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Newsletter 13 Aug, 2018



Punching holes in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claims about job creation, Congress on Sunday accused him of hoodwinking the people at a time when his own Cabinet member, Nitin Gadkari, had claimed there were no jobs. Asking the PM not to play with statistics, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera wondered how could the government mix the statistics of Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) with job statistics.

Khera was referring to Modi’s claim in the interview about the creation of lakhs of jobs based on EPFO data.

The Congress leader said Modi wanted to make people believe that the government’s “failures” were the “achhe din” the BJP had promised to people during its 2014 election campaign. “In 2014, Modi promised a lot of things but now all his ‘so-called targets’ are to be fulfilled in 2022 (108 months) now – a self-extension of 48 more months,” Khera said.

Khera said Modi could not even point out three big achievements of his government during the interview. “He said he can’t. That is the only honest admission in these interviews. He could not speak about his three achievements even after four years in power. He is the Prime Minister, he can not hoodwink the country like this. Do not play with statistics,” Khera said.

While Congress took on the PM regarding employment, TMC raked up the Assam National Register of Citizens issue. Latching onto Modi’s remarks that no citizen of India would have to leave the country, TMC MP Derek O’Brien asked what would happen to the 40 lakh people excluded from the draft NRC.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti sought to turn the focus to mob lynchings across the country. She hoped Modi’s statement condemning lynchings was followed by concrete steps and punitive punishment against the culprits. In the interview, Modi said even a single incident of lynching was unfortunate. “My party and I have spoken in clear words, on multiple occasions against such actions (lynching) and such a mindset. Even a single incident is one too many and deeply unfortunate,” he said.


Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday announced an immediate assistance of Rs 100 crore for rain-ravaged Kerala even as the state estimated its loss at Rs 8,316 crore. After conducting an aerial survey of rain-hit districts of Idukki and Ernakulam districts along with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Union Minister of State K J Alphonse, Singh said, “I understand the sufferings of the people of Kerala from the present crisis. Since assessment of damage would take time, I am announcing an immediate relief of additional Rs 100 crore.”

“The Centre is closely watching the flood situation and providing all possible assistance to Kerala state. We will leave no stone unturned to mitigate this unprecedented disaster. I have come to know that it was in 1924 that Kerala faced such a big calamity. I appeal to all political parties to join hands with the state government to mitigate the sufferings of the people,” he said.

The Met Department has sounded alert in several districts, particularly Idukki, Kozhikode and Wayanad for the next three days. However, no fresh case related to monsoon was reported from anywhere in the state. The water level in Idukki dam, which shot up to 2,401 ft on Thursday, came down to 2,398.50 ft Sunday evening, mitigating the fear of flood in Ernakulam district.


Amid uncertainties regarding US President Donald Trump’s trade and visa policies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that he shared Trump’s vision of prosperity for India and the US. “I share with him the vision of prosperity of our peoples through a strong India-US partnership, based on important convergences, inter alia, in combating terrorism and promoting stability and development in the Indo-Pacific,” Modi said.

“I have met President Trump a few times,” Modi said in an interview to a media house. “We have also been in touch through several conversations,” he added. Modi’s comments come ahead of the India-US 2+2 Dialogue next month in New Delhi involving External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and their US counterparts Mike Pompeo and Jim Mattis.

Stating that India and the US were two important engines of growth in the world, Modi said, “The focus of President Trump and our own priority in India on innovation and entrepreneurship has the potential to take this relationship to new heights.” He stressed that the India-US Strategic Partnership had “deepened in an unprecedented manner in the past few years”.



The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) plans to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in a focused manner, restricting itself to fielding candidates in around 100 seats.

This is in contrast with the 2014 general elections, where the party had fielded over 400 candidates across the country, but managed to win just four seats in Punjab.

“The party feels that there is no point fighting in all seats. So, plans are to contest around 80 to 100 seats where we are in a better position to influence the results,” said AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, who is also the in-charge of party’s Uttar Pradesh and Bihar units.

Punjab, Haryana and AAP’s home turf Delhi will be where the party would focus to win maximum seats in 2019, he said.

The party will also field candidates for some Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. In Bihar and Uttar Pradesh too, AAP plans to field candidates in some seats.




 The United States urged Britain on Sunday to ditch its support for the Iran nuclear deal and instead join forces with Washington to counter the global threat it says Tehran poses.

U.S. Ambassador to Britain Woody Johnson criticised Tehran for funding “proxy wars and malign activities” instead of investing in its economy. He said Iran needed to make tangible and sustained changes to behave like a normal country. “Until then, America is turning up the pressure and we want the U.K. by our side,” wrote Mr. Johnson in The Sunday Telegraph.

“It is time to move on from the flawed 2015 deal. We are asking global Britain to use its considerable diplomatic power and influence and join us as we lead a concerted global effort towards a genuinely comprehensive agreement.”

