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Gulf crisis :Saudi’s move to curtail Iran’s influence in the Middle East



Salman bin Abdulaziz

With an aim to establish Sunni dominated regional order ,the Gulf crisis was initiated by Saudi Arabia and subsequently followed by Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, and the UAE to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar.

Saudi Kingdom took this strategic step after U.S. President Donald Trump visited Riyadh  and assured Sunni nations Washingston’s  support as Riyadh cited concerns for terrorism -an issue which the international community has been grappling for years and is yearning to eliminate this menace.This is actually a battle between Shiite Iran and Sunni – bloc led by Saudi for seizing the leadership role in the Middle East and North AFrica.
Qatar is the world’s largest LNG exporter, and an attempt by Arab countries to isolate it over accusations of attempts to destabilize the region by supporting terrorism .

It is pertinent to mention that both Saudi and Qatar are autocratic monarcies  and observe  different types of Wahhabism .UAE though adhereing to Wahabism is against Saudi style of supporting civil wars that will destroy its business .
Giving a filip to Saudi’s interest,U.S. President Donald Trump accused Qatar of ‘sponsoring terrorism at a very high level’and said it’s time that Qatar should stop funding terrorism, even as US Cabinet officials and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said blockade  by Gulf nations is hurting the campaign against ISIS.

Meanwhile ,Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised to continue support to Qatar amid a diplomatic row engulfing the Gulf state.

“Now, there are ones who are bothered because of us being together with our Qatari brothers or sending and exporting food supplies, drugs etc – no matter if they are in hunger or thirst – should excuse us. We will continue to give all our support to Qatar,” Russian Today quoted Recep Tayyip Erdogan  saying at an iftar  with members of his Justice and Development (AK) Party in Istanbul.

Erdogan said he had never witnessed Doha supporting terrorism, adding Turkey “will continue to give all kinds of support to Qatar”.

Erdogan has called for dialogue and negotiation among members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to ease the unprecedented diplomatic crisis that has erupted after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt severed diplomatic ties and traffic links with resource-rich emirate, accusing Doha of sponsoring and funding terrorist organizations.

Turkish parliament has thus  passed legislation on Wednesday permitting the deployment of troops to a Turkish military base in Qatar. Ankara will also train the Qatari police force.Russia and Kuwait  are making efforts to try to resolve the escalating crisis between Qatar and several Arab countries.

arti bali

By : Arti Bali

Senior Journalist


BJP inadvertently exposes its game of influencing voters

Controversial firm Cambridge Analytica used to conduct psychological war by harvesting millions of Facebook profiles without authorization and then further used them to build a powerful software program to predict and influence voters at the ballot box.



Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has inadvertently exposed the Bharatiya Janata Party’s scandal of influencing voters through Ovleno Business Intelligence (OBI)—an Indian affiliate of Cambridge Analytica firm.Mere a tweet by Manish Tewari seeking enquiry by the Election Commission on the claim by Cambridge Analytics about giving services during elections and campaigns in India  compelled BJP minister to call press conference to save and clear themselves of the charges and rather accused that Congress had links with Cambridge Analytica.

Congress media in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala Surjewala said, “Desperate times call for desperate press conferences. BJP’s factory of fake news has produced another fake news today. Such baseless allegations show the character of the party, Indian National Congress or the Congress President has never used or never hired the services of a company called Cambridge Analytica.”

British data analytics and election strategy firm Cambridge Analytica (CA), which is under a scanner in the UK and the US for using Facebook to influence voters in the US presidential election and the vote on Brexit in UK, is also involved in a scandal involving the 2010 Bihar Assembly election and claimed its client “achieved a landslide victory.

Controversial firm Cambridge Analytica used to conduct psychological war by harvesting millions of Facebook profiles without authorization and then further used them to build a powerful software program to predict and influence voters at the ballot box.

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon has been allegedly accused of compiling user data to target American voters during the presidential election for US President Donald Trump. In the same manner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi allegedly used the same psychological warfare tool in 2010 and in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

After Information Technology and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has alleged that Congress president Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party had links with Cambridge Analytica, Congress media in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala countered the Minister saying, “Fake Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is presenting fake agenda. The truth is contrary to this. The BJP and JDU used Cambridge Analytica. The BJP hired the Indian business partner of Cambridge Analytica — OBI during Delhi Assembly election and used its services. Apart from this, the firm also involved in the party’s Mission 272+ (BJP’s slogan for 2014 general election) as an additional support in Haryana, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Delhi”, Surjewala added.

Surejewala stated that information available on the website of Ovleno Business Intelligence (OBI)—an Indian affiliate of CA’s parent company Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL) firm also furnished a constituency-wise database to BJP candidates for state and national elections.

The firm used to collect data about people who are on Facebook through an app and target voters with personalised political advertisements, in the same manner as television, radio and print.

Prasad even issued a sharp warning to the social media giant, saying the government would take ‘stringent action”, including “summoning” its CEO Mark Zuckerberg to India, in case of any data theft of Indians.

Meanwhile, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has admitted mistakes and outlined steps to protect user data in light of a privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm. As Cambridge Analytica is accused of improperly using the data on behalf of political clients.He said that Facebook has a “responsibility” to protect its users’ data and if it fails, “we don’t deserve to serve you.”

