- FRONT PAGE NEWS
- 12 PARTIES HOLD HANDS AT JANTAR MANTAR
Days after BJP president Amit Shah dismissed the possibility of the Opposition doing a repeat of Bihar ‘maha-gathbandhan’, or grand alliance, against the BJP-led NDA in 2019 Lok Sabha polls, leaders of a dozen opposition parties shared a platform in New Delhi yesterday and emphasised the need to “unseat” the NDA – from both the Centre and in states.
With the sexual abuse cases at a shelter home in Muzaffarpur, in NDA-governed Bihar, as the pivot, the event was organised by the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) at Jantar Mantar, in the national capital.
The resolve to send out a fresh message of unity was made clear by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who spoke towards the end, as he said that the “opposition stands united” against the BJP’s “assault” on India’s history and culture. Soon as Rahul arrived, the leaders stood up, held each other’s hands, and raised them in a show of unity.
“As you can see, the Opposition stands united,” Rahul said. “On one hand, you have the ideology of the BJP and the RSS, and on the other is the entire country. In the coming days, the entire country will see this – the Prime Minister and the BJP will (also) see this.”
Leaders from the Congress, Trinamool Congress, RJD, Samajwadi Party, CPI(M), CPI, DMK, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and Indian National Lok Dal shared the stage. The RLD’s Jayant Chaudhary lent support through a written message. RJD national spokesperson Manoj Jha said that the BSP also extended solidarity through a message.
Loktrantik Janta Dal mentor Sharad Yadav, who had a bitter fallout with the Nitish Kumar-led JD(U), and former Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi of HAMS were also present. Launching a scathing attack on Nitish, Tejashwi said Bihar is going through “rakshash raj” (demon’s days) under “Paltu babu”, a reference to Nitish changing sides. “We have come here because Chacha’s (Nitish’s) conscience does not seem to be responding,” he said.
AAP chief and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal referred to the December 2012 delhi gangrape and murder case and said, “When one Nirbhaya was brutalised, the UPA was rattled. Here we have 40 Nirbhayas who are victims (in Muzaffarpur). And if the people in power do not realise this, then people of the country will topple them 40 times.”
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury maintained that everything is taking place under the “patronage” of the BJP and NDA. “The slogan has changed from ‘beti bachao’ (save the girl child) to ‘BJP se beti bachao (save the girls from BJP),” he said. Student leaders Kanhaiya Kumar and Shehla Rashid were also on the dais.
- AMIT SHAH IN RAJASTHAN; RAISES NRC, HITS OUT AT CONGRESS
BJP president Amit Shah on Saturday raised the NRC pitch in Rajasthan, accusing the Congress and its president Rahul Gandhi of opposing the National Register of Citizens in Assam only to keep the party’s ‘vote bank’ intact. Rajasthan is slated to go to the polls later this year.
“Congress jo hai baaz nahi aati hai. Yeh abhi NRC lagu hua Assam mein. Saalon se desh me Bangladeshi ghuspethiye ghuste the. Inko identify karne ka, unki jaanch karne ka kaam Bharatiya Janata Party ki sarkar ne shuru kiya (The Congress never learns. Now this NRC has been implemented in Assam. For years, Bangladeshi infiltrators entered the country. The BJP started the work of identifying, investigating them)… Congress is opposing NRC because they want their vote bank to remain intact. These Bangladeshi ghuspethiye (infiltrators) are coming here, I want to ask the people of Rajasthan, should we deport Bangladeshi infiltrators or not?,” he asked the crowd at a rally in Rajsamand district of Rajasthan, where he flagged off Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s Rajasthan Gaurav Yatra.
He then went on to launch an attack on Rahul, saying he should clear the stand of the Congress party. “Rahul baba is coming here on the 15th (of August), the public of Rajasthan will ask Rahul baba to clear his stand on Bangladeshi inflitrators. Friends, I want to ask the Congress president… to decide the stand of the Congress party… if Bangladeshi infiltrators should live in the country or not,” said Shah.
