral code of conduct by casting his vote publicly instead of going behind the voting screen.

The written reply and the affidavit were submitted by Mr. Khan during the hearing held by a four-member bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Muhammad Raza, the report said.





Dam reservoirs and rivers overflowed, sections of highways collapsed and homes were swept away in severe flooding in more than half of Kerala, after days of incessant rains left nearly 54,000 people homeless and killed at least 29, officials said on Friday.

Five columns of Army were deployed in the state’s seven severely-hit northern districts, out of Kerala’s 14, to help evacuate people and to build makeshift bridges even as the Navy’s southern command was put on alert after the water level in Periyar river rose amid concern that parts of Wellingdon Island in Kochi could be inundated. Almost all 40-odd rivers in the state are in spate, officials said. Northern and central Kerala have been battered by heavy rains since August 8.

At least 50 tourists, including 24 foreigners, stranded at the Plum Judy resort at Munnar since Wednesday were rescued and taken to safer places.

The water level had crossed the maximum storage capacity of reservoirs of 24 out of the state’s 58 dams, forcing officials to release the water by opening the sluice gates, including three of the Idukki reservoir.



 Following multiple raids, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) Friday announced the arrest of three men affiliated to radical Hindu outfits from Nallasopara and Satara. The ATS also said that with the recovery of a huge cache of explosives, including live crude bombs and gelatin sticks, they had averted major terror attacks at multiple places.

Among the arrested is Vaibhav Raut (40), allegedly a member of the Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti who is also said to be a sympathiser of the right wing Sanatan Sanstha. Suspects allegedly linked to the Sanatan Sanstha were involved in the murders of three rationalists – Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi – and the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh.

Another accused, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar (39) from Satara, is a member of the Shri Shivapratishthan Hindustan, whose chief is Sambhaji Bhide. Bhide has been booked in two criminal cases in connection with violence near Bhima Koregaon on January 1 by the Pune Police. The third accused, Sharad Kasalkar (25) was arrested along with Raut from Raut’s Nallasopara residence. Sources said that the ATS recovered a note on making bombs from Kasalkar and that Gondhalekar had knowledge of explosives and trained the other two men on assembling them.

The three have been arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and sections of the Indian Penal Code and Explosives Act.

Information passed on by a Special Investigation Team, which is probing the murder of journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru last year, played a key role in the arrests yesterday.



 Expressing his anguish over increasing incidents of violence in public — be it by kanwarias or during the Maratha reservation protests — Attorney General K K Venugopal told the Supreme Court Friday that fixing responsibility on a police officer, for example the Superintendent of Police, was one way to check this trend.

Appearing before a bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, Venugopal said: “Kanwarias are overturning vehicles in Delhi…There is an incident of major rioting every week, even by educated groups. Marathas in Maharashtra, SC/ST… nothing is done”.

He was responding to a PIL which sought framing of guidelines to deter violence by outfits during public protests. The petition was filed earlier this year in the wake of protests by Karni Sena over Bollywood movie Padmavat.

When the AG referred to unruly incidents involving some Kanwarias, Justice Chandrachud weighed in. “Half of National Highway in Allahabad was blocked…half of the Allahabad-Benares Highway was blocked”, he said.

Appearing for petitioner Kodungallur Film Society, advocate P V Dinesh said everything should be done to prevent such incidents. “It should not happen whoever may be doing it”, added the CJI. “You cannot touch third-party property… for that matter you cannot burn your own house… these happenings must stop,” observed the CJI.

Responsibility can be fixed on Superintendents of Police of each district, suggested Venugopal. “The courts can then haul him up, ask him to show videos of the incident, ask him how many FIRs have been filed, etc,” if something happens, he said. He added that the govt has been contemplating an amendment in existing law to deal with such kind of protests and asked the courts to allow the legislature to change the law suitably.

“We will not wait for the amendment. This is a grave situation and this must stop,” the bench said. It reserved its order and asked Dinesh to give suggestions besides the guidelines issued by the court in 2009.

In 2007, the apex court had taken note of various incidents of large-scale destruction of public and private properties in the name of “agitations, bandhs and hartals” and had issued guidelines on the issue in 2009.


