Morning Brief: IMF Sees India Growth Revival In 2019; Security Tightened To Stop Rohingyas; Gas Trading Platform On Way
Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.
IMF Lowers India Growth Forecast, Sees 2019 Rebound: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lowered India’s growth forecast for 2017 and 2018, citing the lingering impact of demonetisation and disruption caused by the goods and services tax (GST), but expects a revival as structural reform bears fruit. The Indian economy will grow 6.7 per cent in financial year (FY)18 against 7.2 per cent estimated earlier, according to the latest edition of the IMF’s flagship World Economic Outlook. FY19 growth is pegged at 7.4 per cent against 7.7 per cent estimated earlier. This comes as global growth is set to pick up pace and China expands faster at 6.8 per cent, marginally ahead of India. According to the report, India is set to regain the tag of fastest-growing major economy in FY19 with China forecast to grow at 6.5 per cent.
Army Pushing For Infrastructure Upgrade Along China Border: After Doklam, the Indian Army is pushing for border infrastructure development in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh as part of a plan for "capability enhancement" along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC). This is one of the crucial issues on the agenda of the ongoing Army commanders' conference, which is being chaired by General Bipin Rawat. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman assured the military brass that she would "focus on capacity and capability development" and "closely monitor improvement in strategic infrastructure" while addressing the conference on Tuesday. The Army also needs full road connectivity to the four mountain passes of Niti, Lipulekh, Thangla-1 and Tsang-Chokla in Uttarakhand by 2020. There is also a proposal for "better command-and-control" of Army battalions and units spreading from the Karakoram Pass to Lipulekh.
Security Tightened Along Myanmar Border To Prevent Entry Of Rohingyas: Additional security has been deployed along the Myanmar border to stop the entry of Rohingya Muslims into India. A senior police official said on Tuesday that eight additional companies of Assam Rifles have been deployed along the Mizoram-Myanmar border to ensure that no Rohingyas entered the state from the neighbouring country. The vigil was tightened on the instructions of the Centre, he said. “Three companies of Assam Rifles included personnel from its battalion headquarters at Aizawl, Serchhip and Lunglei,” he said. The other five companies had personnel from Assam, Manipur and Nagaland, he added. The government has decided to deport Rohingya refugees from India. Members of the community have been fleeing from Myanmar to neighbouring countries in recent times after facing violence and persecution.
India To Launch Natural Gas Trading Platform Soon: Pradhan: Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has said that India will soon have a natural gas trading platform, which could lead to market-determined pricing of gas. “We will soon move the Cabinet to seek approval for setting up a gas trading platform,” he said. The minister also said that in the next 10 years, there will be scope for $300 billion worth of hydrocarbon projects in India. The government, he said, will also create a “think-tank” that will help achieve import reduction and transition to a gas-based economy. Pradhan said: “The gas exchange is in the interest of the Indian consumer. The world average of gas consumption is 24 per cent, while in India it is 6-7 per cent.” In future, all new production will have marketing freedom, Pradhan said.
Pakistan Using Divers To Smuggle Drugs: Intelligence: Intelligence sources have confirmed that trained divers are being used by narcotics smugglers from Pakistan to cross the International Border (IB) into Indian Punjab. This has come to light after the Border Security Force (BSF), which guards a 553 km (518 km land and 33 km riverine) stretch of the IB along Punjab, seized 729 kg narcotics (mostly heroin) worth hundreds of crores in the past three years. The new method to pump drugs into the state was discovered during the interrogation of a peddler, who said his consignment was delivered to him by a diver. Intelligence officers said specially trained divers, equipped with complete gear, were using Satluj and Ravi rivers to enter Punjab.
Boko Haram And Islamic State Using Sex Slaves To Lure Members, Says Report: Terror outfits Boko Haram and Islamic State are using sex slaves to lure and retain members, a UK-based think-tank has said. These groups may resort more to such practices as they lose ground militarily, the Henry Jackson Society said in its report. "Propaganda on sexual slavery serves as incentive for new recruits and foreign fighters, with the promise of wives and sex slaves acting as a 'pull factor'," researcher Nikita Malik said in the report. Boko Haram have abducted thousands of girls and women in northeast Nigeria with many used as cooks, sex slaves, and even suicide bombers. Similarly, thousands of women and girls were abducted, tortured and sexually abused by Islamic State fighters after the militants rounded up Yazidis in the village of Kocho, near Sinjar in 2014.
Pakistan Building Berlin Wall-Style Fence Along Afghan Border: Worried by Islamist attacks, Pakistan is building a Berlin Wall-style fence to prevent militants criss-crossing the porous 2,500 km frontier along the disputed colonial-era Durand line. The fence, which Kabul opposes, will run down the middle of so-called “divided villages” where few people have passports and Pashtun tribal loyalty often trumps allegiance to the state. Pakistani officials in Baluchistan are now working on shifting Pakistani citizens in the divided villages to their side of the fence and say security worries override concerns that it will break up communities. Pakistan, in anticipation of the fence, plans to build more than 100 new border posts and Islamabad is recruiting in excess of 30,000 soldiers to man them, according to a senior military source.
Catalan Leader Steps Back From Declaring Immediate Independence From Spain: Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont on Tuesday proclaimed the region’s independence from Spain but said its effects would be suspended to allow for talks with the Madrid government. “I assume the mandate that Catalonia should become an independent state in the form of a republic ... I propose suspending the effects of the declaration of independence to undertake talks to reach an agreed solution,” Puigdemont told the regional parliament in Barcelona. The Spanish government has said any unilateral declaration of independence would be illegal and has promised action “to restore law and democracy” if the parliament of the autonomous and affluent northeastern region presses ahead.
MUST READ OPINIONS AND COLUMNS
The Case For A Rural Stimulus: The rural distress caused by a decline in commodity prices and the drought of 2014 contributed to the worsening of an already fragile rural economy. It is clear that not only has the government failed to do anything to revive the sagging rural demand, it has also refused to acknowledge the demand problem.
Suresh Prabhu’s litmus test: Marrakesh to Buenos Aires? For Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu, Marrakesh provided an opportunity to state what the Modi government’s priorities for Buenos Aires are. It remains to be seen how Prabhu negotiates at the WTO meet in Buenos Aires when the threat for multilateral trade liberalisation comes from the US.
Riding On Festive Cheer: Be it their first car, a new refrigerator, painting and doing up homes, or going on a holiday, many prefer to wait for the festive season to indulge. Data indicates that online shopping and travel bookings, two- and four-wheelers, smartphones and jewellery brands scale up their messaging on TV during the festive period.
A New Industrial Policy For Bharat: Any industrial policy design must note its linkages with agriculture and services policies at a granular level, and with trade and competition at a broader level. India’s new industrial policy must focus on improving overall competitiveness and avoid the lure of protectionism.
Kannur’s Jana Raksha Yatra: Turning The Tide On Communists: Jana Raksha Yatra in Kannur marks a radical shift in the political statement the BJP is making in Kerala.
We hope you enjoyed reading our morning brief. Have a great day ahead!
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