Rahul hugs Modi after slamming govt during the no confidence motion

In an unusual gesture, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday (July 20) hugged Prime Minister Narendra Modi after slamming BJP-led government during the no confidence motion. Modi while taken aback responded to Gandhi’s hug by shaking hands with him with a pat on his back and even exchanging some words with him. “I have not an iota of hatred or hard feelings against you. You hate me, I maybe ‘Pappu’ for you. But I love you and respect you because I am the Congress,” said Gandhi. —India Legal Bureau…
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Maldives: Cocking a Snook at India

Above: Maldivian president Abdulla Yameen (centre) is opposing India and harming New Delhi’s interests/Photo: UNI Thanks to support and funding from China, Maldives is flexing its muscles at Delhi and jeopardising the security environment in the Indian Ocean ~By Seema Guha Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Neighbourhood First policy, announced soon after he took office in 2014, was widely praised as a step in the right direction. It was high time India shifted focus to its immediate neighbours, more so as China was spreading its footprints across South Asia. However, four years down the line, the policy is virtually in tatters. While Pakistan has always been a problem and China too is a difficult neighbour, now it is tiny Maldives, virtually a stone’s throw away from the Indian mainland, that is giving Indian officials sleepless nights. Cocking a snook at its towering neighbour, its strongman, President Abdulla Yameen, remains defiant and is ready to take India head-on. For one, the Maldives has asked India to take back two helicopters gifted to the Maldives National Defence Force in 2013 along with the personnel deployed. Delhi had tried to persuade Male to keep the two helicopters but the Yameen government was adamant. Simultaneously, Male is delaying processing work visas of Indian nationals who want to work in various resorts ahead of the tourist season.…
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India-China Yin Yang In Tibet

Above: PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping reset the relationship in Wuhan in April/Photo: UNI The latest military drill conducted by China in Tibet was probably a reminder to India that the subtext of the military situation in Doklam remains a potent point of confrontation   ~By Col R Hariharan  China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conducted a military drill in Southwest Tibet on June 25 to test civilian-military integration and logistic support in high altitudes. Beyond the military dimensions of the exercise, it has connotations on India-China relations and on Presi­dent Xi Jinping’s process of consolidating his power through civil-military integration. In terms of India-China binary, the exercise comes in the wake of Wuhan summit in April when PM Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping  had agreed to build a future relationship based “upon mutual respect for each other’s developmental aspirations and prudent management of differences with mutual sensitivity”. But the tabloid Global Times’ report on the military drill did not reflect the Wuhan spirit. It referred to China’s victory in the 1962 war against India. It quoted Song Zhongping, a military expert, to say that in the 1962 conflict, “China failed to protect its fruits of victory due to poor logistics support” because the biggest challenge of battle at the high altitude was to provide sustainable logistics and armament support.…
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Brave New Words

~By Dilip Bobb Lexicographers, those who compile dictionaries, have been working overtime in the recent past trying to cope with the flood of new words and phrases that are becoming part of contemporary vocabulary. Whether in India or elsewhere, the list of words that make up today’s lexicon is literally adding meaning to our lives. Here are some of the most popular: Webaqoof: Those who believe every word or rumour that appears on the internet or on social media, especially WhatsApp, to be absolutely true, and act accordingly, usually irrationally and with extreme hostility. Challenger Series: Originally referred to a series of professional tennis tournaments but is now connected to the challenge thrown by various celebrities and VIPs, starting with the fitness challenge which saw the PM in designer workout gear bending over backwards—something he will never do in the political arena—and has now been extended to a Loyalty Challenge which is a fit enough metaphor for the manner in which politicians are busy wooing members of opposing parties. Jumla: A word that has become popular in the post Modi era, generally used to attack an opponent for making empty promises (Rs 15 lakh in every bank account), and now used in a general way to describe anything that is questionable or not working as planned: eg: “jumlaeconomics”.…
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Delhi power tussle verdict: SC says LG can’t be obstructionist, must listen to State govt