Lok Sabha on Friday passed a Bill that will help India become a hub for domestic and global arbitration for settling commercial disputes. It was passed through a voice vote.

Responding to the debate on the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill 2018, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the new legislation provided for time-bound settlement of disputes as well as accountability of the arbitrator. He said: “It is a momentous and important legislation. We want India to become a hub of domestic and international arbitration.”

The Rajya Sabha on Friday passed an amendment Bill to permit home buyers to be treated as financial creditors. As per the Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill 2018, home buyers will be represented on the Committee of Creditors that decides on resolution proposals, making them an integral part of the decision-making process.

Replying to the debate on the Bill, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said the govt’s objective was to help small bankrupt firms and also take a tough stand against big bankrupt businesses.

The Upper House passed another Bill for setting up of commercial courts at the district level so that commercial disputes can be disposed of quickly. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the law would help small businesses get their disputes resolved like big ones.


Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Friday apologised for his statement that India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was “self-centred.”

On Wednesday, he had said Nehru had a “self-centred attitude” to become India’s first prime minister even though Mahatma Gandhi was in favour of Muhammad Ali Jinnah taking the top post at that time. He had also claimed India’s partition would not have happened if Mahatma Gandhi’s wish of Jinnah becoming the prime minister had materialised.

“My statement has created a controversy. I apologise if I have said something wrong,” said the Dalai Lama, when he was asked by reporters to comment on what he meant by calling Nehru self-centred.



The Supreme Court on Friday stayed a Jammu and Kashmir High Court order allowing cinema-goers to carry their own food and water into theatres.

A Bench headed by Justice Rohinton F Nariman stayed the July 18 order after advocates representing the Multiplex Association of India (MAI) highlighted the security risks involved.

Issuing notice to the state govt and the petitioners, the Bench asked them to respond in four weeks, posting the matter for further hearing after six weeks.

“Should I be allowed to carry my whiskey in Taj Hotel and order for soda there?” wondered Rohatgi, who represented the MAI. “The High Court has completely ignored aspects of safety and hygiene. There have been blasts in cinema halls too. How are we supposed to scan thousands of people who turn up five minutes before the screening?” another senior counsel AM Singhvi asked.



 Once they lost the toss on rainy, moody, dark London day, India really didn’t stand much of a chance. It would have been a surprise had they lost fewer than five wickets. The conditions had everything that is unnatural to an Indian batsman: lots of swing, chilly wind that almost tore the skin, and some high-quality bowling. Jimmy Anderson started it and Chris Woakes finished it to shove out India for 107.

The Indian batsmen’s inept technique and fragile temperament were thoroughly exposed as they crumbled to 107 all out. Put in to bat under overcast conditions, the frailties of a wobbly top-order was there for everyone to see as veteran Jimmy Anderson (5/20) made them hop, skip and jump to pick his 26th five-wicket haul.

Despite a day and more than a half’s play already lost, England have take form control of the match.

Only 35.2 overs could be bowled yesterday and it was stumps as the last Indian wicket fell.



Finally on Friday night, the Asian Games-bound Indian sportspersons got a sigh of relief. In a late night development, the govt cleared the squad representing India at the Asian Games.

The Sports Ministry had not cleared the list of athletes and officials to represent India at the Asian Games, scheduled to be held in Jakarta and Palembang from August 18 to September 2, till Friday evening.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had sent a list of 572 athletes and 232 officials to the Sports Ministry for clearance in the first week of this month.

Haryana javelin-thrower Neeraj Chopra, expected to win gold at the Asian Games, has been named the flag-bearer of the Indian contingent for the Opening Ceremony on Aug 18.



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I may walk slow, but I do not walk backwards. – Abraham Lincoln


Yesterday, scientists for Health Canada suggested that men should take a look at their beer consumption, considering the results of a recent analysis that revealed the presence of female hormones in beer. The theory is that drinking beer makes men turn into women.

To test the finding, 100 men were fed 6 pints of beer each. It was then observed that 100% of the men gained weight, talked excessively without making sense, became overly emotional, couldn’t drive, failed to think rationally, argued over nothing, and refused to apologize when wrong. No further testing is planned.

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