Newsletter Oct 16, 2018




Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday sought a review of payment terms with major oil producers as part of the NDA government’s strategy to help counter a depreciating rupee. He was addressing oil ministers and chief executives of both global and domestic oil companies at an event in New Delhi.

Modi, according to an official statement issued after the meeting, “requested for review of payment terms so as to provide temporary relief to the local currency”. The rupee has fallen 14.5 per cent this year, making oil and other imports more expensive. In the meeting with leading global CEOs of oil and gas sector and ministers from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Modi made a strong case for a partnership between producers and consumers in the oil market as it exists in other markets. “This will help stabilise the global economy which is on the path of recovery,” he said.

India, the world’s third largest oil consumer, imports over 85 per cent of its oil requirements. With the rupee having depreciated sharply over the last couple of months, India has been seeking better payment terms, which could include a part of import payments being made in rupee.

With Saudi Arabia Oil Minister Khalid A. Al-Falih and a UAE ministerial representative listening, Modi underscored how crude oil prices at a four-year high were hurting global growth.

Later, speaking at the India Energy Forum, Saudi Oil Minister said Modi raised the issue of “consumer pain” from high crude oil prices. “We heard it today loud and clear from prime minister (about consumer pain),” Al-Falih said. He, however, said the “pain” would have been “much louder” but action by Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of oil, to invest in creating spare capacity has cushioned price shocks. “Prime Minister cautioned producers like myself not to kill the hen that lays the golden egg,” he said referring to consumers as the golden hen.



Congress president Rahul Gandhi said that a one-slab Goods and Services Tax (GST) would be implemented if his party is elected to power at the Centre. The Gandhi scion lambasted the present multi-slab GST, saying it has “ruined” the small shopkeepers in the country.

“How much money did this Gabbar Singh Tax take away from your pockets? After this meeting, you should go to a small shopkeeper and ask him whether the GST benefited him or resulted in a loss,” Gandhi said at a public meeting in Madhya Pradesh’s Dabra.

“I want to tell the small traders of India that (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi and his Finance Minister (Arun Jaitley) defamed you all. They termed you thieves. You are not thieves. You serve this country,” the Congress president said.

“I want to assure you that when a Congress government comes to power at the Centre, we will convert Gabbar Singh Tax into a real GST,” he said. “You will not need to hire accountants (to file GST returns)… Your (shopkeepers’) losses would be reduced and you will need to fill in fewer forms,” he said.



Congress parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor said yesterday that he condemned the “malicious distortion” of his words on a Ram temple at the site of the razed Babri mosque in Ayodhya. Speaking at a literature festival in Chennai on the weekend, he had said that “as a Hindu he was very conscious” that a vast majority of his fellow Hindus believed the Ayodhya site was the specific birthplace of Lord Ram. “And for that reason most good Hindus would want to see a Ram temple at the site where Ram was supposed to be born. But I also believe that no good Hindu would have wanted to see that temple built by demolishing somebody else’s place of worship.”

In some reports, the Congress MP’s comment became this: “No good Hindu would want temple at the Babri mosque site”.

The BJP’s Nalin Kohli hit out: “Who are the Congress or Tharoor to decide? Who are they to certify who is a good Hindu and who is bad Hindu? How can they play with the faith of crores of people?” As the comments provoked more and more sharp reactions, Mr Tharoor sought to set the record straight in his tweets.

The Congress leader also clarified that he had expressed a personal opinion and had not spoken on behalf of the party. “I am not a spokesperson for my party and did not claim to be speaking for it,” he said.

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said he was “astonished” to know that Shashi Tharoor believes that “true Hindus don’t want a Ram temple in Ayodhya”. “This could be Tharoor’s or Rahul Gandhi’s views but not of the common people. This shows how cut off they are from reality,” Javadekar said.

“Tharoor’s comment is an insult to the Hindus… the Congress must clarify whether they are in favour of construction of the Ram temple,” BJP leader GVL Narasimha Rao said



A day after he made it clear that he was not going to step down from the Council of Ministers in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against him, Minister of State (External Affairs) M J Akbar filed a criminal defamation complaint Monday in a Delhi court against journalist Priya Ramani, stating that her alleged “defamatory articles” on him were a “figment of imagination” and “only” intended to “malign” his reputation.

Ramani was the first to name Akbar in a Twitter post October 8, following which over ten women also levelled sexual harassment allegations against him.

According to Akbar’s complaint, Ramani had written an article in Vogue India in 2017, alleging sexual harassment, but without naming Akbar. On October 8, she named Akbar in a Twitter post: “I began this piece with my M J Akbar story. Never named him because he didn’t “do” anything. Lots of women have worse story about this predator-may they’ill share. #ulti.”

