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Newsletter Sept 04, 2018

NEWS TO SHIPS BY NEWS ACCESS INDIA – TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2018

 

  • INDIA-US 2+2 PACTS COMING UP THIS WEEK

A hotline between Indian and US ministers for defence and foreign affairs, an Indian Navy liaison officer at the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) in Bahrain and a security agreement for intelligence-sharing on movement of vessels in the Indian Ocean region are some of the possible key deliverables being discussed and likely to be agreed upon at the first Indo-US 2+2 dialogue on Thursday.

US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo and Defence Secretary James N Mattis will be in India to hold talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on September 6 — the dialogue has been cancelled twice in the last 14 months.

 

  •  REFRAIN FROM USING WORD DALIT: I&B MINISTRY TO MEDIA

THE MINISTRY of Information and Broadcasting has told the media to “refrain from using the nomenclature Dalit” and, instead, use only the Constitutional term, ‘Scheduled Caste’.

Dalit rights groups have opposed the I&B ministry’s order, asserting that the term holds political significance and a sense of identity.

In March, the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment issued similar orders to all state governments, stating that only the term ‘Scheduled Caste’ should be used in all official communication, adding that the term ‘Dalit’ does not find mention in the Constitution or any statute.

Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale, who has been associated with the Dalit Panther movement in Maharashtra which popularised the use of the term as a political identity, said the word ‘Dalit’ “denotes a sense of pride”.

“The petition has been filed by a Buddhist. It is fine to say that government records should use the term Scheduled Castes, but we see no reason why the media cannot use the term ‘Dalit’. Most Dalit groups don’t have a problem with the usage and don’t think it to be insulting in any way. It is, in fact, a word that instilled a sense of militancy in Ambedkarites — the need to be krantikaris when faced with injustice,” he said.

Asha Kowtal, who is part of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights — the national coalition of Dalit academicians and activists — said the term signifies “collective identity”, and banning it is akin to denial of the hard-won identity. “It marks the shift from brokenness to strength and power. We see this as part of the larger scheme of what the government is doing to the community, the anti-reservation discourse, the attempt to erase our identity little by little. We will file a PIL against the move in the Supreme Court if need be,” she said.

  • OPPN LEADERS STAND UP FOR HARDIK PATEL

Leaders of various political parties have come out in support of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel, with some of them appealing to him to give up the fast, which entered the tenth day on Monday.

Hardik has been fasting at his Ahmedabad residence since August 25, demanding reservation for Patidars in government jobs, education and farm loan waiver.

Hardik has released letters written by former PM and JD(S) chief H D Deve Gowda, one addressed to him, requesting him to give up the fast in view of his health condition, and another to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention to save Hardik’s life. Gowda has appealed to Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani to take up the quota demand issue with the Centre and to “take steps to end fast of Hardik Patel”.

Former Uttar Pradesh CM and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav took to Twitter Monday to praise Hardik’s agitation and appealed to him to give up the fast because the people and his supporters needed his leadership. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too tweeted in support of Hardik. Kejriwal prayed that God gives strength to Hardik and said every farmer and the entire society was with him.

  •  GOVT WARY OF RUSSIA’S REQUEST FOR ADANIS AS AK-RIFLE DEAL PARTNER

 Already under Opposition fire over the Rafale fighter deal with France, the government has turned down a Russian request to make the Adani Group its partner for the joint manufacture of Rs 3,000-crore worth of AK-103 assault rifles for the Indian Army.

In April, the two governments had agreed that the Russian firm, Kalashnikov Concern, will only partner government-owned Indian Ordnance Factories.

Sources said the Defence Ministry last month rejected the Russian proposal on grounds that the foreign vendor did not have the option to select the Indian company in joint manufacturing partner, including transfer of technology, in inter-government agreements.

To further its Make in India programme, the government had been keen on promoting the private sector in defence manufacturing, but the political controversy around discharge of offsets in the Rafale deal by Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence has led to greater caution on the part of the government

 

 INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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  •  MYANMAR JAILS REUTERS REPORTERS FOR 7 YRS

A Myanmar judge on Monday found two Reuters journalists guilty of breaching a law on state secrets and jailed them for seven years, in a landmark case seen as a test of progress towards democracy in the Southeast Asian country.

