Morning Brief: Day Of Voters’ Verdict; Foreign Funds Invest $30 Billion; Call For Radical Education Reforms

by Swarajya Staff - Dec 18, 2017 06:24 AM +05:30 IST
Morning Brief: Day Of Voters’ Verdict; Foreign Funds Invest $30 Billion; Call For Radical Education ReformsPeople take part in Bharatiya Janata Party, left, and Congress rallies.

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

Gujarat And Himachal Pradesh: Day Of Polls Verdict: Voters in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh will know which party will rule the states for the next five years by this afternoon. The counting of votes will begin at 8 am in both the states. Exit polls have given the Bharatiya Janata Party a comfortable edge in Gujarat, where it is predicted to retain power, and in Himachal Pradesh where it is expected to dethrone Congress. The results, which will forecast the fortunes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi 15 months ahead of Lok Sabha polls, either way, will have a huge impact on national politics. It would set the tone for the assembly elections in mid-2018, including in Karnataka, while also indicating whether Modi would think of advancing the Lok Sabha elections by six to seven months, as speculated by some quarters.

India Railways Gives Green Signal For Rs 12,000 Crore Upgrade Of Accident-Prevention System: A Rs 12,000 crore proposal to equip electric locomotives with the latest European train protection system was given the green light by the Indian Railways. The Railway Board cleared the proposal to equip 6,000 electric locos with European Train Control System (ETCS) Level-II to help drivers (pilots) – to prevent rail accidents, a senior Railway Ministry said. The Board also decided to install the ETCS Level-II system on the entire 9,054-km-long golden quadrilateral route connecting the four metros to make it a fully accident-free corridor. The entire project to ensure ETCS Level-II compliance is expected to cost around Rs 12,000 crore. With the implementation of ETCS Level-II, the balise fitted on the track for communicating the status of signals are no longer required.

Airtel May Be Fined For Misusing Aadhaar Details: An official of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has confirmed that Bharti Airtel may have to pay a fine for the alleged violation of rules on using Aadhaar for its electronic know-your-customer (e-KYC) verification process. The country's top telecom operator has been temporarily suspended from using Aadhaar to authenticate connections and open new payment bank accounts by UIDAI. The penalty will be based on the number of days for which the rules were violated and could run upwards of Rs 2 crore, the UIDAI official said. "According to the Aadhaar Act, the penalty is a few lakhs for each day of violation," he said. "A notice has already been sent to the company and a final amount will be decided after PwC — which has been engaged by us —finishes its audit." UIDAI had sent a notice to the company in September after receiving complaints from citizens that it was opening payment bank accounts without the explicit consent of users.

Foreign Funds Flock To Indian Markets, Invest $30 Billion In 2017: As the year draws to a close, the Indian stock market seems to have regained its status as one of the most favoured destinations for foreign portfolio investors (FPIs). Foreign investors are flocking to the Indian capital markets in a big way with a net inflow of over $30 billion (Rs 2 lakh crore) of so-called ‘hot money’ in 2017, with equities alone getting over $8 billion – an amount bigger than the cumulative investment of the previous two years. They have taken their net investment position in equities so far in 2017 to Rs 55,000 crore – the highest in three years after Rs 20,500 crore in 2016 and Rs 17,800 crore in 2015. However, this remains a far cry from the heady levels seen earlier – Rs 97,000 crore in 2014, Rs 1.13 lakh crore in 2013 and Rs 1.28 lakh crore in 2012. However, a sharper turnaround was seen in 2017 in terms of FPI inflows into debt markets where the net investments have soared to a staggering Rs 1.5 lakh crore ($23 billion) after a net outflow of about Rs 43,600 crore in 2016.

NIA Files Case Against Five Kerala Men For Supporting Islamic State: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) said on Sunday that it has lodged a case against five alleged Islamic State (IS) sympathisers, hailing from Kerala’s Kannur district. The central probe agency said it took over the case from the Kerala police, which had booked the five men in October. The five accused are – Midhilaj (26), Abdul Rasak (34), Rashid M V (24), Manaf Rahman (42) and Hamsa U K (57). The case was registered under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for “being members of the proscribed terrorist organisation, IS/Daesh, and for supporting the organisation by travelling out of India to join the terrorist organisation in Syria and fight on its behalf.” Some of the accused, NIA sources said, had been activists of the Popular Front of India. According to them, one of the suspects used fake passport to move out of India while one of them is suspected to have died fighting.

J&K To SC: Hindus Not A Minority In The State, Welfare Schemes Only For ‘Needy’: Jammu and Kashmir’s Peoples Democratic Party and Bharatiya Janata Party coalition government told the Supreme Court that it does not recognise Hindus as a “minority” in the state as it goes by the Centre’s national list of minorities. “The benefits flowing out of the scheme prepared by the Central government are targeted to the needy and meritorious beneficiaries of the minority community as notified by the Centre for Jammu and Kashmir, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Punjab and Lakshwadeep,” the affidavit submitted by the state government said. The J&K affidavit referred to a Central government notification of 1993 that lists Muslims as a minority. The other minority groups, as per the document, are Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Zoroastrians. In 2014, the Jain community was added to this list.

Jaitley Calls For Radical Reforms In Education Sector: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday called for radical reforms in the judicial and education systems of the country. “Radical reforms are needed in our judicial and educational systems. Reforms have been very belated in these two areas,” Jaitley said, speaking at the 14th convocation ceremony of Symbiosis International (Deemed University). He said every effort must be made to ensure that the millions of youth in the country were trained well, so that they became the future leaders in all walks of life. “This is the best way to utilise our demographic dividend,” he said, adding that the government alone could not create enough jobs. In this context, Jaitley said the private sector needed to do more to train people and make them skilled and added, “Otherwise, our demographic dividend can become a liability.”

NIA To Seek Red Corner Notice Against Zakir Naik From Interpol: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) will file a fresh request before the Interpol for issuing Red Corner Notice (RCN) against controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, after its previous plea was rejected on the grounds that the agency had not filed any charge sheet against him, officials said on Sunday. They said that since a charge sheet has now been filed in a special court in Mumbai, the NIA will move the Interpol for a Red Corner Notice against Naik. Naik is accused of spreading hatred by his provocative speeches, funding terrorists and laundering several crores of rupees over the years. The Centre has already banned his NGO and taken his TV channel off air. He fled from India on 1 July 2016, after one of the terrorists involved in an attack on a cafe in Dhaka claimed he was inspired by his speeches on waging jihad.

MUST READ OPINIONS AND COLUMNS

Indian Politics Needs To Go Beyond Verbal Duels: Why don’t our politicians realise that whatever they do or say in the digital age is recorded for posterity?

Growth In Gujarat Hasn’t Been Confined To 1 Per Cent Of Population: The proportion of population living below the poverty line in Gujarat fell from 32.5 per cent in 2004-05 to 17 per cent in 2011-12. Therefore, benefits of growth in Gujarat have not confined to just top 1 per cent of the population, or to five-ten industrialists.

Bankrupt Corporations Don’t Need Protection: We should object to not only the ‘bail-in’ clause of the FRDI Bill, but also to anything that is an unjustified drag on the system.

SWARAJYA SPECIAL

Kabul And Zabul: How Two Kingdoms Fought Together To Protect India: The courage and grit of the people of two Afghan provinces kept invading Arab forces at bay.

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

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