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Modi-Sharif ‘secret’ meet: Why now, Barkha?

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So renowned journalist Barkha Dutt’s much-awaited debut book is out wherein she has reportedly made some startling revelations about an hour-long secret meeting in Nepal between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in 2014.

The secret rendezvous was allegedly facilitated by Indian steel magnate Sajjan Jindal, brother of former Congress MP Naveen Jindal, in the former’s hotel room in Kathmandu during Saarc summit in November 2014, or so claims Barkha Dutt in her book ‘This Unquiet Land — Stories from India’s Fault Lines’.

Dutt writes Modi called up Jindal from Nepal and asked him to take the earliest flight to Kathmandu. “Jindal was asked to discreetly reach out to his ‘friend’ across the border”. The two leaders then met quietly “in the privacy of Jindal’s hotel room”, where they spent an hour together, reported The Hindustan Times.

All this happened while the two leaders publically ignored each other or pretended to do so during the public events of Saarc 2014.

At this juncture, we are not in a position to confirm the veracity of the claims made by Dutt as neither Modi, Sharif or Jindal have denied nor confirmed the meeting yet. Assuming that their tête-a-tête actually did take place, it was an important issue of national importance and the public had every right to know what was happening behind the closed doors.

Dutt, being a well-known Television journalist with NDTV, was in the know of the secret encounter between the two premiers in 2014. It’s been over a year since the meeting. Did she have to wait for her book to reveal this issue of national security and importance? That’s the question worth pondering over. I understand controversy sells and people do all kinds of stuff to publicize their books. The more the sensational claims, the more controversy it is likely to generate.

Most of these books by noted personalities are published around elections and in the times to float or support an existing agenda.

Sanjay Baru’s book is an apt example in this regard wherein a lot of muck was hurled at former PM Manmohan Singh in an apparent bid to damage his reputation. Shiv Sena smeared Sudhendra Kulkarni with ink at former Pakistani foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book launch function in Mumbai. Kasuri also made ‘startling disclosures’ in regard to backchannel Indo-Pak talks.

I can understand a politician like Kasuri would want to reveal this information in a book considering his constraints. But for a reputed journalist to withhold the information of national importance from the public seems unethical to me. Allow me to elucidate why.

One year is a long time and much water has flown under the Indo-Pak bridge since then. People should have been informed that despite public hostility, PM Modi was secretly meeting with Sharif and all talks were being facilitated by Indian businessmen, as claimed by Dutt.

However, Dutt chose to hold back the information for her book, an apparent disservice to the profession of journalism. Besides, this episode reveals the futility of all these books written by noted journalists and bureaucrats. People do not understand what these people are trying to achieve by making ‘startling revelations’ in their books. This story of such a secret meeting could have made headlines and impact on the national political discourse had it been revealed last year itself.

What has Barkha Dutt achieved by denying this ‘news’ to the public? Increased book sales, probably.

(Image: NDTV)

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Ex-Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif Indicted on Corruption Charges

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Muhammad Safdar
Muhammad Safdar, husband of Maryam Nawaz, daughter of ousted Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif, waves from a a vehicle as he arrives at an accountability court in Islamabad. VOA

Islamabad, October 19: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been indicted on corruption charges stemming from information taken from the so-called “Panama Papers.”

The country’s anti-corruption court indicted the 67-year-old Sharif during a hearing Thursday in Islamabad. His daughter Maryam and son-in-law Mohammed Safdar were also indicted. Maryam Sharif and Mohammed Safdar appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A lawyer for the elder Sharif, who is in London with his wife as she undergoes cancer treatment, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Maryam Sharif angrily dismissed the allegations as “baseless.”

Sharif was disqualified by Pakistan’s Supreme Court and removed from office in July after leaked documents last year from a Panama-based law firm revealed the family held a number of unreported overseas assets.(VOA)

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Pakistan Elected to UN Human Rights Council along with 14 other countries

The new members will serve a three-year term from January 1, 2018

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UN General Assembly elect 15 new members of Human Rights Council. Wikimedia

United Nations, October 17, 2017 : Fifteen countries, including Pakistan, have been elected to the UN Human Rights Council by the UN General Assembly.

In a vote on Monday, Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Chile, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Senegal, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine were elected, a Foreign Office statement said.

They will serve a three-year term from January 1, 2018. (IANS)

 

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Richard Thaler Supported Demonetisation, there is More to the Story

Demonetisation is what Richard Thaler had long supported. However, he remarked "Really? Damn," when he was informed about the introduction of Rs. 2,000 notes in place of the discontinued Rs. 500 and 1,000 notes thereby highlighting how his joy of seeing a step towards a cashless economy and reduction of corruption was momentary.

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Richard Thaler
Richard Thaler won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences on 9th October.Wikimedia

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to scrape Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes last November, Nobel Prize winner Richard Thaler supported demonetization describing it as a policy that he had long supported.

Dr. Richard Thaler, a Professor of Economics and Behavioural Science at the University of Chicago won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences on 9th October.

Did Richard Thaler really support demonetization in the way BJP took it? There is more to the story than what meets the eye.

As soon as Thaler was declared the Nobel Prize winner, members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) started sharing Thaler’s tweet regarding demonetization on social media affirming that the move which was severely criticised by the members of the opposition was actually supported by a Nobel Prize winner. The BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya retweeted the old tweet within a fraction of a second.

However, Richard Thaler remarked “Really? Damn,” when he was informed about the introduction of Rs. 2,000 notes in place of the discontinued Rs. 500 and 1,000 note thereby highlighting how his joy of seeing a step towards a cashless economy and reduction of corruption was momentary.

It was not only the BJP supporters but also a large number of BJP leaders who were flowed away with incomplete picture depicted by Malviya and tweeted about it.‬ This included Union Minister Giriraj Singh, former BJP IT Cell Head Arvind Gupta, and many others.

Soon after, twitterati realized that the full picture of Thaler’s statement on demonetization was rather hidden.

Prime Minister Modi declared that the motivation behind scrapping Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes was to promote cashless economy and reduce corruption. This decision was severely criticised by different sections of the society putting on Modi the ultimate responsibility for heralding economic deceleration. Demonetisation pulled down India’s GDP growth rate to a mere 6.1% in 2016-17.

Some highlighted that the introduction of Rs 2000 note was an ephemeral panacea for remonetization and that its printing has been terminated.

-Prepared by Mohima Haque of NewsGram, Twitter: mohimahaque26