After keeping its verdict reserved for several months, the Supreme Court, on Wednesday (July 4), finally ruled on the contentious issue of the powers of Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor and whether the holder of the office can, as was being witnessed in the national capital for the past few years now, arbitrarily hold up or even quash decisions taken by the Delhi government. The constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and comprising Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan gave three separate opinions in the verdict that was pronounced on Wednesday morning. The overarching reasoning given by the top court, however, was unambiguous – that the Lieutenant Governor cannot act mechanically by referring every Executive decision taken by the state’s council of ministers to the President of India. In other words, the Supreme Court has said that while the LG enjoys the powers of an administrator, he must “work on the aid and advice of the council of ministers.” The verdict comes as a major shot in the arm for Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party government which has, for the past three years, been engaged in a bitter war of words with the LG office and the Centre, alleging that successive Lieutenant Governors (first Najeeb Jung and now Anil Baijal) had been creating roadblocks in functioning of the State’s Executive under instructions of the Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre.…
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Inform within 10 days about Lokpal appointment time-frame: SC to Centre

The country’s near five-year-long wait for an anti-graft ombudsman – the Lokpal – may soon end with the Supreme Court setting a 10 day deadline for the Centre to inform it about a time-frame within which the anti-corruption watchdog will be appointed. The order by the bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R Banumathi comes months after the apex court pulled up the Narendra Modi government over the delay in appointment of a Lokpal – a rebuke that forced the Centre to finally appoint senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi as the “eminent jurist” to the high-powered Lokpal selection panel. On Monday (July 2), Justices Gogoi and Banumathi directed the Centre to apprise it within 10 days about the time frame for appointing the Lokpal. The court granted 10 days to the the government for filing an affidavit detailing steps which are likely to be taken for appointing the ombudsman. Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, placed before the bench written instructions which he had received from the government on the issue of appointment of Lokpal. The instructions came during hearing of a contempt petition filed by NGO Common Cause which has sought the Supreme Court’s directives to the Centre for appointing the ombudsman at the earliest on the grounds that the Parliament had enacted the Lokpal legislation in 2013 but that the government had failed to make the necessary appointments to the body ever since.…
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Non-mentioning of Nikah Halala petition during SC vacation irks CJI

As the Supreme Court re-opened, on Monday (July 2), following its annual 44-day-long summer vacation, Chief Justice Dipak Misra expressed his displeasure at the controversial but reformist petition challenging the practice of Nikah Halala among a section of Muslims not being mentioned for hearing before the vacation benches of the apex court. As hearing of matters began in Court Number 1 before the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, senior advocate V Shekhar and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay, appearing for one of the Delhi-based petitioners – Sameena Begum – alleged that she was under pressure to withdraw her petition challenging the abominable practices of ‘nikah halala’ and polygamy among a section of Muslims. Sameena Begum’s counsels told the bench that she was receiving anonymous threats because of the petition filed by her. While the court instructed Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, to file a response to the petition, Sameena Begum’s lawyers urged that the matter be listed before a five-judge constitution bench. The bench responded: “We will look into it.” However, Chief Justice Dipak Misra also questioned why mentioning of the important petition was being done today (on July 2) and wasn’t done during the vacations.…
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Cauvery Dispute: Water On The Boil

Above: Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi The centre, through the Cauvery Water Management Authority, wants to convey that water is a national asset, but Karnataka’s new CM begs to differ ~By Stephen David in Bengaluru HD Kumaraswamy may have been both servile and candid in saying, shortly after he took oath, that he was in office at the mercy of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, but in his dealings with the BJP-led centre—who he outsmarted in government formation after last month’s elections—the Karnataka Chief Minister is proving to be a tough negotiator. The Supreme Court-mandated setting up of Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA), where the Centre has a proportionally high representation and decision-making powers on the sharing of waters among the southern states, has run into rough weather. Kumaraswamy is vehemently opposed to many of the Authority’s “guidelines which are unscientific” and the powers vested with it to decide key issues like cropping pattern in the Cauvery basin. He said as much to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Cabinet colleagues Nitin Gadkari and Rajnath Singh whom he met during a two-day visit to the capital last week. “We told the PM that the constitution of the Cauvery Water Management Authority should be first discussed in Parliament to address several technical issues in the SC order,” Kumaraswamy said.…
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Yoga Hoga