Stating that the “defamatory allegations” made by Ramani were published in various media agencies, Akbar’s complaint sought her “prosecution and conviction”. “Seeking her prosecution and conviction for wilfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously defaming the complainant on wholly and complete false, frivolous, unjustifiable and scandalous ground and thereby harming the goodwill and reputation of the complainant within the political fraternity, media, friends, family, colleagues and in society at large,” the complaint stated.

Continuing its attack on the government over the allegations against Akbar, the Congress on Monday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi if he supported his minister’s defamation case against Ramani.

Calling M J Akbar’s defamation suit against her a bid to “silence” the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct, through “intimidation and harassment”, Priya Ramani said that she would fight back. “Truth and the absolute truth is my only defence,” she said.

The past two weeks had seen an “upheaval”, she said, “with several women from different professions, including journalists, making serious allegations of sexual harassment at the workplace and instances of sexual misconduct against various editors, writers, film-makers and others”. “These testimonies have emerged as a consequence of a slow but increasing empowerment of women over the years and a #MeToo movement unfolding across social media in India and across the world.”

Pointing out that the 10 women who have come out against Akbar had related incidents that allegedly occurred while they were working for him, Ramani said the women have spoken “at great risk to their personal and professional lives”. “It is disingenuous to ask why they have spoken now, as we are well aware of the stigma and shame that sexual crimes inflict upon victims,” she said. Instead of casting aspersions on their intent and motives, as Akbar had done on Sunday, “we must reflect on how to improve the workplace for future generations of men and women”.





Saudi Arabia has threatened to retaliate for any sanctions imposed against it after President Donald Trump said the oil-rich kingdom deserves “severe punishment” if it is responsible for the disappearance and suspected murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.

It was a second consecutive turbulent day on the Saudi stock exchange, which plunged as much as 7 percent at one point Sunday.

American lawmakers threatened tough punitive action against the Saudis, and Germany, France and Britain jointly called for a “credible investigation” into Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team killed and dismembered Khashoggi, who wrote critically of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The kingdom has called such allegations “baseless” but has not offered any evidence Khashoggi ever left the consulate.

Already, international business leaders are pulling out of the kingdom’s upcoming investment forum, a high-profile event known as “Davos in the Desert,” and the sell-off on Riyadh’s Tadawul stock exchange showed that investors are uneasy.



North and South Korea agreed on Monday to begin reconnecting rail and road links, another step in an improving relationship that has raised US concern about the possible undermining of its bid to press the North to give up its nuclear programme.

“The South and North reached the agreement after sincerely discussing action plans to develop inter-Korean relations to a new, higher stage,” said a joint statement released by the South’s Unification Ministry.

They agreed to hold ceremonies in late November or early December to inaugurate work on reconnecting the railways and roads that have been cut since the 1950-53 Korean War.

The two sides will carry out joint field studies on the transport plans from late this month, according to the statement. They also agreed to discuss late this month a plan to pursue a bid to co-host the 2032 Olympic Games, and to explore in November ways to restart webcam reunions and video exchanges for families separated by the Korean War. Meetings will also be held on reforestation soon.





Launching a major monthly funding drive, the AAP Monday stressed on the need to adopt the financial model of the Left parties, driven mainly by donations from its workers and supporters. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who launched the campaign at Talkatora Stadium, pledged that his family, including his wife, daughter and father, will collectively donate Rs 20,500 to the party every month.

Repeatedly dubbing AAP as a “kangaal” (bankrupt) party, Kejriwal said his government’s honesty has ensured the party’s coffers are not enriched by the exchequers’ money. “It’s not us, but the PM who has given us a clean chit. One-and-a-half years into our government, the PM formed a committee to scrutinise 400 of our government’s files. They couldn’t find anything…,” he said. Kejriwal added that if his government scrutinises even four files of the Modi government, including the one on Rafale, “we will put them behind bars for their lifetime”.

Referring to the Income Tax searches at Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot’s residence, he said the central agencies have also raided offices of Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and PWD Minister Satyendar Jain in the past. “They didn’t unearth anything. Now they have targeted poor Gahlot. I think Gopal Rai should brace himself for the next one,” he said. Rai holds the Labour portfolio and is also the party’s Delhi convenor. Gahlot had skipped the event.

In his speech, AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, who pledged to donate Rs 21,000 per month, referred to the funding model of the Communist parties and how workers down the ranks are expected to keep aside a share of their income for the party. He said AAP will have to develop a similar system.



Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday described Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Manan Bashir Wani, who was killed in a gun-battle with security forces, as a “victim of relentless violence in Kashmir”.

The PDP president said this while demanding withdrawal of cases against three Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) students from the Valley who were booked after they allegedly tried to hold a prayer meeting for Wani on Friday.

