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DNA Evening Must Reads: Najeeb Jung resigns; Ravichandran declared ICC Cricketer of the Year; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung submits his resignation, Kejriwal ‘surprised’Najeeb Jung, the 20th Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, stepped down from his position on Thursday. He was appointed to the post of Lt. Governor in 2013, replacing Tajender Khanna, another IAS officer. Read more here.2. After PM Modi mocks Rahul’s ‘earthquake’, Congress VP says ‘answer me’A combative Gandhi hit back at PM Modi for mocking his speech wherein the Congress vice president had accused him of having taken money from corporate groups, saying he could make fun of him but needed to answer the charges of personal corruption levelled against him. Read more here.3. Berlin Christmas market attack: Tunisian suspect’s fingerprints found on truck door, 4 arrested – mediaInvestigators found fingerprints of a Tunisian suspect in the Berlin Christmas market attack on the door of the truck that ploughed through the crowds, killing 12, German media said on Thursday, as a nationwide manhunt for the migrant was underway. Read more here.4. Damage to India’s economic growth will be bigger than RBI’s estimates: ReportDamage to India’s economic growth is likely to be bigger than the RBI’s estimates, as there could be a sharper slowdown in the near-term as cash shortage is likely to extend into the first quarter of next year, says a Nomura report. Read more here.5. Great news for Indian cricket as Ravichandran Ashwin is declared ICC Cricketer of the Year for 2016It turned out to be double delight for Ravichandran Ashwin at the ICC Annual Awards on Thursday as he became only the third Indian player ever to win the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy after being named the ICC Cricketer of the Year besides the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year. Read more here.

Goodbye, my beloved Rs 500 note: An ode to the dearly departed

When it comes to kaala dhan, I have nothing to declare, except my regret. And, unlike the famous Oscar Wilde quip he probably never made, I really mean it.

I wish we had known and taken the bazaar gossip about demonetisation seriously, believed all those rumours about the new nuke-resistant, self-destructing, GPRS-enabled new Rs 2,000 notes. But, then, we suspended disbelief only for surgical strikes. I wish I knew, like Mikhail Gorbachev dismantling the Berlin Wall at Ronald Reagan’s plea that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be dismantling the black economy to Baba Ramdev‘s applause.

I wish I knew — I could have kept a piece of it, like a piece of the Berlin Wall. I could have buried it in a book like a leaf to look at wistfully in old age.

But, the last note went, without a warning, without a goodbye, without looking back even once, without a farewell. Like, well, you know the feeling, don’t you?

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

A wise man and his money are soon partying. It is their deserved destiny. So, the last Rs 500 note went wisely. It just left a hangover of nostalgia. A fool and his money, though, are soon parting.

And Modi has delivered the parting shot to all those who were foolish enough to miss the signs, to laugh at everyone that wears a khadau and wears bhagwa dhotis.

Banking transaction tax, the Baba chanted with every outgoing breath of his anulom, vilom before the 2014 General Election. We laughed.

“Declare voluntarily,” exhorted Arun Jaitley and his team till September. We laughed again, asking, “Who pays a 45 percent penalty?”

Now, par 200 percent. A fool and his black money are soon parting.

Let’s cooperate, build the nation, calls up my enthusiastic friend GP Goenka. He is a part-time trader and a full-time bookie, what we north Indians call a satoria.

After having accepted bets, managed betting books on the odds against anything — from who will win UP to how many dead bodies will come to a crematorium — for a lifetime, he is livid with the air of levity around Narendra Modi‘s action on black money. “Everybody with black money should suffer,” he says. You bet!

Newspapers are flooded with adulatory advertisements from builders the next morning. Having built their business on the ’70 percent kachcha, 30 percent pucca‘ philosophy, they are now ecstatic India is turning 100 percent white.

“What do you have to say about Modi now, ab bolo?” taunts an architect friend who takes a flat five percent commission on Rs 10 crore houses made by those with declared income of Rs 2 lakh.

With Rs 500 and 1,000 notes, irony also died on Tuesday night. (As did the great American dream).

When they burn all those gaddis, will they call it bonfire of hypocrisy?

You can’t withdraw money any more from banks, but there is no end to withdrawal symptoms.

I am stuck in a Mumbai hotel, three Rs 100 notes in my pocket and a debit card no ATM will accept till Friday, listening to the cawing of black crows.

No kaali peeli driver will take kaala dhan any more. Bars, markets, theatres have all, like in the WH Auden poem, decided to stop the clock, stop the dog from barking with a juicy bone, pack up the moon and dismantle the sun. For nothing now can ever come to any good with Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

Until a few days ago, I was looking forward to the tamasha of the Uttar Pradesh polls. Now, they will become such a low note affair. What will Mayawati do with all those garlands she gets on choosing the right candidates? Maybe she has a valid reason to choose candidates afresh. Start her poll pitch on a higher moral note, so to speak. Perhaps this is the end of the tiff in Mulayam’s Parivar. With the root cause gone, they too can start on a fresh note!

On a serious note, it belies convention, money market logic to rush in where economists fear to tread.

You just can’t suck 86 percent or so of currency in circulation out of the market and turn hard-earned cash into pieces of scrap. Abracadabra, gone.

What then is the idea behind statutory liquidity ratios, repo rates, reverse repo rates, rate cuts that are debated, argued for months? What then is the rocket science behind monetary policy?
How many people in rural India have easy access to banks, plastic money, ATMs? How many have enough valid notes to go through their lives with weddings, medical emergencies, constructions? Is this the return of tax raj?

