Current Affairs

Morning Brief: Modi To Address 50 Rallies By February; Former VP Hamid Ansari Backs Sharia Courts; Army May Abolish All Cantonments

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a political rally (Arijit Sen/Hindustan Times via GettyImages)

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

Modi To Address 50 Rallies Across India By February

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is gearing up to address as many as 50 rallies by February 2019 in view of the upcoming elections. These rallies will cover around 100 Lok Sabha constituencies. Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah and senior party leaders Nitin Gadkari and Rajnath Singh will also address 50 rallies each, a report in the Times of India says. The party is preparing for the rallies in advance so that each of it covers 2-3 Lok Sabha constituencies. Before the announcement of dates for the Lok Sabha polls, the party wants to cover 400 constituencies by organising 200 rallies.

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Other than these rallies, the Prime Minister will also address gatherings in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, where elections are scheduled later this year. In one such rally yesterday, Modi addressed farmers and attacked the Congress on many fronts. His next rally will be in Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur. On June 28, he had addressed a large rally in Maghar town of UP.

Former Vice President Hamid Ansari Backs Sharia Courts

Just days after the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) proposed a plan to build Darul-Qaza or Sharia courts in all districts of the country, former vice president Hamid Ansari appears to have backed the organisation’s move. Ansari, who had recently courted controversy by attending a function which an Islamist group called Popular Front of India was part of, said that each community living in India has the right to practice its own personal law.

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On Shashi Tharoor’s “Hindu Pakistan” remark, Ansari supported the Congress Member of Parliament saying he is a learned man and would have made the comment only after having thought about. On Thursday, Tharoor had said that if voted to power again, the Bharatiya Janata Party will rewrite the Constitution of India and pave the way for the creation of a “Hindu Pakistan".

Army Open To The Idea Of Abolishing All Cantonments

The Indian Army is mulling abolishing all 62 cantonments in the country to save funds used for maintenance. This development comes almost 250 years after the first cantonment to house troops was established by the British at Barrackpore. According to reports, the Army has told the Ministry of Defence that it can convert sensitive areas within cantonments to “exclusive military stations” and have “absolute control” over them, while civilian areas can be handed over to local authorities. The move will free the Army from the annual maintenance of cantonments, which is set to cost the service around 476 crore this year.

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Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has ordered a feasibility study on the issue. In 2015, a study carried out by the defence secretary had identified Lucknow, Almora, Ahmednagar, Ferozepur and Yol cantonments for excision of civilian areas. The Ministry of Defence owns 17.3 lakh acres of land in the country. Of this, almost two lakh acres fall in the 62 cantonments in 19 states.

Retail Inflation Increases To Five Per Cent, Below RBI’s Upper Limit

India’s retail inflation accelerated to five per cent in June against 4.87 per cent in May. This is the highest increase in the last five months. However, this is well below the upper tolerance level of six per cent stipulated by the Finance Ministry in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The acceleration is driven by the depreciating value of rupee and surging oil prices. Food inflation accelerated by 2.91 per cent in June, compared to 3.1 per cent in May. Fuel price inflation has soared to 7.14 per cent compared to 5.8 per cent in May.

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Recently, the Monetary Policy Committee had increased the repo rate by 25 basis points, expecting higher inflation due to soaring oil prices. The government had recently approved higher Minimum Support Prices for Kharif crops, which is expected to push up inflation in the coming months.

Reliance Industries Market Cap Hits $100 Billion

On Thursday, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) became the second Indian company to hit a market capitalisation of $100 billion, regaining its 2007 peak. This year, the RIL stock has risen 17.5 per cent. At the company’s annual general meeting earlier this month, Mukesh Ambani said RIL aims to double sales in about seven years. The company has invested Rs 2.5 lakh crore in Jio.

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Tata Consultancy Services, the country’s biggest software services exporter, is the only other Indian company in the $100-billion club. It had crossed the $100-billion milestone on 23 April this year. Market watchers say this could be the beginning of a new phase of growth for Indian companies.

India Lodges Protest Over Pro-Khalistani Event In London

India has conveyed its displeasure to the United Kingdom over a meeting that a separatist Sikh outfit has called next month in London to discuss the issue of the 'Referendum 2020' campaign that seeks a separate Khalistan and "independence of Punjab". The outfit has also offered to sponsor Punjabi youths and political activists to take part in the gathering next month.

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New Delhi had also lodged a strong protest with the UK after Pakistan-sponsored Khalistani and Kashmiri groups tore the Indian flag at the Parliament Square during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the country in April.

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