“It will be a travesty to punish them (students) for remembering their former colleague (Wani) who was a victim of relentless violence in Kashmir,” Mehbooba said in a tweet.

Twenty-seven-year-old Wani, who was pursing a Ph.D course at the AMU, had quit the university and joined militant ranks in January.

The three Kashmiri students were booked for sedition for allegedly raising “anti-India” slogans and trying to hold a prayer meeting for the Hizbul ‘commander’, a day after he was killed in a gun battle with security forces in north Kashmir’s Handwara area.

“Pushing youth to the wall will be counter productive. Centre must intervene in withdrawing cases against students and AMU authorities must revoke their suspension,” she said in another post on Twitter.



Amid reports about north Indians, especially from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, being targetted in Gujarat, its Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Monday sought to reassure people of Uttar Pradesh that Gujarat is a “mini India where everyone is secure and respected”.

At an event in Lucknow, Rupani said that it was the hard work of people from UP and Bihar that helped develop Gujarat and make it what it is today.

“Hum sab log Bharat mata ki santan hain, Uttar Pradesh ho, Gujarat ho… Hum sab ek hain.Is ekta ko todne ke liye Bharat virodhi tatva kaam kar rahe hain (We are all children of mother India, be it UP or Gujarat… We are all one… Some anti-Indians are working to destroy this unity),” said Rupani.

“It was a pre-planned conspiracy of one Congress MLA keeping in mind elections in four states and inauguration of Statue of Liberty… So that unity of the country is affected… the government thwarted the attempt. Today, the situation is under control,” he said, adding that of the 700 arrested for the “unrest”, atleast 50 were identified as Congressmen. “Today non-Gujaratis are living in Gujarat and have become part of the culture just like sugar dissolves in milk,” he said.



The Museum of Prime Ministers in the Teen Murti complex will be completed in a year and cover the life and times of all Indian Prime Ministers, including Narendra Modi, Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said on Monday.

The museum, close to the heritage building of the Nehru Memorial Museum, is being built by the Union government at a cost of Rs 271 crore.

“The Teen Murti Estate has a total area of 25.5 acre, of which the Nehru Memorial Museum building occupies a small area. It was decided to set up the museum in the remaining area of government land,” Sharma said.

On Monday, a “bhoomi poojan” was held at the site. Besides Sharma, Union Urban Development Minister Hardeep Puri, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) director Shakti Sinha and NMML executive council member Swapan Dasgupta were present, among others.



The IITs in Mumbai and Chennai and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru have emerged as top three in the first standalone QS ranking of India’s higher education institutes.

Incidentally, while the IISc was India’s best institution in the QS World University Rankings released earlier this year, the domestic league has pegged IIT-Bombay at number one. The IISc ranks second and IIT-Madras third.

Explaining the variance in performance of Indian institutions in the domestic and international tables, Simona Bizzozero, Communications Director at QS (Quacquarelli Symonds), a British company specialising in education, said that the ranking criteria for both were different.

“Performance criteria used for the Indian University Rankings are the same as we use for the QS BRICS Ranking. In the global tables, academic reputation carries 40 per cent weightage, in the Indian edition it carries 30 per cent. The World University Rankings focus on research impact (citations per faculty) and the domestic league looks at research productivity (number of papers per faculty),” she said.

IIT-Delhi, IIT-Kharagpur, IIT-Kanpur, Hyderabad Central University, Delhi University, IIT-Roorkee and IIT-Guwahati figure in the top 10 institutions. IITs occupy seven of the top 10 places. Birla Institute of Science and Technology is the only private institution that figures among the first 20 on the table.

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has not been ranked by QS, but it figures in the domestic league by virtue of doing well on parameters such as academic reputation and research productivity. According to Bizzozero, only universities and institutes that teach students at the graduate, postgraduate and research level across different disciplines have been assessed for the India Rankings. JNU has been left out since it primarily caters to students pursuing research.



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Dollar Index 94.75 Brent Crude 81.09 BDI 1584

Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,226 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 3203 / 3025, Silver (Rs. Per KG) 41,900



Most of the greatest evils that man has inflicted upon man have come through people feeling quite certain about something which, in fact, was false. – Bertrand Russell



A young man asked an old rich man how he made his money. The old guy fingered his worsted wool vest and said, “Well, son, it was 1932. The depth of the Great Depression. I was down to my last nickel. “I invested that nickel in an apple. I spent the entire day polishing the apple and, at the end of the day, I sold the apple for ten cents.

“The next morning, I invested those ten cents in two apples. I spent the entire day polishing them and sold them at 5:00 pm for 20 cents. I continued this system for a month, by the end of which I’d accumulated a fortune of $1.37.

“Then my wife’s father died and left us two million dollars.”

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