Morning Brief: Jaitley Hints At More Bank Funding; Hindu Homes Attacked In Bangladesh; Aadhaar Model For Morocco
Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.
More Funds On Way For State-Owned Banks, Says Jaitley: The Union government has decided to inject more capital in state-owned banks to strengthen the banking system and spur economic growth, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Sunday. Last month, the government had unveiled a staggering Rs 2.11 lakh crore two-year road map to bolster NPA-hit public sector banks, which includes recapitalisation bonds, budgetary support and equity dilution. Addressing heads of state-owned banks at 'PSB Manthan' in Gurugram, Jaitley said the government has decided to put in more capital from the Budget, through bonds and banks' equity expansion and "therefore, it is the country which is virtually going to pay to keep the banking system in good health". He further said one of the focus areas banks have taken up is to support small businesses because the sector creating jobs and giving boost to the economy has no access to international finance or bond market.
States Dragging Feet On Cutting VAT On Fuel: The Union government’s move to get states to cut value added tax (VAT) on fuel seems to have stalled with only a handful agreeing to reduce the tax to ease the burden of rising global oil prices on consumers. Only five states – Gujarat, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand – pruned VAT on fuels after the Centre early last month shifted the onus on state governments by slashing excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 2 per litre to shield consumers from nearly 29 per cent rise in oil prices and tame inflation. Other states have been reluctant to heed the Centre's plea. Bihar, where the BJP is part of the government in alliance, and Left-ruled Kerala have so far declined to cut VAT. Fear of losing revenue is a key concern among states.
Bangladesh: 53 Arrested For Attack On Hindu Homes: Fifty-three people have been arrested in Bangladesh for their alleged involvement in an arson attack on over 30 houses of Hindus following rumours that a youth from the minority community published an offensive Facebook status, reports said on Sunday. The police have filed two cases over the incident at the Kotwali and Gangachara police stations and so far arrested 53 suspects, Rangpur's Additional Superintendent of Police Zakir Hossain said. One person was killed when the police opened fire to disperse the crowd that torched the houses of Hindus in Rangpur district's Thakurpara village, about 300 km from Dhaka on Friday. The protesters claimed that they were infuriated by a defamatory status published from the Facebook account of a person who hails from the Thakurbari village a few days ago. Before the police intervened, the perpetrators had torched at least 30 Hindu houses before looting and vandalising them, said the reports.
Redeveloping 10 Railway Stations With Airport-Like Amenities: At a cost of Rs 5,000 crore, the Union government is planning to redevelop 10 railway stations into world-class, smart facilities featuring airport like amenities, with a 2020 deadline. The stations selected for the project are Delhi Sarai Rohilla, Lucknow, Gomti Nagar, Kota, Tirupati, Nellore, Ernakulam, Puducherry, Madgaon and Thane.“The redevelopment work will start at a few stations by December-end or early next year. The concept designs are already being worked out,” NBCC chairman A K Mittal said. The redevelopment of stations will be carried out under a self-financing model through land monetisation by state-run NBCC. NBCC in the first phase would redevelop core infrastructure such as platform, lounges, ticketing counters, parking and other passenger amenities, besides building separate arrival and departure terminals on the lines of airports.
16 Die In Vijayawada Boat Tragedy: At least 16 people, including nine women, died and seven were missing after an overloaded boat with 41 people on board capsized in Krishna river near Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday. “So far, 16 bodies have been recovered from river. All of them belonged to Ongole Walkers’ Club. We are in the process of identifying the victims. Rescue operations are on to know the whereabouts of missing persons,” Deputy Chief Minister N Chinna Rajappa, who holds home portfolio, said. Officials said that with fading light, the boat driver misjudged the depth of water a few metres away from the jetty and took a wrong turn and hit sand bars which possibly resulted in the mishap. Rajappa also announced an ex gratia of Rs 8 lakh to each of the families of the deceased. “If they had taken the insurance under Chandranna Bima Scheme, an additional amount of Rs 2 lakh would be paid to each family,” he said.
Competency Test For 36 Lakh Government School Students: The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is conducting the first-ever nationwide test to measure the class-wise and subject-wise learning outcome of the elementary students in as many as 1.20 lakh schools in 703 districts. More than 36 lakh students of the classes III, V and VIII of the government schools are set to take a competency test on Monday. The format of the test, titled as National Achievement Survey, has two different dimensions. While the first part of the test is meant to assess the students’ competency in their subjects, the second is to elicit key information and views from the students, teachers and the schools (principals) about the functioning of their schools and teaching-learning process. A provisional report on the test results will be released by the council by March 2018 and a final report will come later.
Government To Launch Second Phase Of BharatNet Project: The Union government will today (Monday) launch its second and final phase of BharatNet project – with an outlay of around Rs 34,000 crore – to provide high-speed broadband in all panchayats by March 2019, Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said. Under the project, the government aims to connect 1.5 lakh panchayats through 10 lakh kilometres of additional optical fibre and give bandwidth to telecom players at nearly 75 per cent cheaper price for broadband and Wi-Fi services in rural areas. The telecom ministry will sign agreements with seven states – Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Jharkhand – which will roll out the project on their own with partial funding from the central government.
Morocco Keen To Replicate Aadhaar Success: Morocco, Africa’s second biggest economy, is keen to replicate India’s successes in linking Aadhaar to various services for citizens. Rabat recently sent a high-level delegation led by Interior Minister Noureddine Boutayeb to study the process. During the 10-day-tour that ended on 6 November, the Moroccan delegation studied the Indian experience of Aadhaar, the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System and benefits like direct benefit transfer, gas subsidy and digitised banking systems. The visiting minister said that Morocco was in the process of implementing programmes based on the socioeconomic model of India and that his delegation’s primary focus was to learn from the experiences of India’s model of development and socioeconomic reforms initiated by the Narendra Modi government.
MUST READ OPINIONS AND COLUMNS
GST Clears A Hurdle, But Tougher Challenges Await: The massive reordering of GST rates undertaken in the Guwahati GST Council meeting clearly signals that a convergence of rates is underway. GST is undoubtedly a work in progress, but, at the same time, it would be foolish to ignore the threats to it from an outdated regime.
VIP Culture Needs To Be Curbed For Smoother Airlines Operations: In the interest of fliers, shouldn’t we create a separate airport for VIPs? Till that becomes a reality, the travellers’ tickets could read: Be prepared for delays as VIPs are on the flight.
The Moral Identity Of Homo Economicus: Two recent books indicate that a quiet revolution is challenging the foundations of the dismal science. The new revolution in economics may find a place for strategies based on affecting ideals and identities, not just taxes and subsidies.
India Needs A Federal Green Agency: A better solution over the long term is to set up a federal agency like the Environmental Protection Agency in the US, with powers to get states to the bargaining table. The current institutional vacuum needs to be filled.
Post DeMo, Migrant Workers Did Not Rush Back To Villages – Here’s The Data: Whatever happened post demonetisation, migrant workers did not pack their bags and leave from their job areas as a response. Facile generalisations to the contrary, would not help.
We hope you enjoyed reading our morning brief. Have a great day ahead!
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