Current Affairs

Morning Brief: Fuel Price Reform To Continue: Pradhan; Air India To Seek Loan; Paris To Host 2024 Olympics

Fuel price reforms to continue. (GettyImages)

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

Fuel Price Spike Temporary, Says Dharmendra Pradhan: Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Wednesday ruled out government intervention to disrupt the daily revision in petrol and diesel prices despite Rs 7.3 per litre spike in rates since July, saying the reform will continue. Terming the criticism of spike in rates as unfair, he said the drop in prices for over a fortnight after the daily price revision was introduced on June 16 has been ignored and only a "temporary" phenomenon of rising trend is being highlighted. The excise duty hike resulted in the government's excise mop-up more than doubling to Rs 242,000 crore in 2016-17 from Rs 99,000 crore in 2014-15. The windfall from the excise duty hikes helped the government bridge its budgetary deficit.

Air India To Seek Rs 3,250 Crore Loans For ‘Urgent’ Capital Needs: To meet “urgent working capital requirements”, national carrier Air India is planning to take short-term loans of up to Rs 3,250 crore. On Wednesday, the carrier issued a tender document, in which it said it is “looking for government guarantee backed INR short-term loans totalling up to Rs 3,250 crore in the first phase to meet its urgent working capital requirements by 25 September 2017”. The tenure of the loan will be one year and the amount is proposed to be drawn in two or three tranches. As part of efforts to revive the loss-making Air India, a ministerial panel is working on the modalities for strategic disinvestment of the carrier and its five subsidiaries. Against this backdrop, the airline seeking short-term loans assumes significance as it implies possible funds crunch.

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Validate Bank Accounts, Government Tells NGOs: The Union Home Ministry has directed as many as 1,222 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to validate the bank accounts in which they receive foreign contribution. In a circular, the ministry said all NGOs registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) should receive foreign donations in a single designated bank account. “Non-compliance may lead to penal actions as per FCRA 2010,” it said. The Narendra Modi government, which has tightened the rules for NGOs, has already cancelled registration of more than 10,000 non-governmental organisations in the last three years for alleged non-filing of annual returns as mandated in the FCRA. Currently around 22,000 FCRA registered NGOs are operating in the country.

Railways Allows m-Aadhaar As Identity Proof For Travel: Rail passengers can now show m-Aadhaar, a digital version of the Aadhaar card, as proof of identity while travelling in any reserved class, said the Railways Ministry. The m-Aadhaar is a mobile app launched by the Unique Identification Authority of India on which a person can download his/her Aadhaar card. It can, however, be downloaded only on the mobile number to which Aadhaar has been linked. "M-Aadhaar when shown by the passenger on his/her mobile after entering the password should be accepted as a proof of identity for undertaking journey in any reserved class over Indian Railways," the ministry said.

Post Offices To Offer Payments Bank Service: Aiming to create India’s second-largest payments bank in terms of reach, India Post Payments Bank is gearing up to provide its financial services through all of 1.55 lakh post offices and 3 lakh employees by the end of 2018. “We will have post bank footprint in every district by March 2018, and before the end of the calendar year, all 1.55 lakh post offices and every postman and grameen dak sevak, which is another 3 lakh, will be equipped with a device which will provide full range of payment solutions that we will be hosting,” India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) chief executive officer A P Singh said. IPPB, according to Singh, will use Aadhaar as payment address of an individual, indicating that the postal bank may bring the transaction charge close to one paisa. He said that similar to State Bank of India that was created to take banking to people, IPPB is going to take digital payments to masses.

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India To Send Relief Materials For Rohingyas In Bangladesh: India will lend a helping hand to Bangladesh, days after Dhaka briefed New Delhi about the problems faced by it due to the influx of refugees from Myanmar following the ethnic violence in the Buddhist-majority nation. “An Indian aircraft will carry the first consignment of humanitarian assistance tomorrow... It will land at Chittagong airport at 11am,” an Indian high commission spokesman said. Indian high commissioner in Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla would hand over the relief materials to Bangladesh’s Road Transport and Bridges Minister and Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader. According to the United Nations estimates, more than 379,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state into Bangladesh since 25 August when a fresh wave of violence erupted.

JNU-DU Among Organisations That Can't Receive Foreign Funds: Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Delhi University (DU) are among a host of higher education institutions which have been barred by the Union government from receiving foreign funds. The Union Home Ministry has cancelled their registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 (FCRA) as they have reportedly failed to file their annual returns for the last five years. Among the other organisations whose FCRA licences have been revoked are: the Supreme Court Bar Association, Indian Council of Medical Research, Indira Gandhi National Open University, Panjab University, Gargi College (Delhi), Lady Irwin College (Delhi), Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre, Gandhi Peace Foundation, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, Armed Forces Flag Day Fund, School Of Planning and Architecture (Delhi) and FICCI Socio Economic Development Foundation. In May, as a one-time measure, all NGOs were given one month to file their annual returns without payment of penalty.

Paris To Host Olympics In 2024, Los Angeles 2028: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) named Paris and Los Angeles as hosts for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics on Wednesday. Paris, which has hosted two previous Olympics, will stage the event 100 years after its last Games in 1924 while Los Angeles will organise its third Games after 1932 and 1984. Paris and Los Angeles emerged from the initial bidding race for the 2024 Games after a number of cities withdrew citing waning public support and concerns over budget. Hamburg, Rome, Budapest and Boston all fell by the wayside during the competition, reflecting the political difficulties in persuading voters that staging the Olympics is worth the multi-billion-dollar price tag.

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SWARAJYA SPECIAL

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Why Self-Reliance In Defence Must Top Nirmala Sitharaman’s Things To Do List: In a redefined role, the Minister of Defence must take up the responsibility of fast-tracking indigenisation of crucial defence platforms, besides giving a push to the scientific programmes of the ministry and sprucing up research development.

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

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