As both BJP and the Congress accuse each other of data theft and of having used Cambridge Analytica’s services to swing elections in the country.

Ravi Shankar Prasad made a bizarre statement when he said that Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter followers had risen recently and wondered if  Cambridge Analytica was responsible for this “fake popularity”.

Prasad became so desperate that he made out of the context statement as Cambridge Analytica does not work for Twitter and there is also a report viral on online media about Prime Minister Narendra Modi of having 60% fake twitter followers. So, by making these charges what he is trying to say?

But the most significant aspect in this entire episode is how India is going to fix the loopholes so that no political party is able to covertly or overtly able to influence the electoral process for 2019 Lok Sabha elections.


Arti Bali

Sr Journalist

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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24% scheme performance indicators of Delhi government ‘off track’



Manish Sisodia

An average 23.7 per cent of output and outcome indicators for various programmes and schemes of the Delhi government departments were “off track” till December last year, analysis of a report tabled in the Delhi Assembly on Wednesday suggested.

The 23.7 per cent of indicators were off track for schemes and programmes of 14 major departments, including Health, Social Welfare and Education, for which funds were allocated in the Delhi Budget 2017-18, according to an IANS analysis of Status Report of the Outcome Budget 2017-18.

The Status Report was presented by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.

In the report, the indicators — output and outcome of schemes and programmes — of a department were used to denote whether their schemes were on or off track. Here off track implies the performance or progress of indicators of major schemes of a particular department (till December 2017) was less than 70 per cent of the expected progress.

With 45 per cent indicators off track, the Public Works Department’s schemes performed worst, followed by the Transport Department and the Environment Department, each having 40 per cent of indicators for schemes off track.

The departments whose schemes performed well include the Directorate of Education with 89 per cent indicators of schemes on-track, followed by the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) with 87 per cent schemes on track and the Delhi Jal Board with 82 per cent programmes on track.

Sisodia said that idea behind the Outcome Budget was to bring a high degree of accountability and transparency in public spending.

The Outcome Budget, which coveres 34 departments of the government, was termed as the “first of its kind” in the country.

Citing an example of Mohalla Clinics, Sisodia said a regular budget tells only about the money allocated for the construction of clinics, while Outcome Budget is about the number of clinics built and the number of people expected to benefit from it.

The Outcome Budget measures each scheme using two indices: output and outcome.

The infrastructure created or services offered due to spending on a particular scheme is termed as output, whereas the number of people benefited and how is termed as outcome.

(Nikhil M. Babu can be contacted at [email protected])

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Modi Govt officially confirms death of 39 Indians in Iraq



It took four years for the Modi government to confirm the death of 39 Indian workers who were abducted by the terror organisation ISIS in June 2014 from Mosul in Iraq. The grieving families of massacred Indians are in pain and agony against the government over not informing them first directly rather External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj made a suo moto statement in the Parliament.

This insensitivity of the government has made the victims’ families furious as they claimed that they had met the Union Minister Swaraj 11 to 12 times but were given false assurance that according to their sources the missing Indians were alive and Harjit Masih, the lone survivor, is a liar.

The government came under a direct attack from the Congress as it termed the government of crossing all limits of “insensitivity, inhumanity, and being merciless” and politicising the issue.

The government met the families and gave misleading assurances in front of cameras so as to give an impression that government is doing more than enough for searching the 39 construction workers.

“All the 39 Indians abducted by the Islamic State in Mosul in Iraq three years ago are dead and their bodies have been recovered, said Swaraj in the Rajya Sabha. Their identities were established through DNA testing and their bodies recovered from a village called Badosh- northwest of Mosul, she said.

Indian and Iraqi officials did not disclose details of when and how the victims were killed.

Swaraj said the mass grave had exactly 39 bodies, with distinctive features like long hair, non-Iraqi shoes, and IDs. The bodies were then sent to Baghdad for DNA testing.

DNA testing by Martyrs Foundation has established the identity of 38 Indians while there has been 70 percent matching of the DNA for the 39th person, she said.

Whereas Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been boasting off for assisting foreign countries by evacuating 1,947 foreign nationals from 48 countries from Yemen.

When can the government not promise the safety of Indian citizens at home and abroad how it can brag about assisting foreigners?

There are some serious questions that need to be answered by the government as Why did the Modi government took four years to confirm the death of 39 abducted Indians?

Why was Masih’s revelation about the status of missing Indians was rejected despite confirmation from Bangladesh sources?. Harjit Masih, an Indian national who was also captured in Mosul and escaped, had stated in November 2014 that the other workers had been shot and killed.

Sushma has dismissed the allegations that the lone survivor, Harjit Masih, who escaped from Iraq’s Mosul, was harassed and kept in a protective custody.

While addressing the media on the issue of 39 Indians killed in Mosul, Swaraj said, “It is baseless that Harjit Masih was harassed, he was kept in protective custody. I had said this in Parliament earlier.”

Why did they give false hopes to the families’ and misleading statements to the people of India?

The Government gave no logical explanation, other than the fact that the government wanted DNA proof.

Instead of bragging about their floated schemes, Prime Minister Modi should list out the shortcomings of his government and should think of providing compensation to the victim’ families. He should rather learn to be truthful and own up to his government failures.


Arti Bali

Sr Journalist


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