Yangon northern district judge Ye Lwin said Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, breached the colonial-era Official Secrets Act when they collected and obtained confidential documents.

The verdict comes amid mounting pressure on the government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi over a security crackdown sparked by attacks by Rohingya Muslim insurgents on security forces in Rakhine State in west Myanmar in August 2017.

The two reporters, who were investigating the killing by the security forces of Rohingya villagers at the time of their arrest, have pleaded not guilty.

Press freedom advocates, the United Nations, the European Union and countries including the United States, Canada and Australia had called for the journalists’ acquittal.

The reporters told the court two police officials handed them papers at a restaurant in the city of Yangon moments before other officers arrested them.

 

  •  ‘$300M IS NOT AID BUT WHAT US OWES US’

The $300 million that the Pentagon has decided to scrap is not military aid to Pakistan, but what it owes to Islamabad for its support in the war against terrorism and should reimburse it, foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has asserted, sparking fresh bilateral tensions ahead of a key visit.

The Pentagon on Saturday announced that it will cancel $300 million aid to Pakistan over its failure to take actions against terror groups. Qureshi said the matter will be taken up during secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s visit to the country on September 5.

“The $300 million is neither aid nor assistance – it is the money Pakistan spent from its resources against militants and in the war against terrorism. This is the money they (US) are supposed to reimburse, but now either they are not willing or unable to pay back,” Qureshi said during a hurriedly called news conference on Sunday after the US announced the decision.

 

 THE REST

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  • CONGRESS SLIGHTLY AHEAD OF BJP IN KARNATAKA CIVIC POLLS

Establishing a slight edge over the BJP in a closely fought race in the urban local bodies (ULBs) polls in Karnataka, the Congress is set to gain control of a majority of the ULBs, teaming up with its ruling coalition partner JD(S).

The ruling coalition partner has secured 982 seats and the BJP 929 in the elections held Saturday. The JD(S), Congress’ ally in the state government, came a distant third with 375 seats.

The others, including 329 Independents, bagged the rest of the seats in the three-way race with the Congress and JD(S) fighting against each other, despite being coalition partners.

Both Congress and JD(S) have declared that they would tie-up in the ULBs, which have produced a hung verdict. With the combined strength of 1,357 seats, the two parties enjoy a clear edge over the BJP to seize control of a majority of the ULBs.

These elections were considered the first test of popularity of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government, which was formed post-May Assembly polls when it yielded a hung verdict.

  • BOMBAY HC RAPS COPS FOR PRESSER ON ACTIVIST ARREST

Bombay High Court raised questions on Monday over Maharashtra police’s media briefing in the case against prominent activists arrested for their alleged links with Maoists.

Parambir Singh, state additional director-general (law and order) of police, and Pune police officers had addressed the media on Friday and read out letters purportedly exchanged among the activists. Singh claimed that the police had “conclusive proof” to link the activists arrested in June and last week to Maoists.

However, on Monday, the division bench of Justices S.S. Shinde and Mridula Bhatkar wondered how the police could read out documents that may be used as evidence. “How can the police do this? The matter is sub judice. The Supreme Court is seized of the matter. In such cases, revealing information pertaining to the case is wrong,” Justice Bhatkar said.

Public prosecutor Deepak Thakare said he would seek the police officers’ response.

 

  • NOT DEMO, BUT NPAs HAMPERED ECONOMY’S GROWTH, SAYS NITI AAYOG VC

NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar on Monday said economic growth in six quarters starting from the last quarter of 2015-16 slowed down due to rise in Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) and not the 2016 demonetisation drive, as claimed. He said that no conclusive proof was established of a link between the economic slowdown and demonetisation.

“This (decline in growth) was just simply in continuation of a trend and not because of the shock of demonetisation as has been claimed. I think there is no evidence to prove that there was a direct link between demonetisation and slowdown in the growth rate,” he added.

Following the decline in growth rate, the NITI Aayog official said ramping up of capital expenditure was necessary to counter the decline in credit disbursal to industry players.

“Even to the large industry, the growth of credit came down to 1 per cent and 2.5 per cent in some months, and even negative in some quarters. Never had we seen such a continuous and persistent year upon year deleveraging of credit. This is the cause of slowdown of growth. This is what is being compensated by the government by ramping up public capital expenditure. The government also used oil revenue bonanza in ramping up the capital expenditure while maintaining fiscal prudence. So it has been because of the government that you have now seen a rise in the quarterly growth rate since the second quarter of 2017-18,” he explained.