- NRC OUR BABY, ASSERTS CONGRESS
Shedding its nuanced position on the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the Congress Saturday said that the NRC was its “baby” and was set in motion by its governments to identify “foreigners” who had entered Assam “illegally”. Under attack by the BJP on the issue, the party also argued that “80 per cent” of the process was completed by the Congress government under former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, and released data to argue that more foreigners were deported from Assam under the UPA government.
The NRC was among the issues discussed at the Congress Working Committee (CWC), which met for the second time in two weeks. Gogoi and other party members from Assam forcefully argued that the party should not disown the NRC and should aggressively counter the BJP, which, they argued, was using it for setting a divisive agenda.
A section of party leaders has argued that the party should shed its cautious approach and not follow the belligerent anti-NRC Trinamool Congress line. After over three hours of debate, the CWC set the party’s view.
Since the announcement of the draft NRC, in which the names of more than 40 lakh people in Assam were excluded, earlier this week, the Congress had preferred to remain cautious. While its leaders, including president Rahul Gandhi, did say that the process was initiated under former PM Manmohan Singh to fulfil commitments made in the Assam Accord, the party focussed on the plight of the 40 lakh people who were excluded.
After the CWC, however, the Congress has changed its stance and released data to claim that the UPA government had deported 82,728 “illegal Bangladeshi migrants” between 2005 to 2013 while the BJP government has deported 1,822 between 2014 and 2017.
“We would like to put this question to the fake nationalists who talk about deportation of foreigners. What were you doing in four years?”
- US SPECIAL STATUS FOR INDIA
India has become the third Asian country after Japan and South Korea to get the Strategic Trade Authorization-1 (STA-1) status after the US issued a federal notification to this effect, paving the way for high-technology product sales to New Delhi, particularly in civil space and defence sectors.
India is the 37th country to be designated the STA-1 status by the United States.
The notification gains significance as the Trump Administration made an exception for India, which is yet to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Traditionally, the US has placed only those countries in the STA-1 list who are members of the four export control regimes: Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Wassenaar Arrangement (WA), Australia Group (AG) and the NSG.
In its federal notification, the Trump Administration notes that India is a member of three of the four multilateral export regimes. Mainly because of the political opposition from China, India’s membership application has been pending before NSG, which takes decisions by consensus. By placing India in the STA-1 list, the United States has acknowledged that for all practical purposes, India adheres to the export control regimes of the NSG.
- INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
- N KOREA STILL WORKING ON NUKES: UN
North Korea has pressed ahead with its nuclear and missile programmes and continues to evade UN sanctions, according to a UN report.
In a 62-page report sent to the Security Council, the UN panel of experts also listed violations of a ban on North Korean exports of coal, iron, seafood and other products that generate millions of dollars in revenue for Kim Jong Un’s regime.
Pyongyang “has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and continued to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products, as well as through transfers of coal at sea during 2018,”said the report, seen by AFP. The transfer of petroleum products to North Korean tankers at sea remains “a primary method of sanctions evasion” involving 40 vessels and 130 associated companies, it added.
The violations have rendered the latest batch of sanctions “ineffective” by flouting the cap on oil, fuel and coal imposed in a raft of UN resolutions adopted last year, it added. At a historic June summit with US President Donald Trump, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed up to a vague commitment of “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” in the hope of getting UN and US sanctions relief.
Trump has repeatedly warned Pyongyang that the sanctions must remain in place and could even be tightened as long as there is no progress on ending its nuclear missile programmes.
- MALALA, IMRAN SLAM BURNING OF SCHOOLS
Youngest ever Nobel laureate and education activist Malala Yousafzai has strongly condemned the burning down of 12 schools, half of them all-girls’, in Pakistan, saying the “extremists” have shown that a “girl with a book” frightens them the most.
The schools were burnt down late Friday by unidentified assailants in coordinated attacks in Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan, triggering protest by local residents who sought safety for educational institutions.
“The extremists have shown what frightens them most — a girl with a book,” Malala, 21, said in a tweet.
Imran Khan, who is set to become Pakistan’s new Prime Minister, also condemned the attack, terming it an “unacceptable” act.
