Current Affairs

Morning Brief: Arms Manufacturing Rules Relaxed; ISRO To Launch 30 Satellites In One Mission; Rajan As Fed Chief?

An Indian soldier salutes as he rides an Akash weapon system of air defence during India’s Republic Day parade in New Delhi. (ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.

Government Relaxes Arms Manufacturing Rules: In a move that will likely boost the Union government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, the Home Ministry has liberalised the rules to encourage investment in the manufacturing of arms, ammunition and weapon systems. The liberalised rules will promote employment generation in the field of manufacturing of arms and ammunition, said the ministry. Under the new rules, the licence granted for manufacturing will be valid for the life-time of the licensee company. The requirement of renewal of the licence every five years has been done away with. Similarly, the condition that small arms and light weapons produced by a manufacturer should be sold to the central government or the state governments with the prior approval of the Home Ministry has been done away with. The new rules came into effect on 27 October.

Kerala ‘Love Jihad’ Case: SC To Hear Hadiya Shafin In Open Court: The Supreme Court will meet Hadiya Shafin (Akhila Ashokan) – the 24-year-old at the centre of the alleged love jihad instance from Kerala — on 27 November in a bid to ascertain for itself whether she had converted to Islam and married Shafin Jahan of her own “volition and desire”. A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra directed Hadiya’s father to produce her in open court, shrugging off his plea for an in-camera hearing. Misra said the bench would “interact with the girl in open court to take a preliminary assessment of her mental state. If we suspect any indoctrination, this court has powers to direct her detailed examination by appropriate authorities.” “There is nothing in law that stops someone from falling in love and marrying a criminal. We will not send the girl with her husband after speaking with her. We want to know whether she acted on her own volition and desire,” the CJI added. “Let the NIA continue its probe.”

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ISRO To Launch 30 Satellites In Single Mission This December: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said it will launch 30 satellites in a single mission on board its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in December. The mission will be a combination of 25 nano satellites, three micro-satellites and one Cartosat satellite, along with “may be” one university satellite, ISRO officials said. “We are planning our next launch in the second half of December, all things are in place... It will be a satellite of Cartosat-2 series along with other co-passengers,” ISRO Chairman Kiran Kumar said. They said most of the co-passengers of Cartosat-2 series satellite would commercial satellites from foreign countries, including Finland and the US. On 31 August, India’s mission to launch its backup navigation satellite IRNSS-1H onboard PSLV-C39 ended in a failure after a technical fault on the final leg following a perfect launch.

IDFC-Shriram Merger Called Off: Following differences over valuation, IDFC Limited and Shriram Group on Monday called off their planned merger. “Accordingly, both parties have agreed to call off discussions on a potential merger and the exclusivity period pursuant to the CES agreement entered into between the concerned parties stands terminated with immediate effect,” the notification said. CES refers to confidentiality, exclusivity and standstill. “The decision to call off the deal is good for the shareholders of both the entities as it would have been value destructive,” said Reliance Securities banking analyst Ashutosh Mishra. IDFC said that despite best efforts, the two entities were not able to find common ground on a mutually acceptable swap ratio for the merger. IDFC management said that it will continue to look at buying or merging with other non-banking financial companies at the level of IDFC Bank.

RBI May Cut Interest Rates: According to a leading global brokerage, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is likely to slash interest rates at its 6 December policy review meeting as retail inflation remains muted. “We continue to expect the RBI Monetary Policy Committee to cut policy rates by 25 bps on 6 December, though the October MPC minutes sounded more hawkish than the actual policy,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a research note. The core Consumer Price Index (CPI) based inflation, adjusted for house rent allowance is moderating, and the HRA impact (post 7th Pay Commission), is largely “statistical”, it said. “We expect October CPI inflation to remain unchanged at 3.3 per cent as in September,” the global brokerage noted. The report further noted that “soft growth” numbers call for lower rates.

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American Newspaper Sees Rajan As Fed Chief: Former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan’s credentials have been widely acclaimed across the globe and an American weekly newspaper believes that he can be the chief of US Federal Reserve. Rajan, who served as RBI governor from September 2013 to August 2016, should be an ideal pick to head the Federal Reserve, US central bank, according to an article published by Barron’s. This comes at a time when US President Donald Trump is set to announce his pick for the US central bank. “Nowhere on the short list of potential candidates to lead the Federal Reserve is the current star among the world’s central bankers – someone who oversaw a sharp drop in inflation, the stabilisation of a currency, and a 50 per cent jump in stock prices,” said the article on Rajan. There have been precedents for central banks to be headed by the non-citizens such as Canadian-born Mark Carney at the Bank of England.

India-World Bank Sign Loan Deal For Rural Transformation Of Assam: A loan agreement worth $200 million for the Assam agribusiness and rural transformation project has been signed with the World Bank, the Finance Ministry announced on Monday. “The project will support Assam government to facilitate agri-business investments, increase agriculture productivity and market access among others,” the Finance Ministry said. It said the project will enable small farm holders to produce crops that are resilient to recurrent floods or droughts in the state. “The $200 million loan from International Bank for Reconstruction and Development has a seven-year grace period and a maturity of 16.5 years,” added the ministry. The World Bank will release its Doing Business report today (31 October).

Trump's Former Aides Charged With Conspiracy Against US And Money Laundering: Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and associate Rick Gates, were arrested on Monday and charged by investigators with conspiracy against the United States, money laundering and failing to register as foreign agents while another aide has pleaded guilty to lying about his Russia links. Manafort and Gates were indicted on 12 counts that included failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts,” the office of special counsel Robert Mueller said, adding the duo was “permitted to surrender themselves” to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which they did in the morning. But the indictment doesn’t reference the Trump campaign or make any allegations about coordination between the Kremlin and the president’s aides to influence the outcome of the election in Trump’s favour. The indictment does allege a criminal conspiracy was continuing through February 2017.

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Stop Romanticising Villages! For India To Become Great, Agrarian Feudal Order Has To Go: Savarkar had little time to romanticise the ‘timeless agrarian India’ and its idyllic village life. He wanted to transform it. Just like Dr B R Ambedkar, he argued for an industrial-urban India not return to some hoary past.

We hope you enjoyed reading our morning brief. Have a great day ahead!

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