Asked about Mr. Johnson’s article, the British Foreign Office pointed to comments from Minister of State Alistair Burt, who last week ruled out Britain going along with the United States.

Mr. Burt said the deal was an important part of regional security and that, with the European Union, the government was trying to protect British companies from the U.S. sanctions when dealing with Iran.



 Iran and four ex-Soviet nations, including Russia, agreed in principle on Sunday how to divide up the potentially huge oil and gas resources of the Caspian Sea, paving way for more energy exploration and pipeline projects.

However, the delimitation of the seabed, which has caused most disputes, will require additional agreements between littoral nations, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said. For almost three decades, the five littoral states — Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan — have argued over how to divide the world’s biggest enclosed body of water.

And while some countries have pressed ahead with large offshore projects such as the Kashagan oil field off Kazakhstan’s coast, disagreement over the sea’s legal status has prevented some other ideas from being implemented. One of those is a pipeline across the Caspian which could ship natural gas from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan and then further to Europe, allowing it to compete with Russia in the Western markets. Some littoral states have also disputed the ownership of several oil and gas fields, which delayed their development.



US space agency NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, mankind’s first mission to “touch” the Sun, was successfully launched on Sunday on an unprecedented, seven-year long journey to unlock the mysteries of the star’s fiery outer atmosphere and its effects on space weather.

Liftoff of the $1.5 billion mission took place from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the US.

The mission’s findings will help researchers improve their forecasts of space weather events, which have the potential to damage satellites and harm astronauts on orbit, NASA said.

The probe, which will fly closer to the Sun that any other spacecraft has attempted before, is set to explore the corona, a region of the Sun only seen from Earth when the Moon blocks out the Sun’s bright face during total solar eclipses. It will have to survive difficult heat and radiation conditions. It has been outfitted with a 4.5-inch-thick carbon-composite shield designed to keep its instruments at a tolerable 29°C even as the spacecraft faces temperatures reaching nearly 1,370°C at its closest pass.





The Border Security Force has started sealing portions of the borders with Bangladesh and Pakistan with a “smart technology-aided fence”. A ministry official said the project was aimed at checking the increasing incidents of infiltration along the international boundaries with the two neighbouring countries.

“This is a major step to plug the vulnerable gaps on the two frontiers and counter terrorism and the problem of refugees India is facing. The sealing of segments of the borders has started at Dhubri in Assam along the India-Bangladesh border and also in Jammu along the frontier with Pakistan,” the official said.

The sealing of borders is part of the Centre’s multi-crore project of putting in place a Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System and is being done with the help of imported cameras and smart fences. The work is likely to be completed by the end of next year.

The need for technology-aided fencing is required, he said, considering that portions of the riverine border areas are vulnerable to infiltration. The BSF has identified nearly 2,050km along the two borders as vulnerable points that do not have fencing.

“The gadgets will be installed along these stretches and a common feed will be provided to the border outposts along the two frontiers. This would help personnel to watch the photos on a monitor and act swiftly in case there is something amiss,” the BSF officer said.



 The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Sunday arrested Abdullah Basith, an Islamic State terror group operative and nephew of former SIMI president Syed Salahuddin who was twice de-radicalised by agencies earlier, for creating a new module in Hyderabad and planning attacks.

On Sunday, Basith (24) was arrested along with Mohammad Abdul Qhadeer (19) as they were planning to revive IS ideology and carry out attacks.

The agency claimed it had recovered precursor material, including digital devices, required to make an IED from Qhadeer. After questioning him for a week, NIA arrested him along with Basith.

Basith had earlier attempted to travel to IS held territories in 2014 and 2015 as well but was stopped by the agencies.

Basith had earlier undergone several rounds of de-radicalisation counselling that involved hours of discussions with Telangana police counsellors and his father Mohammed Abdul Arif.



Hundreds of people turned out at Trafalgar Square in London yesterdayt in support of a pro-Khalistan rally as well as to counter the event with an Independence Day celebration.

The “We Stand With India” and “Love My India” events were organised by Indian diaspora groups as a reaction to the pro-Khalistan “London Declaration for a Referendum 2020”.

The pro-India group, confined to a demarcated area of the square away from the anti-India rally, waved the Indian Tricolour and placards reading “India Jai Ho” and “Vande Mataram” and beat their dhols in an attempt to drown out some of the speeches in favour of the so-called Referendum 2020.

“Indian Sikhs don’t want this Referendum 2020, they don’t even know what this Referendum is about, who is organising and why,” said Navdeep Singh, one of the organisers behind the pro-India demonstration.

On the other end, the pro-Khalistani supporters shouted slogans such as ‘Khalistan Zindabad’ and waved anti-India placards.

Pakistani-origin House of Lords peer Lord Nazir Ahmed was among the key speakers for the group.