Speaking on the RBI’s recent report on demonetisation, Kumar reiterated that demonetisation had intensified the crackdown on black money and benami transactions in the economy.

  • AMU TO GOVT: IDEA TO DROP ‘MUSLIM’ FROM UNIV. NAME PREPOSTEROUS

Hitting back at the government panel that suggested the word “Muslim” be dropped from its name, Aligarh Muslim University, in its formal response to the University Grants Commission (UGC), has called the proposition “preposterous” for ignoring the institution’s long history and unique character.

Criticising the committee for going beyond its mandate, AMU Registrar Javaid Akhter wrote to the government, “The name of the university gives us an idea about its history, purpose and character and preserving the same is our bounden Constitutional duty.”

“The committee incorrectly draws the conclusion that by renaming AMU as Aligarh University would instil secular values. One must recall that in India the concept of secularism arises more from the discourse of justice and equality than from an anti-religious position mostly practiced in the West,” he said in response to the 15 suggestions contained in the audit ordered by the government.

The above recommendation was mentioned in an audit of AMU by one of five committees set up by the University Grants Commission (UGC) on April 25 last year, at the behest of the HRD Ministry, to probe complaints of irregularities against 10 Central universities.

  • CJI MISRA TO DELIVER OVER DOZEN LANDMARK VERDICTS BEFORE HE RETIRES SOON

From de-criminalisation of homosexuality and adultery to validity of Aadhaar Act and entry of women into Sabarimala Temple, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra is all set to deliver more than a dozen landmark verdicts in 18 working days of this month before he retires on October 2.

Some of these are Constitution Bench matters while others are cases heard by a three-judge Bench headed by CJI Misra. Barring a few, in all these cases verdicts have already been reserved.

Given the magnitude of the issues involved, many of these verdicts could potentially change the course of socio-political landscape of India.

The three-judge Bench matters include reconsideration of a 1994 verdict in Ayodhya case that held that mosque was not central to Islam, permitting live streaming of court proceedings, validity of the practice of female genital mutilation among Vohra Muslims, dilution of anti-dowry law, making RTI Act disabled-friendly and a petition seeking ban on legal practice by MPs and MLAs.

On the issue of homosexuality, the Centre had not taken any stand and left it to the wisdom of the top court, it had firmly opposed de-criminalising adultery, saying the provision was necessary to protect the institution of marriage.

A five-judge Constitution Bench, which reserved its verdict on de-criminalising adultery on August 8, had frowned upon Section 497, saying it treated women as chattels.

Another landmark verdict is expected in Aadhaar case in which the court reserved its verdict on May 10. The marathon hearing on petitions challenging the validity of the Aadhaar Act went on for 38 days, the longest hearing in the top court after the famous Kesavandana Bharati case in which a 13-judge Bench had propounded the basic structure theory in 1973.

CJI Misra’s predecessor Justice JS Khehar too had delivered two landmark verdicts days before his retirement in August 2017 – one declaring right to privacy a fundamental right and the other which banned instant triple talaq among Muslims.

  • FALLING RUPEE FIRES UP FUEL PRICES

The Indian rupee on Monday crashed to yet another historic low of 71.21 against the US dollar as nagging concerns over rising crude oil prices and trade war tensions continued to hurt forex market sentiment.

A sharp rally in global crude prices further dampened the overall trading mood. Benchmark Brent crude oil was trading at $78 a barrel.

Petrol and diesel prices in the country touched their highest levels on Monday.

Petrol price in Delhi rose to a record Rs 79.15 a litre and diesel climbed to a fresh high of Rs 71.15, according to price notification of state-owned fuel retailers. A litre of petrol in Mumbai costs Rs 86.56 on Monday.

  • MUTUAL FUNDS EASE LIMITS ON SMALL-CAP PLANS; SBI SMALL CAP REOPENS FOR SIPs

Small-cap schemes, which had imposed limits on investor inflows amid surging valuations, have started easing some of these restrictions. Fall in valuations to more reasonable levels and signs of earnings recovery are prompting money managers to deploy fresh funds into stocks in this space.

