Current Affairs

Morning Brief: Boost For Skill India Mission; Aarushi Murder Case Ruling Today; Saeed’s Political Dreams Hit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a Skill India event.

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

Cabinet Nod For Rs 6,655 Crore Schemes To Boost Skill India Mission: In a major boost to Skill India Mission, the Union cabinet on Wednesday approved two schemes envisaging an investment of Rs 6,655 crore and gave nod to a proposal to send 3 lakh youth to Japan for on-job training. Briefing reporters about the Cabinet meeting, Union Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the two schemes Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) and Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE) will be supported by World Bank. SANKALP and STRIVE are outcome focused schemes marking a shift in government's implementation strategy in vocational education and training from inputs to results. Pradhan said Indian recruits will receive training in Japan for a period of three to five years. They will get accommodation and job opportunities in Japan.

Prime Minister's Economic Panel Against Stimulus: The newly set up Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council (EAC) on Wednesday warned against deviating from the fiscal consolidation path as the government is considering a stimulus package to kick-start a stuttering economy. In its first meeting, EAC Chairman Bibek Debroy said: “The fiscal consolidation exercise should not be deviated from.” The EAC is the second high-level body which has advised against a stimulus. Last week, Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel said the government should be very cautious in its fiscal actions at the moment when the combined deficit of Centre and states has reached 6 per cent. Debroy outlined 10 priority areas on which the EAC will focus in the coming months. These are economic growth, fiscal framework, employment and job creation, monetary framework, public expenditure, institutions of economic governance, agriculture and animal husbandry, informal sector and its integration with formal sector.

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Cleric Slams Draft Haj Policy, Says Equality Should Start With Man Bearing Child: A Muslim cleric in Maharashtra has accused the Union government of adding to the woes of Muslims in the country while slamming a draft Haj policy prepared by a committee appointed by the Centre that has recommended allowing women above 45 to undertake the pilgrimage without a Mehram (male relative) in a group of at least four. "The suggestion to allow women to go without a Mehram is against Islam. This government, rather than trying to understand Islam and bringing relief to people, is increasing the problems of Muslims," said Gulzar Azmi, secretary of Jamiat Ulema, Maharashtra unit. The proposed change regarding women will fail as the government of Saudi Arabia will not issue visa to such women, he claimed. "If this government wishes to bring equality between men and women, they should start with child-bearing. Why cannot the man and woman be pregnant for four-and-half months each? Why are they only targeting those who undertake Haj," said the cleric.

Aarushi Murder Case: Allahabad HC Likely To Deliver Verdict Today: The Allahabad High Court is likely to deliver its verdict today on an appeal filed by dentist couple, Rajesh and Nupur Talwar, challenging their conviction for the murder of their teenage daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj. The couple were convicted for the double-murder and sentenced to life imprisonment by a special Central Bureau of Investigation court in Ghaziabad in November 2013. A division bench of the high court, comprising justices B K Narayana and A K Mishra, had reserved its judgement on September 7 on an appeal filed by the dentist couple, fixing 12 October as the date for the verdict. On 15 May 2008 Aarushi, barely eight days short of her 14th birthday, was found dead in her bedroom with her throat slit in Noida's Jalvayu Vihar. The main suspect was Hemraj, who was missing early morning. In a sensational twist, his body was recovered from the terrace of the house two days later.

World Bank Lowers India’s Growth Forecast: India’s economic momentum has been affected by disruptions from the withdrawal of banknotes and uncertainties around the goods and services tax, the World Bank said in its latest report. As a result, growth is expected to slow from 8.6 per cent in 2015 to 7 per cent in 2017. Sound policies around balancing public spending with private investment could accelerate growth to 7.3 per cent by 2018, the World Bank said in its South Asia Economic Focus, a biannual economic update. The International Monetary Fund yesterday also lowered India's growth projection to 6.7 per cent in 2017, 0.5 percentage points less than its previous two forecasts and slower than China's 6.8 per cent.

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Direct Tax Collections Jump 16 Per Cent To Rs 3.86 Lakh Crore: India’s net direct tax collections for April-September, the first half of the current financial year, grew 15.8 per cent from last year to Rs 3.86 lakh crore, data released by Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) showed. This amounts to 39.4 per cent of the total budget estimate for direct taxes for 2017-18. The rise in direct tax collections was primarily driven by a 11.5 per cent growth in advance tax collections that were recorded at Rs 1.77 lakh crore up to 30 September. The growth in advance tax, however, has been slower than during the April-September period last year, when it had recorded an increase of 12.12 per cent. Advance tax collections till September stood at Rs 1.77 lakh crore, reflecting a growth of 11.5 per cent over the corresponding period a year ago.

Madhya Pradesh Declares 13 Districts As Drought-Hit: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has declared 13 districts as drought-hit this year. These include Sidhi, Vidisha, Indore, Panna, Sagar, Satna, Shivpuri, Tikamgarh, Bhind, Ashohnagar, Damoh, Chhatarpur and Gwalior. Apart from 13 districts, 12 tehsils from other districts have also been declared drought affected, agriculture department principal secretary Rajesh Rajora said. “We have to send the complete list of the drought-hit areas to the Central government by 30 October,” he said. State government has been worried over the scanty rainfall this year. In the Krishi cabinet meeting chaired by Chouhan earlier, he directed officials to prepare short term emergency schemes for areas being affected by scanty rainfall as well as no rainfall.

Hafiz Saeed’s Political Ambitions Dashed: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday rejected an application for registration of Milli Muslim League (MML), an offshoot of Hafiz Saeed's banned Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), as a political party after the Interior Ministry raised objections over its links with the terrorist groups. The ECP rejected the application after a hearing and asked the party to get clearance from the Interior Ministry which, through a letter, had asked the election commission not to register MML due to its ties to banned terrorist outfits. In a detailed letter last month, the ministry advised the ECP to ban the newly formed MML as it was associated with Saeed, who carries a $10 million US bounty on his head. Saeed's JuD has already been declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the United States in June 2014.

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MUST READ OPINIONS AND COLUMNS

A ‘Regulatory Lab’ For Financial Inclusion: Regulators must move away from the drawn out consultation and white paper process. It would allow innovators to test new fintech products and services in a controlled, yet live, environment.

Three Scenarios For The Global Economy: The risks of muddling through go far beyond mediocre economic performance. Will the recent growth spurt continue over the next few years or is the world experiencing a temporary cyclical upswing?

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Digital Platforms Mainstream Regional Content: Nearly 75 per cent of the new internet customers are coming from tier 2 and tier 3 towns. And 70-80 per cent of those want to consume content in their own language. Print and TV have demonstrated that consumers want to consume media in their preferred language when it’s available.

The Challenge Of Managing Currency: The global financial system would work better if the rules of engagement were more transparent. Excessive exchange rate volatility could affect investment and growth possibilities in tradable sectors.

SWARAJYA SPECIAL

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Dalit Priests Are A Welcome Development, But What Did Marxists Have To Do With It? Social reformers in Kerala worked to induct priests from all Hindu communities, with religious organisations taking this practice forward. Today when the Marxists are praised for the appointment of Dalit priests, it can only be said they have taken credit for something they never did.

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

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