Current Affairs

Morning Brief: Submit Recapitalisation Road Map, Banks Told; Reservation For Forward Class; Pakistan Snubs China

A State Bank of India branch in New Delhi. (Gaur/Mint via GettyImages)  

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

State-Owned Banks Told To Submit Fund-Raising Road Map In A Month: The Finance Ministry has asked state-owned banks to submit their board-approved road maps for raising funds and strengthening core activities in about a month. A senior Finance Ministry official said that banks should follow responsive and responsible banking, adding that each board should decide in a month or so before recapitalisation actually takes place. They should look at their portfolios, stressed assets, non-core activities, fund raising from market and the core competencies, the official said. The government had last month unveiled a whopping Rs 2.11-lakh crore two-year programme to strengthen the non-performing assets-hit public sector banks, which includes recapitalisation bonds, budgetary support and equity dilution. In order to enhance the capital base of bad loan-ridden banks, the two-year plan includes infusion of Rs 1.35 lakh crore by way of recapitalisation bonds, Rs 18,100 crore through budgetary support, and Rs 58,000 crore from the market.

Rafale Deal: French Officials Reject Congress’ Allegations: Refuting allegations by Congress party, French officials have said that the Rafale fighter jet has been selected for outstanding performance and competitive price, and through a completely transparent process. "This will contribute positively to the entire Indian defence industry, not just one company," they said. The Congress party has alleged that the reworked deal would benefit only Reliance. "The jet was selected after full compliance with procedures, very unusual in these kinds of contracts," the officials said. The Rafale deal, which was cleared by the previous United Progressive Alliance government, had got stuck when Dassault refused to certify the aircraft that were to be manufactured by HAL in India. The Narendra Modi government tweaked the deal, reducing it from 126 to 36 planes in fly-away condition, without the transfer of technology the earlier deal had envisaged.

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Indian Army Needs Battle Tanks With Dual Terrain Capabilities: General Rawat: Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has said that keeping China and Pakistan in mind, the Indian Army needs battle tanks with dual terrain capabilities. He said that there is a need for futuristic armoured vehicles like main battle tanks, with requisite firepower and mobility, which can operate both on the plains of the western front with Pakistan as well as the mountainous terrain of the northern border with China. The Army chief's statement comes in the backdrop of his force last week issuing the preliminary tender or request for information to global armament giants for production of an initial 1,770 future ready combat vehicles, geared for "rapid dominance in an expanded battle-space", in collaboration with an Indian firm under the "strategic partnership" model of the "Make in India" policy.

Charges Framed Against Kashmiri Separatist Leader Shabir Shah In Money Laundering Case: A court in New Delhi framed charges against Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir Shah and alleged hawala dealer Muhammad Aslam Wani in a money laundering case. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had in September filed a chargesheet against Wani and Shah under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Wani, arrested on 6 August, had reportedly confessed that he passed on hawala money amounting to Rs 2.25 crore to Shah. Shah was arrested on 25 July on charges of money laundering in a case dating back to 2005 when the Delhi Police Special Cell arrested Wani. The court observed that Wani being a member of banned terror organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad collected illegal hawala money from Delhi, which he received from Pakistan-based terror outfits and sympathisers and delivered the same on various occasions to co-accused Shah in Srinagar for purpose of promoting terror activities in the valley.

UIDAI Approves New SIM Reverification Modes: The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has approved the blueprint presented by telecom companies to operationalise new modes like OTP for Aadhaar-based SIM reverification of existing subscribers from 1 December. The plans were considered and approved from the point of view of security, compliance with the Aadhaar Act and protection of privacy, UIDAI chief executive office Ajay Bhushan Pandey said. The government last month had announced three new ways to complete the process of linking mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar to enable existing subscribers to undergo SIM re-verification exercise from the comfort of their home. "Mobile companies have assured the UIDAI that they will implement OTP-based verification of mobile numbers by month- end and this will allow people to get the verification done without actually visiting the store or retail agent," Pandey added.

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Kerala Extends Reservation To Forward Class: The Left-led Kerala government on Wednesday decided to provide 10 per cent reservation to economically backward sections in forward communities in appointments to five Devaswom boards of the state. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that this was the first time reservation had been extended to forward communities in the country, and added that necessary amendments would be made in the Devaswom Recruitment rules to implement the new decision. It was also resolved during the state cabinet meeting to increase the reservation quota for backward communities and Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes in Devaswom appointments, he said. The Travancore Devaswom Board, Malabar Devaswom Board, Guruvayour Devaswom, Koodalmanikam Devaswom and Cochin Devaswom Board are the five boards that manage temples in the southern state.

Free Wi-Fi Plan For Agra-Lucknow Expressway: India’s longest expressway from Agra to Lucknow will soon provide free Wi-Fi on the entire 302-kilometre stretch after the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh offered to lease out space for laying an optical fibre cable (OFC) along the six-lane expressway. The plan, the state government officials said, is to earn revenue to maintain the expressway and have a win-win agreement with a private player by giving out leasing rights to lay OFC in order to offer free Wi-Fi facility along the entire stretch. This will also help UP have a world-class advanced traffic management system for the convenience and safety of motorists by way of traffic monitoring and speed limit enforcement through a network of CCTV cameras and phone helplines at every two kilometres on the expressway. In a document for inviting bids, the UP government said the OFC network may be laid along the expressway, on top of power transmission lines along the expressway or using earth wire.

Indian Companies, With $17.9 billion Investment, Employed 113,424 In US, Says Report: Indian firms have invested around $17.9 billion in the United States and employ 113,424 people, according to a new survey of 100 such firms released on Tuesday. Top recipient states of the investments were New York ($1.5 billion), New Jersey ($1.5 billion), Massachusetts ($930 million), California ($542 million) and Wyoming ($435 million). The report, which is put together by the Confederation of Indian Industry every two years, was released by Navtej Sarna, the Indian Ambassador to the US. “The presence and reach of Indian companies continues to grow each year as they invest billions of dollars and create jobs across the United States,” Sarna said. The survey showed though IT and enabled services accounted for the largest chunk of Indian businesses in the US at 28 per cent, life sciences and pharmaceuticals 25 per cent, manufacturing 14 per cent, energy 11 per cent, food and agriculture 5 per cent and automotive 4 per cent.

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Pakistan Rejects Chinese Help For Dam Project: Pakistan has reportedly turned down $14 billion assistance offer by China to build Diamer-Bhasha Dam. It is learnt that Islamabad has even asked China to take the project out of the $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and allow it to build the dam on its own. The project, which the Asian Development Bank had earlier refused to finance, is located in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), which is claimed by India. A report in Pakistani Daily Express Tribune cited a top official saying the country would prefer to self-finance the project instead of accepting extremely tough conditions set by Chinese companies. International lenders were linking serious conditions with the provision of funding, and the project cost had reached $14 billion against the original estimates of $5 billion, sources in Pakistan said.

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

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