Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.
One Negative UN Vote Can't Change Israel-India Ties: Netanyahu: Calling India-Israel relationship as a "marriage made in heaven", Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that even though the Jewish state was "disappointed" by India's vote at the United Nations (UN) against the Jerusalem issue, one negative vote will not affect the ties. "Yes, naturally we were disappointed, but this visit is a testimony that our relationship is moving on so many fronts forward," Netanyahu said when asked to comment on India's vote at UN against the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. "I don't think one vote affects a general trend you can see in many other votes and these visits," he told India Today in an interview. Last month, India joined 127 other countries to vote in the UN General Assembly in favour of a resolution opposing the recent decision of US President Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Netanyahu said he hoped that his visit to India will strengthen cooperation between the two countries in various areas like technology, agriculture and other spheres that are changing the world.
Global Manufacturing Index: WEF Ranks India At 30: The World Economic Forum (WEF) has ranked India at 30th position on a global manufacturing index. It has been placed in the 'legacy' group along with Hungary, Mexico, Philippines, Russia, Thailand and Turkey, among others. China figures among 'leading countries', while Brazil and South Africa are among 'nascent' ones. About India, the 5th-largest manufacturer in the world with a total manufacturing value added of over $420 billion in 2016, the WEF said the country's manufacturing sector has grown by over 7 per cent per year on average in the past three decades and accounts for 16-20 per cent of India's GDP. "India has room for improvement across the drivers of production, except for demand environment where it ranks in the top 5," the WEF said. It listed human capital and sustainable resources as the two key challenges for India and said the country needs to continue to raise the capabilities of its relatively young and fast-growing labour force.
Windfall: Government Plans To Auction Rs 1 Lakh Crore 'Enemy' Properties: More than 9,400 'enemy' properties, worth more than Rs 1 lakh crore, are set to be auctioned with the Home Ministry starting the process of identifying all such estates. The properties were left behind by people who took citizenship of Pakistan and China. The move came after the amendment of the 49-year-old Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Act which ensured that the heirs of those who migrated to Pakistan and China during Partition and afterwards will have no claim over the properties left behind in India. Home Minister Rajnath Singh has directed that those properties which are free from encumbrance should be disposed of quickly for monetisation. The estimated value of these 9,400 properties is around Rs 1 lakh crore and when they are sold off, it would be a huge windfall for the government, another official said. Similar properties in Pakistan belonging to Indians have already been disposed of.
Agriculture Sector Top Priority, Says Jaitley: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the agriculture sector is the top priority for the government because the country’s economic growth is not “justifiable and equitable” unless the benefits are “clear and evident” in the farm sector. Therefore, the government’s priority is to ensure the gains reach the farmers and the growth is visible even in the farm sector, he said in New Delhi. Among the priority areas, agriculture sector is on the top, he said. “Ensuring the benefits reach the agri-sector and growth is visible – this is among the priority areas for us.” He said many steps have been taken in the last few years to take farmers out of this situation. “There has been some impact,” he said. The minister also mentioned that the launch of options trading is one of the major steps taken to help farmers. In the beginning, options trading may look like a small step but when its awareness increases in the coming days, it is will benefit farmers, he added.
15 New Battalions For Pakistan And China Borders: The Union government is planning to raise 15 new battalions in the country's two important border guarding forces – the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) – to fortify defence along the strategic frontiers with Pakistan, Bangladesh and China. A senior Union Home Ministry official said that it is "actively considering" raising six fresh battalions in the BSF and nine in the ITBP force. Each battalion of these forces comprises about 1,000 operational jawans and officers. "The exact locations for the new battalions could be gauged as and when they are raised but a few areas along Bangladesh and Pakistan will remain a priority owing to their vulnerability profile such as infiltration, drugs smuggling, human trafficking and illegal migration," a senior BSF officer said. The frequent instances of transgressions and confrontations with the Chinese army at the Line of Actual Control are being seen as the major reason for the ITBP to enhance its numbers.
Air India Disinvestment: Government May Absorb Employees In PSUs: The Union government is exploring options of absorbing Air India employees in public sector enterprises and voluntary retirement package as it moves ahead with the airline’s disinvestment amid stiff opposition from worker unions. Air India, estimated to have a debt burden of more than Rs 50,000 crore, is staying afloat on taxpayers’ money and the divestment plan is aimed at reviving the airline’s fortunes. Sources in the know said the government is mulling providing airline employees the option of joining public sector companies. The possibility of having a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) package is also under consideration, sources said while adding that a final decision is yet to be made. “Various options are under consideration to protect the interests of the employees,” Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said. His response came to queries on whether the government is looking at giving Air India employees the option to join public sector firms apart from extending VRS package. Air India and its subsidiaries have around 29,000 employees, including those on contract.
UK School Wants Government To Ban Hijab And Ramadan Fasting For Children: One of Britian’s leading state-funded schools has called on the government to take a firm stand on children wearing hijab and fasting during Ramadan. St Stephen's School in Newham, east London, became one of the first schools in the country to ban the hijab for girls under eight in 2016 and intends to ban it for girls under 11 from September 2018. It also imposed strict rules on Ramadan fasting, a ritual that lasts around 18 hours a day in the summer, on school premises. The school, with a majority of pupils from Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi backgrounds and headed by Indian-origin principal Neena Lall wants the UK government to issue clear guidelines on the issue to prevent a backlash from parents. St Stephen's School chairman of governors Arif Qawi said that despite criticism from a few families, some parents were happy with the school's stance on fasting.
India, UK Sign Pacts On Deporting Illegal Immigrants And Intelligence Sharing: India and the UK have signed two agreements on deporting Indians, who are living in Britain as illegal migrants, and sharing criminal records and intelligence. The development comes close on heels of India seeking UK's help in early extradition of liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya from Britain to face the law at home in connection with cases of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs 9,000 crores. The memorandums of understanding (MOUs) were signed by UK's minister of immigration Caroline Nokes and India's Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju. "The MoU on criminal records exchange will lead to British and Indian law enforcement bodies sharing criminal records information, fingerprints and intelligence," the British government said. The agreement on returns paves the way for a quicker and more efficient process for documenting and returning Indian nationals who have no right to be in the UK to India, it said.
MUST READ OPINIONS AND COLUMNS
Rebuilding India’s Honesty Quotient: GST is an example of a transparent indirect tax regime which not only economically unifies the country but also creates economic efficiency. Since the majority of people are honest, they are ready to embrace a rules-based regime.
India And Israel Are All-Weather Friends: Innovation is interwoven into every field of Indo-Israeli cooperation. Today, we are working together on joint projects in agriculture, water, defence, health, start-ups, space and education.
Assembly Polls 2018: BJP And Congress Are Battle-Ready: An extremely efficient electoral machinery has emerged in the form of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah in the last four years. Will the Congress manage to successfully challenge this duo?
Judges’ Revolt: Why It Was Less About ‘Independence’ And More About Power: There is no question that the judiciary needs to be independent, or that democracy must be preserved in the country. But a close look at various actions of the Supreme Court seems to suggest that it is all about power.
We hope you enjoyed reading our morning brief. Have a great day ahead!
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