Scotland Yard, which had confirmed that an “appropriate and proportionate policing plan” will be in place for the demonstrations at Trafalgar Square, maintained a watchful eye over the proceedings, which remained largely peaceful with no face-offs being allowed to get out of control by vigilant police officers.



In an important signal on optimum use of available funds, the armed forces have been asked to avoid fresh accretions — adding any more numbers to the existing strength — while continuing with right-sizing of the Army, Navy and the Air Force.

The matter of force numbers, the resultant man-power costs and redundancy caused due to technological upgrades was raised by a top government official at the two-day Unified Commanders’ Conference held in New Delhi on July 30 and July 31.

The foundation of this was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi very early into his tenure. In his address at one such conference in December 2015, Modi said: “Modernisation and expansion of forces at the same time is a difficult and unnecessary goal.” Over the last decade, the armed forces have absorbed a fair amount of technological developments, including communications and digitisation, which means some of the troops can be redeployed.

The Army, the biggest of the three armed forces, about 1.3-million strong, has been asked to improve its teeth-to-tail ratio. In simple words, it means have more fighting units and reduce non-fighting numbers. Last year, the MoD announced a major change as 57,000 officers and soldiers were to be redeployed to have more combat-oriented roles by 2019.

It was an outcome of a committee headed by Lt Gen DB Shekatkar (retd), which suggested 99 points for structural changes in the Army, among them being cutting down flab and reducing revenue (maintenance) expenditure. Of these, the MoD has accepted 65 suggestions.



The Supreme Court has agreed to examine a public interest plea that accuses hospitals of prematurely declaring patients brain dead with the commercial motive of harvesting their organs for transplants.

S. Ganapathy, a social activist from Kerala, had moved the petition, challenging the state high court’s refusal to pass the directions he had sought. Ganapathy contends that the Transplant of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 1994, is being violated for commercial exploitation of patients and that the courts need to regulate the transplant of human organs.

He says that Sub-section 3(6) of the act prescribes that a person can be certified as brain dead only by a board of four medical experts, who must have certain qualifications, and only after conducting two tests six hours apart.

However, he has claimed, he suspects that in most instances, patients are certified as brain dead by a committee of three doctors from the same hospital and one from another private hospital, without performing the required tests.

Ganapathy also says the organs are often transplanted onto incompatible patients without performing the required tests, resulting in a high failure rate.



 An undeclared war appears to have broken out in India’s digital payment space between mobile wallet companies and some payment banks.

Mobile wallet interoperability, a significant upgrade that would allow users of different wallet companies to transact with each other, has emerged as a thorny issue for payment banks, which were licensed to drive digital payments in India.

Some payment banks set up by telecom companies have approached the Reserve Bank of India to voice their opposition to wallet interoperability.

The RBI said in a direction issued in its October 2017 order and updated in December that interoperability will be enabled in phases for Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPIs), or digital wallets.

“By permitting interoperability, UPI handle and debit cards, non-bank PPIs will become quasi-banks in terms of payments. They will have a regulatory arbitrage over PBs, considering the significantly less capital and other regulatory requirements they have to comply with. We suggest that these facilities should be limited only to banks,” the banks said in a resolution.



England beat India by an innings and 159 runs in the second Test at Lord’s. James Anderson and Stuart Broad both took four wickets each while centurion Chris Woakes took the final wicket of Ishant Sharma to end the match. England had declared with 396 runs on the board and India had to overcome a deficit of 289 to keep the match alive. They were all out for 130.

India were virtually done in by the 31st over when they were down to 61/6. Hardik Pandya and R Ashwin then held on for India and went on to put up their only 50-plus partnership for India in the match. The 7th wicket (Pandya) fell at 116 and the team folded up at 130.

England now lead the five-match series 2-0, the next test starts Trent Bridge on Aug 18.

Scores: India 107 & 130; England 396/7 (declared)

India captain Virat Kohli batted with a lower back pain but is confident of regaining full fitness ahead of the next game starting at Nottingham on August 18. “It is a lower back issue, coming up again and again, purely because of the workload and the number of matches I have been playing,” Kohli said when asked if he batted with an injury that  affected his movement on the crease. “It’s five days to go. I am confident I will be fine in five days’ time with a bit of rehabilitation. I should be okay,” he added.

“I am not very proud of the way we played. It is first time in the last five Test matches we’ve been outplayed. But credit to England, they were clinical. When a team plays like that they deserve to be on the winning side. And we deserved to lose,” he said.



If you feel you are down on your luck, check the level of your effort. – Robert Brault



Ek khargosh Bomb le kar zoo me ghus gaya aur awaaz lagai:

“Tum sab ke paas 1 minute ka time hai, yaha se nikalne ke liye..!!”,

Kachuwa : “Waah…!! Saale Waah…!! Seedha Bol na ki target main hi hoon.”

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