“Shocking & condemnable torching of schools in GB, more than half of them girls’ schools. This is unacceptable and we will ensure security for schools as we are committed to focusing on education, especially girls’ education which is integral to Naya Pakistan,” Khan said in a tweet.
- THE REST
- HC QUASHES KEJRIWAL GOVT ORDER REVISING MINIMUM WAGES
Handing a major blow to the Aam Aadmi Party-led government, the Delhi High Court on Saturday quashed its 2017 notification which revised the minimum wages for all classes of workers in all scheduled employment. The court cited that the decision was ultra vires the constitution.
Ultra vires refer to something which is beyond the powers of the authority taking the decision.
As per the notification, the minimum wages for unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled labour were fixed at Rs 13,500, Rs 14,698 and Rs 16,182, respectively. The decision came while hearing over several pleas filed by companies and industrial units in the national capital region which employ workers on minimum wages.
The companies in their plea contended that the Arvind Kejriwal government did not take into account their view before issuing the notification revising the minimum wages.
- GST CASHBACK FOR SOME DIGITAL PAYMENTS
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council on Saturday approved a pilot project in which states can volunteer to roll out incentives for digital transactions through Rupay card and BHIM app.
The 29th meeting of the GST Council also decided to set up a Group of Ministers to look into the procedures and tax issues to provide relief to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises sector.
In the initial phase of the pilot project, four-five states would be participating. For the rollout, the software has to be developed as the cashback has to happen on the day after the transaction. Under the incentive scheme for digital transactions, 20 per cent of the GST paid with a cap of Rs 100 will be returned as cashback to the consumer using Bhim app or Rupay card.
- MHA PLANS TO LINK FINGERPRINT, FACE RECOGNITION DATA FROM ALL POLICE STATIONS TO CENTRAL SYSTEM
While the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has said that Aadhaar data will not be used for criminal investigations, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is working on a proposal to scale up fingerprint collection across the country and link it to its ambitious Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS). The proposal also has provision for integrating face recognition system and iris scans with the CCTNS.
“The idea is that integration of fingerprint database, face recognition software and iris scans will massively boost the police department’s crime investigation capabilities. It will also help civilian verification when needed. No one will be able to get away with a fake ID,” said a home ministry official.
The UIDAI had recently issued a statement that under the Aadhaar law, its data could not be given to any criminal investigation agency. The authority was responding to a suggestion made by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) Director Ish Kumar that investigating agencies should be allowed to access the Aadhaar fingerprint data to identify criminals. NCRB is the nodal agency for implementation of CCTNS.
- ENDEAVOURING TO HELP AIRLINE ACHIEVE COST EFFICIENCIES: JET AIRWAYS PILOTS
Jet Airways’ pilots union NAG has said that it is endeavouring to assist the airline in facing the current challenges and help in achieving cost efficiencies, according to a communication.
However, the pilots have reportedly not agreed to pay cuts proposed by the airline, which is battling financial woes amid rising fuel costs and low fares.
Against the backdrop of concerns over salary reductions and possible job losses, the airline, on Friday, said it was working to have a competitive cost structure.
Earlier this week, the top management had told staff that the airline might be left with revenues only to operate for not more than 60 days unless cost cutting measures are implemented.
However, Jet Airways CEO Vinay Dube, on Friday, described reports that the airline cannot fly beyond 60 days as “incorrect and malicious”.
- ATTEMPTS AT BLACKMAIL, DEMANDS FOR MONEY IN BITCOINS
Pay up or face the consequences. It was a threat to a Delhi woman, to make public a video of her intimate moments that the blackmailer claimed to have created by gaining access to her computer.
“I have a video clip of you and your contact list,” said the extortionist’s email.
The blackmailer then goes on to make the offer to leave her “once and for all” if she pays up $200 in Bitcoins. The mail contains a Bitcoin wallet address to which the fund has to be transferred, giving the victim five days to do it.
This victim, however, has decided not to be intimidated by the blackmail, and spoke out on Twitter: “I was going through my spam folder & saw this blackmailing email. In this case, the info is so vague that it’s obvs a scam. But listen women: even if someone DOES have a sex video of you & is blackmailing you – that is illegal. You are NOT at fault. The police CAN help you.”