~By Dilip Bobb We are being led to believe that yoga is India’s greatest contribution to global wellness and will usher in international peace and prosperity. Billions of people twisting and turning and breathing through one nostril in unison, will end terrorism, fraud, and incendiary Facebook posts. Shashi Tharoor tweeted that yoga is not simply about twisting into different positions like a pretzel, but the PM reminded us that we should not ignore the gems of our own heritage. There are 1,300 asanas but here are some favourite poses. Tax Eva-son: Currently, the most popular fad sweeping the country, which involves sweeping money taken from Indian banks into accounts abroad, with the UK and Panama being the Most Favoured Nations. Tax Eva-son allows the practitioners to turn black into white and live happily ever after in luxury villas or country houses, while those still in India fall back (another integrated asana) on deniability, or the ability to claim they have achieved moksha and are not subject to earthly laws or prosecution. Involves a lot of running, lying and hiding in plain sight. Son Salutation: Also called Surya Namaskara and meant to be a salutation to the sun, in India it translates into sycophancy over the son.…
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KASHMIR: TRAGEDY AND FARCE

~By Inderjit Badhwar The latest political crisis in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in which a government ruling in Delhi has pulled the rug out from under the feet of its regional coalition partner brings to mind two utterances from National Conference leader Sheikh Abdullah—the Lion of Kashmir—who straddled the state like a colossus whether as a freedom fighter, a political prisoner or a chief executive before and after India’s Independence. After Indian armed forces pushed back Pakistani invaders who had attacked J&K to accomplish a military annexation of the erstwhile princely state, the issue was discussed extensively by the UN’s General Assembly and Security Council. Participating in these discussions, the then prime minister of the state’s emergency government, Sheikh Abdullah, made a speech in the Security Council on February 5, 1948 slamming Pakistan’s legitimacy in staking any kind of post-Partition claim over the state, which had signed the Instrument of Accession to the Indian Union. “The Government of India could easily have accepted the accession and could have said, ‘All right, we accept your accession and we shall render this help’. There was no necessity for the Prime Minister of India to add the proviso, when accepting the accession, that ‘India does not want to take advantage of the difficult situation in Kashmir.…
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PIL in Delhi HC for directions to PM to keep 75 percent attendance in parliament

Above: Sanjay Singh With Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually on a non-stop world tour, it has been said that when time come for him to answer critical questions in the Lok Sabha he is not available. Aam Aadmi Party Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh has taken up this issue and has filed a PIL against the Prime Minister ay the Delhi High Court. In his PIL Singh demands to make 75 per cent attendance mandatory for all elected leaders and should answer all questions raised during session in parliament. The plea (see below) also stated seeking direction to the President to ascertain feasibility of No Work No Pay for MPs, if presence is less than 50 percent of the time. —India Legal Bureau…
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Indo-US-Russia Ties: Uneasy Tango

Above: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi recently/Photo: PIB India is caught between the US and Russia, its old ally, and despite American pressure, is unlikely to jeopardise this time-tested relationship and its own core interests ~By Seema Guha The growing warmth in Indo-US ties may take a hit over sanctions the US administration has slapped on Russia and Iran. The US has warned countries doing business with Moscow and Tehran that they would face consequences if they did not heed the American diktat. Fears that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was plunging India into the US camp have subsided as Delhi has refrained from putting all its eggs into the American basket. Russia and Iran serve India’s core interests and Modi is not about to turn his back on either. In fact, on June 4, even as sanctions were on, India received its first consignment of gas from Russia’s state-owned Gazprom, one of the world’s major gas companies. The agreement signed by GAIL and Gazprom in 2012 envisages the import of liquefied natural gas worth $1.5 billion annually for 20 years. Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan was effusive in his praise of Russia as he received the first consignment: “Today will be remembered as a golden day for India’s energy security road map.’’ He said this was in keeping with Prime Minister Modi and President Vladimir Putin’s vision of forging closer strategic economic cooperation between India and Russia.…
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