“The entire small cap space has corrected. While the small cap index is down 12-13 per cent, a few stocks have corrected much more. Amid this fall, we have found pockets of opportunities. While these may not be extremely cheap, they are still reasonable. The earnings cycle also seems to be picking up for these companies,” said Vinit Sambre, head (equities), DSP Investment Managers.

DSP on Monday opened the DSP Small Cap Fund for subscription through systematic investment plans (SIPs) and systematic transfer plans (STPs).

However, other routes like subscription or switch-ins in the scheme, or registration of new dividend transfer plan, remain temporarily suspended.

The scheme had stopped fresh inflows altogether in February 2017 following a sharp run-up in prices and dearth of good investing opportunities.

  • SUNIL GAVASKAR RAISES QUESTIONS ON VIRAT KOHLI’S CAPTAINCY IN TEST CRICKET

Former captain Sunil Gavaskar feels the Indian Test team hasn’t been able to live up to the expectations under Virat Kohli and also questioned the role of the other senior batsmen in the side who have been given a long rope by the team management but have repeatedly come up short on Test tours outside the sub-continent.

India lost the fourth Test against England on Sunday to concede a 3-1 lead to the hosts. It is the second successive overseas Test series loss for Kohli as captain after the 2-1 defeat in South Africa earlier this year.

India’s loss was its third successive in England after the 4-0 defeats in 2011 and 2014, both of which came under MS Dhoni.

Kohli on this tour hasn’t been able to turn the tide in India’s favour four years down the line despite scoring over 500 runs in the current series.

Gavaskar had slammed the batsmen after the Southampton Test defeat on Sunday saying India are over-reliant on Kohli which has been the team’s biggest weakness over the last couple of years.

Kohli’s selection of the playing eleven in England, rotation of his bowlers and failure to clinch key moments in the match have also made the former batting legend sit back and reflect on his captaincy skills.

  • US OPEN: SINGLES DOWN TO LAST 8S, EXCEPT ONE

MEN’S SINGLES

R Nadal (1) vs  D. Thiem [9]

J. Del Potro [3] vs J. Isner [11]

M. Cilic [7] vs K. Nishikori [21]

N.  Djokovic [6] vs (R. Federer (2) or J Millman (unseeded)

WOMEN’S SINGLES

S. Williams [17] vs Ka. Pliskova [8]

S. Stephens [3] vs  A. Sevastova [19]

C. Suárez Navarro [30] vs M. Key [14]

N. Osaka [20] vs L. Tsurenko (unseeded)

  • INDICATORS

Sensex 38,313 (-332), Nifty 11,582 (-99), Trading Value NSE (Rs.crores) 36,009

(US Markets were closed yesterday on account of Labour Day)

US$-Rs. 70.93 GBP-Rs. 91.44, Euro-Rs. 82.35, UAE Dhm-Rs.19.30, Can$-Rs. 54.25, Aus$- Rs. 51.09

GBP 0.77 /US$, Euro 0.86 /US$, Jap.Yen 111.03 /US$, Aus$ 1.38 /US$, Sing 1.37 /US$, Bang Taka 83.17 /US$, Can$ 1.30 /US$, Mal Ring 4.12 /US$,

Pak Re 123.19 /US$, Phil Peso 53.47 /US$, Russian Rouble 67.90 /US$, NZ$ 1.51 /US$, Thai Baht 32.67 /US$, Ukraine Hryvnia 28.24 /US$

Bitcoin – USD 7,094

Dollar Index 95.08 Brent Crude 78.06 BDI 1579

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,200 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 2973 / 2885, Silver (Rs. Per KG) 40,100

  •  THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Life has a certain flavor for those who have fought and risked all, that the sheltered and protected can never experience. – John Stuart Mill

  • OFF TRACK

A cyclone hit the Tamilnadu coast just before dawn one morning. It tore off the roof, and picked up the beds on which a doctor and his wife were sleeping. By some miracle, the cyclone set them down unharmed in the adjoining district.

The wife was sobbing uncontrollably. “Don’t be scared, Usha,” her husband said. “We’re not hurt.”

Usha continued to cry. “I’m not scared,” she said between sobs. “I’m happy… this is the first time in sixteen years we’ve been out of town together.”

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