There are other women, too, who have reacted similarly, though the police have as yet received no formal complaint.
- PV SINDHU ENTERS SECOND SUCCESSIVE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS FINAL
The only thing more spectacular in sport than just winning, is a glorious comeback. 12-19 down against Akane Yamaguchi at Nanjing’s World Championships semifinals in the second set with the Japanese threatening to push the match in the decider, PV Sindhu dictated such an audacious resurgence to pick 7 straight points, that her gait topped 6 feet adding almost inches of confidence to her 5’11 frame as she strutted into the final.
This 21-16, 24-22 victory was a commanding entry into the summit clash where she plays Olympic champion Carolina Marin, not looking like a mere contender sniffing an outside chance, but an equal claimant to the World throne. A repeat of the Olympic final this may well be, but this won’t be the same Indian that the Spaniard faces. Fortified by back-to-back matches against the Japanese where she beat the game’s two strongest retrievers in two days coming from behind – Sindhu has found inside herself the confidence to rebound from every trailing position.
Against Okuhara in the quarters, she trailed 3-7 in the first set, 3-9 in the second. Against Yamaguchi, she started 0-5 down and stared at a 12-19 lead just as the Japanese was beginning to assert her game, and push Sindhu into the familiar throes of deceiving after flattering. But she refused to slump her shoulders, mixed her strokes sensibly, countered Yamaguchi’s deception on the backhand, and lunged with such assurance that coach Gopichand was left impressed and hardly sported worry lines at the break where she trailed 7-11. “The way she played yesterday , the lead wasn’t much. All she needed to do was keep it simple, firm, and solid and avoid Yamaguchi’s backhand on which she was getting some good variations at the net,” he said of the 7-point rally that snuffed out Yamaguchi’s desperate bid to drag this into a decider.
- INDIA LOSE FIRST TEST BY 31 RUNS
Ben Stokes grabbed three wickets including the prized scalp of India captain Virat Kohli to give the hosts a stunning victory by 31 runs on the fourth day of the first Test at Edgbaston.
Chasing 194 runs, India resumed their second innings at 110/5 with Kohli and wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik, needing 84 for victory.
But the hosts made an early breakthrough with strike bowler James Anderson removing Karthik with the final delivery of the first over. That brought all-rounder Hardik Pandya to the crease and at one stage the visitors seemed to have found their way back into a gripping contest that has swung with every session over the last three days.
The duo put on 29 runs for the seventh wicket with Pandya looking the more aggressive of the two, hitting Stuart Broad for two consecutive boundaries in one over.
But the introduction of Stokes in the eleventh over of the day dragged the momentum back in England’s favour. First he trapped Kohli, who was looking dangerous after scoring a fluent half-century, with a beautiful delivery that rapped him on the pads and followed that up by dismissing Mohammed Shami for a duck.
Pandya offered some resistance to the English bowlers but the task turned out to be too big for him at the end. For the visitors, this would have been the biggest run chase against the hosts in England if successful. Pandya was the last man out for the visitors and gave Stokes his fourth wicket of the innings.
Man Of The Match: Sam Curram. Besides his 5 wickets in the match, he scored a magnificent 63 runs in England’s 2nd innings after they were down at 87/7
Scores at end of Day 3: England 287 & 180; India 274 & 162
- THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
You won’t be happy, whatever you do, unless you’re comfortable with your own conscience. – Lucille Ball
- OFF TRACK
Paddy, suffering from a severe toothache, finally got up enough nerve to visit his dentist, but lost it again when he was about to get into the chair.
The dentist told his assistant to give Paddy a shot of whiskey kept on hand for just such circumstances as this.
“Ye got your courage back now?” the dentist asked.
“No!” replied Paddy.
So a second shot was brought, then a third.
“Now have ye got your courage?” asked the dentist.
“You’re damn right!” Paddy said, squaring his shoulders. “I’d like to see the bastard who’d dare to touch my teeth now!”