In the long term, a lifetime of savings parked in real estate and gold will suffer. Who will buy those big expensive cars, build those lofty buildings, buy those expensive flats? Many traders who rely on cash circulation will just keel over. Consumption will fall, discretionary demand would vanish.

But, that, perhaps, is momentary pain. Some day, with the black economy, it will also be gone.

Only one regret will remain forever: You left without a goodbye. Now, I don’t have even a piece of you.

Rajnath Singh’s border sealing proposal is ‘sheer rhetoric’: Amarinder Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Congress Chief Amarinder Singh on Friday termed as “sheer rhetoric” Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s proposal to “seal” the India-Pakistan border by December 2018 and his statement reflected his ignorance about matters of national security. He also said that the International Border in Punjab was already well protected.”Rajnath’s statement is nothing more than sheer rhetoric since the Indo-Pak border here is already adequately sealed, with two-tier fencing and a flood-lit concrete area between the two fences,” Amarinder said in a statement.The sweeping statement made by him, without taking into account the unique topographical and geographical realities of the border in different regions of the country, reflects his ignorance about matters of national security, he added. The Congress leader said with the Punjab border being well insulated from incursions and intrusions, it was difficult to understand what the Home Minister means when he talks about “sealing” the Indo-Pak border.”Does he want to build concrete walls at the Punjab border?” he asked and added that the need of the hour was not to build walls but to create bridges. “Even the Berlin Wall had to be demolished in the interest of peace.”The PPCC chief alleged that the regressive policies of the Narendra Modi government are designed to take India back from its progressive path.

Crossing boundaries

Tens of thousands of Afghan and Pakistani migrants have brought their love of cricket to Germany, prompting the formation of dozens of new teams.

Almost two-thirds of Germans think Islam doesn’t belong to their country – poll | Reuters

BERLIN Almost two-thirds of Germans think Islam does not “belong” to their country, a survey showed on Thursday, indicating changing attitudes following militant Islamist attacks in Europe and the arrival of more than a million, mostly Muslim, migrants last year.

Former German president Christian Wulff sparked controversy in 2010 when he said Islam belonged to Germany, a comment repeated by Chancellor Angela Merkel last year.

Six years ago, 49 percent of Germans agreed with Wulff and 47 percent did not.

Thursday’s poll, carried out by Infratest dimap for broadcaster WDR, showed that the mood has shifted, with 60 percent now saying that Islam does not belong to Germany. It showed 34 percent thought it did belong.

Scepticism about the religion was greatest among older people, with 71 percent over the age of 64 believing Islam does not belong to the country.

Germany is home to around four million Muslims, about five percent of the total population, and unease over the religion is on the rise, especially in the wake of deadly Islamic State attacks in Brussels and Paris.

Earlier this month members of the anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD) backed an election manifesto that says Islam is not compatible with the constitution and calls for a ban on minarets and the burqa.

Just over half of Germans are concerned that the influence of Islam in Germany will become too strong due to the influx of refugees, the Infratest dimap poll showed.

Fears about an Islamist terrorist attack in Germany are also rife, with almost three-quarters of Germans worried about the possibility.

The survey of 1,003 Germans was conducted between May 2 and May 3.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Toby Davis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Merkel’s party suffers drubbing in German state votes | Reuters

BERLIN Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives lost out in two out of three regional state elections on Sunday as Germans gave a thumbs-down to her accommodating refugee policy with a big vote for the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD).

The poor showing in both Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate represented a worst-case scenario for Merkel, who has staked her legacy on her decision last year to open Germany’s doors to over 1 million migrants.

The backlash was also visible in Saxony-Anhalt in former East Germany, where Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) remained the largest party but the AfD grabbed 21.5 percent.

“We have fundamental problems in Germany that led to this election result,” said AfD chief Frauke Petry, whose party entered all three regional parliaments.

The result is a setback for Merkel just as she is trying to use her status as Europe’s most powerful leader to seal a European Union deal with Turkey to stem the tide of migrants.

She alarmed many EU leaders last week by agreeing a last-minute draft deal with Turkey to stop the migrant flow and demanding their support. Now weakened by the state polls, she must seek their backing again later this week to seal the deal.

In Baden-Wuerttemberg in the southwest, a CDU stronghold for more than 50 years before turning to a Green-led coalition with the SPD in 2011 after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, the Greens came home first with 32.5 percent. The CDU took 27.5 percent, according to exit polls on the broadcaster ZDF.

Even more damaging for the CDU was the result in Rhineland-Palatinate, the state of former chancellor Helmut Kohl.

There, the CDU’s Julia Kloeckner, who had positioned herself as a candidate to succeed Merkel one day, lost out to Social Democrat (SPD) incumbent state premier Malu Dreyer. The SPD won 37.5 percent of the vote to the CDU’s 33 percent, the ZDF exit poll indicated.

In Saxony-Anhalt, the CDU remained the biggest party on 30.5 percent, but the AfD grabbed 21.5 percent, even surpassing the SPD, Merkel’s coalition partner in Berlin. It was the first time the AfD had become the second-biggest party in any regional state.

Already represented in five of Germany’s 16 regional parliaments, the anti-immigrant party campaigned on slogans such as “Secure the borders” and “Stop the asylum chaos”.

Turnout in all three states was much higher than in 2011, rising by 5.7 percentage points in Baden-Wuerttemberg, by 9.7 points in Rhineland-Palatinate, and by 11.8 points in Saxony-Anhalt.

(Additional reporting by Joseph Nasr and Tina Bellon; Writing by Paul Carrel and Madeline Chambers; Editing by Kevin Liffey, Angus MacSwan and Peter Graff)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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